Wednesday, September 27, 2006

reading matters


fan meets idol

proggi proggi proggi (oi oi oi)
(why i am in a different hunter-collector league from mr woebot; one of these italoprog records he's chasing, he sees on some sale list but baulks at paying $250. my baulking point would be $25. lower, actually. i think i've only once paid more than $25 for a single piece of vinyl, a toru takemitsu album (yeah go figure -- momentary attack of madness, it must have been -- or perhaps karmic readjustment for finding another thing by him over the road in a cardboard box for a dollar). but yeah, i've much more affinity with the quidditch concept coined by mr impostume)


ah so i'm not alone in feeling this:

"the patient unfurling of the label's sonic signature-- not to mention its continuing currency in dance circles-- is testament to the curious slowness with which this decade marches forward" (my italics)--Finney on Kompakt's Total 7


1/ Holy Hill, I am informed by one Matt Cuttler {the drummer I assume}, are really Holy Hail. (No mention of ESG in their influences list but B-52s citation validates my Fred Schneider reference)

2/ the TV program with “Hell is Round the Corner” was not Deadwood but Rescue Me, that great drama-comedy about NYC firefighters; a long sequence with no dialogue, using almost the entire song.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

DB and DJ Clever have a new night in New York debuting this Friday, September 22, at Love, 179 MacDougal Street and 8th Street. It's called The Secret Night of Science and the concept is the return of "sexy jungle" (no noisy shit, no MCs--"we're trying to let people really hear the subtleties of this beautiful music"). Could this be the long awaited, inevitable retro-ambientjungle/artcore? Speeeed resurrected? Not quite, says DB, it'll be a mixture of old stuff and new stuff in that tradition. The music starts at 11pm and before that there's a showing of Blade Runner at 9-30 enhanced by Love's "total sound" system. Sadly I can't make the opening night, but it's a monthly so will most definitely be at the next one.


I ran into DB at the US debut of The Klaxons, which took place at the oddly named Club Medway on Avenue B. Which turned out to be the basement formerly known as Guernica (which used to host great 2step/UKG nights and also a Monday night semi-secret techno thing where you'd get names djing for nowt or nearabout--Derrick May for $3!!!--and which were where i used to go straight after Dan Selzer's postpunk thing at Plant Bar back in those dizzy days of the early OO's). And before that the club was known as Save the Robots, a hardcore hedonism zone for techno headz, dimly lit and decadent, so they tell me. So all in all a highly appropriate space to witness the "New Rave"* (copyright NME) hit America.

Except the Klaxons have next to nothing to do with rave, apart from covering Kicks Like A Mule's "The Bouncer". On the basis of the EP I'd concluded they were more like a DFA act with a tinge of Lo-Fidelity Allstars. But live, they're more like... Silverfish, or The Membranes. Or even the Age of Chance**, the "Bouncer" cover being their counterpart of AoC's version of "Kiss": distorto-guitar and dirty bass and shouty voices mauling something sublime into an exuberantly maculate noise. Their set was an enjoyable blast of messy energy. And they're so British somehow, their onstage mix of sheepish, just-barely-in-control-of-this-din and posed "we formed a band, us" gestures really rather endearing. I spoke to the band afterwards and one of the two James said he was ten years old when ardkore was happening.

Before the Klaxons, stepping in for the canceled and much-touted 120 Days, was a local band called Holy Hill (I think), two girls (one with a piercing shriek, the other a tough bassist/Gabi from Luscious Jackson lookalike) and two guys (Fred Schneider-type inaudible on keybs and vocals, pretty good discopunk drummer) and while savagely indebted to ESG, they had a certain something too.

* the New Rave vis-a-vis ardkore = Romo viz-a-viz 80s synthpop/New Romantics, i.e. the doomed-to-fail because premature revival. I'm telling you, it's a rule, you have to wait 20 years before a revival can take. And it's only been 15 years since "Charly", Altern-8 etc.

** c.f. as reported by DJ Martian, the Three Johns have reformed, swift on the heels of the Woodentops. So my contention that the retrokultur would just skip the mid-80s and go straight from postpunk to MBV-style blissrock or even right through to baggy, turns out to be wrong. What next, Marc Riley and the Creepers stage a comeback?!! New bands citing the Shrubs and Bogshed?!?
K-punk superb on Memories of the Future, the splendid debut by Kode 9 (who's also interviewed). I should say Kode and Spaceape, as the latter's contribution--imagine Linton Kwesi Johnson intoning Ballard cut-ups--is crucial, it's a real partnership, and it strikes me that the accumulative weight of it as an immersive album-length experience works better than the singles in isolation. Nodded my head to Mark's righteous invocation of Maxinquaye (I heard "Hell Is Round the Corner" on some American TV drama the other week--could it have been Deadwood?--and nearly fainted at its majesty, every line scintillating and reverberating across your mindscreen... funny how you can forget about these immense recordings--the best album of the 90s maybe--and then get ambushed) while the On U Sound analogy is apt and timely given the flood of Sherwood-related reissues soon come (Mark Stewart & the Mafia Learning To Cope With Cowardice, the Sherwood-mixed On-U Soundcrash and Tackhead Soundcrash, etc).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Friday, September 01, 2006

it’s… a… not-London… thing

Martin Clark sounds the knell for grime

And identifies the assassin: funky house.

How...... humiliating.

Just in time for the funeral, a wreath arrives in the mail: the promo of Semtex’s Grime Wave mix-cd, forthcoming on Sanctuary, “hosted by D Double E,” and containing all the big bangers from last year… Brought back a mighty memory-rush, but also a sense of that-was-then, been-and-bygone finality.

Never before have I de-cathected from a beloved genre so abruptly, swiftly, completely. It happened a little less than a year ago, and ever since the interest level has stayed level--hovering just north of nil.

Just back from a fortnight’s hols in London, and, what with one thing and another, I never managed to get around to checking out the basements of Blackmarket and Uptown (although I went past D’Arblay Street twice). No hefty swag of overpriced whites in my overhead locker this time round (just as well with the hand baggage restrictions). And I never once tuned into the pirates, partly because the first week we were in a hotel, the second house-sitting for friends who don't own a radio. But, whereas once I'd have gone out of my way to get hold of a wireless of some sort, I just never felt the urge.

No, my only grime interactions were A/ seeing Plan B, on TV, twice, each time part of some festival coverage, doing his wretched rapping-over-an-acoustic-guitar thing, and B/ feeling a faint flicker passing the poster ads in the Tube for The Sound of the Pirates, Cameo’s mix-CD. It's that same series that back in the day put out some great double-CDs of UKG and 2-step. But half the tracks on this one seemed to be mainstream US rap and R&B. Okay, slight exaggeration, but still it’s frontedloaded with non-Nuum (the first three on disc one are Busta Rhymes, Mobb Deep/50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg; they even have Rihanna “SOS” on there). Not exactly road, not true London underground. But maybe this motley mix is the sound of the pirates at the moment, the few grime ones that still poking out amid the swarm of funky house stations.

I haven’t quite been able to take Cameo seriously since I tuned in/clicked on late last year to his 1Xtra show and his big guest was a chap called Max Peezay--a grime MC from Sweden. Actually, come to think of it, this was actually a key moment in the involuntary
de-cathexis process. Then, a few months later, I decided to give Cameo another go, and
lo-and- behold, he had Max fucking Peezay on again—with an update on his attempts to build a grime scene in Sweden. Cameo’s boosterist bluster had already gotten grating, all the hot-air hype about the sound blowing up, flying in the face of reality. But really, had it come to this--Scandinavian grime?

People keep telling me, “there’s still good tunes coming out”. But I’m trying not to hear them. The people, but also, in a way, the tunes too. Like with a love affair, I’d rather a clean break.

The other omnipresent poster on the Tube walls was for the fourth Housexy album. That cover babe--as per Dirty Vegas and a million other comps, somewhere between an airbrushed photo and a hyper-realist painting--tells you all you need to know. Yes, it’s funky house: the people’s choice, apparently, all across the E- postcode zones of London.

This is significantly worse than the rewind-to-96 (but no rewinds, please) initiative of “urban house” mounted by some senior UK garage deejays a few years back as a reaction against grime. For as Martin points out in his very informative piece, this is the London massive embracing a completely de-localised sound, eradicating from the scene all traces of their grass-roots environs and their roots'n'future sonic heritage.