Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On one of our visits to London in the last couple of years, we stayed at a hotel in Shepherd's Bush. Walking along the West side of the Green I was surprised and oddly delighted to pass a building called Threshold House. Here's a picture of the building at 65-69 Shepherds Bush Green. This must surely be where Coil got the name of their label from, right? There's hardly any information to be found about the building on the web, but it was leased for a time by the BBC (the big television centre is just up the road) and apparently was where the Doctor Who production office was located for some years. Here I found some tantalising references to Doctor Who writers trooping down to Threshold House for meetings during the Eighties. Apparently there's an organisation called Threshold in the Doctor Who comic strips... And what's this about the Arkheon Threshold and the Planet of Ghosts? "The time rift created spectral visions". Now Coil did a record titled Time Machines, didn't they... Sounds a bit Tardis-y. Must all tie up, this, in some way, surely. But hmmm, I don't see anything out there suggesting Peter and Jhonn were Who nuts (probably too corny for them, insufficiently esoteric) or even particularly into the Radiophonic Workshop (despite their interest in early synthesisers, as with the Soviet Ans).

What actually reminded me of passing Threshold House was stumbling on this 1971 Jarman short over at Ubu Web.

Journey to avebury
Uploaded by zohilof. - Discover more animation and arts videos.
Took me a few minutes to realise who was responsible for the uncredited soundtrack (which was made in the 90s and added on retroactively) mainly cos it's not that characteristic (wish more of their stuff was in this vein really). The combination of Schulze/Schnitzler type analog amorphousness with the standing stones made me flash on the cover of Belbury Poly's From An Ancient Star and some of the more kosmische / electro-pastoral tracks on it.

the other blissblogs....

and these ones have bliss blogs concealed within them:

... and that's just some of the other blissblogs
"Everything sounds so bloody crisp and sleek these days, there’s an international shortage of grit" -- FACT's Kiran Sande on a
rufige resurgence / 2010 as Year of the Breakbeat

Monday, February 22, 2010

Always thought it was a conceptual wrinkle in the Ghost Box project that they put out their music as compact discs (and in the early days, as CD-Rs) rather than as vinyl or cassettes. So it's lovely to behold the label's very first vinyl release *, an enhanced and expanded edition of The Advisory Circle's maxi-EP Mind How You Go from several years ago. Superb then and even better enlarged and in warm'n'vivid analogue sound, Mind How You Go (Revised Edition) is the first in the occasional series Ghost Box Vinyl Editions: reissues of back catalogue records with new tracks or unreleased material or versions of original tracks by guest artists.

* Broadcast & The Focus Group investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age ** came out on vinyl, true, but that doesn't count as it was on Warp (even though audio-visually the whole thing virtually was a Ghost Box release).

** Meant to mention this at the time, but: Witch Cults of the Radio Age as The Wire's Number One Album of 2009--cool huh? Another supersized serving of dung for the naysayers to masticate. Five years on, this particular Geist is proving to have more staying power, and appeal, than some fondly foresaw.
the other Die Antwort

even whiter than the first one!

actually this lot would have been the first one, that's from 2007 i think. they must be pissed off!

the white playa thing doesn't really work does it, they just look like nouveau riche twatz flashing the cash in yer face

someone asked me about this actually, and i couldn't think of any white playa/baller MCs (does Pitbull count? he's Cuban right), your Caucasians usually go for other rap archetypes/personae

(that reminds me, job de wit gave me a bunch of links to white Dutch / Euro rappers, i should post 'em up here)

* the fuss on die antwoord with the extra 'o' and the 't' instead of 'd' died down real quick didnit - that's the trouble with interweb i spose, ephemerality. i listened to the album again last night though and it really is phenomenal, faux or not
Morley, stretching out, with profiles of Giggs and Tinchy Stryder
piece on the resurgence of female MCs in funky by a young man who habitually refers to it as the "cuntinuum"

and yet the piece's crux is pure received wisdom, virtually doctrinal nuumology *

"it is no real surprise that female MCs returned to prominence on the British urban scene last year, just as harsher, male-coded grime beats were supplanted by UK funky rhythms in the clubs. Funky – already widely credited for returning girls to urban raves en masse – has been particularly conducive to the return of Jamaican toasting, given its own close rhythmic ties to soca and dancehall… Funky also bears similarities to turn-of-the-century UK garage – which may be why some familiar names have resurfaced, such as Stush and Ms Dynamite"

that's what we call "feminine pressure" round these parts

i'm not sure what the right term is for someone who denounces a theory that they've been mentally colonised by.... Not hypocrisy, exactly, because it's clearly unwitting... False consciousness? Bad faith?

reminds me a bit of Tea Party types in America railing against healthcare reform as socialism in one breath and protesting "keep government out of Medicare" in the next.

"keep the cuntinuum out of funky!"

* The bit where Lady Leshurr explained her hyperspeed delivery--"I got the fast flow from starting on drum'n'bass – I didn't even think I was going fast, I just needed to match the beat"--also struck me as quite nuum-y. I mean who'd have ever thought jungle could still, in 2010, be influencing things going on now, eh?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

last Saturday, the penultimate night of the Unsound Festival, I went to the "Bass Mutations" night at the Bunker in Williamsburg, where the main room's headliners were TRG, Untold and 2562.

Untold was the one I was most curious about: how would this sound--not nu-IDM so much as Nuum-IDM--as heard on all those mixes work out as body-shocking, crowd-rocking fare? Well, I was never bored: the set was relentlessly intelligent, and intelligently relentless. (As was TRG beforehand). Still, it was striking that the moments through the whole night that seemed vibey-est were funky-related ones (a track by Roska, DVA's "Natty", a couple of others.) It wasn't that they were ruder, exactly; you couldn't have described the other stuff as polite, it was all pummellingly physical, insistently high energy. If I could put my finger on what was absent elsewhere but present in those moments that gave me the real tingle, it might actually be genre-icity itself. But why would that provide "added value", and in a way that was felt first, as instant visceral/emotional way response, bypassing intellect? A mystery I'd like to return to at a later date, after due rumination.


Looking for some background on the guy I came across Blackdown's interview from the middle of last year, and was surprised to read this response from Untold to a question about when he started producing and what the spur was:

"I got my first sampler and keyboard in 1993. I’d bought some cheap decks a few months previously and was deep in the dark jungle sound emerging out of hardcore. It was a mad year. I went from listening to pirate radio and tapes clueless as to how the tunes were created or mixed to discovering raves, buying tunes and learning to beatmatch and string sets together on these belt drive decks.

I played all these amen jungle tunes on 33rpm just so I could hear what was going on with the beats. I remember being so blown away by all those pitch shifted, timestretched and reversed drum edits on the early Reinforced and Moving Shadow releases I just desperately needed to clock how they were created. It was never about getting tunes out on vinyl, just being able to make those mashed up beats.

I’d love to be able to listen to those tape packs again with the same naivety, appreciate them as a half hour slab of sound… unaware of different tunes being blended, hearing those classic breakbeat samples just as futuristic rhythmic noise

Well fancy that. I'm always being told we're in a whole new era. Past is irrelevant. Old models, no longer applicable. But here's this dude, a poster boy for the New Boundary-Dissolving Fluidity/"There Are No Rules Anymore", and he's, if not a Nuum General, then a Nuum Non-Commissioned Officer.

(No spring chicken either by the sound of it, unless he was eight when he got his first sampler.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vancouver resident Sam Macklin instructs me to stop posting pictures of Olympics contestants and instead flag up his label's release of a new track by Papa Sprain members Cregan Black, Gary McKendry and Richie Reynolds. Track is downloadable here as a free MP3 and you can find more info about the release at Sam's blog Bubblegum Cage III

And for Sam's further delight a picture of Olympic gold double-winner Richard D. James

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

third volume of Pontone's Spectral Cassette series, the best yet i think

Monday, February 15, 2010

gold tip gloves -- now that's bling

apolo ohno
rhymes with
david navarro

the opening ceremony was like North Korea meets Cirque du Soleil

what Fred Jameson might call the "kitsch sublime"

bear was cool though

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

last Olympics I thought winter sports were devo

especially speed skating

but this time round i'm thinking winter sports are more like white people bling

talking of which

white rappers--why are they always so white?

(for the human beatbox bit in the middle) (can't bring myself to have Limp Bizkit on the blog so this will have to cover rap-metal)

Rather a high proportion are not just white but Viking white--reddish hair, complexion that would freckle if exposed to sunlight. Extreme pallor seems to be a job specification for your Caucasian rapper (for contrast?). Can't think of a white rapper who's swarthy, or tanned… Or even with ruddy cheeks, a healthy pink glow.

On this topic, see also:

This must have been grist for a dissertation or academic essay somewhere, surely.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

great mix by Moon Wiring Club's Ian Hodgson c/o The Wire (where u can also dl this delicious cassette cover)

plus gallery of Hodgson-designed Moontime Summertime 76 book covers

plus excluuuuuuse free Moon Wiring Club 4 track MP3 EP A Field Full of Sunken Horses, lacking the track titles as yet so for those who want them they go:

01. The Moontower
02. Magpie Mine
03. He've got Saint Lawrence on the Shoulder
04. Wolves in My House

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


really feeling

really really feeling

... they're like Pitman meets Sudden Sway meets Yo Gabba Gabba meets Marshall Masters featuring The Ultimate MC meets Bubba Sparxx...

Monday, February 08, 2010

[via Cybore (Woebot/Matt Ingram's new home)]

Blackout Crew immediately springs to mind

that girl's hair is like the skinhead + long feathered-out bits look the Dutch gabber grrrls had back in the 90s

that one is (visually) like House of Pain meets the Residents

overall reminded me a wee bit of this guy (talk about hype that fizzled real quick) and his collaborator Afrikaans Boy, an MC from Orania

more information on Die Antwoord and even more info on Die Antwoord

and yet more information

the website'secret chamber

hear the album here
Continuing my mini-tradition of taking very mild piss out of people who've appeared in The Wire, here we have the opposite of the Basinski sound/image mismatch. These shots--in the February issue of The Wire--of Mark Ernestus (as in Basic Channel/Maurizio/Rhythm & Sound co-creator, as in Hard Wax proprietor) are a bit like that syndrome where a dog owner starts to resemble their dog, or vice versa

here the dude looks like minimal techno

(of course the gauntness might actually be the result of illness or something, in which case, erm, apologies... but it is such a classic early 90s tekno slaphead look weathered by the passing years i really think there must be some kind of homology of art and appearance at work here)

dig the beard! dig the spectacles! dig the pipe!!!!!!!

more splendid salvage from Trunk Recordings: an anthology of the Radiophonic-aligned maverick electronic composer Tristram Cary, more about him here
Athens Georgia on my mind

couple things i'm finding very listenable

The Method Actors, This is Still It: Early Recordings, London 1980-81

From the same scene as B-52s/Pylon, the Method Actors eluded me when I was researching Rip It Up, apart from one single I found which didn't quite live up to the expectations created by a Barney Hoskyns piece in NME circa 1982. But this Acute reissue makes me see why he thought they were such an inventive band. As with the other key Athens, Georgia bands there's a Gang of Four influence but you can also hear Television, Wire, and parallels with the Bunnymen's most pared-down stuff such as "All I Want". Stripping it down to the fundamental grammar of rock, etc etc, but here distinguished/elevated by remarkably vigorous and dynamic rhythm (Method Actors were just a duo, drummer David Gamble and guitarist Vic Varney).

LoneLady, Nerve Up

And then this young woman from Manchester whose debut LP on Warp works on similar principles to Method Actors/B-52s/Pylon--tension, rhythm guitar, a gaunt and bony minimalism, a kind of rockfunk that neither rocks nor is funky exactly but drives--and whose voice rather uncannily sounds like the transgendered reincarnation of the young Michael Stipe. Which was not what I ever imagined I'd want to hear in 2010 but Nerve Up reminded me how good, how original (and how postpunk, for all the Byrdsy/Sixties flavour) the early REM were. LoneLady even have the boxy Eighties drum sound (drum machine I think in their case, one song even has an electro-type clave poingg in it). Hints of Throwing Muses now and then but mostly it's the Athens vibe--Athens harrowed with the chill of Ancoats. Here's a profile of LoneLady a/k/a Julie Campbell by city patriot Paul Morley and her diary of making the record.

coupla "rap's pretty vital actually" retorts

my old melody maker colleague (and occasional sparring partner) Neil Kulkarni with a brilliant piece of writing (how come hardly anyone hardly ever writes like this anymore--full-bore, off-the-leash, elegant aggression?)

still at the end of it I didn't feel like the argument (gems are out there, just gotta dig, dig deep) was incompatible with my mine, which was much more re. the mainstream of rap (whose innovation/surprise ratio has steeply declined, as has its actual profile/dominance of the mainstream). the mainstream face of rap now is, what, Drake/Lil Wayne/Enimen on the Grammys (absolutely ghastly), and "Empire State of Mind", which is a great Alicia Keys tune that could have come out in 1974 in terms of its essential musical properties (it has a touch of Carly Simon or maybe Laura Nyro about it).

likewise David Drake (aka ILM's deej) whose retort takes the form not of an argument but a mixtape. which i listened to a couple of times and enjoyed quite a bit, but, again, without feeling it really constituted a refutation. the contents certainly seemed sufficient to keep you keeping the faith if you were heavily predisposed to do that, but could equally explain why those who'd been into rap in a heavy-duty way earlier in the decade might have have felt their interest fading. there weren't any real surprises, any head-flip moments.

quoting from memory Neil uses this term "reflexive wistfulness" to describe the golden-ageist tendency within hip hop fandom (but also any area of music fandom probably). but from my point of view equally irritating is reflexive patriotism, which is this syndrome where people will happily whinge and moan on a weekly basis about their beloved genre, right up until someone takes the logical and clear-eyed and dispassionate next step and says weeeell this whole genre is rut-stuck innit and then they get knee-jerk defensive. again i think of the "bad marriage" syndrome, where you can kvetch about your spouse all you like (because an oath of loyalty has been sworn) but if someone from outside was to say something critical, it'd be "mind your own fucking business" and fisticuffs

Thursday, February 04, 2010

listings #2

Reminder/update: as part of the Unsound Festival, this coming Sunday Andy Battaglia and I will be co-hosting a panel on music journalism. Line-up: Mike Powell, Michaelangelo Matos, and Anwyn Crawford. Time: 2PM. Location: Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building, 5 East 3rd St (between Bowery and 2nd Avenue), New York. Admission: free.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

listings #1

London massive may wish to attend the launch event for Tim Lawrence's excellent study of Arthur Russell, Hold On To Your Dreams, at the ICA on February 20th.

Tickets can be purchased via the ICA website; updates, news and further information re. the launch and the book can be found at Tim's book blog.