Tuesday, July 26, 2005

check it out -- Martin 'Blackdown' Clark's new project Keysound Radio -- "the mix features 100% unreleased music, with exclusives from Digital Mystikz, Loefah, Kode 9 + Spaceape, Skream, Pinch, Dusk + Blackdown, Random Trio, Target + Riko, Nasty Crew, Roll Deep, Plasticman, Lethal B and Dizzee Rascal"
mine's a pint of shanty

new york residents craving some of that "white people and their heavy investments in black street musics" * action should make their way to:

Pure Fire

"A night of Grime, Ghettotech, Ragga, Miami Bass, Baile Funk, Jungle, Crunk, Reggaeton and more.. .(no baltimore breaks, because that shit is kindalame...)"

Papa Wheelie
Peter Gunn

Friday August 5th

351 Kent Ave. (South 5th)

tax on the door:
4 dollars

L to Bedford J to Marcy

* apologies to any actual non-white people who might be involved

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sao Paulo massive! Here's a chap called Bruno Belluomini who's aiming to start Brazil's first grime monthly.

Sao Paulo massive! I'm going to be in town for a music festival, participating in a panel discussion and talking about my books (August 11, @ Indie Records, more details to follow), and then deejaying (in the loosest sense of the term) postpunk+esoterica at the closing party (August 14, details to follow).

Friday, July 15, 2005

I'm beyond gutted. Like an arse I got the dates mixed up and missed Lady Sovereign's NYC live debut. That was the show I've most looked forward to since... I dunno, Dizzee's debut here at Volume maybe. I met Sov doing this piece on Grime (in the just-out current issue of Spin) and boy, she's got presence. It was at Medasyn's studio and I got to hear some of the new stuff with the punk and 2-Tone influences--just fantastic. Medasyn's production and arrangments reminded me of Hyper-On Experience at their most cartoony and effervescent with detail. Gutted, I tell you. Mind you, apparently, she was sick as a dog and warned the front row at the KnitFace they were in the projectile puke danger-zone. Well they talk about grime MCs spittin' and sprayin' don't they...
The other thing about '94 (and most of the Nineties really) was that it was a pretty chill time politically, etc. John Major was in power, which contributed to a sense of stagnation and deadlock, but the Tories had exhausted their agenda, were utterly enervated, and you could sense the return of Labour in the offing. America had Clinton vs Republican Congress, a different kind of stagnation and deadlock, but still much preferable to now. The economy was a bit shaky in the early Nineties but was picking up i think by '94 and the ensuing boom, in the UK, has even now yet to flag significantly, right? There was bad stuff going on in the world, but it didn't impinge in the way the current bad stuff does. I suppose we were probably living in a bit of a bubble (we meaning the West) . But yeah, good times, the Nineties, as a whole--outside of music and inside of music, too, i think.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bizzare confluence of pieces on UK music in the early-to-mid Nineties--Stylus on Britpop; a Voice Essay, also on Britpop (by Hua Hsu!); and Pitchfork on "The Lost Generation", ie. early post-rock when it was a UK thang and actually really good and before those Chicagoan tight-butts got their noodlesome mitts on it. Nitsuh Abebe wrote that one. It's so weird to think of this stuff becoming the stuff of history and rediscovery (and retro-cultification). For the record I don't think it was the Mojo review of Bark Psychosis where I first used "post-rock", it was something earlier in Melody Maker, but can't recall what. The record should also note that although I genuinely believed I was coining the term, I discovered many years later it been floating around for over a decade--Morley used it, around the time he was hymning Haircut 100 and Altered Images, to describe something more Popist in spirit and more conceptual/cognitive than musicological, ie. a sort of total move beyond rockist assumptions, values and prejudices into some brand new kind of mental space. And I've even seen the word in the Rolling Stone Albums Guide, used to mean something roughly equivalent to "avant-rock" or "out-rock." But yeah, it was me that supplied this hitherto vague term with something approaching an ideology, and a specific referent. I'm amazed that the term has this half-life,and still gets used in record stores as a section heading, or in press-releases and e-mailouts. Lord knows, not a single band embraced the term or rallied to the post-rock banner at the time!

The obvious connection between the Britpop pieces and the Lost Generation one is arguably that Britpop is the prime reason for that generation of experimental-yet-accessible UK bands becoming lost. Ambition got redefined purely in terms of making the charts, as opposed to artistic discovery or quest; those golden ages of Britannia-ruling-the-airwaves and the 45 rpm 7 inch --the mid-Sixties and New Wave--were ransacked in order to create a third (putative) golden age for the radio and the single; the truly contemporary resources that the Brit postrockers plugged into--electronica, jungle, hip hop, etc-- were shunned in favour of an all-white, technophobic canon. True, true--yet time heals all wounds, and I feel a very faint, sneaking fondness for Britpop in hindsight (specially after seeing what pitiful sadsacks they've all become in that recent documentary). And let's be honest, Disco Inferno and Insides, as lovely as they were, were never going to be more than cult bands. I remember sensing early on, well before the Britpop juggernaut gathered momentum, that the scope had contracted for "that kind of thing'. One of the pre-sampling Disco Inferno EPs --when they were precociously postpunky, very Joy Division-indebted, but good--got made single of the week in Melody Maker (might have been me, or Stubbs, can't remember), and I was shocked, and disheartened, to discover that after this massive boost it had gone on to sell a mere 900 copies. And this wasn't Main or anything unapproachable like that; DI were making melodic, heart-bleedingly emotional pop, not a million miles from what Radiohead would go on to do circa OK Computer.

Nitsuh's piece didn't really make me think about the Brit post-rockers (i keep typing post-punkers--must be habit!--and there's a connection there that I'll return to at a later date) and their thwarted, stolen promise so much (although his reference to records with 'produced by John McEntire' on them made me flash on a certain postrock [highly reluctant] fellow-traveler who shall remain nameless who in '95 earnestly informed me that "John McEntire is one of the 50 most important people in America"). No, it made me think about 1994. That was a really happy year for me, for us. The Sex Revolts was finally finished, a massive weight lifted from the shoulders. I'd grown homesick, so at the start of the year we moved back to London for ten months. Found a flat in Belsize Park, the first time I'd lived north of the river, so everything felt fresh and new as well as familiar and homesickness-curing. A big impetus for coming back was that I knew jungle was going to blow up and I didn't want to be living 3000 miles from the action. That was a lot to do with why '94 was so exciting (and it turned out Goldie lived down the road, in a high-rise near England's Lane). But jungle and the pirates were far from the only reason. There was so much going on, so much to write about--the post-rock outfits, as mentioned; the first stirrings of trip hop; the continuation of chill-out/electronic listening music and its turn toward the sinister and isolationist.... there was the early Britpop-when-it-was-good, with Pulp and Elastica ... The happy hardcore scene was starting to take off... Is memory playing tricks on me, or was the summer particularly fine that year? Even some of the bad things that happened that year were powerful experiences--the weekend when Kurt Cobain committed suicide, and the sudden stunning revelation of the power of the internet, as news and rumor spread across the web and communities of grief and support and commemoration sprung up instantly.

Then the 10 months were up, we had to go back (or else enter the hell-process of Joy applying for permanent residency). Totally buzzing with all the stuff going on in the UK, I returned to New York to find a scene that seemed really flat. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was about the hottest ticket in town at that point. Deflated, I wrote a piece, or pique, entitled "Why American Music Sucks" for a local zine, which didn't make me very popular. (SFJ wrote a stinging riposte, conceding only that Tricky lived up to some of my bullshit hype about how happening the UK was--which is how I got to know him). Around this time I heard about a jungle club that was starting out in the East Village, a few blocks from where we now live--this is November 94 i think--and went there full of anticipation only to find a bar with about nine people in it and a pair of tinny tiny speaker. Not exactly Thunder And Joy or Sunday Roast!

Still things did pick up considerably the following year with a real, fervent, decent-sized NYC jungle scene and homegrown things like illbient (hmmm, weeell, i know, but at the time, at the time...) and then that American take on postrock which seemed kinda promising, at first, honest...
looking at the heartbreaking photos of the victims one thing that comes through poignantly is this sense of London as this incredible multiracial city... a random selection of people on their way to work (ie. most likely none of them tourists) and it's so striking how few them are Anglo-Saxon in that narrow sense... people from the Indian sub-continent, from Africa, the Far East, from Turkey, from Eastern Europe and all over the Continent...

it flashed me back to coming home earlier this year to do a grime story: the host of the Stratford Circus rave calling out to the audience to raise their hands if they were from Nigeria, from Kenya, from Antigua, from Trinidad & Tobago... Roll Deep's variegated line-up of third-generation Caribbean and mix-race faces... hearing Eastern European tongues on the street... the polyphony of accents on the tube...

post-imperial chickens coming home to roost, an almost-United Europe, and, more sadly, various overseas conflicts sending refugees in search of a haven ... all this has made London into a remarkable hub city, a cosmopolis...
Kpunk kutting through the krapp with incisive analysis here
and here (about time they gave this man a Guardian column!) Particularly enjoyed, if that's the word, the grim wit of the kicker line that follows this particuarly penetrating insight:

"The rise of Islamism must be correlated with the demise of the Left. If it has become the default repository for Muslim rage against injustice then that is partly due to the US, which, as is well-known, funded Ilamist Jihadis in a bid to defeat Communism. Since only something like Communism could absorb and re-direct the energies that are fuelling al Qaeda, I look forward to the day when the US will fund Islamic Communism, and the circle will be complete."

This other very good bit, on the bombers---

Their affiliation with al-Qaeda will, we can speculate, almost certainly serve the function of resolving a tension in themselves. Al Qaeda recruit from schools and colleges because they are astute enough to recognize that male adolescence is a time of boiling confusion that craves easy certainties. It cannot be that difficult for a fervent Jihadi to convince impressionable young men adrift in the miserable haze of Babylonic capitalism that it is not al Qaeda but their enemies who are really Evil

---made me think of some statistical data on suicide bombers I read in the Guardian,

"Most of the bombers tend to be young, well-educated, and from lower middle-class backgrounds rather than those fighting for daily survival. An Israeli government study found that 23% of suicide bombers between 2000 and this year had been university graduates. "

That struck me as interesting because that's the class segment--lower middle bleeding into upper working--that has been the motor of most everything exciting in UK music culture. It's where mod came from, and a lot of rave; it's the heartland of the music press readership, and its writership too. Something about the precariousness of that class position--and the volatile, poorly digested combination of a bit of higher education with a lot of autodidact learning--breeds a certain kind of believer kind of mindset, a psychology of quest and mission. (Before rock became the focus-locus for that kind of energy, it came forth in things like the Angry Young Men... lthink of the anti-hero of Look Back In Anger, whose anguish is partly caused by the lack of a noble cause worth fighting for). More specifically, that unstable, inbetweeny class zone was where where punk came from. Running through the UK punk continuum (not the American punk one, interestingly) is a thread of terrorism-as-metaphor... The Clash with their songs like "Death or Glory"and fascination with Italy's Red Brigade and Germany's Red Army Faction (and punkzine pioneer Tom Vague wrote a whole book on Baadher-Meinhof premised on the notion that the RAF was what Germany had instead of punk rock) ... Manic Street Preachers' Generation Terrorists (think also of their cover of the MASH theme "Suicide is Painless’)... even when terrorism as metaphor isn't part of the overt vocabulary, there seems to be some kind of affinity of psychology--young men with burning souls and hearts full of zeal and chips on both shoulders--there's that same quest for purity in a sullied world, for absolute truths and clear vision, for something that transcends mediocrity and market society... something, in fact, that's outside the class system and the alloted fates it doles out... that promises a heroic life...

the next bit, from the same Guardian piece, made me think of Kevin Rowland, or junglists chanting along to "alla da youth shall witness the day that babylon shall fall"...

Ms Oliver said that one of the most important motivating factors was what she described as "an element of ecstatic camaraderie, which is central to the group".

Perhaps what they really need isn't Communism as a surrogate belief system/ideological framework for their rage ... they need their own kind of rock'n'roll... something to divert and defuse them as effectively..... as rock culture has done vis-a-vis Western youth these past 40 years...
cor this looks like fun!

Prog Rock Night
DJ: Micah Progsnob
Lido Bar
200 Columbia Street



"spinning choice rarities and obscure monstrosities from his massive collection of prog rock. Thankfully, there will be no Yes, ELP, Flower Kings, Dream Theater or other undesirably wretched common prog bands that we all know and despise. This will be strictly from the vaults of a true connoisseur. Come downand chill to the celestial sounds of Magma, Area, Tasvallan Presidenti, Amon Duul 2, Blackwater Park, Dies Irae and more!"

i shall forcibly befriend this young man and systematically tape his record collection!

[info courtesy of Beyond Events Calendar, e-circular of nyc electronic-dance-and-other activity, which can be subscribed by emailing nyc_electronic_events_calendar-subscribe@yahoogroups.com]