Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

some call it hipster house, but John Calvert deserves some kind of
award /reward for this coinage:


just let that roll around your palate for a bit

here's his piece on chill-ravers Stay +


re. hip(ster)house, fellow who goes as RSR informs:

"i'm hearing the name 'homeless house' used by practitioners and scenesters, i.e. geneva jacuzzi and xorar. apparently a hat-tip to jus-ed who started djing for the second time while homeless and using only the six records he still owned"

and adds, accusingly:

"sometimes it seems like you think only certain people should like certain music. sometimes it seems like you think there's an authentic way to like music and a non-authentic way".

to which I say: au contraire, if anything hipster/homeless, it's a little too reverent towards early Chicago/ Detroit, they don’t fuck with the blueprint enough, could definitely be bastardised some more. no, what I do find a little odd, a little off, is this... okay they’re so into house music, but it’s not like there isn’t an ongoing house music culture that is the extension of music that inspires them. So why don't they participate in that, contribute to its furtherance? Could be that they don't like current club culture for social reasons, antipathy re. the sort of people into house-as-is. But it's not like house music has disappeared from the face of the earth and needs to be revived and resurrected. it's not even the case that it's changed so much that a Return to Original Principles is required. so there is the suspicion that hipster house = people whose productions wouldn't cut it on a contemporary dancefloor. Which is not to say that the stuff doesn't have a stand-alone charm and appeal outside that context.


James Grant points me to some "hipster hardcore"

a compilation of the stuff from the label Coral Records which you can hear in its entirety here

and an article about the conceptual framing of the project as "seapunk" (!)

well they've really got the old skool sound on that first track

and the third track, it's more Bukem aquajungle / "dolphin" vibes, so even more attuned to the concept (one does wonder if this "seapunk" is for real or a spoof on micro-genritis within the Zones of Alteration...)

other stuff is more omnivorous/post-everything-dance/digi-maximalist in vibe but cool

talking of "dolphin", there was this Nebula II track "Eye Memory" that sampled dolpin-chatter and was about how a dolphin, once it's met you, will never ever forgot you. i remember it getting played on a pirate as a hot-off-the-press tune and the deejay explaining the concept of "eye memory"... it was an incongruous David Attenborough moment on Touchdown or Destiny or whichever pirate it was...

Friday, October 28, 2011

brostep versus blubstep

brostep taking over

they shoulda used this

except it's too pensive and sombre and dark-clouds-a-gathering

too proto-blubstep

the hangover to brostep's binge

the comedown after the rush

(here's the full version of the brostep tune in the advert)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

pt 2 of timothy gabriele's trilogy on industrial music's reverberations thru 90s / 00s pop + semipop + unpop
no please god noooooooo let it not happen let it not happen let it not happen

Adele: "In terms of singing on a track alongside someone, I'd love to collaborate with Mumford and Sons because Marcus Mumford's voice goes straight through me. It reminds me of the first time that I heard Etta James and how that made me feel.
hipster house (slight return)

Where's Yr Child is this LA-based irregular club / DJ collective involving Sun Araw's Cameron Stallones, ex of the NNF family. The name is a nod to this acid house classic.

And then there's this image which bestrides the website--an all-black crowd of dancers with hands raised ecstatically:

I grabbed that image off of the WYC website and the jpeg has the title "cropped paradise garage". so that's what the pic is: Levan's congregation

i suppose that's no different from German techhouseheads calling a club Robert Johnson or indeed the Rolling Stones naming themselves after a Muddy Waters song.. but something about it jarred... i haven't been to a Where's Yr Child, but somehow I'm guessing the audience composition of a typical night is rather different, and probably so is the atmosphere...

right now, along with the Paradise Garage shot, WYC have a picture of a mass of mostly white ravers. But generally the iconography at Where's Yr Child is black--supersharp dancers at various clubs from several decades ago, a picture of dancehall act Scare Dem Crew, a Rasta with enormous bulbous infolded dreads. And didn't I read that Stallones is actually making a record with The Congos?

"Impluvium", the last track on Ancient Romans, the new, incredibly-dense-with-detail Sun Araw record, is a house jam...

i suppose there's a natural fit between digging psychedelic rock and digging psychedelic dance... indeed now and then the wah-wah glare of Sun Araw makes me think of baggy's trippier, looser-fitted moments... that Stone Roses B-side "Something's Burning"... the Can-nier side of Happy Mondays... even Cope's copping a baggy feel on Peggy Suicide

i wonder how he (and "they", in general) got into this stuff in the first place (meaning house, acieed, balearic etc)... most likely from a completely different route than contemporary club people get "there"... i.e. not from clubbing but from records, books, Internet deposits (Hot Mix 5 radio sets from Eighties Chicago, Baldelli mixes, Youtubes of classic jams).

(i wonder how i'll feel if/when this crowd latch onto the stuff i really cared about/lived through... "hipster hardcore", "hipster jungle")

then again, I do recall reading somewhere that Stallones comes from a heavy duty religious background... so perhaps there's an underlying trance-endental logic that connects the attraction to psychedelic/kosmische rock, roots reggae and house in both its acid and gospel-deep strands

as the sample on that Ultramarine tune (forget which one) puts it "they're searching for spiritual reasons, they're looking for something more than this world has to offer"

or "dancing is sacred" (from this great late acid jam by Ultramarine)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ghosts and zombies

as zombie versions of Footloose and John Carpenter's The Thing battle for #1 box office in America this weekend, Los Angeles Times's Patrick Goldstein asks: "Is Hollywood's Mania For Remakes Spinning Out of Control?"

mind you The Thing was itself a sort-of-remake of a Howard Hawkes movie already, right? And Halloween has a pomo streak running through it, references to classic horror movies

just five minutes up the road from us is a ghost cinema--a derelict movie theater, the Rialto, one of those old fashioned picture palaces with the ticket booth as this separate little glass box upfront under the awning -- supposedly it actually is haunted -- and one of the pair of posters from its last week open to the public is Rob Zombie's remake of John Carpenter's Halloween

in its later years the Rialto seems to have played on its old-timey appearance and gone-to-seed shabbiness by showing a lot of midnight movie and grindhouse type fare, Rocky Horror Picture Show, etc

a daytime shot from when it was still open but looking delapidated

Friday, October 14, 2011


an odd upshot of the emergence of "hipster house" is that there are now several currents of house-homage /retro-house running concurrently

* hipster house (100% silk *, miracles club et al)

* post-dubstep producers dabbling in early 90s vibes

* german (and elsewhere) producers operating in that zone between mnml and deep house purism (into which category you could shove for convenience sake theo parrish and his ilk)

(this is in addition to output from surviving original producers in the long established Chicago/NYC house tradition (like Dennis Ferrer) plus plus contemporary clubtrax that basically adhere to the house template but bang 'n' bosh it up a bit with filter and trance and digitalizm elements in the mix (Swedish House Mafia)plus all the house-trance/ibiza-lasvegas based stuff in the Top 20 pop charts plus "the kind of international trad house [i.e. not UK funky house] that currently dominates a lot of the pirate shows" in London according to Blackdown.)

(is 2011 house's biggest year internationally since 1989-90 or whenever it was crystal waters was in the US top 10?)

house is clearly rich and long-running and wide-in-scope a tradition to seed off a whole range of retro-house throwback styles...

but equally: hasn't house always had its own innate tendency towards harking back self-reflexively? it's always been as much about invocation as innovation... about the celebration of continuity and continuum-ity... certainly at least since the invention of the idea of deep house (end of Eighties, a swerve away from ACIEEED by many of the people who invented acid house, including Pierre/Phuture himself... and then in UK terms Shoom-head Danny Rampling embraced the New Jersey sound pretty swift I believe as a reactive (and reactionary) move against the Acid Ted incursion

there's always been a side to house that was conservative and preservationist: not acid tracks and jack tracks (i.e. the becoming-hardcore half of its soul - of which Green Velvet was its own resurrection, in a way) but the keep-on-holding-on to disco-underground principles side (as manifested in Cajmere, or a track like Gusto 'Disco's Revenge" )... the idea of "true people" was invented for Detroit by Eddie Flashin' Fowlkes but it is just as applicable to house's self-image

that ethos was always particularly strong in Britain, and indeed one the things that turned me off house for much of the 90s... the fidelity, the purism .... and above all the epigonic narrative of decline that everyone who gets into this music, at whatever point in the timeline, seems to buy into... the location of "Better Days" in the rear-view mirror, rather than just around the corner

Take Black Science Orchestra's album Walter's Room. Named in homage to NYC remix pioneer Walter Gibbons. Nod to Philly's orchestrated lush proto-disco with track "City of Brotherly Love". Another nod to Philly with the track, um, "Philadelphia". Jersey and NYC homaging tracks with titles like "New Jersey Deep" and "Hudson River High" and "Downtown Science". Track that'll make any NYC resident snigger a bit: "St Mark's Square". Cringe-inducing titles like "Rican Opus #9" and "Heavy Gospel Morning" and "Bless the Darkness". All couched in a musical setting of pallid luxuriance and mild slinkiness that is pleasant enough in its tepid way but just as historically redundant as Hives and Jet were in their own traditions.

Black Science Orchestra was masterminded by Ashley Beedle. A different kind of dance-retroism was pursued in his other supergroup project The Ballistic Brothers, particularly with their much-ballyhooed-at-the-time, now unremembered album London Hooligan Soul.

this is the sleevenote:

If our memories serve us well... Bunking school for crackers on a Friday lunchtime, forget your dinner ladies. Pirate radio,codes from the underground...Saturday night blues dances and forbidden moves to Phoebe's,Four Aces and Club Norick. Shaka, Fatman and Sir Coxone, the original drum and bass. Sneaking out of the back door with your brand new shoes. Saturday's alright for fighting. Skinheads getting a beat down, ambush in the night. Stuarts in the day Fila, Lacoste, Tacchini, Armani, Lois, Nike and Kappa. Taxing the rich and famous and rushing the Burberry door. Scoring a draw down the Saints. A pick up from the SPG. Blair Peach a crying shame the NF and unmarked police vans who is to blame? Clash city rockers and white men in Hammersmith Palais. Road trips to Caister, Soul Tribes, The Frontline and the Soul Partners. All dayers in Bournemouth taking the train, taking a train, ego trip dabbing speed it's all you need. Westwood, Family Quest no contest. West End B-boys and fly girls, chrome angels Graff bombing the Met. Breaking in the Garden ... Covent to you suckers. An armful of Studio 1 from Daddy Peckings. Flim Flam to Meltdown. The Jay Brothers, goodtimes and great tribulations. Gilles P and Paul Murphy Zulu style at the Electric. Brother Paul boogie times. The Beat Route and Hard Times. Fifteen years of fucking Tories, on the dole, a thousand stories of promised lands and meccas - Blackpool. To you the sweet sounds of Levine and Curtis. The Language Lab said and Dirtbox spread and old bill cracking miners heads. Who killed Liddle Towers? The Jam at Wembley seven times and National Health for the last time. Bump and hustle, soul 45s, too far gone there is no way back. Phuture, Acid, Confusion, The Rush, The Love, the smiling hooligan with dodgy gear open minds close and get the fear. East Grinstead and Bognor lads away, falling and laughing, escape to Brighton or off to Ibiza tying to maintain the buzz. Getting older and getting wed. Elvis is dead. Is anybody out there? A poll tax riot going on. They have sold my country...

It reminds me a bit of Garry Bushell's impressionistic "set adrift on memory bliss" freeflow blurb on the back of the Strength Thru Oi! comp, but with rather different reference points... a different version of working class youth-style.... a different route, in fact, from The Clash... closer to the route Mick Jones actually took into Big Audio Dynamite in fact

this Ballistics tune is all right in its repro antique way: reminds me a bit of when the Heavenly Socialists like Jon Carter did Big Beat meets rocksteady type tracks

Of course Ballistic Bros were on Junior Boys Own. As in Terry Farley who was Chief Inspector in terms of policing house music in terms of its fidelity to the source, via his column in Muzik (or was it Mixmag?) in which he was wont to talk in vexed tones about "proper black dance music"

talking of which, here's "Blacker" from the Ballistic Bros's 1997 follow up album Rude System

note the "blacker than thou" sample at the start

and then there was the Black Jazz Chronicles on Nuphonic, home of Idjut Boys and Faze Action (debut LP Original Disco Motion) and others who verily wanted to go back and dwell forever inside Walter's room

and in fact one of Ballistic Bros and possibly Black Science Orchestra too was Dave Hill the dude who founded Nuphonic. So it all ties together! (This is getting to be like one of those Kev Pearce/Yr Heart Out follow-the-lines jobs innit -- all it needs is a couple of studio engineer names plus a snideswipe about yours truly!)

Wiki-facts about Ashley B:

-- born in Hemel Hempstead in 1962 (which means we are neighbours and contemporaries)

-- after the career peak of getting to #2 in the charts in his alter-alter-ego X-Press 2 (with "Lazy" featuring David Byrne on vocals) he spent the 2000s heading the labels Soundboy Entertainment, Afroart, and Ill Sun

-- released an album in 2010 on K7 as another alter-ego, Mavis. (A nod to Staples, presumably. I think I got sent this. It features vocals from Candi Staton but also unlikelies such as Sarah Cracknell and Edwyn Collins)

-- Beedle is referenced in the Daft Punk song "Teachers."

Did that really get to #2 in the UK pop charts?

At least these early X-Press 2 efforts have a bit of British balls about 'em


* thinking about the semiotics of "silk" as in 100% Silk, obviously Steve Silk Hurley aka JM Silk springs to mind.... or the great late-disco West End track "Do It to the Music" by Raw Silk... but then how about King Britt (the US equivalent to Ashley Beedle in many ways, except Britt's actually from Philadelphia) who started out as a resident DJ at Silk City in Philadelphia, later recorded as Sylk 130, and recently did the Black Science/Afrofuturist type project Saturn Never Sleeps inspired by a certain Philly jazz god. But equally "silk" is part of the imagery of UKG, as in Pure Silk the club/compilation.

which then makes me ponder how Dave Keenan is mentally managing the drone/lo-fi/hypnagogic scene's turn towards the very Nineties zones he always reviled as "Dance Plodders" -- Volcanic Tongue blurbs for 100% Silk 12 inches often try to throw in the words 'kosmische' or 'psychedelic' presumably to mitigate against its rather more apparent resemblances to electroclash / Metro Area / Italians Do It Better

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

sentences from a tribute to The Strokes’s debut as bestest /decade-defining-est album of last ten years

style over substance, unoriginality, excessive hype

the most damning early criticism about the Strokes was that they looked and sounded shockingly derivative

“everything about the Strokes seemed like it was lifted from ’60s and ’70s garage rock

the entire song “The Modern Age” was a Velvet Underground song—specifically “I’m Waiting for the Man.”

"[Casablancas to producer Gordon Raphael' 'We want to sound like a band from the past that took a time trip into the future to make their record.'”

a tightly knit musical unit playing live, all in one room, committing it to tape with a fuzzy and nostalgic analog warmth

to the band’s eternal credit, they fought hard to preserve this neo-vintage sound—very much against the wishes of their new bosses at RCA

the album captures the sound of five guys playing as one. For all the griping about the Strokes’ lack of innovation, their emotional commitment was never a question

“while a God who loves his creation will surely see to it that young men won’t be wearing skinny jeans and attending Killers concerts another decade from now, they’ll still be listening to—and loving—Is This It. They might mistake the Strokes for a band from the mid-’70s, but they’ll be listening.

Yes those were sentences from a tribute to The Strokes’s Is This It as bestest/most decade-defining-est LP of the past ten years.

said album/band defining its decade, the writer seems to say, by referring back to an era of rock 25 to 35 years earlier

thing is, i'm not much of fan (enjoyed the album quite a bit at the time, didn't bother to follow what they did next) but even I don’t think the Strokes were that derivative...

i mean, you can tell the sound is not of-this-time, that's its point... there's a vague harking-back but it's not a straight duplication of anything (certainly not Television)

still: interesting, maybe indicative even, that someone ostensibly championing The Strokes would pen something closer to apologia than exaltation

apropos of nothing really

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


"the word 'essential' really shouldn't belong in pop" -- Tom Ewing on never listening to Nevermind ... until now

I recall Ian Penman declaring--in print and in conversation--that he'd never heard Never Mind the Bollocks or the first Clash album. It wasn't a confession, it was a boast. Later the claim was revised to never having listened to either record “all the way through”. But the polemical thrust, and evident pride, remained the same.

This sort of dereliction of critical duty--all the more effective if couched as shruggy "never quite got around to it" rather than policy of active avoidance--could be the ultimate anti-rockist gesture. Because anti-ESSENTIAL-ism is at the core of the Project. First, what's denied is the idea that there have historically been records that Everybody listened to (Sgt Pepper's) ... second, what's rejected, or demurred from, is the notion that there are records that everybody ought to listen to... that everybody would benefit from hearing... that are capable of speaking to everybody ... anti-ESSENTIAL-ism is anti-universalism... it opposes grand narratives... it avoids critical modes that comfortably use the "we", that apply a moral frame to their judgements and claims, that adopt an exhortatory tone...

but hey, it's certainly a fun parlour game

“guilty pleasures” inverted to "guiltless non-interest"

what can I claim on this front?


pretty certain I’ve never listened to What’s Going On (even though I love the title track)

not sure I ever made it all the way through Blonde On Blonde. a few years ago I heard most of it while digging through the crates in a record store,and it sounded pretty great as background sound. Generally like Dylan quite a bit as non-forefront listening, it's when I concentrate that the resistance sets in...

actually, talking of the Clash, I have never heard Give 'Em Enough Rope and it was only quite recently I heard London Calling all the way through. (See I'd got that Story of the Clash box set and assumed "the best bits" were on there and thee desire or opportunity just never presented itself)


actually my exact counter-example to match Tom's not-bothering-to/not-bothered-about vis-a-vis Nevermind: I have never heard Pet Shop Boys’s Behaviour (despite having rather liked the previous album). I find “Being Boring” a bit... boring


Vaguely related in both the crit-geek fun ‘n’ games and profound philosophical issues of our time sense: LA Review of Books have an interview with Chuck Eddy plus a review of Rock and Roll Always Forgets

The interview is by Matos (apparently the longer 8000-plus word version will be aired presently!) and takes the form of a Rockcriticism Jukebox, i.e. like the Wire format but instead of guessing what the record is, Eddy had to guess who the writer is.

The title of the whole LARB package is “King of the Contrarians”. Which probably irritated Chuck since at one point in Rock and Roll Always Forgets, he takes umbrage at being called a contrarian and musters a bunch of not-wholly-convincing evidence to the contrary.

It made me flash me back to the very first time I spoke with him, on the phone, at some point in the early-to-mid Nineties. Very early on in the conversation, I’m not sure apropos of what, he says “I like Poison”, with an odd insistence, like it's meant to be a challenge. Like I'm supposed to be outraged. Water off a duck's back of course: liking-what-you’re-not-“supposed to”-as-polemical-gesture had been a standard move in the U.K. music press for, like, ever( Morley saying Tight Fit 12 inch = better than Led Zep III etc etc;). Plus I quite liked “Unskinny Bop”.

Another flashback: after a music-crit conference in New York in the late 90s I briefly exchanged words with [Rock Critical Legend Who Shall Remain Nameless]. The name “Chuck Eddy” came up (he’d been a rather lively presence at this seminar) and the venerable elder opined with exasperation: “oh, he doesn’t take anything seriously”. But Chuck clearly does takes very seriously the business of not being serious about things that you’re supposed to be serious about, while being serious about things generally deemed external to proper seriousness. That's his Project: challenging orthodox critical notions of what warrants respect and analysis. Despite his reputation as a funnyman, most of the writing in Rock and Roll Always Forgets is not particularly light-hearted. It’s cantankerous. Anger is his energy, disgusted disagreement with his peers is what fuels him, and the best stuff in the collection is not the enthused praiseful stuff but the nihilatory mode: e.g. a scathing attack on mainstream pop in 1986, which strikes me as devastatingly accurate, something I’d have agreed with at that time. Of course Chuck being Chuck in the book’s hindsight-view sections he recants the opinion and says ‘what on earth could I have been thinking!’. How contrarian is that--contradicting your own past self!


But thinking about the role of the professional contrarian, the critic who aims to write a kind of revisionist history of the present ... ( I would count myself in that company, from the heterodox take on dance in the 90s to... well, Retromania). Does that role-- siding with the underdog--still exist in the grand scheme of contemporary music? Digital abundance/atemporality/iPodSpotifyetc is doing that work already... everybody is “listening outside the box”, grazing omnivorously across all fields of potential musical pleasure, refusing to be fenced in by genre divisions.

Take Hannah Murray (Cassie in Skins season 1 & 2), now an Oxbridge student, talking about her favourite music:

"I try to listen to a really wide range of stuff. My favourite bands/people are probably The Beatles, Nirvana, Regina Spektor, The Smiths, Tom Waits and The Velvet Underground. I also really like a lot of 70s punk, a lot of folk, The Gerbils, Lethal Bizzle, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater Kinney, Rufus Wainwright, Destiny's Child, Johnny Cash, 20s jazz, early Rolling Stones, Nina Simone and M.I.A."

I don't think at 22, even as a wannabe music journalist, someone in training as it were, I'd listened that widely... I couldn't afford to, for starters... it's not just that there's been so many more decades of music since then (22 for me = 1985), it's a whole different mentality i think... all-gates-open... eclecticism not as stance but as base-level condition of listener-existence...

People who’ve been consuming music in this fashion are producing music in this fashion. Grimes, a female musician roughly the same age as Ms Murray, talks of her music as “post-Internet... The music of my childhood was really diverse because I had access to everything, so the music I make is sort of schizophrenic. Basically I’m really impressionable and have no sense of consistency in anything I do.”

These new creatives are omnivores and thus omni-gurgitators: their out-spew is the musical equivalent of fusion-cuisine.

So disco-metal --once an intoxicating Eddy fantasy-prophecy (in Stairway To Hell)--is just the kind of hybrid that is par for the post-indie/post-Internet course.

When all barriers of taste are broken down... when the kind of frisson and renegade prestige that attaches to being a breaker of taste-barriers, is no longer available because nobody abides by those barriers anymore... when there is no consensus whose blinkers and biases you can rail against.. what now, contrarian?

Recent pronouncements suggest that Eddy's negative drive is still intact... probably it's too fundamental to who he is and what he does, to ever fade away. But now he's turned against the things he once stood up for: saying he hates most modern manifestations of the disco-continuum (“maybe disco really does suck, this time”), that he's bored by metal, that he's even lost interest in country (the last hurrah of the generalist/no-barriers critic trying to find something Pazz-neglected to triumph). He says he's listening to a lot of old records.
Kevin Pearce draws my attention to his own extensive tracking of the internationalisation of disco

and here's another one that Geeta did specifically on Indian disco

Sunday, October 09, 2011

it's remarkable how little Steve Jobs impinged directly on my life

i own just one of his products, and hardly ever use it

indirectly, of course, he's impinged hugely on the world I inhabit

in so far as

the 2000s saw a revolution in listening habits

but no revolution in music per se

(with the two things not unconnected)

here's Eric Harvey in Pitchfork assessing the Jobs legacy

these two sentences caught my eye:

"by squeezing the equivalent of 100 jukeboxes into a device the size of a pack of cards"

and later

"it's likely in 50 years that the iPod will look as dated as the diner jukebox does today"

now there have been hundreds, possibly thousands of songs, about jukeboxes

("Jukebox Heroes", the "record machine" in "Jump" and "I Love Rock'n'Roll" etc etc)

but there is--as far as I know--not a single song about the iPod

and the reason for that isn't hard to work out: not only is the jukebox a broadcast medium (like a micro-range version of radio--and how many thousands of songs are there about the radio?), it is a social focus, a place around which things happen, in a way that the iPod hardly ever is

I mean, can you imagine Joan Jett singing "I saw sitting him there autistically insulated in his portable sound-womb"?
while i was away, missed this guestblog by Geeta c/o Bruces/BeyondtheBeyond/, first in a series tracking the international impact of disco
recreativity, part 297

(via mark richardson)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

New York Times piece by me on electronica feminine a/k/a the new synth women - Laurel Halo, Maria Minerva, Stella OM Source, Sleep ∞ Over, Grimes

(and no, it's not a blunder or a typo - NYT's template couldn't work with the infinity symbol in Sleep ∞ Over)

also: a review I did of Laurel Halo's releases earlier this year
Tim Finney on a really good mix-CD

what i most enjoy about it:

the becoming-rococo of vocal science

what i find most interesting/indicative of it:

the shift from FWD>> logic to a tagliatelle-tangle of time-strands, writhing through-lines transecting the last 14 years of ukdance

Friday, October 07, 2011

dude's got a Morton Feldman tattoo

cool avantclassical mix there from Daniel of Ital/Sex Worker/Mi Ami

thinking about ink, it struck me recently (perusing a tattoo-culture periodical at the magazine store--they fascinate me, the same way that bodybuilding mags and fashion mags fascinate: the extreme lengths people go to in pursuit of an ideal of beauty... extremes of suffering and discomfort)that you hardly ever see a tat that is modernist/minimal in design... a Peter Saville type tat, a Neville Brody type tat... tattoos tend to be ornate, all filigree and curvilinearity and intricate detail... even the small tasteful inconspicuous tats you see, they're hardly ever stark, angular, geometric... now is this because of the nature of the human body surface? modernist/minimalist wouldn't work because the skin surface isn't flat, but that's not a problem with more frilly-curvy designs?

so kitsch, rather than avant-garde, works better when it comes to human flesh?
a work aesthetic / the machineries of joy

Timothy Gabriele points me to some recent pieces of his that address the legacy of industrial / Cold Wave / Electronic Body Wave / Minimal Synth and its reactivation in the last few years

The first of those, "Techno’s Labor Force, Rock’s Betrayal, and the Birth of the Fascist Groove Thing" is instalment #1 of a trilogy, he says: Part 2 will be posted on Pop Matters in a few days and traces "the industrial sonic (concrete/atonal strand) through 90s scenes like gabber, idm, drill n bass, and techstep at a time when 'industrial' itself became more heavy guitar rock" while Part 3 will follow the trajectory "into the present with post-millenial acts/scenes like glitch and Mille Plateaux illbient, House of God/Downwards/Surgeon/Sandwell District, Vex'd style dubstep, Ekoplekz, CLR techno."

(Now Tim, don't be forgetting Mordant Music, who have that connection to 2nd-wave
Avant-F/WORK-ers Portion Control. And Moon Wiring Club are hugely influenced by Laibach's Kapital - got to be vinyl version, mind!).

If I were to redo Energy Flash now, this is one of the threads that could do with pulling out more... just how many 90s electronic bods, from Jeff Mills to Achim Szepanski to Oliver Chesler, have the industrial connection. In America, for many it was the gateway drug into techno. But then in the U.K. you have Greater Than One turning into a menagerie of bleep/rave/gabber alter-egos.. And weren't Black Dog coming originally from a Coil-y sigil-ly esoterrorist type place? Mixmaster Morris started out in this zone too I think, transitioning through sample-heavy DJ-cutup type tracks into chillbient...

Talking of A Work Aesthetic: now this is a track the Monitor crew used to love. Can't remember if it was Stubbs or Oldfield who had the record, but it got played a lot at DJ sets.

Arbeit meaning Work of course.

Tune got remade for this Krupps remix project that came out in the late Eighties if i recall right (Oldfield got to interview them for MM)

Don't recall hearing this other early Krupps project at the time, but "Steelworks Symphony" seems to very slightly predate Test Dept, if not quite Neubauten. For some reason though Bohn-heads in those days regarded Die Krupps as chancers and 'jumpers,or so I seem to recall

Nitzer Ebb! I saw them at the Fridge in Brixton. They could certainly put on a good show, but I (and probably most people who'd have any atrraction to this kind of music) could never get past the DAF-tribute-band thing. Dan Miller really believed in them and stuck with them though.

(Now I think about it I reviewed the third album, on which Ebb tried to break with that pattern and explore bluesier/rock-ier modes (as did, er, Mode, round about the same time))

DAF! If anything is the industrial/acidhaus shared DNA alpha-origin point it's them (and Liaisons Dangereuses).

Look for old DAFtunes on YouTube and you find countless live-footages of their 2011 reunion tour! But also:

Later they tried to go mersh/Mode with things like "Absolute Bodycontrol" and "Brothers"

DAFt things I've done in my time: bought the Gabi Del Dago debut solo album the month it came out. I think it was one of those heavy-discount/"chart hype" jobs that record companies used to do back then, but still...

Sold it a few weeks later.

Probably would have done better with the Robert Gorl solo stuff.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

... into nineties

at Quietus Neil Kulkarni launches "A New Nineties", a series of essays about early UK post-rock aka the Lost Generation with an interview with the reactivated Main

interesting to (re)learn that before Robert Hampson picked up a wah-wah and started Loop he was himself a late-postpunker into stuff like On U and Skidoo... and that Main was really a sort of reversion to type after being thrown off course by the retro-shift of the late Eighties (blame Spacemen 3?)


over at Airport Through the Trees, Aaron deftly picks through conflicted feelings about Spin's "The New Rave Generation" Dance Issue, feelings close to my own although unlike Aaron I've actually picked up a copy (main feature by Philip Sherburne is great and the whole package is a good read).

Aaron wonders if Skrillex's "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" is for the next-gen-ravers what "Terminator" was for back-in-the-day hardcore ravers. i.e. not bastardised/degraded dregs of a noble tradition but the messy start of "something new" (baby)

To my ears it's a collage of cliches, but then again it could be that the super-edited,distorted, timbrally-twisting mid-freq bassline is the new axis of innovation, i.e. the locus once occupied by breakbeat science. And I've been arguing for a while now that the despised 'n' deplored wobble/brostep might well prove to be the most breaks-with-the-past direction to emerge from the zone formerly known as dubstep.

Naturally I'm struck by the 1992-echo of "oh my gosh" being the vocal sample in "Scary Monsters" when it was such a back-in-the-day MC catchphrase. But there's nothing retro or nostalgic about this New Rave Generation, it's a resurgence not a revival;the consciousness seems very "We R Who We R" in not giving a toss about history (dance music's own or otherwise) or thinking about the future. It's all about release through volume, noise, aggressive celebration. Very metal. Indeed the analogy for this unexpected resurgence of US-dance (not quite accounted for fully in Phil's piece but perhaps that would require sociology) is probably with the way that metal never goes away, it just sticks around.... every so often upsurging into the mainstream... the sound at once reiterative of the tradition yet always shifted slightly (you couldn't quite say "evolved" or "advanced", but definitely moved on). Like metal, the new rocktronica is too big to considered underground, yet it's not quite mainstream either. And like metal, its proper environment is stadiums and arenas.


Michaelangelo Matos with a meaty in depth interview with the legendary Lenny Dee, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Industrial Strength Records:

money quote: on being played "We Have Arrived" for the first time by Marc Acardipane

"I just sat there and said, "Marc, you did it. This is it. This is the future. This is where it ends and where it begins."

and on dropping the track at a rave for the first time, at Mayday II in Germany:

"I've never seen ten-and-a-half-thousand people in one room raise their hands all at once, ever. Everyone was in awe when that record came out. It changed electronic music forever. That music, especially in that period of time, was the birth of something completely different. You get a guitar and it was totally acceptable to distort it and make rock records. Why wasn't it totally acceptable to distort all the electronic instruments? People had never heard anything like that. It's like a kid hearing rock & roll for the first time, back in the '50s. It took off and I never looked back".

Lenny on then versus now:

"The early techno guys were a different breed of cats. I look at the new techno DJs now like, "Man, you've got to be kidding me. This is what's carrying the torch? Are you fucking nuts? This is the most boring-ass music." Techno music used to be the most exciting, new, upfront, underground, banging music, not clean, poncey, boop-boop-boop-beep-beep-beep-bup, one little thing—that's crap. You listen to my records from the '90s, and you listen to records now, and go, what happened to techno?"

He's talking about Berlin-style mnml deejays obviously. Wonder what Lenny would makes of Skrillex? About eighty thousand kids raising their hands all at once?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


the eighties is proving to be to this-time (i.e. 2000s + 2010/2011) what the sixties was to the actual eighties, i.e. near-inexhaustible resource. still a fair few sub-zones of the decade unexplored and unexploited

in the last year or so genre-mining/reactivation-invocation moved decisively into goth / industrial / EBM / Cold Wave


manifesto (masquerading as Resident Advisor interview) from Blackest Ever Black's Kiran Sande. plus mix. both terrific.

Kid Shirt coins great name - Work - for what at the time we'd probably have called "second-wave avant-funk"

here's something i wrote about the zone at the time and something touching on it from a few years ago.

at the time Hula Chakk Portion Control 400 Blows Sweatbox etc did seem to trail in the wake of Cabs/Skidoo/ACR... but one of the side effects of the topsy-turvy-ifcation of pop-time induced by the net etc is that music is no longer trapped in sequentiality: you can rehear this stuff as if it was its own entity, rather than (historical truth) something that came "after" and was judged harshly or at least greeted with a shrug. Equally you could stick with historical-sequence mindset and reconsider it as a bridge-phase between postpunk and UK house/techno, given that many of the second-wave avant-F/"Work" figures (Tony Thorpe, FON crew)would pop up soon as players in the early Nineties ravezone

(Chakk was actually my very first Melody Maker cover story: they'd signed to MCA resulting in music that unsuccessfully attempted to add a mersh-gloss to Cabs-y "thug funk", something CV themselves had attempted with only slightly more success)

Kek's "Work" chimes nicely with this minimal techno outfit now veering into 80s industrial/Red Mecca-ish zones:

Perc’s Wicker and Steel (album hearable in its entirety here) + Guardian piece on Perc here

Reminds me a bit of Test Dept circa

And hey here’s an earlier Perc track actually called ‘Work Harder’

extensive Retrochat with The Daily Swarm's Matt Diehl about everything from Wilko Johnson to Ke$ha

Sunday, October 02, 2011