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Monday, June 23, 2003

there'll be a hiatus here for about a week as tomorrow morning i start on the beginning of this years' glastonbury adventure- looks like its going to be the best i've ever been to, with the streets, dj marky, aphex, plaid, blak twang, skatalites, hallucinogen, + the rapture etc etc...

so, an early start tomorrow which means i haven't got time to do the post i've been thinking about for the past few days or so on the decline of literary pretensions in indie so that'll have to wait till i get back, but time for a quick post on a different subject>>> that of dizzee rascal's amazing talent for coming up with lyrics and interview quotes of the kind that writers and editors LOVE because, in their neat summations of what dizzee rascal in about, they effectively do journalists' work for them;

some examples;
'i'm articulate, i ain't an idiot'
'we're still the same...keeping our feet on the floor'
'i ain't uk garage so get used it' [from 'vexed']
'my music sounds like the end of the world'
'i'm a problem for anthony blair'

we'll be seeing these quotes used over and over again in the press, i think, to the point of tedium, but in another way its pretty great that in dizzee rascal we have a popstar [and barring major disaster he'll surely be a popstar in the truest sense, in the sense that johnny rotten and eminem and jarvis were/are popstars- cultural icons in the mainstream yet also slightly removed from that mainstream, at the head of the mainstream yet also tantalisingly ahead of it] who knows EXACTLY what his point is.

and they're also just fucking cool quotes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

record shopping on a sunny afternoon the other day and got that little bit further into debt by buying the SKATALITES, 'guns of navarone' cd, recently out on trojan. its perfect for sunny afternoons but its also just straight perfect. its almost impossible to comprehend just how important the skatalites,as the originators of the first indigenous jamaican music, are...without them, perhaps there would be no reggae, no dub, no dancehall, no jungle, no drum n bass, no garage...it doesn't bear thinking about! but aside from all the historical importance, this is just an amazing sounding record; clean, melodic and elegant to a mathematical degree but also muscular and full of attitude, like the best techno or dub or indeed just the best MUSIC. they sound so perfectly TOGETHER, so perfectly unified in their musical vision that its spiritual. i think there's an excitement in the music of true originators that is just so immediately obvious that all those who try to copy the style will ALWAYS fall way short, cuz the whole 'fuck this is really exciting and we're breaking rules and there are no rules any longer!!!' attitude is totally lost once you commit yrself to reworking an established idiom, no matter how great that idiom is. [this is one of admittedly many reasons why the datsuns et al. will NEVER be as great as the mc5 or the stooges, and also the reason why those who say 'it was better in the old days' about specific genres are, annoyingly, generally correct]. and that excitement is EVERYWHERE in the skatalites music. they knew they had a new sound that needed to be heard. also, the record's got a track on it called 'silver dollar'...

CAN'T WAIT to see them at glastonbury this year. could be one of the greatest friday nights of this decade...
listening to pirate radio during a v. enjoyable weekend in south london, i heard an amazing track. not sure what its called, or who its by, but i NEED to get it; the track's girmy garage beat is constructed out of samples of ringtones and it sounds fucking awe-inspiring. there's a fine line between gimmicky and coolasfuck. [see max tundra's use of the stuttering mobile-too-near-yr-speakers for the former, as well as aphex twin's use of the same effect somewhere within the twists and turns of Drukqs] but this track falls well into the latter category; truly, madly, the sound of the city...

Thursday, June 12, 2003

numerous people have pulled me up on this, so i should make it clear that, re. the previous post, i fully own up to be one of the 'middle class indie/electronica record geeks' that i wrote about. the previous post was just meant to be observations, rather than insults...

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

nice article on Absorb this month about the virulent and grimy new strains of garage all over the london pirates, making the point that we can expect aphex/snares-ish versions of this music in the next few years, as happened with jungle. of course the appropriation of black musical forms by middle class, chiefly white punks/indie kids/musos which tends to- but not always- make the music less danceable, more geeky and technically minded, less vital [see squarepusher's drill n bass output for this phenomenon taken to its logical conclusion] is so common it can seem inevitable. but i think grimy garage might resist such a development.

on the face of it, there's a lot in grime that makes it easy to see how it could win a huge following among the middle class indie music geek/hipster audience; the general rejection of gloss and bling- to the point where dizzee rascal says in 'i luv u' that he 'ain't got much dough' -, the punk-ish refusal to compromise, the interest in noise and dirt. in fact, listening to ex-DHR artist Shizuo's 'Fuckstep' 1998 album the other day i was really struck by its similarities with the current london sound- the stripped down jungle elements, the monolithic, swarming bass, the off key stabbed-in orchestral samples. HOWEVER, i can't see an aphex/squarepusher/snares-esque strain of 'gutter garage' emerging simply due to the fact that the human voice, and more specifically the voice, accent and slang of london's working class youth, is such an important element in this music, which presents an immediate obstacle to any bedroom electronica musos wanting to offer their versions of the sound. of course, its likely that the electronica scene will start putting out instrumental tracks highly influenced by Grime in the next few years but- as has often been pointed out- the sound of london's pirates is more MC than DJ focussed than it has been for years and so such records will only present an appriopriation of half [or even less than half] of the story.

two other possibilities though;
1] a gutter garage anticon eventually emerges, using the middle class-ness and general non-street-ness of the vocalists to develop a new aesthetic [more angst-y, more confessional, more floridly 'poetic'] . am undecided as to whether this would be absolutely dire or rather great.
2] a Bug-style, noise-worshipping hard electronica backing [similar to the breakcore scene's strain of jungle]with MCs from the street. could be wonderful, but listening to some of the stuff on the pirates at the moment i'm wondering whether this music COULD get more noisy and fucked up than it already is without self destructing under the weight of its own mentalism.


had two of those all-too-rare moments of musical bliss today, where the music suits the occasion perfectly;
no1= driving along a sunny motorway with my girlfriend. absolutely all music sounds better on road trips but finding a tape of an old [1998, i think] FREDDY FRESH Peel Session which i'd feared was lost forever was almost impossibly perfect. Big beat might be terribly uncool nowadays [was it ever cool? probably not] but this set is ultimate summer-fun music, a relentless mix of almost but not quite jungle-speed breakbeats, funk samples [i know that describing records as containing 'funk samples' generally bodes as ill as saying them have 'nu-jazz beats' and such like, but bear with me], rave sirens [yes!], and a so out of place that its actually great snippet of 'smells like teen spirit'. the sound of a night wandering around glastonbury soundsystems condensed into 45 minutes; like many such soundsystems this is just as oriented to sheer inclusive fun, rather than the other typical electronic dance music aim of being nasty/hardcore/ headfucking/dirty/filthy/mentalist etc. i tend to listen to the latter kind of stuff rather than the other, freddy fresh-esque, end of the spectrum which can, i guess, be roughly described as 'funky' [although i hate that word]- 'funky house', 'funky beats', 'nu-funk breaks' etc- i.e essentially music made for people on alcohol rather than class a's to dance to, but its nice to visit the other side sometimes and see just how much fun the wonderfully, knowingly silly music of people like freddy fresh is. and like i said, the most perfect sunny day driving music ever and so danceable i unconsciously began to time my overtaking to the music cuz some kind of union between sound and movement was being irresistably called forth...

no2= leaning out of my window on a summers evening with the sun setting drinking a glass of wine listening to LAMBCHOP'S 'nixon'. i'd previously thought of lambchop as an inoffensive but not exciting, liked by the sunday times sort of band. a typical City Slang band in other [more record geek-ish] words. but this evening their lazy honey-suckle sounds were truly gorgeous. i love the way the way this band are a bed of contradictions and juxtapositions, both melacholic and joyful, porch-song intimate and spector-ish orchestral, country and soul, kurt wagner's comfort-blanket voice and cutting, sometimes verging on cruel, lyrics. somewhere on the record he sings 'painful southern bliss' which captures what lambchop meant to me this evening quite nicely...

Monday, June 09, 2003

in the current political climate, with its almost ridiculously obvious and blatant injustice, corruption and general evil, its tempting not even to dignify those responsible for, and supportive of, armigedeon-time policies with reasoned argument and throw shocked and awed rants at those who side with the forces of darkness instead. which is , of course, what Hunter S Thompson does best, as evidenced in this quite wonderful extract from his latest book Kingdom of Fear:

"Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? who are these swine? These flag-sucking halfwits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rick kids like George Bush?"

marvellous stuff.

planet-mu website promises a CD soon to be released which contains 'technical beat programming'. jesus, who buys stuff on such a recommendation? the same kind of people who buy CDs which promise 'technical guitar playing'? i mean i always thought that there were a lot of people into 'IDM' for the 'technical' side of things but i don't think i've ever seen an electronica label appeal so blatantly to that demographic before. in one way i guess the willingness to make statements to make yr label seem chronically unhip is kind of admirable but on the other hand its a pretty dire state of affairs if what is often identified as one of the best labels in the country is making moves like this...

> DIZZEE RASCAL -'I LUV U'. of course. been playing it near constantly since i bought it (am not sure but i think its the ONLY record i've ever been excited enough about to buy on the day its released), and it still amazes me, with dizzee's full-on sensory overload tactics still leaving me feeling exhausted and exhilarated by the end of the track everytime. a perfect record in every way...its the details i've fallen in love with as much as the beat; the way dizzee laughs after going 'its all love', the way he slurs 'alright, she's a bad girl...', the way his voice goes up a register in indignation when he goes 'don't talk about wifey she's not mine'. still not sure how you'd dance to it, with its weird, fucked mix of agile, chattering snares and hi-hats and dirty dirty gabba-ised kicks but thats i guess that just comes with being The Sound Of The Future. a bit disappointing that it only got to 29 in the charts which denied us the chance to see dizzee on Top of the Pops executing a paradigm shift on the mainstream culture's consciousness and aesthetic but its surely only a matter of time...

as for the NME's lack of attention on dizzee rascal/more fire/pay as u go etc and its absurd coverage of the Thrills and the kings of leon ["hey, they sound like stereophonics but even older!"], i don't think i've ever seen it more out of touch. in fact i'm not even sure it COULD be more out of touch. the most exciting music that this country has produced in at least 8 years is spilling out almost uncontrollably and the NME is busy covering bands who haven't even caught up with the fact that punk happened yet. what credibility the NME had for uncovering any kind of musical zeitgeist has been well and truly been pissed away by their inability to come to terms with any form of dance music whatsoever [which stretches back to the mid 90s and their focus on dadrock-or britrock as it was once called, quaintly- to the almost total exclusion of drum n bass]. now when they try to make some vague lurch in the direction of the 'cutting edge' [e.g the brief flirtation with So Solid] it just comes across as pathetic and desperate in the same tragic way as when Madonna does that attempt at a rap in her last single. oh well [as dizzee rascal would say...]. i hope that dizzee's climb to household name status [with the rise of grime/gutter garage generally] and the NME's lack of any connection with that scene will finally kill NME off, with british youth's cultural landscape being freed from what has become one of its most conservative elements ['IPC sub-editors Dictate our Youth' has now become IPC sub-editors dictate that We Should Grow Up and Start Listening to Some "Proper" Music With Guitar Solos Played by Men With Sideburns and Corduroy Jackets who like Creedence Clearwater]. kill-sounds burning out the wickedness in the world!

>which brings me to the ragga-rave mentalism of THE REDEEMER, 'hardcore owes us money'. been a fan of scud's for a long time and this is easily the best thing he's done apart from the mighty, invinceable 'kill or be killed'. an album of full on early 90s influenced rave cuts shot through with typical Scud dancehall samples, with titles like Drug Anthem [which is as great as you'd imagine a scud song called drug anthem to be...]. the record is like an ultra-condensed of a Big Night, starting in blissed out day-glo rushing style and gradually getting darker and darker as scud and collaborator panacea let it all come down. to hear this over a massive soundsystem would be overwhelming i think. i'm not sure how i'd cope.

> VARIOUS; 'speedhall'. berlin's Kool Pop label show us the way again; 4 tracks of ambush- style ragga-jungle-noise which is, its fair to say, rinsin'. loads of people seem to be rocking the whole hard electronics with dancehall influences thing at the moment but koolpop have taken it to a new level of mentalist fun. i've no real idea where this music comes from, or where it gets played [Sick and Twisted, maybe? not being a london resident-yet- i wouldn;t know] but i live in hope that one day when the second coming of the UK rave scene finally happens this kind of music will be the soundtrack. a vain hope maybe, but also a wonderful thought. also love the new-genre-name-coinage thing they've got going on; here's hoping that 'speedhall' becomes a true musical subculture and not just a tantalising glimpse of what could have been...

>LORY D-'sounds never seen'. ok, its not half as hard and dark as rephlex seem to think it is from their website blurb about it [also, the Wire's description of it as 'mentalist' is a bit misleading], but its still great in its elegantly functional take on acid-splattered techno with old skool 909 snares cracking away and synth lines that shimmy like death rattles and squelch like...well like synths on acid tracks do, but in a really nice textured, dense, gurgly wet way. 'lush', as they say at rephlex.

>KID 606, REMIX OF TIMEBLIND'S MOST EYE; the other remixes on this EP are all good [particularly the sound of kit clayton uncharacteristically cutting loose and getting filthy with a massive stomping dancehall rhythm] but the Kid just fucking shines here. wasn't much of a fan of his recent stuff [e.g the grey sounds of the dalek remixes and the seemingly endless string of 7"s flogging the dead DSP-fucked-hip-hop horse raw] but here he kicks out the jams like he always claimed he did, cutting a tight jungle beat with metallic dub effects and ultra-distorted bass. for once, kid606 resists the temptation to tear the track apart in a mess of laptop noise, and instead restricts the now typical whoops and whees of his Mac to a few bars here and there. its like he's finally discovered how to make a dancefloor killer; CAN'T WAIT for his new EP now cuz for the first time the pranksterish side-swipes at, and glitched up deconstructions of, records aimed at getting people to dance seems to have fallen away. if only the other new-ish [i.e not aphex or autechre etc.] Big Name in the electronica scene, venetian snares, would similarly try to make records that you can actually dance to, instead of seemingly deliberately making his records as difficult and unrewarding to move to as possible...

which isn't to say venetian snares isn't great in places, but i do find something really alienating about his frequent almost pathological avoidance of anything remotely resembling a groove...very technically impressive i'm sure but WHATS THE POINT? the technical diffculties involved in making a sample of a jungle break so complex and fucked up that no one would want to dance to it are, i think, best seen as God's way of telling you not to bother...

Sunday, June 08, 2003

i've thought for some time now that it'd be nice to enter the world of blogging and with Finals over and a quite ridiculous amount of time on my hands it seems like Now Is The Time...silverdollarcircle was the name of a fanzine i half completed a few years ago [back when people still did fanzines...], the idea behind the fanzine being that it'd be a collection of quite small pieces of writing for people to flick through while paying proper attention to something other than reading [like listening to music etc] and a blog seems to be a good format for something like this...so i hope you like.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

its up

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