Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

yeah, Zone, it's a perfectly pleasant little tune, and i expect it does fine on a big system (especially if sandwiched between two less boring tracks)... i think my irritation with "hmpfph" is to do with the way it gestures at musicality without actually delivering it... the diva loop: nothing's really done with it, stays the same pretty much all the way through... the chords are dull,the synth-key textures are content to signify "warm" and "lush"... that's why it reminds me of the lesser lights of that ambient-jungle moment, like some of the nice-enough-but-not-major things Moving Shadow put out in between the anthems and the giant steps forward...

see there's nothing wrong with "warm" and "lush" per se... but if you're going to do "musical", go the whole hog, a la MJ Cole "Sincere" or Adam F "Circles": tunes that build and grow and peak, that go through many changes... the minimalism of "huff gnomo" is not the stripped down, reduction-as-distillation/intensification sort (a la Robert Hood et al), but the minimal of undeveloped, not fully realised, didn't finish the job...
really really want to like this new one by Blackout Crew


it's a bit shit, isn't it?

nice to see them "sparing no expense" yet again with the promo but you get the sense that the video concept came before the tune in this case, which you didn't get with "put a donk on it" or even with the disappointing follow-up about mobile phones

still "wonka donka" or whatever it's called did send me off on two different trails:

1/oompa loompa-core

marshall masters "I like it loud"

scooter's version

2/ candy-rave

BBP "Candy Floss" (producer = tony, the guy behind blackout crew)

smart E's "sesame's treet"

shaft "roobarb and custard (apple crumble mix)" (okay not candy but sweet in the other, dessert sense)

world of twist "sweets" and "jelly baby"
(a potential series)

You know William Basinski, right?

Makes music using these twenty-year old tapes he did as a young man in the early Eighties, ambient drones and tape delay system type stuff a la Steve Reich or Eno.

Analogue tapes that have degraded and crumbled, which he reworks and processes but retains the decay,incorporating the passage of time into their aesthetic affect.

Results somewhere between Philip Jeck and The Caretaker.

Most famous being the Disintegration Loops series.

Others have titles like Melancholia, Silent Night, The Garden of Brokenness.

Sombre stuff. Meditative. Threshold of silence. Fading of the light.

That sort of thing.

I don't know if I ever really had a mental image of William Basinski... the impression you'd get from the music would perhaps be this crepuscular figure... possibly wearing a suit and tie... or looking old-timey like Michael Gira or Will Oldham...

I certainly wasn't expecting, when I opened the page of the new Wire to the Invisible Jukebox with Basinski, to see...

It's sort of Peter Wolf of J Geils Band crossed with Rufus Wainright.

Here's another one.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Bit of a hiatus from the "mates" on the book front, but I thought I'd spotlight some notable recent or soon-come tomes by people I've had some sort of kind of contact with... sliding scale from former colleagues to phone interviewees to (stretching it a bit) email correspondents. Haven't read them all cover to cover but they all look really interesting.

Morrissey: The Pageant Of His Bleeding Heart
by Gavin Hopps (Continuum)
, info here

Actually this one, I have read every single page of: it's the best book-length explication of Morrissey's peculiar genius I've come across. Acute when it does address the music, it focuses mostly on M's lyrical and vocal strategies (coyness, flirtation, caesuras and suggestive trailings away, irruptions of non-sense such as animalistic/Tourettic/comedic growls, ascent into nonverbal raptures of yodeling falsetto), then explores how these particular ways with words announce and embody a particular way of walking through the world; a life stance and ethic. Hopps managed to convince me that there's hidden depths and often-missed mischief secreted within the later work's deceptive slightness and can't-be-arsed-ness. My remaining bone of contention would be that the pedestrian nature of the song's backings and the seeming inability post-Vauxhall to come up with heart-piercing melodies rather wilts one's ability to be wowed by e.g. "Roy's Keen". But still a majorly illuminating work.

Memoirs of a Geezer: Music, Mayhem, Life
By Jah Wobble (Serpent's Tail)
more info here and here

Like you'd expect, gritty and witty recollections from the "nice one" in PiL.

The Blue Moment: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music
By Richard Williams (Faber)
more info here and micro-interview with author here

People tell me he's Britain's finest sports writer, which makes me wish I had any interest in sport, because Williams is a great music writer (there's a terrific piece on dub from around 1976 by him that makes a lot of the points some of us made in the 90s but with a good deal less flashy obfuscation). Only perused but it looks to be a riveting look at this epochal recording, less on the level of "when Miles arrived at the 30th Street studio at 10-58 on the morning of March 19th, he found Evans already tracing out a modal piano figure that would become the basis of…" and more about its context and the long-term reverberations through music and culture.

Sound Levels: Profiles in American Music, 2002-2009.
By Phil Freeman.
info here.

Author of his own Miles book (Running the Voodoo Down, on the electric period) and Marooned-mastermind Phil Freeman here pulls together an anthology of his work for magazines like the Wire, Village Voice, Signal To Noise and Metal Edge, scooping up profiles of artists from Tom Waits and Ornette Coleman to David Thomas, Mike Patton, The Melvins and Sunn O))).

How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music
By Elijah Wald (Oxford University Press)
, info here

Revisionism a la Carl Wilson's Celine Dion book, generalism with its gaze prised off of the present and focused backwards in time, this surveys 20th Century American popular music with a view to correcting the neglect and salving the slight inflicted by Rockism to various forms of "light" music that (it's darned well proved!) were what the majority of punters actually listened to, danced to, enjoyed, as opposed to, oh rock'n'roll and bebop and Motown and what have you. So it's basically everything that would be left out of Greil Marcus's list at the end of Stranded, or banished from Dave Marsh's The Heart of Rock and Soul greatest singles ever book. There's certainly value and interest to coming up with a different shape for the past, the disorientation of an up-ended perspective. But then you also have to wonder what it is about the Rock(ist) Narrative that is so compelling that it made people A/ bring it into existence in the first place and B/ keep on sustaining it with a torrent of critical writing, books, fan discourse, etc. It's not just generational narcissism, I don't think, or a case of "history gets written by the victors" (are they really victors here, and if so what are their spoils?). What I'm getting is, nothing was stopping people writing histories about the other stuff, Doris Day or Pat Boone or Engelbert Humperdinck or whatever… Same as nothing ever stopped anyone from writing a history of electronic dance music in the Nineties that made trance or handbag house the central narrative. That those people haven't come forth tells you something about the motivating power of certain kinds of music, their ability to generate Myth.

Perfecting Sound Forever : The Story of Recorded Music
By Greg Milner (UK: Granta / US: Faber & Faber, Inc)
,review here

Fascinating-looking study of the history of record production.

And a couple more on the horizon

sad to see gutterbreaks shut up shop


skykicking reopens with the first of many instalments in a Finney series on the year's best funky trax
read this and realised:

Lada Gaga = Fischerspooner with tits

but also

Lady Gaga = Fischerspooner, with hits

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"a large bag of loopy"
who should replace Paula on Idol?
you can get the album by Shits and Giggles (ariel pink + vas deferens organisation, remember) over here

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Meant to put this in Really Feeling (Old). The British Mysterious Traveller is how Joe Stannard tagged it, and that's spot on. Weather Report, if they came from Wiltshire. Fusion meets Fortean Times. "Glittering Circles" makes me think of crop circles. With its fragrant wafts of Swingly backing vocals, "Fair Mirage" is astral and anodyne: picture the imaginary squad of library musicians behind Other Channels finally getting a chance to let down their hair, stretch out, get expressive. John Martyn, one of numerous guests recruited by Ardley, lets off some hot licks, but the real stars here are the gyrating synths and the rhythm section. The bass has this tinted/colorized glow, the drums are doing this skippety funk, taut like a rubber band stretched to snapping point, and it sounds for all the world like "Flight"-era A Certain Ratio if they could really (really) play. Harmony came out in 1979--could ACR possibly have heard it? Seems unlikely. But I'm guessing Ultramarine must know and love this record.
Owen, superb, on OMD's Dazzle Ships.

Which I've never heard, shamefully, but aim to rectify that, pronto.

My fave OMD tunes: "Talking Loud and Clear". And the B-side of "Electricity", "Almost" (although this live version is a bit shaky)
[unexpected resurrection of long-defunct series]

"It feels like Spacemen 3 and Suicide having a stillborn child."

description/endorsement of Wet Hair's Dream LP by No Not Fun Not No blog

Synchronicity--yesterday I got this mix of R & S classics by Optimo. Had lots of the tunes already but they've scooped up some lost gems and the mix is great, really flashed me back to this moment before I got totally pulled into the breakbeat side of things when it was all about the Belgium/Beltram/Bolland axis. Everything was still under the umbrella of "techno," but techno didn't mean what it later came to signify, it was banging and kicking and slamming, either this dark pulsing maniacally fixated linearity ("F.U.2", "House of God") or swarming clouds of bliss-gas ("Dominator", "Acid Pandemonium").

And then today I see FACT have this 20 Best for Belgian Hardcore Techno--although the list-maker, one Warlock, calls it 20 Best: Euro, because there's some Dutch and Italian contributions to the style. There's a mix too.

A great moment in electronic music, and a sound that doubles as the fourth cornerstone of the nuum and the foundation of a whole separate branch, a different hardcore continuum (Nordcore? Eurohardcore?), the one that stormtroops off into gabber and gloomcore (plus tangents like digital hardcore and splatterbreaks and powernoise and...). Not quite as rich a sound-stream as "our" nuum, because it didn't start with quite so many resources i don't think, a narrower gene pool, so not really surprising that in the past decade it hasn't been nearly as fertile as its UK cousin. Mind you, Marc Acardipane is still persevering, I never noticed he put this out (also on eMusic) ("Crunk" on that EP is good, I always thought there was something gabba-like about Lil Jon's sound)and there was this earlier in the year.

For some reason the name "Peter Slaghuis" always makes me titter.


also in FACT, Woebot on the new Zomby.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

"we've come to equate machines with funkiness"

now this is not only a good laugh but actually quite musical i think

also reminds me of the art of noise video with the 8 year old punkette chopping up musical instruments with a chainsaw

wait a minute here's the official "chainsaw calligraphy" video with actual girls wielding chainsaws

and here's a megamix of all three tracks on the EP

yeah i'm all for these bastard children of "spongebob"

i mean, where would you rather be--in the midst of a crowd aving it apeshit to this sort of scato-splatterbass?

or in the midst of headz sagely nodding (off, more like!) to moist 'n' milky minimalism such as this "talisman" of a track?

it's like wax doctor all over again

and (like wax doctor) adds weight to this infallible gauge i have whereby wackness of name is directly proportionate to wackness of music

(same goes for track titles actually -- "hyph mngo"! to say it is to sound like you're spluttering in laughter)

yeah as per raffertie the ludic, maximalist direction in post-wobble is the way to go i think... okay there's a bit of Shitmatty A.D.D. in the production, but strangely that is much more tolerable and enjoyable at the slow 'n' low tempos of dubstep

16bit myspace and 16bit mix
Interesting Zomby quotes in a recent interview:

on why he did Where Were You in 92:

"I was growing up in the middle of the greatest dance music scene the UK has ever seen, I guess, so it’s natural to me, but might seem shockingly different to other material of mine you’ve heard. I was like 12 in ‘92 and in record shops with friends ready to soak up all the sounds coming next, you know, and that’s what we did. It’s all really natural to me, you have to understand the music I make is in me, I don’t make hardcore as a pastiche or homage, I am a product of it all. My generation who loved the music will tell you the same thing, you know. You can choose to highlight different ends of the spectrum in different ways: from hardcore to jungle, from garage to whatever - you can’t turn your ears off."

so nuum runs in his blood, it's his musical DNA basically (as it is for Cooly G, almost literally, her mum having been a raver)

of course from my perspective it makes total sense that the two w***ky producers i find most exciting are the ones with the closest relationship to the nuum (the other being Joker, much of whose stuff is like a cinematic, polished version of the Terror Danjah/Davinche/Low Deep grime template, kind of like hidden agenda vis-a-vis jungle back in the day)

and then Zomby on his Animal Collective "Summertime Clothes" remix:

"I did a ‘92 hardcore mix [but] they preferred the more experimental one I did smashed on psychotropic drugs which is you know - fine - we ran with that."

Hang on--color me confused here! He's... joking, obviously. Right? Because, like, the impression I'd been given was that he only ever makes music in a condition of absolute mental clarity, calmly plotting out his metrical aberrations on graph paper. Resulting in amazing tracks like this, a drumless slice of pure braindance.

Terrific use of the Stargate sequence from 2001, A Space Odyssey, there.

I reckon he should do another video (perhaps for "Mescaline Cola" on the new EP?) using sequences from Ken Russell's Altered State...