Monday, July 28, 2014

E-Vapor-8 / Rave Day, Sheffield, Sunday August 3

In conjunction with the E-Vapor-8 exhibition at the Site Gallery in Sheffield I posted about recently, there is a Rave Day seminar this coming Sunday:

Talking Art and Rave
Sunday 3 August, 2 - 6pm

Join us for a Sunday afternoon exploring the legacy of 90s rave culture and its influence on artists today. The event will be led by E-Vapor-8 curator, Francesca Gavin, and you’ll hear from five artists in the exhibition along with guest speakers including a DJ, music critic and researcher of underground rave communities. We’ll also be screening their selection of music videos and playing vinyl records from the time.
The event is open to everyone and will be particularly interesting for artists, art and music lovers, researchers, former-ravers as well as bloggers and journalists.

Who is involved?
Francesca Gavin, exhibition Curator and Chair of the event. will give insight into how she curated the exhibition and discovered a fascination with rave culture and happy hardcore young British and American artists.
E-Vapor-8 artists, Jeremy Deller, Adham Faramawy, Harry Burden, Lucy Stokton and Rhys Coren. Whether they actively participated or were indirectly influenced by rave, these artists explore ideas such as technology, collectivity, rebellion and psychedelia in their work.
Guest speakers include:
Winston Hazel, DJ and producer. As a true originator, Winston Hazel helped gift house music to the city of Sheffield in the mid-80s, organising parties combining new American dance sounds with funk, jazz and soul. Sharing some records and speaking from his individual perspective on the rave and dance scene, he will explore ideas of experimentation, shared positive mindset and rhythms which transformed peoples lives.
Alice O’Grady, Professor in Applied Performance at University of Leeds. Alice will talk about her 
own experience of rave, that began in the early 90s and included warehouses, beaches, festivals and more. She will examine the impacts that rave and DIY culture had on public policy and how it inspired other social movements.
When: Sunday 3 August, 2pm – 6pm, followed by drinks at Site Gallery
Where: Showroom Cinema, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield S1 2BX
Tickets: £5.00 / £4.00 concessions
Booking highly recommended

Monday, July 21, 2014

bringing 88 back

I was never a patriot for house, like I was with certain other genres. But I'm totally  susceptible to "the feeling".


So is this...

And this next one was everywhere in 1993, played in all kinds of clubs. Did Jaydee ever do anything else on this sort of scale?

Surprising, puzzling, is the cultural staying power of house music. Never would have dreamed back in the early Nineties that house would even be around still in 2014, let alone be so big, such a widespread, inescapable template  - in the U.K., dominating the charts (and even pushing its way in there in the US now - how odd to hear Disclosure and Clean Bandit on  pop radio here in LA).

 But also runnin tings on the underground. 

"Like you bringing '88 back" !

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A Moment Worth Waiting For

Kevin Pearce of  Something Beginning With 'O' legend has a new book out - A Moment Worth Waiting For. Available as an e-book through Amazon for £4.50 or $7.63, it's "a mesmerising dub history of late 20th Century pop culture". Starting with "a two-year period at the start of the 1980s", it criss-crosses pop time "tracking where clues led and how things fit together", in the style of Your Heart Out, Kevin's celebrated e-zine of the past five years (and 50 issues!).

Many names here are familiar from the Pearce counter-canon--Vic Godard, Weekend, Pale Fountains, Watt & Thorn, Postcard, ZE, The Scars, Dave McCullough, Y, Linx, Eddy Grant, Compact, Carmel, The Wild Swans--but he wanders far and wide taking in such esoterica as Nigerian boogie, Greek neo kyma and Cuban nueva trova.  There is also a thrilling section tracing the cat's cradle of unlikely connections between Motorhead, New Model Army, Screaming Blue Messiahs, and the Amphetamine Reptile roster.

Only kidding!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

1986 was a bit of a dreary year to be starting out as a musical journalist. The pickings were particularly slim on the UK indie scene. Stump were one of the saving graces, or disgraces perhaps, given that the indignity of embodiment was one of their main topics. Pegged to the anthologized reissue of their work, Colm McAuliffe has written a fascinating piece on the band for The Quietus,  featuring quotes from MM's resident  Stump-supporters (Stubbsy and myself). Had no idea they got deep into sampling and worked with Holger Hiller, but that makes total sense if you see them as a "late postpunk" group rather than a shambling band -  as much C81 as C86The Art of Walking rather than "Panties Please".  And here's what I wrote about them at the time.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

amazing maze : City: Works of Fiction

One of the reissues of the year is surely Jon Hassell's City: Works of Fiction, out in a deluxe 3 CD package with a 1989 live performance on one of the bonus discs, and remixes on the last.

Well chuffed to have my Melody Maker review of City - in which I described the album as "a labyrinth of deadly deranging beauty, a maze of mirrors" - included in the CD booklet alongside sundry other texts by Glenn O'Brien, Brian Eno, and Jon H himself. 

Jon Hassell - City: Works Of Fiction - Expanded Edition Trailer from All Saints Records on Vimeo.

Around the album's original release I also interviewed Hassell, writing it up for The Observer  and also MM


 But not content with that I also made the 808 State versus Jon Hassell version of  "Voiceprint" Single of the Week in Melody Maker

Tireless supporter, I was!





     Jon Hassell is an avant-garde composer who keeps an eye, or

rather an ear, out for instinctively/unwittingly avant-garde pop

forms like rap and house. (He's described his astonishing album

"City: Works Of Fiction" as "classical rap"). 808 State are a

techno-dance production team who flirt with the avant-garde.

Someone had the bright idea of getting them together, and the

result is this radical remix of "Voiceprint" off the "City" album.

     Hassell's original method of composition reveals how much of

an affinity his way of working has with the sampling aesthetic.

Having got his musicians to play six wildly different mixes of the

track, he chose his favourite sections, drew up a complicated map

between the segments, and programmed it into a computer. The

result: "a mosaic in which each of the tiles is a spontaneous

event", and a brilliant balance between improvisation and

composition, seduction and alienation. 808 State have taken the

abstraction process one step further, by sampling from a vinyl

version of "Voiceprint" rather than remixing the original tapes.

It's a radical reconstruction rather than a track underwrittn by a

standard-issue 1990 groove.

     The result is a richly evocative exercise in unspecific

exoticism: you think of dunes, mosques, mirages, bazaars with their

hubbub of foregn tongues and heady assault of pungent, unfamiliar

fragrances.  Hassell's trumpet calligraphy darts in and out of

808's techno-vistas, synths shimmer like a heat-haze. "Voiceprint"

presents the city of the future as a fractal labyrinth of uprooted

cultures that co-exist but never mingle. Single of the week,

because it's a work of imagination, and it works your imagination.

This week, that's rare.

In retrospect, not all that as dancemix versions of 4thworldly ambientjazz go...  a bit linear.

Here's a more recent remix by Patten that's included on the third disc of the reissue, Psychogeography: Zones of Feeling

Woodbines & Spiders

Talked about for ages, finally reached fruition -  Woodbines & Spiders is a collaboration between Ian Hodgson (Moon Wiring Club) and Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle).

Excellent as you'd imagine, hewing mostly to the "musty fragments" side of the H-spectrum (think Roj,  Sketches and Spells Focus Group, or indeed some of MWC's danker, more disassembled swatches of atmosphere)

Collage is the M.O. - indeed the phrase "woodbines and spiders" is not unlike a terribly,  even terminally, English take on Lautreamont's "as beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella" (itself appropriated by Nurse With Wound, of course).

The concept, though, seems to be real estate meets ruin porn - with W&S as estate agents specialising in houses with perturbing atmospheres and sitting tenants from other planes.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

RIP Bobby Womack

Here's a fantastic bit of writing about Womack by Barney Hoskyns, from the intro to his long NME profile of October 6th 1984, readable in full at Rock's Back Pages (if you're a subscriber).

"I'd like you to hear the Bobby Womack that's in my head, the sound that floods my brain suddenly as I'm standing in a bus queue, the feel of the particular shapes and inflections he presses into his words

"I want to tell you that (for me, for some reason) Bobby Womack's is almost the greatest music on earth.

"There are Bobby Womack songs which have taken me over for hours, days, weeks, enveloped me because within them there is a hold on the dynamics and tensions of soul music which is fuller, more absolute, than the hold or emotional grip of others. A gut grit, a root pain which Bobby would say is his gospel base but for me just is, is this pure heart, the gnawing need to give out the pain as a joy.

"I can't touch this heart with critical language.

"I suppose I want to say, in all seriousness, that this music moves and transforms me more than all the music of Marvin and Stevie put together. When I hear this voice at its best, I fall into its movement, its pace, more helplessly than into any other I know. I'll be walking home and out of nowhere it'll grab me, fill me till I want to burst with it. It's as though my own voice strained with his, my own throat winding round his snarls and those long, burnt cries.

"Of course other singers have done this to me, pulled me apart with the fury of their desire or sorrow. 

"Not many of them are still kicking, though. Womack seems to me the most original and longest-surviving of the classic, gospel-rooted school. Screw the soul boom: The Poet II album this year outshines everything. 'Love Wars', SOS Band, the lot. The passion of Poet II is titanic, Womack & Womack's is just local..

"I can pin nothing on Bobby Womack other than to note that he is a certain kind of breath trapped between certain sorts of beat. He is the moment of emotional truth which will keep escaping. If one could write down, notate what Bobby Womack technically does when he turns a tiny phrase into a magical confession ringing in your ears for years...well, there'd be no need for him to do it, would there?

Swayed by Barney's advocacy and by the critical climate of that moment, I bought The Poet II and went to see Womack perform at Oxford Apollo (the very same show mentioned by Barney in the full-length NME piece, and mentioned as lacklustre - I had nothing to compare it with, so it seemed pretty amazing to me. Indeed, with the possible exception of Solomon Burke at EMP some years ago, it remains the only old-fashioned soul revue I've seen).  Also picked up some of the classic Seventies album, records with titles like Communication and Understanding. But I never quite got to feeling the way Barney does here, either subjectively (other soul singers take precedence for me) or objectively ("The Last Soul Man", the NME article asserts in its headline, which might be true, but few would claim Womack was the Greatest). Still, it's a beautiful testament, a sort of ecstastic dissection of the way in which a particular voice can  entwine with your own voice, implant itself in your throat and impose its emotional language.

Oh and here's Barney in the Guardian last Saturday, reminiscing about accompanying Womack on the 1984 UK tour that his NME piece was pegged around.