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we're happy: it's a fact.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

you know, my spelling and grammar on this blog is rubbish isn't it. or should that be 'are rubbish'. see, i'm just wandering, lost in a grammatical haze. don't blame me, blame the education system.

and happy xmas + new year!!

Monday, December 29, 2003

c'mon, just one more fucking list...

good lord aren't we a fickle bunch- 6 musicians/labels who mysteriously fell off the record geek/hipster satellite this year:

1] silver mount zion/ godspeed axis
2] kid 606 [new album out, but who's talking about it?]
3] chicks on speed [ditto]
4] pole [and again]
5] def jux
6] anticon [still a presence, but an oddly subdued one]

five people i hope will start doing blogs in the coming year [or may be they are already but i'm too ignorant to notice...]
1] more people who aren't white middle class males [i.e not like me]
2] hua hsu
3] peter shapiro
4]steven wells
5] charles bronson [the prisoner, rather than the deceased actor...]

Sunday, December 28, 2003

heronbone has an excellent piece on where grime is likely to go from here.
one thing i'm really interested (and a little bit worried) about, and which luka doesn't discuss, is how the breakbeaty/sublow side of garage vs grime thing is going to pan out. listen to Rinse now and it seems to be all that dubstep Forward sound, and in the past few months deja vu seems to be playing more of that stuff. a contest for the airwaves. sublow vs grime = producers vs mcs? may be thats too strong, but there's perhaps a grain of truth in it [see plasticman's comments on MCs in the hyperdub interview]. and also sublow/dubstep/whatever feels more producer-led than grime in the sense of being more muso-ish; you can hear the hours spent tweaking and refining in the tracks. and once producers are removed from the hyper-kinetic flows and energy rushes of MCs, once they stop producing tracks for MCs, there's often a massive loss in the vitality and madness of the sound, a loss of vibe. which is what seems to be wrong with sublow. in contrast, the sweat and soul which MCs give to grime tracks when they rap over them seems to bleed into the production process itself. so, i hope grime wins out over sublow/breakbeat garage/dubstep.

grime and base elements

simon reynolds:
"there's much tonnage of shite grime trackage or pure functional mc tools"

i think thats true, and one of the strange things about grime is that while a lot of tracks are incredible, wonderful, there's also a fairly huge amount of rubbish. but thinking about it, thats an inevitable result of the 'base elements' that grime is working with. say with jungle, or acid, or hardcore, or gabber the base elements they used were immediately, utterly addictive, packed with flava: the amen break, the 303 squelch and squeal, mentasm riffs and stabs, obscenely distorted kick drum. but grime deals with base elements that are far less immediately musically appealing- electronic claps, skeletal, brittle rhythms. even grime's hollow, one-finger, pitch-shifted and sliding bass lines don't have the immediate 'love it!' factor that the base elements mentioned above do. so you get this prima facie strange result that despite the fact that grime's often relentlessly minimal focus, and its pretty much funk-less and vibe-less base elements, often lead to it being called an anti-music (even 'not proper music'), the best grime producers have to have a huge amount of musical creativity, even genius, to create something really worth listening to, to work the base elements into anthems, celebrations and laments, to get their music into yr heart... to create a 'love it!' response from base elements which almost resist that treatment. in this respect, i guess grime is like the whole clicks + cuts, glitchy electronica scene, except there the ratio of great to bad seems to be much less appealing.

best christmas present this year= big youth t shirt.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Loving plone right now. there's something really sincere and nicely sad about them. it makes me think of the music jammer would make may be if he was only 5 years old.
thats a strange thought.
but i'm going to stick by it.
i was in cambridge the other day. bitterly, ludicrously cold. did two things perhaps worth mentioning;
-saw that daft punk film 'interstella 5555'. its kind of fun sometimes visually, but also quite depressing. now i'm not averse to a bit of retro-action. its never really bothered me that the strokes sound and look like they're from 1976, or that the darkness pretend that the last 20 years hasn't happened. good tunes and honesty and enthusiasm are all it takes to get me into a band. but daft punk seem so fundamentally dishonest, and way too removed, distant, knowing, to show any enthusiasm through their music. how can you be enthusiastic, how can you feel and cause genuine thrills if you view everything with sideways, wry, [urghh] ironic, detached glances and smirks? may be i'm getting daft punk all wrong and its not ironic at all, but done out of genuine, full frontal, wide-eyed love for this music. but i dunno. when i hear them, they sound so EMPTY. like Jim emeraldaze was saying about 'bloodless hipster boutiques', daft punk seem to be the ultimate 'bloodless hipster band'. horrible.

but i find daft punk more offensive than most heartless irony-infested bands, for two reasons. firstly, they're often spoken about in this context; 'oh, you know, french pop is traditionally rubbish, but daft punk changed all that'. NO. french pop is probably as good as anywhere if you look hard enough [i haven't sadly], just cuz interesting things tend to happen everywhere, and also, of course, daft punk are rubbish. secondly, daft punk can seem so completely of their time its frightening. in daft punk have we got the band we deserve? isn't this the music of shoreditch twats, the Face, those mindless 'i love the 80s' programmes, jamie theakston, asymmetric haircuts worn with a pursed lipped sense of superiority, the shift from ecstacy to cocaine, from inclusivity to exclusivity, new labour, silver and white restaurants, the shift from pubs to bars, the rise of the word 'lifestyle', jimmy carr, that way of speaking so that you're voice goes up at the end so that you can't show enthusiasm for, or commitment to, anything, yeah?, fun-killing dress code policies for nominally 'punk' clubs [hello kashpoint], mini-scooters, kids in designer clothes instead of stuff their grans knitted for them, the rise of the word 'designer', the ubiquity of ciabatta, coffee tables, art-school mullets, childrens tv presenters in iron maiden t-shirts, the chapman brothers and so on and on. you get the idea.

-oh, and the second thing i did in cambridge was to see Schneider Tm. they were great, much better than i expected. like a german flaming lips, catchy and fun, willing to put on a show and look a bit silly. they danced around a lot and rolled spliffs for the audience, covered the smiths and did that lovely wayne coyne thing of clenching your fists and holding up yr hands in a state of i-have-seen-salvation bliss.

listening to 'know we' this morning i'm struck by two things.
firstly, the urgency in wiley's voice that you hear in this track isn't really there anymore. i love the stuff he does nowadays of course, but that really sharp, almost desperate, urgency and hunger seems to be gone. he sounds more sure now, more confident. and i like that, but that tightness, that slightly unsettled but deadly focussed energy that comes with having something to prove, was wonderful.
secondly, wiley says 'this is phase one-first stage of my career'. with hindsight, its like he knew exactly what he was doing then, the importance of that track, what he would become.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

records i forgot in my favourite of 2003 list;
leyton breakers + dj controlled weirdness- i will drink your blood ep
delta- baby
soundmurderer- wired for sound
lory d- sounds never seen [especially 'sickness']
sean paul + beyonce- baby boy

am SO excited at the prospect of a new clouddead lp- out soon apparently. that last one was the vehicle for many blissed out nights. why's vocals were especially wonderful...those lines about poems smelling like honeysuckle and sunset being an all day process etc. could sound really sixth form-ish but instead its so evocative. my favourite bit is i think on track 5 when this awesome chamber string led beat comes in and sole lets go with this river of words, beginning with 'zip codes ain't permament, i cross em all simulateneously...'. i find sole difficult to listen to for long periods, he's too full on, too relentless, no spaces. but on this little bit he really shines. its all there; hope, fear, anger, sarcasm, amusement and there's so much conviction in his voice, he puts everything into making, creating and expressing at that point. its glorious.

some things never change;
the virtual stoa's amused and amusing reaction to the daily mail's coverage of the rugby victory parade reminded me of a passage in this book i'm currently reading; jonathan schneer's 'london 1900', which is pretty good. anyway, the passage is about soldiers coming back from the boer war and gathering in the guildhall to hear the lord mayor make speeches in their honour. and it quotes this from a contemporary newspaper article;
"as the familiar strains of the National Anthem rose from the assembly, the lips of many a khaki-clad warrior quivered with the emotion he endeavoured to conceal."
on the reading this i thought 'thats got to be the daily mail', from the style and the sentiment. and indeed it was.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

oh just remembered; Busted had THREE drummers on top of the pops the other day. that makes them pretty prog in my books...
what i love about dj rupture's own material [and his stuff as part of nettle] is the way he's creating new rhythms and sounds, and thats pretty rare: he's one of those very few artists who is so unique that you recognise his stuff pretty much instantly. like i called minesweeper suite 'breakcore' but that really does it a disservice. 'breakcore' mashes up jungle and drum n bass breaks mashed up and smashes them with distortion- and you can hear that influence running through dj rupture's music- but his tracks are also a pretty big step into new places. like that stuttering, dislocated rhythm he often uses that feeds off dancehall but isn't really dancehall at all. he's creating new ways to dance, new forms that are gradually becoming recognisable idioms. also love those occasional blurts of snares that punctuate and push a lot of his tracks, that are so excitable and exciting in the way they sound irregular, non-linear and...wrong, like someone speaking so fast that they get the word order mixed up. and that weirdly hollow, wooden sound that a lot of his beats have, as abstracted as a lot of glitch, but a bodily, satisfying bump and whump, not the flickering pixels and hiccups of a lot of glitchy electronica. and whereas breakcore tends to sound absolutely urban and industrial, with mechanical shrillness and grime [in fact i think dj scud has referred to the ambush sound as 'shrillcore'], dj rupture's music sounds more organic, crumbling and eroded, rather than corroded may be. i mean there's the traditional north afirican samples in his music, but there's also something else that makes me think of deserts and open spaces, lots of heat, sand and grit, but with a parched, bleached cleanliness. noise and breaks for dusty, spacious sunsets!

ok favourite records of 2003, here goes:
1]dizzee rascal- jus a rascal [one of the best choruses ever]
2]wiley- ice rink vocals [the kano one]
3] ruff squad- pied piper [like ice rink, so out there and unlike anything else the excitement of hearing it still hasn't died away for me]
4] roll deep- salt beef [beautiful]
5] kano- vice versa [i kept wanting to sing along to this, but quickly realised that wasn't going to work. too fast and twisted. excellent!]
6] j sweet- gutter ['ardcore!]
7] sean paul- stuck like glue [gorgeous innit]
8] harry toddler- donkey kick ['ooh i just love dance...' so good!]
9] redeemer- hardcore owed us money [all of it]
10] the bug- run the place red [especially that bit where daddy freddy barks " ard, ard, ard, ardcore']

and some more;
-crazy titch- i can see u
-mr fidget -fidgstrumental
-sugababes- hole in the head
-dm and jemini- ghetto pop life
- lfo- freak
-outkast- hey ya
-geeneus- detroit
-that grime track that goes 'we keep it gangsta, and we keep it ghettofied...' [may be by riko?]
-skepta- dti
-nasty crew- cock back
-target + wiley etc- pick yrself up
-wonder- what
-various- speedhall
-donae'o- bounce
-white stripes- seven nation army
-kele le roc and sticky- things we do for love
-lumidee- uh oh
-grafiti- what is the problem [bug remix]
-east connection and lady fury- gash.
-wiley- igloo
-dizzee rascal- do it + jezebel + fix up look sharp + the whole of boy in da corner actually
- sticky- golly gosh
-electric six- gay bar
- that new track by lethal b, don't know what its called sorry
-more fire- still the same + that new one with sticky
-all the tracks on that 'nice up the dance' compilation that soul jazz put out.
wiley- ground zero
- everything gods gift does on that 'street beats' compilation
this decision just seems obviously morally wrong.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

may be you already know this but apparently jammer has left nasty crew...personal differences it seems. bit sad about that. see rewind mag for more details [i can't do proper links on this computer for some reason]

Sunday, December 07, 2003

ha ha 'like merzbow in a ragga jungle mood'. hows that for lazy writing? sorry, ooops, long-ish post on dj rupture may be tomorrow to try to make amends
godammit who can fail to be really excited about dancehall after reading skykicking's amazing posts. wicked. got a lot of catching up to do, but a dancehall record buying mission might be in order this week....
currently well into the breakcore frenzy of dj rupture's 'minesweeper suite'...less clean and elegant than goldteeth thief and aiming more at amphetamine noise madness, like merzbow in a ragga jungle mood. absolutely rinsin'.

Friday, December 05, 2003

lots of people seem to be doing end of year record lists at the moment which i guess is sensible it being the end of the year and all. anyways, i love these lists, even ones i disagree with lots, like the one in the Guide last weekend. but whats really surprising me is how there seesm to be a near consensus that crazy in love is one of the best singles of the year, if not all time. i thought it was quite disappointing. loved the intro, and jay z's bit got me really excited- he made it seem like something spectacular, some wonderful secret he knew about, was just about to be revealed. and loved that 'uh oh oh no no no no' bit of course. but the song seems to get worse as it goes on, ending with beyonce doing all sorts of warbles around notes, vocal tremors and shimmies, mariah carey style. and that ruined it for me.

but anyway, i didn't realise it had struck such a chord with so many people until this week. in a way thats quite scary, just being oblivious to the fact that this song was shaping so many peoples' summers and lives, that this wasn't 'just' another pop song. i never realised before but now i do that crazy in love is probably the song our generation will sing at wedding receptions and office parties when we're older, reliving our youth, copying beyonce's dancing and our kids, mortally embaressed at this reminder that their parents are urgh sexual beings, will wonder what we're doing, why everyone is dancing like that, why that song is so important.

i think i'll do an end of year list in the next few daYs


is brilliant, especially that stuff on bjork and winter

damon albarn on the anti-bush protests the other day in london;
'it was a smart protest for smart people'
that quote makes me think that he 's crazy even though i agree with it. strange

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

ben sims at the marvelously named Marcus Garvey Centre in nottingham on friday was excellent- he played out at 6 in the morning with a massive stomping techno remix of 7 nation army and it felt EPIC.

had a heronbone moment today when i looked at of the window and saw a sparrowhawk. it sat there for about 2 minutes. it was very exciting to see a little bit of the natural world so unexpectedly.

all this prog stuff on the blogosphere and also paul marsden's ridiculously bad poetry has reminded of a post i meant to do ages ago but never got round to, so here goes;
back in the day, rock bands were very keen to associate themselves with literary greats, perhaps out of genuine enthusiasm for their work, or perhaps just as an attempt at highbrow status. most obvious examples being the manics, nirvana with their interest in burroughs, the divine comedy perhaps, The Fall if we're going back a little...hell even one of the biggest metal bands at the time, ministry, had comrades in contemporary literature [burroughs again]. and there were also loads of bands who, although they had no explicit links with the literary world, clearly aspired to be 'poets' in the sense of transcending the populist language of rock n roll [smashing pumpkins the prime offender here].

but now, in this strokes/kings of leon/vines/ yeah yeah yeahs etc time, this movement to aim at literature, or poetry, rather than 'just' lyrics, this movement which began in earnest with dylan, {urghh} jim morrison, and may be the beatles, seems to have ended. bands seem comfortable and confident to no longer try and impress us with their 'books i have read' lists [or may be they just don't read books anymore...].

and this saddens me a bit. not because i think it makes rock lyrics WORSE; if anything, i think it makes them better, cuz i've always loved simple, even blunt, rock n roll, ramones-ish lyrics- there's so much beauty in blitzkrieg bop. but i'm still sad, because if there's two things that teenagers are good at, its pretending that they've read more books than they have, and seeing the world in a pretensious, confused poetic haze. and teenagers in to the bands mentioned above don't seem to be into that kind of thing anymore, thus neglecting the once in a lifetime opportunity to wear black and quote sartre and gertrude stein loads and still have friends.


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