Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Enjoyed chatting with Adam + Kyle of Zer0 for this vidcast dedicated to the new Zer0 Classics edition of Mark Fisher's Ghosts of My Life. Excuse my gruffness - I was recovering from covid when it was recorded. 

I've lost count of the number of Mark-mourning and Kpunk-commemorating things I've done or participated in these last five years and a bit. There was a tribute for a newspaper, a podcast, a foreword to a collection, a live panel, a memorial lecture,  a virtual panel, a conference speech/journal essay, an afterword to a reissue, a keynote speech for a conference done as a video, an interview or two.... possibly other things I'm forgetting. Increasingly, I've felt a bit like a John the Baptist who's somehow managed to outlive the Messiah!

It can be a little uncomfortable if it feels like I'm supposed to be speaking on Mark's behalf, as his earthly representative. It's not like we were joined at the hip ideologically, or even aesthetically. We disagreed (amiably) about quite a lot. In terms of temperament and outlook -  our fundamental orientation towards this thing called Life - there's a gap there.  Still, I always enjoy talking about his work and about him as a person, to the extent that I knew him (I feel others knew him much better, or knew him differently, let's say).  If nothing else, it's a way of keeping Mark in mind. 

Friday, August 19, 2022

le hardcore ne mourra jamais

Break out your Harraps French-English Dictionaries - unless of course you are Francophone already - in readiness for the release in a week or so of Hardcore, a collation of my writings on the hardcore continuum, published exquisitely by Audimat Editions and translated by the fearless Jean-François Caro.

(Ha, I just realised that if you say "Hardcore" in French, it sounds phonetically as ardkore - my preferred demotic rendering). 

Below is the release rationale, en Français: 

Jungle, ambient jungle, techstep, speed garage, darkcore, grime, dubstep, funky… Depuis le début des années 1990, une série de styles musicaux s’est répandue du Royaume-Uni jusqu’aux dancefloors du monde entier. Ces musiques électroniques ont pris forme autour d’une passion pour la basse, les breakbeats, les sonorités issues du dancehall et le fracas des samples d’orchestre. Alimentées par les drogues (ecstasy, kétamine) et longtemps indissociables des radios pirates, elles composent ce que le critique britannique Simon Reynolds (Rétromania, Le choc du glam) a nommé le « continuum hardcore », pour mieux insister sur leur histoire commune. Dans ce livre, Reynolds revient sur ses propres expériences pour nous faire (re)découvrir une foule de maxis et de morceaux légendaires ou oubliés. Il revendique leur radicalité contre le mépris de classe, écoute les rapports féminin/masculin se transformer au cœur des infrabasses, et les réinscrit dans les trajectoires de la diaspora anglo-jamaïcaine et le multiculturalisme anglais. Avec son écriture à haute intensité, entre essai et reportage, cette anthologie inédite constitue un hommage sensible à l’énergie de la rave ainsi qu’un manifeste en prise sur l’innovation et la catharsis des dancefloors, à l’heure où les sonorités hardcore reviennent exorciser l’« anxiété généralisée » d’un capitalisme passé en mode turbo.

Vous pouvez acheter le livre ici

                                                        "Massif de Londres!"

                                                 "Big up ta poitrine Georges Kelly!"

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

meta matters

Here's a piece I enjoyed writing up for Tidal about a long-running interest: rock-about-rock, pop-about-pop, self-reflexive singers and songs, and the whole line of meta-music from "So You Want To Be A Rock'n'Roll Star" to "Black Beatles". 

There's a playlist that goes with it that also runs from "So You Want To Be A Rock'n'Roll Star" to "Black Beatles" and includes many, many more examples than could be fitted into an already bulging essay. 

Sunday, August 07, 2022

!! Pause for the Cause: London Rave Adverts 1991-1996 Vol 2 !!


Luke Owen of Death Is Not The End has swiftly followed up Pause for the Cause: London Rave Adverts 1991-1996 Vol. 1.  with Pause for the Cause: London Rave Adverts 1991-1996 Vol. 2 - another bumper collection of pirate ads from back in the rave days, including some more audio contributions from me. And here's the blurb I came up with: 

 "Back in the early ‘90s, whenever the pirate radio MC announced “a pause for the cause”, I usually pressed pause on my cassette recorder. That’s something I would regret years later, when ad breaks had become cherished mementos of the hardcore rave era. Luckily, back in the day I often left the tape running while I went off to do something else. So a fair number of ad breaks got captured accidentally for my later delectation. Not nearly enough, though. So in recent years I started combing through the immense number of pirate radio sets archived on the internet.  Sometimes the tracklists would note “ad break” or “ads”, helping to narrow the search. But often I’d just stumble on a bunch in the middle of a pirate show preserved on YouTube or an old skool blog.  A few of my original unintended “saves” and latterday “finds” are included in this wonderful collection by audio archaeologist Luke Owen. It’s the latest in his series of compilations of UK pirate radio advertisements, with this volume focusing on the audio equivalent of the rave flyer: MCs breathlessly hyping a club night or upcoming rave, listing the lineup of deejays and MCs, boasting about hi-tech attractions like lasers and projections, mentioning prices and nearest landmarks to the venue, and occasionally promising “clean toilets” and “tight but polite security” (“sensible security” is another variation). Some of these ads are etched into my brain as lividly as the classic hardcore and jungle tunes of that time. (Most rave ads incorporate snippets of current music, of course – big anthems and obscure “mystery tracks” alike).   Names of deejays ring out like mythological figures: who were Shaggy & Breeze, Kieran the Herbalist, Tinrib, Food Junkie?  Putting on my serious hat for a moment, I think these ads are valuable deposits of sociocultural data, capturing the hustling energy of an underground micro-economy in which promoters, deejays and MCs competed for a larger slice of the raving audience.   But mostly, they are hard hits of pure nostalgic pleasure, amusing and thrilling through their blend of period charm, endearing amateurism,  and contagiously manic excitement about rave music’s forward-surge into an unknown future. The best of these ads give me a memory-rush to rival the top tunes and MC routines of the era."    

You can hear and buy Pause for the Cause Vol. 2 digitally and as a limited-edition cassette at Bandcamp

One of my contributions to Pause for the Cause #2. 

Here's my Guardian piece from last year on the first two collections of UK pirate radio adverts that Death Is Not The End put out. 

And here's a longer interview I did with Luke about his label and the interest in pirate radio transmissions.

Since then Death Is Not The End has out a collection of a different era of pirate radio - Brooklyn Pirates: Neighbourhoods in the Sky, 2014-2021 - compiled by David Goren, an audio archivist based in Brooklyn. 

Thursday, August 04, 2022

reading matters: friends + family edition part 2

Another dispatch from the frontlines of 2020s music - although in this case it sounds freakily like 1970s music - here's Kieran Press-Reynolds with a review of DOMi & JD BECK's hyper-fusion freakout Not Tight for Pitchfork 

A dispatch from the frontlines of 1970s music - my old Melody Maker comrade Frank Owen with a memory-lane guided tour to punk-era Manchester landmarks a.k.a. his old stomping ground. 

Dispatches drawn across decades in the form of Rolling Stone's 200 Greatest Dance Songs, largely selected and written up by Michaelangelo Matos. Nice to see Mescalinum United "We Have Arrived" in there - in between Fatboy Slim and somebody called Oliver Heldens. 

Monday, August 01, 2022

reading matters: family + friends edition

Dispatch from the frontlines of 2020s music, a review of quinn's new album by Kieran Press-Reynolds for Pitchfork.

Dispatches from the frontlines of late '80s and early '90s music from David Stubbs, in the form of reminiscences of:

- an audience with Chuck D of Public Enemy 

a trip to  Russia to follow World Domination Enterprises on a groundbreaking tour of the Soviet Union

Dispatches from the frontlines of cutting-edge TV (re)viewing, a.k.a our sofa, here's Joy Press writing about

the underrated Industry (a shared favorite, this - a raunchy, druggy glimpse into the real world domination enterprise, a.k.a international finance)  

- rewatching the pilot episode of Mad Men on the 15th anniversary of its airing 

-   Nathan Fielder's The Rehearsal