Thursday, May 30, 2013

A precursor to happy hardcore, but unlike what followed, there's that characteristic 1993 tinge of darkness to give it edge.

Captured perfectly in the vocal sample - cheesy and jaunty in style 'n' mood, but the lyrics lend themselves to the darkside agenda, i.e. insidiously preying on and amplifying the suppressed anxiety of dancers who've put themselves under various influences, and who maybe feel a little out of control, or like they're being controlled:  

"There's an invisible intruder / That's got inside your mind / Invading your sense of right and wrong / Making your conscience blind"

But where is it from, that sample?  Something about the voice makes me think of The Buggles, or Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club.  A lyric search turned up nothing. Any idea?

Ah, well, here's a thing - Chris Howell (aka Luna C and a dozen other names, also the founder of Knite Force) used the vocal once before when he was in Smart E's, on the album track "Intruder Alert". 

Basically a prototype for "Edge of Madness".

The Sublove remix is the killer one, but the original is also great, more raw and scratchadelic.

The other tracks on the EP

Some years ago Chris Kniteforce put the label's entire catalogue online for free. Then it seems he must have changed his mind, because, what do you know, there was actually a Kniteforce box set, Don't Die Wondering. You can also buy tracks individually in digital form. And a heap of free old skool mixes from back in the day.

And then, from earlier this year, a "retirement from making hardcore" announcement.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Excellently observed and reported Guardian feature on Jackin' House by Dominic Morris, aka Datwun aka Musings of a socialist Japanologist .

Thesis: this Northern mutant of house + bass =  rave reborn.  That includes an E-induced loved-up not sexed-up vibe:

"Rather than any unsolicited grinding, the only mating ritual I saw all night was when I saw a muscle man miming an exaggerated bench-press to a girl watching with arms-crossed, an arched eyebrow and a playful half-smile." 
plus de pensées sur le sujet de Daft Punk

There's an irony to DP's rhetorical framing of RAM as a return to "life", feel, music that breathes, the human touch versus mechanistic, sterile, sonically uniform EDM/ Top 40 dancepop. All the references they're making are to music that in the late 70s would have been regarded, by many people (new wave- punk-postpunk people, but also quite a few funkateers and old soul fans) as  overproduced, polished, prissily arranged, slicked out to such a degree that it verged on the inhuman. And to an extent it was aspiring to a superhuman flawlessness, using session musicians so trained and professional they were virtually robots. That would be the start of the era when musicians played to click tracks. At the time, your typical postpunk or funkateer type would have regarded these records as "airless" and "clinical", cold and gritless.  They would have located the model for sonic integrity in earlier forms of black music (just as people of similar outlook had, in the early 70s, rejected the slick sweet sumptuousness of Philly, Tom Bell, et al as "overcooked", and yearned for the raw of Wilson Pickett, Booker T, etc).

But more than that, these late period Analogue Era records, with their multitracking and overdubs, bum notes edited out and  use of comping to build a perfect vocal take,  are really analogue aspiring to digital: producers using all the analogue means available to them to anticipate the kind of micro-editing and rhythmic precision that would become routine through digital technology. The end-of-Seventies producers and engineers DP venerate for their combination of human touch and supreme craftsmanship would have been the first people to embrace sequencers and MIDI and Fairlights  in the Eighties (in part because they could afford the equipment). In other words, they would have been in a hurry to abandon the human touch and gladly trade "life" for unerring precision and reliability.

A revealing sequence of tracks, caused by fortuitous changing of radio channels in the car.

First, Zapp, "Doo Wah Ditty". Not one of their first division tunes, but typically Troutmantastic blend of lubricious and ludicrous.

Then, Diana Ross, "Upside Down". The Chic Organisation at the top of its songwriting and production game + one of the greatest vocalists of all time. An unusual groove for Rodgers & Edwards too, piano and strings driven, guitar only making a subdued appearance in the last minute.

And then Daft Punk, "Get Lucky".

Now "Get Lucky" sounds fairly feeble on the radio, juxtaposed with the audio-steroid stacked dancepop of today, with its massive drum sounds and brickwall compression and Auto-Tune sugarglaze. And that stands to reason: DP have deliberately handicapped themselves in this particular sonic race, like an athlete who nobly refuses to have recourse to all the performance enhancements available and that everybody else on the field is using.

What is harder to explain is how "Get Lucky" sounds less forceful than a 30 year old Chic production, less vigorous than even a second-division Zapp track.  


Or, compare/contrast:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Me: "Random Access Memories is Number 1 on iTunes in about nineteen countries!!!"

Joy: "I guess people miss the Doobie Brothers."

The previous night I'd played her "Fragments of Time",  fanfaring it as "my favorite track on the record".

Did not go down well. Was received with no little disgusted incredulity. 

She hasn't heard any of the rest of  RAM. Dread to think what she'll make of "Touch" and "Motherboard"...


Like this idea of Geeta Dayal's in her Slate piece  of Random Access Memories as the next logical step in sampling,  i.e. reconstructing the entire matrix that generated the sort of things you'd previously liked to sample:

"Here they’ve “sampled” the vintage production of their favorite records, using the same analog equipment, techniques, and musicians. Instead of sampling Chic, they brought in Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers to play guitar on two tracks. Instead of sampling Quincy Jones’ productions for Michael Jackson in the 1980s, they brought in the actual session musicians who played on the albums—including John J.R. Robinson, a drummer on Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, and the guitarist Paul Jackson, who played on Thriller."

Part of that reconstructed matrix is mental too: the Analogue System mindset, with its belief in the possibility that the Album you're working on could become an Event. A level of ambition that causes every sonic decision to be freighted with momentousness.


My reaction to RAM album on a track by track level is uncannily close to Mark Richardson's


Lots of information in this Rolling Stone interview

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Even in the worst case scenario, it's hard to imagine that the Vampire Weekend album could be more insufferable than Matthew Friedberger's take-down of it / them...

I don't know that for sure, though, because I haven't heard the record yet.

I'm nervous about listening to it.

Reading this positive (8/10) review at Spin by Mike Powell (who's persuasively praised Vampire before) I found myself thinking "this sounds like something I'd never want to hear... a record about things I'd never want to think or feel". Same goes for this slightly less laudatory appraisal ( 3/5) at Tiny Mix Tapes.

Yet I adored the first album and loved bits of the second.

This struck me as fairly putrid on first listen.

Still a friend (and good authority) who's had the advance for a couple of months now says that initial distaste gave way to love quite quickly, so maybe I will brave it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 discovers post-rock!

Headline: Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai And Sigur Rós Have Post-Rock Euphoria: The musical science behind the burgeoning subgenre of post-rock

 Favourite of many favourite quotes:

"While Europe and Canada may be the more fertile performing markets now, increasing awareness has led some to believe that post-rock's global breakthrough is imminent".

These groups are what the term apparently now refers to:



Monday, May 20, 2013

RIP Ray Manzarek

Sunday, May 19, 2013

RIP Romanthony

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How Daft Punk fell out of "digital love" and down an analogue time tunnel --my New York Times piece on Random Access Memories, featuring Thomas, Guy-Manuel, Nile, Giorgio and Paul (Williams, that is)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

my favorite track from the excellent new album by connect_icut -
Crows & Kittiwakes Wheel & Come Again

out soon on Rev.Lab

more info

Monday, May 13, 2013

As "Got To Give It Up" knock-offs go, this is jamlicious

(Suddenly, Pharrell's everywhere.)

Like father, like son.

That's Alan Thicke - Robin Thicke's pa -  singing "Sweaty and Hot" at the 1988 Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship. 


"Other guys try to imitate us/ But the original / Is still the greatest"

Friday, May 10, 2013

Awesome controlled rant by Neil Kulkarni about Peace, the "guitar music" resurgence, and the odd phenomenon of rave reviews that takes the form of a preemptive defense

So many quoteables...

"Don't be fooled by the protectors of Peace that to hate them is to look back. It's not the likes of me or you, but groups like Peace that do nothing but look back, that have relegated the now to an endless slavish deference to an ancient past, the flattening down of edges to make the past ever-more palatable, the breaking down of rock to a smooth paste, spread thin"

"No accident that Peace appeal back to those 90s because it was those 90s where apologetics became the internal bloodstream, and arrogance thus became the blaring facade, of what was served up as alternative/independent".

(My own thoughts on Peace - and also Savages - over at the other place)

Neil's angle of attack reminded me of a great line in Paul Morley's recent Stones-at-Glastonbury column, which argued that the spectacle of Jagger's Viagra Swagger on the main stage this summer might actually  have more integrity and cool than the other headliners, Arctic Monkeys and Mumford & Sons, for all their lack of liver spots:  

"For better or worse, [The Stones] are old men playing young music, not young people playing old music. The Monkeys and the Mumfords are the dutiful archivists; the Stones are the bloody archive."


While we're on this topic, I note with fascination and disorientation that the Top Ten of the UK Singles Chart contains not one, not two, but four different kinds of retro-dance:

*  disco time travel: Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" at #1

* drum & bass coated with pop gloss: Rudimental's "Waiting All Night" at #2

* house (80s-90s model with a lick of digital polish) : Duke Dumont's "Need U (100%)" at #9, on the way down from being #1

* 2step revival : Disclosure's "You & Me" straight in at #10. (And "White Noise", which peaked at #2, is still hanging on at #24)