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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

very nice to see that the Virtual Stoa, a great blog run by the man who taught me most of what i know about marxism, is active again
this is quite wonderfully silly.

fancy a flutter on blair?

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Its arrived!!!...every summer for the past 4 years i've done shitwork in canteens, factories etc where the only source of slight amusement is the radio, which is invariably locked on to radio 1. and every year there's been just one tune that, when it comes on the radio, lifts everyones' spirits noticeably, suddenly making the work tolerable, and just makes people smile, maybe dance. against the background of grey monotony and drudgery such moments are quite beautiful. and they also make you realise just how important pop music really is. i was a bit worried, though, that this year there was going to be no such song. last year it was 'round round' by sugababes, the year before it was 'romeo' by basement jaxx, and the year before that it was the groovejet song. but i needn't have worried; BENNY BENASSI is here!!! what a great track; poppy but with a delicious [slightly] nasty edge and those razor sharp synths sawing into the track.

at the other end of the spectrum, sylvain chaveau's 'un autre decembre' album is also pleasing me at the moment. oddly, anytime before 10pm these pensive minimal piano pieces don't do anything for me at all, and just fade into the background, but come the peaceful onset of night time and they're just perfect--- i find the Low and Bardo Pond are similarly dependent on the time of listening for their effect.

Monday, July 21, 2003

DIZZEE RASCAL-'BOY IN DA CORNER' haven't even scratched the surface of this fantastically-almost intimidatingly- epic, bountiful, generous offering yet but first impressions are;

- dizzee's sensitive, melancholic side is heartbreaking. he frequently sounds on the verge of tears.

-he is so far ahead of every single producer working in electronic music today its scary- maybe this was what hearing aphex back in 1992 was like.

- his superhero theme song chorus to 'jus a rascal' is one of the greatest hooks ever.

-his dialetic of primitive and sophisticated is fascinating; the album sounds primal, raw, even ritualistic and shamanistic in its use of simple repeating melody lines built from samples of antique sounds- strings, lutes, oriental sounding glockenpiels etc. but this merges SEAMLESSLY with the chromium, stuttering beats, scrapes and shards that are, in way that is difficult to explain but easy to hear, the very SOUND of digital technology.

-dizzee sounds simultaneously like the only artist to be truly in the here and now and yet his music is also alien, mysterious, otherworldly; dizzee is so real, so close to whats going on, its like he's not on this planet at all.

-which leads onto; dizzee as the observer without distance, looking at what he sees relentlessly [see, 'sittin here'] but flinching, getting involved, getting attached, getting hurt, getting worn right down but still, always, watching.

- i CAN'T WAIT to see what happens next.

Friday, July 18, 2003

ack! wasn't the speech to congress sickening, for some many reasons and in so many ways? if i was a self-proclaimed social democrat politician [i'm not] i'd like the think that if i had 17 standing ovations from a largely republican US congress which is one of the most, if not the most, brazenly rightwing democratic legislatures of recent times, many of whose members disagree with just about everything social democracy is meant to stand for [i haven't, by the way], might lead me to some degree of political soul-searching and to worry that i'd probably gone just a little bit wrong, idealogically speaking, somewhere in my political career. but not tony, of course. the genius and also the tragedy of blair is, i think, that no such thoughts ever occur to him; he believes that simply by calling himself a social democrat, he makes himself become and remain one, and that if george bush approves of him then, hey, social democracy is doing pretty well! it seems we have voted in a man who either does not understand what social democracy is, nor what it means to be generally left wing rather than right wing, or simply does not care at all for political and moral principles. either way, ooops.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

i didn't really like it when i first heard it but i grown to love nelly and kelly rowland's 'dilemma'. i'm finding that increasingly its the little details in songs which i fall in love with and in this case its the repeated, high-pitched 'oh's that kelly sings, which sound a bit like those pings which submarine radars emit [or submarines in films do, at any rate] and are beautifully melancholic for it. [maybe cuz the radar-esque sounds are the sounds of claustrophobia and searching? i dunno.]

another wonderful musical detail> the way dizzee rascal says 'ok' in more fire crew's 'still the same' [in the line 'we're still the same as we were before, ok, we're still makeing dough...'] like he trying to steady himself and regain composure. love it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

just got grafiti's 'what is the problem' and its a good un! not sure if its mike skinner or not- the beats certainly sound like his but the vocals don't. in a way i hope its not mike skinner cuz that means there's [at least] two people doing this strangely lovable mockney garage thing. anyway, regardless, 'what is the problem' is, hopefully, a summer anthem waiting to happen mainly in virtue of THAT bassline. its the bug remix on the b-side which really does it for me, though, where an uncredited ragga mc takes the original lyrics and brings on 'total annihilation' and kevin martin makes the bassline even filthier-'ardcore!!!!
apologies for the rather long break- post-glastonbury weariness and starting a new job among other things have taken their toll.

some thoughts on glastonbury- this years festival made me realise even more than last years how glastonbury has really become two festivals, rather than one. on one side of the site [next to the pyramid stage and dance tent] its all lads in football shirts and shed seven t-shirts drinking stella and listening to shit. also, some anecdotal evidence suggests that what violence and crime remains at glastonbury occurs mostly round those posts. on the other side of the site, around the avalon field etc, its also relatively lawless but in a good way- spontaneous performance art shows [not as bad as they sound], anarchist book stalls, the drug supermarket of the stone circle, lots of worthy petitions to sign, and-most importantly- the only sound systems that stay on for a reasonable length of time at night- i particularly liked the old army tent next to us that played nosebleed techno at 10 in the morning. i wasn't in the mood for dancing at that time but you've got to admire the spirit of the hardcore few that were.
also, i liked the way glastonbury this year was about unexpected surprises rather than conforming to expectations- the main acts i'd been looking forward to, the streets and the skatalites, disappointed me; the former for having shit sound and unwisely replacing the wonderfully clipped, edgy digital sound of the records with live instrumentation, and the latter for just being too coffee table-ish. but loads of the acts which fell into the i'll-see-them-to-pass-the-time category were wonderful- asian dub foundation reminded us just how exciting they are-love the new vocalist and they even dropped in a snippet of donae'os 'bounce'! sigur ros were perfect sunday night music- both blissful and possessing a vague sense of dread. grandaddy are the sound of being drunk on a summers afternoon so they were bound to be great, but i didn't realise until i saw them. hallucinogen in dub at the mighty Glade was awesome, drawing links between techno and dub to create dancefloor killers that rightfully put many of the dry offerings of the micro-techno/dubtronica/whatever crowd to shame. and primal scream were, obviously, the ultimate party band.

but mostly what i love about glastonbury is that nowhere else in britain do so many people have so much fun for so long.

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