Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mordant Music are Jonny Mugwump's special guests playing nonstop exclusives on this week's Exotic Pylon (Saturday night on Resonance FM, 9.30 to 11 PM --also appearing is Joel from Quiet Village celebrating the centenary of De Wolfe)

Tis the season to be hauntological, cos two weeks after that the guest is Position Normal, and two weeks after that it's Moon Wiring Club... more info here on the Pylon schedule for the next few months

(Check out the archive for woebot, stubbs, west norwood cassette library, etc)

Very good, actually: Shackleton zone for the most part, but "Regressor" and "Ghostly Hardware" recall also the meteorite-scarred lunar bleakness of Marc Acardipane's ambient gabba mode ("Jupiter Pulse" etc).

I've succumbed to the charms of "Dance Wiv Me". It's a textbook example of that popist precept/procedure, whereby “'importance' and 'relevance' is a scam and a trap" and if you can only "stop thinking about things in those terms, all of music and art becomes far more enjoyable" (Matthew Perpetua). Once you stop thinking about who Dizzee was, what he (and grime) represented--once you let all that go--he suddenly emerges as a top-class entertainer, and "Dance Wiv Me" is revealed as a supremely nifty tune. Actually my favourite bit of that song is not Dizzee's hard chat but the Calvin Harris part: Terry Hall without the scowl.

Much superior to that disappointingly milky, washed-out last album. Mystery with muscle.

Easily my favourite Sun Ra, something I originally taped off Stubbs's vinyl copy in the early Eighties. But wasn't this spacey-keyboards dominated record (recorded live in Milan in the late Seventies, something I never knew) already reissued last year, and as a double CD that time? I'm confused.

Different but holding: feathery songscapes woven largely out of human breath (Aguayo's multi-tracked, vaguely African vocals), the effect is like TV On the Radio both a cappella and in severe dub... or Furious Pig meets the Lyndsey Buckingham of "Trouble".

really feeling

Superb and something of a coup: evenly divided between songs and pure electronic music, largely devoid of samples, this sounds nothing like Dead Air and yet it's still totally Mordant Music. Who else could turn lines like "Norfolk and Surrey/ Estuarial slurry" into a haunting neo-psychedelic ballad?

A fraction of the tapeography of Dolphins Into The Future, my new favourite group. Balearic noise/nu-New Age blissdrone: a smoothie of Boards of Canada and Seefeel , with a booster thimble of Songs of the Humpback Whale thrown in.

A fragment of the tapeography of my new second-favorite group, Ducktails. This, the latest (I think it's the latest, stuff is popping out constantly) is actually a vinyl LP, titled Landscapes and released on the Old English Spelling Bee label. Like most Ducktails, it's largely blissy guitar instrumentals, somewhere between Ariel Pink's more laidback,sundazed moments and a beach bum Galaxie 500, with here and there a glimmer of Durutti. But every so often there'll be a foray into electronic nu-New Age: here, the wondrous light-dance that is "Seagull's Flight"…. check out also, on the Backyard LP, the equally wondrous "Neptune City, NJ".

Ariel Pink has turned out to be one of the most influential underground musicians of the decade, hasn't he?

Friday, October 23, 2009

the thing that struck me about this (snd I'm all for hype, so that wasn't it) is that the voice of the journalist (Kiran Sande) and the voice of the artist (Jam City a/k/a Jack Latham) are virtually indistinguishable.... thoughtful, super-informed about music history, eloquent.... this seems to be the norm with the nu skool producers coming out of the Garage Continuum (copyright Pitchfork, no comment), they really do know their history and are incredibly articulate and precise about placing what they do in some macro-context, mapping out the flow of influences... which in this case (and increasingly) extends beyond nuum to other zones of the past (other nuums) as well as other zones of the globe (kwaito in Jam City's case) ...

this virtual indistinguishability of tone and discursive mode, it feels like a pretty new development. maybe it's exacerbated by interviews being done by email, therefore thought-about-over-time, written up nice and proper, not having the chattiness and fumbling of a spoken interview, but i don't think that's really it... interviewing artists from the nuum in my experience (which is grime and all stages prior to that), even or especially in written form... there's generally something of a idiolect gap, a marked difference in ways of talking ... this nu-skool of producers in lots of ways is the real blog-house, or blogger-house...

There's a whole axis that's emerged in the last several years, coalescing to some extent out of and to some extent off the back of, the nuum .... postdubstep some call it (ugh) although it's also (as with Jam City) postgrime and post some other things too... but what it really is, this fuzzy region that's sort of blurring the edges of, overlapping and encroaching,the nuum... it's the nu-IDM, i think. (The give-away: Brainfeeder, which virtually is Braindance, as per RePhlex's slogan)(Hyperdub as the new RePhlex? Planet Mu as the bridge between RePhlex and Hyperdub?). But crucially it's IDM, reformed. IDM, with most, if not all, of the blindspots removed. IDM, if it actually was serious about the "dance" bit of Intelligent Dance Music. IDM, hip (acutely hip) to where the real energy centers are. IDM, with none of the parody-it snark/goofiness of drill'n'bass/squarepusher/kid606 (if anything, gone the other way and a wee bit too earnest and reverent). So many of the right moves are made, and so many of IDM's faults reformed, that you can't fault this zone of music really. And I don't. I enjoy a lot it (Jam City mix, very nice). Besides, this is my class,isn't it... where I belong.

And yet...

One of the places where a difference comes through, persists, is actually in the names. "Jam City", it just doesn't quite cut it. (As for Joy Orbison...*) Whereas Ill Blu, or Roska, or Crazy Cousinz, or Perempay, these monikers are in the tradition of Rufige Kru and Boogie Times Tribe and Masterstepz and Dem 2... It is now probably pretty easy to get the music right, you can break down and isolate the formal features of all kinds of real-energy-center type musics and come up with nifty rearrangements of them. But it's the peripheral stuff (names, titles, etc) that is actually where that sort of scene-genealogical transmission of vibe still occurs.

* "Joker" (which has pedigree as slighty used jungle producer alias) and "Cooly G" are right on the edge, name-wise. And right on the edge, musically, come to think of it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guardian piece by me on Numero Group and issues raised by their grand project of sonic reclamation

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lots of food for thought in K-punk's Towards a New Orthodoxy post

Which is the lastest instalment of Mark's fasc-i-nat-ing web-demonology-in-progress of "grey vampires" and "trolls", as developed with this chap Graham Harman who cogently expresses the Problem with Comments Boxes here

As Graham outlines so sharply, there is something structural about the channels through which net-discourse organises itself that makes the web into a training ground for world-class nitpickers... the people who thrive there, who become stars, are the rapid-response units whose self-worth is bound up with their ability to spot holes and weaknesses rather than respond productively to wholes and strengths (c.f. those book reviewers, rife in academia, who spend the whole review listing the things omitted or not covered, rather than grappling with the actual argument and substance of the book)... People who find it humiliating--even disturbing--should they ever happen to find themselves in agreement with someone else's position...

(Thinking of a recent, rather fierce discussion I got embroiled in, you really get the sense, after a while, that there are certain individuals so desperate not to be seen to be, or feel inside like they are, in accord with A.N. Other's Truth, that they'd actually rather embrace untruth)

But part of the point of reading, surely, is the possibility that you might actually have your mind changed?

Might there even be an ethic of reading to be found here: the good reader as someone who--rather than approach the text in a defensive crouch of wary vigilance--comes to it open to persuasion...
in further proof of its unexpected (by some--keeping munching that dung, chaps) durability, hauntology becomes a marketing tool

good selection there actually (but who unearth are Kreng and Demdike Stare?!)and nice to see satisfied comments from the punters who took them up on the 14 tracks for 7 quid special offer

actually now i think about it they tried this a while back with the nuum but didn't get the selection quite right

stop press: get round to opening yesterday's mail and what do i find, but a cd from Demdike Stare - i shall report in due course, but here's the cover:

a companion volume for, or even the amputated Siamese twin of

might be this deluxe tome--kinda like an index without a book in front of it-- that contains barely more than an alphabetical list of 51 thousand metal bands

more information here and here and interview with conceptualist Dan Nelson in the current issue of The Word

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The first paragraph's gotten garbled, not sure how and the man who could fix it is in Pakistan, but here's my piece on the golden age of UK synthpop for the Guardian Guide. It's pegged to the forthcoming BBC 4 documentary Synth Britannia, which airs for the first time next Friday (October 16th) at 9PM (plus some other times) and features a fair amount of pontification from yours truly.

Friday, October 09, 2009

amazing to think that this was a/ released as a single b/ actually a Billboard hit

Saturday, October 03, 2009


latest instalments in an irregular series occasioned by the large number of friends who've got books out this year

I like to think we're all mates at The Wire. But at least two of the contributors here have been round my gaff, others I've quaffed with, and another did me a favour many years ago... but I better say no more in case either of us plans to run for political office in the future. I'm in here too with a primer on grime.

I couldn't honestly say any of the participants here are mates, as such. But Paul Morley's long piece on postpunk Manchester is a real treat, the other texts look interesting (don't envy the poor sod who had to make a case for Manchester after the second 808 State album--i.e. last eighteen years--though!) and Kevin Cummins's pix are ace.
well ideologically i'm with the Finney position on the "intelligent funky" aka funkstep direction, of course i am

embarrassingly though i find this as a listening experience much more exciting than e.g. this

the latter is pumping house with a slightly odd-angled groove, whereas "Natty Dub" takes the odd angles and builds a whole track out of them.

i know, i know, it's all about "the full circumference"; in the scene itself there's loads of things in between these two poles

just saying: one sounds not that different from what we've heard before, from things that have the whiff of bottle-service-only about them; one points towards something we've not heard before

also, in terms of playing beyond the pre-converted/following-this-zone-for-years bods and the lundunmassive home crowd (significantly funky is so far the first nuum sound not to have established even the smallest beach head outside the UK) the abstract/darker/tech-ier stuff is going to do it, if anything does

cos they already have sexy party house music, everywhere on earth, they don't need some slightly kooky yookay variant of it
interesting series of posts (and ensuing discussions inter alia) chez wayne marshall of wayne'n'wax on what he calls "treble culture" and a corresponding decline in the cult of bass - one, two, and three

i was really struck the first time i saw a 14 year old kid listening to music via a cellphone cupped to his ear, just like a 70s transistor radio in the 70s, while walking full speed up the street. this was london a few years ago and the squawk of top-volume distorted mp3 treble sounded awful, i dread to think the damage he was doing to his ears
teaser for broadcast/focus group lp

live taster part 1 for broadcast/focus group lp

live taster part 2 for broadcast/focus group lp

another live taster for broadcast/focus group lp

audio trailer for broadcast/focus group lp

"Phenomena and occurrences" trailer for Folklore and Mathematics periodical

animated video (unofficial) for "reflected message" by focus group
Momus, announcing the retirement of his Click Opera blog (not immediate but soon), mentions a downside of online discourse:

"Sure, Click Opera has been a sort of karate course, and its comment facility has taught me to be more dialectical and -- above all -- the skill set of prolepsis, of anticipating reader objections. But is a more moderate, accessible and dialectical me really what the world needs? Doesn't the world need an immoderate, outrageous and concentrated me, just laying out things that only I could think, no matter how wrong they may be?"

Yeah I agree prolepsis sucks, it seems to have taken a lot of the categorical oomph and thrust out of writing, unless you're just utterly bullheaded you will inevitably find yourself riddling what you do with qualification and nuancing...

Strangely, prolepsis rarely seems to afflict comments boxers... but i guess they can shelter under aliases or "anonymous," they don't have to own their utterances in the same way
blogglebummer samuel macklin blogging again with an appreciation of the woefully underappreciated papa sprain

unless it's false memory syndrome i'm pretty certain that i heard that infamous ulysses album and i'm afraid i rather sympathised with the record label. not sure if i kept the tape though.