Saturday, March 31, 2012

re all those grime movies:

Man like Carl says they are all "basically crap, yet! i sense a kind of germinal potential in them and think in some way they are truer and more openminded representations of Britain than most well made mainstream fare"

Man Like Tristam points me towards Top Boy, Channel 4's gritty urban drama series

mini-doc on New Jersey Club crew Brick Bandits

FADER TV: Brick Bandits by thefader

[via Benny B at Dissensus]

Friday, March 30, 2012

all the talk about this

as "best protest record in years", the banlieus bite back etc

reminded me of a "Two Englands" experience i had last year, idly gawping recorded-earlier-that-day-footage of the Royal Wedding, and then flicking to other cable channels and settling on one movie channel that was showing this

i then got into flicking back 'n' forth between Adulthood and Will & Kate: A Luv Story for a 2-sides-of-UK-today polarisation-oscillation effect

not living in the country I simply had not noticed that Adulthood had come out or indeed that there'd been a whole spate of grimesploitation/urban-yoof-action-dramas movies made in the UK....

they don't seem to get released in the USA, presumably it's not a view of England that there's any niche market demand for over here

Adulthood was the sequel to this

and then there was

and this (a comedy version of kidulthood/adulthood?)

and this, described by the Guardian as a grime musical (!)

oh and this near-future-dystopia-as-warped-mirror-of-present job

any more? and any of them any cop? (Adulthood was stilted enough to make me go back to the Royal Wedding voluntarily several times)

odd to think that true grime, in its raw uncut form, may well have had a bigger cultural impact on, and through, the movies - than on and through the pop charts


"Ill Manors" is all right, but--let's be honest--sonically and in terms of delivery, as a record it imparts a fraction of the "Pow"-er of 2002-2005 era grime - ... wish it was Lethal B not Plan B doing it ...


related reading: Carl's post on Nick Love's Outlaw as modern cinema du chav
until the bass drop, this track off the forthcoming album by Bassnectar (#2 brosteppa after skrillex) sounds like vintage hardcore in the maximalist vein of Hyper-On Experience and circa-"Window in the Sky" Acen

that break is one used by Urban Shakedown on "Some Justice", and BY countless others, right?

strange days we're living through

Thursday, March 29, 2012

i thought there was some unusually interesting music here and there in The Hunger Games when i saw it at the weekend

turns out one of the bits is a vintage track by Laurie Spiegel

Geeta Dayal has the story here at Wired

conversely, and more typical of Hollywood sdtrk output these days, is there anything more putrid than the instakitsch soundtrack of Avatar? it's a sort of science fictionized exotica: according to Wiki "composer James Horner recorded parts of the score with a small chorus singing in the Na'vi language in March 2008" and "worked with Wanda Bryant, an ethnomusicologist, to create a music culture for the alien race." Horner "took advice from his assistant and they put an unusual amount of virtual instruments in this project"

an aural palate cleanser is required after that swill -- here's some more Laurie Spiegel

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

check the book the girl's reading at 0.44

(via Piotrek Kowalczyk)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We were playing chess and as he mused on his next Dad-destroying move, Kieran (12-and-a-half) sang a little made-up song. And then in the midst of this ditty, clear as bell, there appeared the word "dubstep".

"Did you just say 'dubstep', Kieran?"

He nodded.

"How do you know about dubstep?"

He looked at me with that look of mild derision that is the default expression of proto-teenagers across the world.

"Everybody knows about dubstep, Dad."

When I pressed him on the matter, like exactly where he picked up the term (he wasn't sure: probably Youtube)and what exactly it was, it turned out he didn't quite have a clear idea.

But still: K is not hugely interested in music, not yet, so the fact that he even knows the word indicated to me that it's really, finally, made it. It took ten years, but dubstep's crossed over.

the Guardian's mysterious Maggoty Lamb interviews David Toop... about my article on him

Friday, March 16, 2012

there's a blithering idiocy to all these East Coast club sounds (New Jersey, Philly, Baltimore) that's bracing -- the riddimatic equiv to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

dj sliink free tunes dl and interview at

more BSE-beats

Adam Schwarz tells me that this mix of his and Mark Brown represents "the new wave of Baltimore Club... I've been calling it "Shakeoff", some people just call it simply "club music"... older Baltimore Club heads call it "Little Kid Shit" or "Dancer Music" or "Hopper Music". Its super youth and dancer oriented. It ranges from like 135-150 in tempo and reaches into the Philly and Jersey Clubs scenes as well, with minor differences. Basically super weird future-club"

"shakeoff" indeed - the jitteriness and palsied interfacing of hip hop and house reminds me a bit of "party people"-era todd terry but amped up and thugged out a bit

Adam points me towards some other stuff that is even more converged with Euro sounds: Sir Phresh (formely Young Phresh) and his crew PKE

that has a bit of Dance Ecstasy 2001 trance-meets-gabber to it

Adam also recommends two guys from Dem808z crew - Rip Knoxx, "a 20 year old producer from Baltimore who samples a lot of New Metal and makes everything in Minor Harmonic Keys" and his cousin Matic


Bas Van Hoof from the Netherlands says, you want to hear some real black gabber, how about this

Immo (Immorales), a Dutch Antillian band

sounds a bit like very fast reggaeton meets Da Hool "Meet Her at the Love Parade"

from the album Je Laatste Condoom which translates as "your last condom"

never been to Newark (except the airport), got a feeling it might be not unlike Rotterdam

another member of the brick bandits

An adapted version of my Off the Page talk "Toopological Space: The Flow-Motion Studies of David Toop" is in the new issue of The Wire. They have given it a much better title that was staring me in the face all along but I couldn't see it: Tales of Toopographic Oceans. Also, over at The Wire website, I've done a Portal linking to online writings of a uToopian nature.

Terrible admission: I was in such a rush yesterday i didn't actually read the article on slowing-down versus franticity, just skimmed it. Made a mental note to go back. As you do...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"I was born with a sense that my time was running out. Not long ago, I too began blaming the speed of the internet and its corresponding mobile, digital technologies. But then I realized that the problem wasn't being able to do more, faster; it was that, faster and faster, I was spending more of my own precious time doing more of less.... We need to slow the internet down, and should probably hurry up about it"

from "Slow Media, & The Occupation Of Online Time", an essay by Ryan Alexander Diduck, at the Quietus

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"I'm Sam Tiba. I'm always high."

more mad shit, not actually from New Jersey although he done a mixtape of that stuff in partnership with Brick Bandits (DJ Sliink's crew)

B-boys on E, part 789

calling the junglist cru

the nineteeen-ninety-four posse

listen to this

listen to about the 2.10 mark

that clunking sound

that'll be your jaw

hitting the floor

yes yes it is, it is

the mighty Omni Trio

the bit that starts about 1.26 into this:

nearly fainted with surprise when that came in

not so much sampled as just superimposed, or underimposed, with the original track... which up to that point is your standard thuggish-sexist rap but then (as the "kindness of Omni Trio" tender-hearted vibe kicks in) switches to more reflective, even vulnerable tone with "strugglin' to survive" lyric

digging deeper into the album by Tyga, aka the dude responsible for "Rack City", some more Nuumstuff crops up later:

not just that echo-chambered rave siren / foghorn-bleep as heard in countless nuum-trax (most recently on a track on Zomby's nuumological pastiche EP Nothing)

but half way through, quel surprise: gratuitous (and distinctly dire) deployment of dubstep wobblage (in attempt to copy "N****s In Paris"?)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

this really is black gabba

like if Underground Resistance had decided, fuck it let's throw in our lot with Rotterdam

even the title--"Emergency"-echoes all those rave-alarm panic-rush titles of 91-93

there goes that rave-siren again, and that need-a-bass kick

that one reminds me a bit of "Poing" by Rotterdam Termination Source

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Jersey Club = like footwork, only not quite as triptastic

at times like a Black American counterpart to donk, or hard house

gabber lives, pt 1

apparently - although the pics of "gabber bitches" and gabber boyz illustrating the Vice piece all turn out to be from 1994-96 if you check the small print

more pix of gabber couture and antics at Gabber Eleganza and at Exactitudes

gabber lives, pt 2

gabber lives, pt 3

are those actually jumpstyle moves?
you learn something new every day doncha!

the original

of this much-loved (and it turns out) surprisingly faithful interpretation

Flash & the Pan = New Wave self-reinvention project started by two former members of

"The Buttholes tear up the petty list of inhibitions, no-go areas, size restrictions and taste directives which impeded the thinking of 80s indie and college types. Now, everything is wide open and justifiable. Nothing is sacred, all things are possibly art"

- the Wingco on Locust Abortion Technician, c/o the Quietus

Friday, March 09, 2012

further to yesterday on the New Religiose:

Christian at Dream Transmissions blog alerts to me to some relevant and very interesting posts on what he's calling Stargaze

as discussed here

and in more focused way in these posts on Julia Holter and Grimes

reminds me a bit of Fred and Judy "Starlust" Vermorel's notion of "consumer mysticism"

and relates also to this thought i had a while back re. Ferraro et al of hypnagogic being the convergence point between Pop Art and psychedelia

Thursday, March 08, 2012

someone on ILM came up with a neat tag for Grimes: "Cranes with a laptop"

there's quite a lot of this vibe about in music at the moment--late 80s, wispy, ethereal-girl, 4AD/Cocteaus/Dead Can Dance/Cindytalk... what I call Goth-Lite (non-derogatorily: I prefer it to Goth-Heavy)

my end-of-year thoughts touched on the emerging overlap between the New Exquisite and the New Religiose

Julianna Barwick... Julia Holter... Sleep ∞ Over... The Deeep... School Of Seven Bells

a vague reaching out to the Transcendent/Otherworldly/Celestial/Spiritual.... the not-everyday, the non-earthbound... sometimes accompanied by actual scholarly knowledge of myth, ritual, culture before the Modern Era...

the hallmark: those pure airy vocals, more often than not wordless, or blurred to the point of indecipherable... multitracked into a choir-of-one... warp 'n' wefted... tapestried... heavy on the reverb ... where plainchant meets enchantment

the sound of the Ineffable... being effed

i don't think the intent is particularly retro or to hark back to anything (other than to the pre-modern or primordial)... but clearly it's influenced by the late Eighties... and it can't help reminding of that moment, if you're of a certain vintage yourself

where late 80s post-Goth/4AD-type stuff connects to current conditions of music-production is that Goth-Lite was primarily studio music, it was all about layers, sound treatments, effects... it broke to large extent (see also: A.R. Kane, who I suspect may become a reference point pretty soon) with the performance model of rock recording (Cocteaus DCD et al did play live, of course, but their live shows were attempts to duplicate the textural richness of what was concocted in the studio, rather than the other way round: the studio recording as attempt to simulate/approximate the energy of a live performance). So obviously that translates to the solo artist + digital audio workstations in a bedroom scenario of today, where live performance is an optional afterthought to careers created through blog-buzz

artificial reverb, that other hallmark of the New Religoise, figures as an irresistible temptation to producers looking to add "space" to recordings that are otherwise by their mode-of-construction a bit airless and dry

along with the outerspace/innerspace associations of the "sonic cathedral" effect... the cavern as a site of rites

of course Grimes is actually a 4AD recording artist now, isn't she?

it's a good listen, her first album for the label, Visions -- atmospheric-yet-catchy... the filigreed detail appeals to digital ears listening through computer speakers or iPod buds

Grimes talks about her work as “both an ethereal escape from, and a violent embrace of, my experience. The creative process is a quest for the ultimate sensual, mystical and cathartic experience and the vehicle for my psychic purging. Visions was conceived in a period of self-imposed cloistering during which time I did not see daylight.”

a tangential question: how viable is the notion of "visionary" in digiculture?

thinking about how anybody with a laptop and some digital audio software can access near-infinite possibilties in terms of the plasticity of sound and timbral transubstantiation... led me to CGI and how unsatisfying it is for the most part, so vivid and real-seeming it is actually numbing ....

it feels like some kind of fundamental, near-ontological gulf separates that kind of digi-wizardry from the analogue-era illusion-as-craft approach to special effects that led to "Strawberry Fields Forever" and 2001, A Space Odyssey alike

analogue-era trompe l'oreille/trompe l'oeil sleights seem to have the capacity to take you through "i can't believe my ears/eyes" into a mindstate where you suspend disbelief and make a leap into acceptance that what you're seeing/hearing is actual, a real event.... a magical mindstate

digital FX, through being so hyper-realistic and shimmeringly micro-detailed, have a different effect--they put you into a state where belief is beside the point
... a disenchanted mindstate

but this is a description, not an explanation

Monday, March 05, 2012

The relaunch issue of Spin - bimonthly, bigger, deeper - is out now. It's organised around the theme of Retro Activity: I contributed the framing essay, which explores how Lana Del Rey's music/image relates to the broader cultural moment, and the concept/text for an infographic about revivalism.

Couple more pieces that came out while I was on the road:

a profile of Greil Marcus for The Guardian's A Life In Writing series
(and here also is the review of GM's The Doors I did late last year)

a feature on frightfully English electronic outsiders Daphne Oram and Frederick Judd for Frieze pegged around the recent indispensable reissues
audio travelogue: oslo>>paris>>stratford>>whitstable