Friday, September 28, 2007

Big up to John Eden and Paul Meme for Woofah, their reggae-grime-dubstep zine (an old skool hard copy hold in your hand made of paper and ink zine it is too). Highlight for me of Issue #1 is the interview with Mark Iration who, before digi-dubbing it as Iration Steppas, was the lynchpin of Ital Rockers, a legendary bleep’n’bass outfit/sound-system who were right there at the very dawn of the North Eastern sound, alongside Unique 3/Nightmares on Wax/Forgemasters, and maybe even a little ahead of everyone else.

Says Mark when quizzed about how Manchester/Hacienda/baggy gets all the attention historically:

“People forget about the Warehouse--the Warehouse was the groundation for Leeds--LFO, Nightmares on Wax, Unique 3 and Ital Rockers was like the main format for Leeds and the Warehouse was our Hacienda”

Talking of Leeds, “Big in Chapeltown” is the title of a track on the recent album by Neil Landstrumm, Restaurant of Assassins (Planet Mu). Really feeling this record: retro-rave, but not total time travel a la Soundmurderer and not with that kind of half-in-jest caricature aspect you get sometimes with breakcore bods such as Shitmat or Kid 606 (e.g. the latter's “You’re Inside the Smallest Rave on Earth”). Nor is there that misty-with-tears elegaic thing that Burial has. Assassins is sluiced in bleep influences; there’s some ardkore in there too (one track samples a chunk of a House Crew tune); but the production is modern, exploiting all the sound-design and subtlety-riddling potential of the sort of up-to-date gear used by microhouse and dubstep producers. Landstrumm's nickname for the sound is “ravestep” , the -step to drawing a line from dubstep back to its one strand of its family tree in all that early 90s reggaematic house and ragga-tekno (on “Reverse Rebel” there's guest patois courtesy the Ragga Twins). Indeed he is using many of the same elements that dubstep is built out of--the sub-low bass, icy splinters of synth-melody, empty space. But for whatever reasons, the result gives me much more of a tingle than most dubstep I've heard recently, and I don't think it's entirely nostalgia, the memory-rush syndrome. It's not so much a reinvocation of forever-lost-in-time elements as a reactivation of dormant potentials.

Landstrumm has been on this going-back-to-go-forward tip for some while: in 1999 or so I saw him deejay at a party in New York (where i gather he was living for some while)and he played all this bleep-and-bassy stuff which naturally got me curious, i went up and he said something to the effect that's how he believed techno should have stayed, or at least that the Northern UK tekno sound was his heartcore music. The thing that actually made me go up and speak to him though was when he played the Horrorist's “Dark Invader”, a tune that was actually ahead of its time in being behind of its time (made and released in 97 i think but sounding 90/91, a EBM-tinged Belgian Resistance stomper).

Here’s a interview with Neil (i wonder what his Life of Grime EP sounds like?) and a ravestep mix

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