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Thursday, April 29, 2004

In the index Joseph Raz’s recent book, ‘Engaging Reason’, there’s a list of all the examples he uses throughout the book, which also works as a rather lovely, unintentional (I assume) piece of poetry. Here it is;

“ amoralist’s apple tree
beautiful sunsets
Billy Budd
Chess club
Counting blades of grass
Gay marriages
Inuit face in beverly hills
Jane’s baby
Javanese jokes
Job application to somali hospital
Just rate of tax
Keep smoking, stay witty
Learning to play the piano in retirement
new york jewish jokes
Promises and john’s cacti
Sacrificing your child for $1000 a year
Sylvia’s repeated door locking
Toddler on edge of road
Uncontrary mary
Unfaithful husband’s photograph”

It’s the kind of list that you can imagine being printed in talking heads album inlays

REPHLEX GRIME NIGHT---23/04/04 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I finally got to hear some grime in a club setting on Friday, at the Rephlex night. It was all quite thrilling. As soon as we walked in, plasticman played wonder’s ‘what’ and then mixed in the ‘frontline rhythm’ which I think is by terra danjah. I fell in love with the night right there. A good, mixed crowd: the typical, studenty rephlex audience + old skool garage crew dressed to impress and drinking champage + garage kids in hoodies and tracksuits + croydon lads in expensive polo shirts. Even though there was wide range of socio-cultural backgrounds amongst the audience, alexis petridis will be shocked to hear that everyone got on very well. Amazing.
Sorry, I’ll stop going on about him.
virus syndicate’s [plasticman + mark one + MCs whose names I never caught, unfortunately] first set was fun, but got wearing towards the end. I think it was mainly plasticman and mark one dubs, but I’m not at all sure. Anyway, although I enjoy that ultra regimented, rigid heart of darkness sound occasionally, a full set of it starts to hurt a bit. It just feels a little bit too…controlled, and stifled. It’s the sound of someone screaming into a pillow. Sometimes, most times, I want abandon, madness, and the fragility of music reaching dizzying heights then collapsing. The music that virus syndicate played initially didn’t do this- it just stays at the same level and grinds (rather than grimes?) on. It’s grey, wet days without thunderstorms or lightning. Like I said, I enjoy a bit of that, but not a lot of it. It’s more the perfect music to have for those plateaux you get in clubs where people are just settled back into a nice, comfortable groove, building up from the last breakdown and waiting, hoping, for the next rush.

The MCs were good, although, as I mentioned a few days ago, they didn’t at all see themselves as the main event. They were pitched low in the mix, and took a more trad. approach to MCing than most grime MCs- shouts to the audience, catchphrases repeated into delirium (‘play with the fire and you must get burned’. ‘another virus soundbomb’…), bigging up one section of the crowd and shaming the other for not making enough noise. If anything, it would have been better if they had been a bit more of an authoritative, because sometimes this music (croydon techno? Sublow? Forward sound? Or still dubstep?) needs MCs to take control in order to lift it above its compressed, non-step pressure and into a more mentalist, rinsin’ place. Such relentless machine music is made to sound good without any human presence at all, but perversely that’s what sometimes makes a human element in it so important:- when MCs take control of the tracks they add a whole new, contrasting element that excites because it makes the music seem even more alien and hostile. That;s what god’s gift does on the ‘street beats’ compilation, on ministry of sound. He makes you feel like you’ve never heard the tracks before, because he manages to pick up on the minute tics and shudders of the beats and basslines then amplifies those elements through his MCing so that while he’s locking right in tight with the tracks he’s also dominating them, and bringing out a new dynamism to them, making them sound vital.

When the bug came on we left the room cuz although while I love his stuff on record in a club it’s just a bit too…I don’t like using this word, but I can’t think of another that’ll do, unfunky. You can dance to it, but something’s not there. There’s no sweat and no smiles in the music.

[by the way, I read somewhere recently, and I’m not sure if this is true, that the word funk comes from an east african word meaning the smell of a woman’s sweat. So no sweat = no funk]

so leaving the bug, it was a brief little sit down in the rephlex DJs room for us, and it was all very pleasant. Actually, I was amazed by just how excellent the music was. I’m not sure who the DJ was, but he/she was on top form- a mix of old electro and genuinely crazy computer game sounding tracks. Really wonderfully fucked up and buzzy. Right on the cusp of unpleasantness, and more fun for it.

Buzzin ‘ard!

Back in the grime room, Slaughta Mob were a bit disappointing. It got a little too minimal for me, reduced right down to pitch black, dubby boom and the clatter of electronic snares and handclaps. Whereas virus syndicate are still clearly descendents of rave euphoria, albeit its excellently surly, monosyllabic children with hearts’ hardened by their parents’ failed utopian dreams, with slaughta mob it got harder and harder to see the ancestral inks. The rave elements were there but they were configured in a way that seemed very anti-rave. Not that it wasn’t dance music- hip hop is dance music, after all, but dance music that’s also got a strong anti-rave feeling about it [or at least it did till hip hop producers started taking pills…] it just sounded like things had been pared back to such a point where the very raviness of it all had been lost somewhere along the way. Still, that’s perhaps an important path to open up in instrumental (as in not R n B or dancehall or hip hop) UK dance culture.

Virus syndicate’s second set picked things up massively though. The highpoint of the night, easily. May be they realised that they had to wheel out the classics to keep people hanging around at 5 am, so it was crushing set, includind wiley’s igloo, ice rink and morgue, the frontline rhythm again, wonder’s what, Alias’ ‘Gladiator’, I think ‘Blink’ by starfox but I might be making that up, and loads more which I can’t remember exactly.

I hope I never forget hearing Ice Rink over a big soundsystem for the first time, surrounded by knackered, already hungover people still trying to keep the night alive. To finally experience that, after over a year of being pretty much obsessed with that track and this music, of listening to the quasi-raves broadcast by the pirates almost every night….I can’t really describe it. just very right, very special. It felt like coming home, in a way. But not quite. May be like finally meeting a friend you’ve only previosuly communicated with via e-mail and letters and realising that yr relationship really starts proper there.
I can’t really describe it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

pre-emptive apologies to ian 86400 seconds for probably mis-using the term 'ambient' horribly in that last post. he knows much more about all that stuff than me, and indeed anyone i know.
THE DESERT SESSIONS EXPERIMENT- beating silence at being silent.

So I decided to listen to josh homme’s ‘desert sessions 5+6’, and only the desert sessions, for 3 weeks. I should confess that I didn’t actually make it to the full 3 weeks as I went back up to cheshire and forgot to take the cd with me. And also I cracked on a few occasions [you know, you start taping a show off the radio and end up listening to it for half an hour and etc.]. so it wasn’t perfect. But I still got something out of it. I first wanted to try the experiment to see if a really throwaway, mediocre, 3 stars out of 5 [!], sort of album could become really important if you listened to it enough, if you let it soundtrack your life. Could you love it just because of the memories it formed a backdrop to? Well, I’m not sure that I really love the album, but I don’t think that it was the right time to embark on such an experiment. Firstly, when I was listening to the desert sessions, my life wasn’t really that eventful, and I wasn’t really particularly happy or particularly melancholy. It was one of those lulls that actually take up the vast proportion of yr life but that you never remember. Like you always remember summers as being a non-stop sun and fun [ I hope], forgetting all the numbing grey, cloudy emptiness, and all the time where all yr mates on holiday so there’s fuck all to do, and all the times where you’ve got to be at work early in the morning so you got to sleep to the sounds of people enjoying the summer outside, sad. I’m digressing I think. I guess I was trying to say that I should have chosen to do the experiment at a time that was more memorable to begin with. Also, the artificiality of the experiment meant that it didn’t feel as special as things like this can. I remember one time we were driving through france when I was young with only a 50s rock n roll tape [be bop a lula, good golly miss molly, all the hits] and a ry cooder tape, and just being stuck with that music, having to make do with it, meant that it still has some kind of unique value to me. It still brings back memories of, for instance, chasing lizards, or grenadine ice lollies, and other things I only did in france as a child. And because that music is associated with driving, hot, long, open summer driving, destination driving, important driving, it has a kind of drama when I listen to it that I doubt I’d get if I hadn’t had that experience with it. May be I love it. And I’ve learnt that it’s difficult to get that kind of special feeling by deliberately trying to get it. There’s a hint of pretense about the whole thing, and hence a little bit of self consciousness. You can’t force yrself to have life-long memories of mundanity it seems. You can’t force yrself to love something.

May be that’s obvious, but I had to learn it.

Ok, yeah, but I still got something out of the whole thing, and something important. Desert sessions is now such a comfortable record to listen to for me. like old slippers. I can just sink into it, and because I know it so well I can drift off without resistance. In a way, it’s a sound more relaxing than silence. [although, silence can be scary]. may be that should be rephrased: in a way, sometimes, it’s more silent than silence, more of a nothingness, less obtrusive. Just like a humming fridge and the slosh and whirr of the dishwasher can be more silent than silence. It’s good to have a record like that. Most talking heads records are also like that for me, although in a slightly different way, because they still excite me and I always end up thinking about them a great deal. Not like with the desert sessions now. That’s more a pure zen-like empty trance. Dancing right on the edge of nothingness.
I’m taking the piss, but only a bit.
Like paul from milelongshadowofacoolingtower was saying a few weeks back that he liked to listen to shit queen albums, just to immerse himself in the vacuity of it, to drift off in to that black hole of sheer averageness, of inoffensive wretchedness…sometimes it’s almost liberating, enjoyable, to be able to do that.
To slip into something more comfortable [sorry].

So I guess may be the main lesson from the whole thing is: you can make anything ambient if you work at it enough, even dirty big stoner riffs from josh homme. You can make any music merge into the background, blanketing you so that it even shuts out the noise of silence.

Monday, April 26, 2004

great review of rephlex's grime cd up at k punk

the grime night last friday with virus syndicate and slaughter mob was good fun. i'll do a proper piece on it soon.

for now, though, i'll just give you this little snippet. one of the virus syndicate MCs on the night said:

'tonight is NOT about the MCs, tonight is all about the music'.

that seems important. MCs in that scene are actually actively playing down, and even diminishing, their own importance.
it was weird when my mate Will pointed out that the wiley review in the guardian was having a bit of a go at me [as well as at the rest of the music blogging world]. [the bit in the review about kantian and humean accounts of motivation was a reference to my pience of 'philosophy and alt country lyrics', by the way].

i wasn't, and am not, annoyed. it just seemed like a a bit of a cheap shot, and a bit cheeky, as i think that piece on philosophy and lyrics was [i hope fairly obviously] a little bit tongue in cheek.

and i have never, ever, read any blog people referring to records as 'texts' as mr petridis [hope that spelt right. actually i don't] alledges.

but i think he actually has a fair point- blogs can be a bit obscure, with a very, very personal take on writing about music. but that's what makes them so good, and so much bettter than most print publications. and certainly better than the guardian. He seems to equate introducing theory into criticism as some sign of elitism or intellectual pretension. But actually on the vast majority of blogs that do this, it's more a sign that the writers are trying to be as honest as possible in giving an account of the way they experience music. i don't think anyone could accuse simon reynolds writing, or kpunk, for instance, as being pretentious.

also, petridis mocks blogs for covering what he sarcastically refers to as 'burning issues'. but i mean, come on, just about any piece that's ever been posted on a music blog is just as much as 'burning issue' as reviewing some shit like Jet, or the Datsuns, or Sterephonics, as most print publications, including the guardian, do.

oh, and that bit about 'imagine what would happen if bloggers and garage kids met ha ha ha' thing is just stupid. last summer my co-workers were 16 year old lads from council estates who listened to grime. and we got on well, because we just chatted about nasty crew and roll deep.
i got on a better, i'd guess, than alexis petridis would have with them.

so, in conclusion: alexis petridis, yr a cock, but it's alright.

Friday, April 23, 2004

" i want you to believe every word i say
i want you to believe everything i do"

-toots and the maytals

i don't trust anyone who doesn't like toots. same with james brown. not liking them is a sign of a deep, terrifying sickness.

i was wrong about that lethal b lyric sorry. it's not lethal b at all i think. i think it's some east connection mc. may be shizzle. but lethal b has that lyric that goes 'arrgghh lethal b's got a mac 10' which he does a lot, so my argument still stands [so there].
glad we cleared that up.

ruff squad are easily the best around now i think. their song 'head banger' is so beautiful. they have this lovely way of making their melodies shimmer. on headbanger tinchy strider does this lovely thing of telling people to forget their troubles and 'make a racket' and 'bang your head'.

it's fun fun fun and it's nice to hear that.

an MC called 'liberty', who i'd not heard of before, has this fantastic song out now. its the more r n b end of grime, but at a dragging, sticky pace. it's so sleazy. a lady pines for liberty to come and make love to her and then he enters the track doing this little vocal tic/gimmick of 'urnnh' at the end of each line, with a odd quiver in his voice that sounds like he's coming and passing out at the same time. great stuff. the keyboards at first sound all slimy and dank, dripping grime all over the track, then they gradually morph in to a really minimal old school rave piano melody.
the best track i've heard this year, easily.

jookie mundo has a got a hip hop track out. nicely conscious and manages to avoid awkward worthiness. very like kanye west, speeded up vocal samples and all. but that's a good thing.

also on a conscious-tip, someone called dream has a track out called 'blame the scene', which is about how media coverage of garage and the subsequent cancelled shows/promoters running scared etc has pushed many talented young people to see the only way to a musical career is through the soul destroying pop idol route. it's not a very enjoyable trakc to listen to, but it's good that it's out there.


excellent to see that little dog's day is active again. joe's one of the funniest writers around. i hope he writes about him and paul R + paul S 'kinning' gary barlow and then 'soul caking' him, cuz that's the best story ever.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Overheard the other day in covent garden:

A man says to his young son [about 5 years old, I’d say], who’s been pleading for something or other:

‘sorry, I haven’t got any more money. I just gave it all to that shit man’.

Last year Sticky wrote [at least] 3 of the year’s best garage tracks, but he doesn’t quite seem to get the recognition he deserves. Ok, everyone loves ‘booo’, but with the shift to grimeyness Sticky seems to have fallen by the wayside just a little bit. He’s not quite seen as being on the cutting edge anymore, which is a disservice because his three big tracks of last year- golly gosh, golly gosh 2, and ‘things we do for love’ [with kele le roc] are right up there with Wiley’s mighty triumvirate of igloo, ice rink and ground zero.
is Sticky’s recent work grime? I’m not sure. I think it’s best to characterise grime generally in terms of what it isn’t, rather than what it is. There’s such a vast stylistic range in grime [I mean, how does Wonder’s ‘What’ sound like jammer + kano’s ‘boys luv girls[vice versa]’, or commadnder b’s ‘pum pum rhythm’, for example?], that defining grime in terms of a certain sound doesn’t seem the way to go [unless, that is, one just offers the vague, but quite accurate, description of minimal, bass heavy, totally sythetic and digital tracks]. So, keeping this in mind I guess grime is what the pirates play that’s not bashment, not drum n bass and not two step. And so, Sticky does seem to be grime at the moment, if only because ‘grime’ is still at that stage where [almost] anything goes. Also, of course, grime is charatersied as much as by how it’s used as by what it sounds like. If MC crews choose to rhyme over it, then in a sense they make the music grime. Context is important. And MCs certainly do like Sticky’s tracks.

Although Sticky is still a bit of an anomaly on the scene. He’s glossier, poppier than most, and his beats owe just a little more to broken skips of two-step than most grime producers. And that’s good: he offers a little bit of colour, joy, and soft-focus drama to the mostly [and gloriously] brutal, monochrome soundworld of grime. Against this backdrop, when DJs drop Sticky’s tracks they can sound almost absurdly baroque and upful, and the contrast brings out the best in both approaches, whereas if his tracks were played in an oldskool two-step set they’d likely sound just a little harshly stripped down, a bit too bitty, too ragged. In the context of a grime dj set, though, you get to hear just how beautiful Sticky’s recent tracks are.

I remember first hearing golly gosh about a year ago and getting that so rare feeling of being truly, unexpectedly and effortless blown away. Some MC [I can’t remember which one] was spitting over the top, as the first , stuttering crunchy bass line came in. then those slightly-eastern sounding strings, a teasing, itchy flourish. Then, as the bells started tolling, both softly and urgently [that’s what Sticky does best] the MC started to pick up the speed and energy of his flow. Things started to explode, it sounded like the MC was getting carried along by the crescendo, like he was no longer even trying to ride the beat, like the beat was just taking him with it. Then the bowed strings came in going up and up, the bells still going, still ascending, the music seemed to float out, but so assured and physical and right,- the video for this track should be full of rain and wind-, and then the song peaked, the stutter-riff came back, the MC slowed back down and it all started again. Almost every MC sounds wonderful over the top of this tune, and almost every MC does that same thing of picking things up on the string and bells bit, and easing up slightly on the bassline section. I don’t think grime ever sounds more perfect than when this happens. It really does take you away somewhere, and you’re not sure where, and it’s difficult to explain: the best I can do is to say that it’s the sound of vistas, or may be of flying and gliding. An edgy but wide-open noise, with the drama of a film soundtrack. Yeah it’s beautiful.

Golly gosh 2 is really like a negative print of golly gosh. The bassline is a little more choppy; a few added stutters. The initial string flourish is reversed and the bells descend rather than ascend in pitch. It’s a darker, more mysterioius track than golly gosh. A little mournful, but exquisitely mournful. Golly gosh sounds good mixed into jammer and dirty danger and rapid tracks. Golly gosh 2 works better with j-sweet and alias and jon e cash tracks. They’re both masterpieces and both show the kind and gentle side to grime’s haiku-like graceful structural simplicity.

You could say that kele le roc’s vocals on ‘things we do for love’ make the track and there’d be something in that. Her breathy vocals are like what I often want bjork to sound like. A little like an R ‘n’ B kazu from blonde redhead. A magical, innocently sexual sound [if that doesn’t sound a too weirdly victorian description]. It’s like you can hear her swooning. On the basis of this track and bassment jaxx’s ‘romeo’ she could be my favourite singer ever. Like Sticky, she’s immensely underrated- I mean, I like Jamelia, but why is she getting major label backing when kele le roc is still cutting underground tracks for social circles? Anyway, back to the point, Sticky’s production on this track is sublime, even better than Golly Gosh. It’s all in that bassline, which sometimes I want to say gallops along, but it’s more like a canter. It’s delightful, lolloping and undulating through the whole track, keeping things together in a loose, easy way. And the bells are on this track are gorgeous little tinkles that sparkle around kele’s vocals. It’s the most perfect pop song I’ve ever heard, the softest, lightest most ethereal music.

My girlfriend’s mum calls water ‘liquid diamonds’ and that phrase also makes me think of the sound of ‘things we do for love’.

And it’s played back to back with the hardest, darkest core of grime tracks, which, to me, sums up just how overwhelmingly wonderful garage can be at the moment.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

jesus, too often unread books sit there like accusations.


'eh la, bizzies la'

fucking wicked!
somedisco is the world's best editor. it's like that magazine that the guardian used to put out, called 'The Editor', but better. i rely on scott to tell me what to read about the world. he should get paid for his services to humanity, but like ginger wildheart once sang 'the decent people never get paid'.

oh, before i forget, old skool junglists should check out dj infinity's show on flashback 99.3 fm, south london, tuesdays 8-10pm. tape a show and you've got an album that's better than that soundmurderer mix for free.
a mate of mine used to tape john peel shows when he was 15 and too poor to buy albums which somehow always struck me as a very beautiful thing to do.
i dunno.
shystie's 'step back' feat. d double + god's gift- samples now up on www.uptownrecords.com
i'm almost drooling in anticipation of when this finaly gets a proper release.
only almost, mind. i'm not a goddam animal!

and r.i.p ben pimlott.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

woebot shows us again that he's the best around at this blogging carry-on. love love love the stuff on desi and the bit about shoes. my girlfriend wants some desi for her birthday- she saw a brief snippet of a desi club on that 'desi dna' bbc2 programme + fell in love with it. she likes hows people dance with their hands to it.
it's nice when you find someone else who gets enthusiastic about new dances and new rhythms.

and matt's bang-on with his comments on the link between choice of shoes and musical/cultural alignment. i was well into Vans when i listened to mainly punk, then red suede brothel creepers when i moved into more garagey [US garage-punk, not uk garridge] stuff- i still think they're the best shoes ever.
then converse for my post rock/electronica phase.

and now hi-tec squash trainers accompany me on my travels into grimeyness. they're really comfortable and primitive, so suit the broken, bitty lullabies of wiley + rapid and so forth quite well.

but when i listened to a lot of jungle i took to wearing brogues, which doesn't really make sense...

palaver- there's a good word
and may be malarkey, but i'm not sure if it's not overly 'matey' in a fakely jovial way.

luka's list of plant names was really affecting, very emotional. i dunno, it just hit me deep...

that's what he does innit.
and the devil dances still reigns high and bloody well mighty. 'daftness held sway' is the best sentence i have ever read!
woebot and heronbone both like saying 'ha!' which is good cuz it's a good thing to say. and i noticed that footsie likes saying it too. on that song he does ['you don't wanna war wid jammer or foots...', that one] he goes;
'with yr NY hat, ha!
with yr NY hat, ha!'

i don't really like footsie that much though. he frequently does stuff with d double and you just wish that d double was on the whole track. although i do like that song they do with the chorus of 'shake that ass'.
it's so nice to hear MCs just using their lyrics to hype the crowd and recognise in the importance of female audiences to this overwhelmingly male scene.
right now, there just seems to be too much gun lyrics in grime. now i'm not a fan of 'worthy' MCs. i'd hate it if wiley or dizzee became like male versions of ms dynamite. not that that's likely to happen, mind, especially with dizzee. but the guntalk in grime at the moment just sounds lazy, and leaves a lot of MCs getting big without any really good lyrical content. too often grime MCs often sound like they're just listing the weapons they have.
if you go on garage forums [the one at rwdmag is a good one], this seems to be a recurring theme; there's a growing dissatisfaction with grime MCs without any real content, filling the airwaves with gun-lyrics and battle lyrics. at least when rico and d double and god's gift talk about violence they tell stories, they engage with you that way. but too many MCs don't even do this.
i'd like grime much more [and i'm pretty obsessed with it as it is] if MCs went back to writing lyrics intended to work the crowd. at the moment, there isn't really an equivalent to the manic excitement of 'know we'.
also, i'd love it if vocal tracks were put out with a theme and a message. even if that message is a sad, grim one. the big vocal tracks around on the pirates now- the footsie and jammer one mentioned above, say, as well as 'serious thugs', the pied piper vocals, and the new versions of cock back- are really battle lyrics, and the live MCing on the pirates is pretty much the same. stories aren't being told, the ladies aren't being spoken to, insecurities aren't being voiced explicitly, inspiration and encouragement to fellow sufferers is rare. [exceptions= pick yrself up, and rico's 'chosen one'].
i miss the days when kano's 'boys luv girls', donae'o's 'bounce', 'wiley's 'i will not lose' and dizzee's tracks were the mainstays of pretty much all grime pirate radio shows. now the shows are more full than ever before it seems with an almost pornographical obsession with brands of guns. even the mighty lethal b has got that lyric about his 'friend' who is 9 and is called Tek, and so on. i mean, ok, that's funny, but who can listen to a full 2 hours of that? too often this kind of stuff just sounds lazy, like the default mode for MCs. like on that ruff squad song with the blissy chorus of 'wake up', tinchy strider does this exquisite dizzee-ish verse about how he's on only 16 and 'not ready for the wifey scene'. he's right on the fine line between youthful insecurity and adolescent bravado [like dizzee with that lyric, 'i'm not gonna lie, i ain't got a six pack' that he does right before telling you how he still has ways of fucking you up]. BUT THEN tinchy goes straight into discussing what guns he has. i mean, where does that come from? how does that fit into the rest of the song? it doesn't, it's totally anomalous and sounds so cynically, joylessly, lazy and predictable. it drags the whole tune down. contrast roll deep's 'you were always', where all the MCs stick to the point and create one of the best love/anti-love songs of the last few years.

the saturation of battle lyrics on grime shows makes listening to them a weird experience sometimes; often the MCs in question aren't actually clashing anyone, and haven't clashed anyone for a long time, so it's really just shadow boxing and can sound a bit empty and pointless. the MCs rail against fictional opponents which is OK sometimes, and Kano and bruza do that kind of thing superbly, but often you'll only hear battle lyrics and gun lyrics for hours at a time. that's when it wears me down.

i don't really know how or why so many grime MCs have reached this point, where there's such a paucity of calls to the audience, narratives or love/hate exchanges with the opposite sex [something that 'east connections's gash' does excellently]. it's confusing because there seems to be a great public demand for MCs with that kind of lyrical content, enthusiasm and honesty [again, check out the garage forums], and the a lot of the biggest MCs currently- wiley, durrty doogz, kano, and j2k- all balance out the more violent side to their lyrics with other lyrical concerns.
may be partly, like wiley says, there's a difference between MCs and artists [if that doesn't sound too uncomfortably like the kind of mistake the 'intelligent' drum n bass crowd made], but also many grime MCs don't really hype the audience any more. they can come across as distant figures fighting among themselves and being obsessive about tech in the way that only adolescent males can [only the tech in question can kill people]. i remember what a shock it was a few months back to hear an MC on the radio talk about how he was going to make the crowd say bo. and when jookie mundo goes, 'jookie mundo, ready to blow, E.C we're gonna run this show' with a relentless enthusiasm and total serious focussed joy, it sounds just a little bit anachronistic, a sign that he's a veteran.
and that's sad.

but i do find it odd criticising grime in any way. partly because i love it so much, so much of the time. and partly because it isn't 'my' music at all. i mean for fuck's sake i'm a middle class white philosophy student from cheshire, how can i criticise the sounds coming from london estates? how can i even think i understand it? i feel a lot more comfortable criticising something like post-rock [even though, i hypocritically tend to criticise such scenes for being overly middle class and white]

but despite all those worries, i can't help but feel a bit saddened and frustrated by a lot of the MC shows on the radio.
this music is the best thing i've ever heard, but it's not all i want it to be...

but there's hope that this year will be even better than last for grime. firstly, there's a rediscovery of feminine sensuality at the moment, with 'so contagious', 'love is here to stay' and that kano/sadie collaboration being rinsed on the radio.
and also, when people start copying sharkey major's and kano's and j2k's focus on lyrical content and narratives more, it could get even more wonderful

Monday, April 12, 2004

some metal guitar vituoso's should form a band called, 'Axes of Evil'.

Friday, April 09, 2004

how ridiculous do singing drummers look? you can't help but look a bit crazy and spoffed and mentally deficient if you sing and drum at the same time. i don't know why that is, but it's true.

ok. off to new castle to see david byrne so a silence will descend here for a few days.
things i'll write about soon:
-sticky, and how underrated he is
- dissatisfaction [or at least uneasiness] with a lot of grime MCs both from my perspective and from the people who write on garage internet forums
- the conclusions learnt from the desert sessions experiment.

but not right now.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

the wot do u call it video [here] made me feel dizzy. it all comes together: you can see just how exciting this movement is. it gave me a head rush. favourite bits:
-the motorbike guy [may be d double?]
-the bit where there's a shot of a radio and it's tuned in to de ja vu.
-crazy titch [i think] dancing around wiley and then starting a little play fight
-the walk-past at eskimo dance [i've been looking out for matthew ingram there but haven't seen him yet]
-the whole eskimo dance bit. it's delirious, the crowd are going crazy.

it's so good because Wiley seems to have got all his mates round to have a laugh and document what's going on [haence the grafiti, the motorbikes, the pirate radio etc], so you get this joyful expression of people who have been ignored to for way too long showing the world, 'this is what we've been doing, this is how good this scene is right now'.

'everybody who likes that, go that way
everybody who likes this, come this way'
-that's what's needed, i think; a call to arms. calls to arms are always great in music. It's a gift to historians of this scene in the future, as well. there'll eventually be articles on how fateful and prescient that confident invitation to 'come this way' was, i'm sure, and i'm guessing that they'll probably be right.

i think that's what 'wot do u call it?' is really about. it's not just a quibble over the name of a genre, or a rebuke to haters. It's a statement that a new sound is about to take over on the overground.
i hope he's right.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

i note that the snidy gigwise review of paul mile long shadow's band here is done by none other than shifty ryder!
those ruff squad MCs don't half get around, the troublemakers!
sorry to keep saying this but the devil dances in an empty pocket is incredible. it's some of the best writing ever. i love it so much.
i'm well late to this, but this blog here, 1471, is great. a very, very enjoyable thing to read, and very easy to read in a way that often blog aren't.
too many man losing confidence in intimidatingly perfect blogs here and here. pick yrselves up paul + luke!

an underrated grime classic that i listened to the other day is by 2-tuff crew i think, on a show that i taped last summer, which has got this excellent bit that goes, 'too many man, too many man wanna imitate me, playa-hate me' and a hook that goes 'dj, dj, dj, dee-jay!'. its party-grime like you don't often hear, with this old-skoolish bouncing twanging bassline. a forgotten wonder. don't hear much from 2-tuff actually, which is a shame cuz on the basis of this track i'd put them right up with nasty + ruff squad. sorry sqwad. i like that lyric of wiley's about him getting beat up by 2-tuff and then he 'gets in a little punch and ting, baby cham screaming like a bitch and ting'. go on boy, get in! [that was wrriten in a macho voice].

i'm getting more wigga-ish without even thinking about it you know. i was in the pub last night with my oldest friend and we were talking about The Streets. i was saying that i loved his lyrics and vocals always but sometimes the production was weak, and found myself saying, 'sometimes his beats are ANYTHING' without even thinking about it.
bloody hell, what's happening to me? too much pirate radio i think.

you know that twang sound that Wiley uses on igloo/wot do u call it? the one that comes in every 4 bars but always unexpectedly, like a rubberband hitting you in the face fired at you by a back-of-the-class badboy at school? that is the GREATEST SOUND EVER. durdh-twang!
just like that.

i'm not sure about the b-side 'problems', though. which is weird, cuz really because all the elements seem perfect. the oriental, plink plonk pixel-shower melody, that reminds me of the stuff kid606 used to do on gq on the eq and that split 12" for fatcat. the twisting, nervy bassline. and wiley's confused, apologetic and accusatory lyrics to the girl he loves. it's got everything, and yet it isn't as amazing as it should be. something isn't coming together and i don't know what. may be it's what's known i believe as a 'grower'.

[opposite case= patti smith's 'redondo beach', in which all the elements are terrible- lumpy, scratchy white reggae, wail-groan vocals, those bloody lyrics about 'dreaming hotel' and 'apple-blond hair'- but the end result is wonderful and moving].

i was thinking the other day that white reggae is possibly the worst musical genre of all time. it's almost universally bad, and bad to a degree that other genre's find it difficult to reach. i've written about this before, but i'm interested in how some genres have an in-built, essential element that prevents them from reaching the nadir of musical wretchedness. for example, it's impossible to make a disgustingly bad jungle record, i think, without making it so bad that it ceases to be jungle. same goes for 3-chord garage punk, but here the lowest point that the genre can reach is below that of jungle's. but there's no such element in white reggae. it can go all the way down , getting to the scarcely heard depths of musical hell.
but then i started to think about some good white reggae tracks, notably that patti smith one, and lambchop's 'is a woman'.
are there any more? who else has managed to take on this ultimate musical challenge and emerge triumphant [in a sense]? it's a brave thing to try, in light of the probability that it'll be disastrous. i'm not sure how many have managed it. if you know any more, get in touch as i'd be interested to find out [dub-inflected post punk doesn't count].

i know paul from mile long shadow would say 10cc's 'reggae holiday' but that song, to me, is gash.

a good thing about being at home up north again is that i get to drive my mum's car while listening to grime. grime is the best driving music ever. it's SO motorik! turn the stereo up really loud and it's like the sound is carrying you along, and the music sounds so dramatic and epic when it's set against a background of blurred scenery and street lamp reflections. makes you feel like a hero. i was listening to jookie mundo last night while pootling about. [grime is even good to pootle to]. i love jookie mundo. i doubt he'll ever make it that big on the overground because he isn't distinctive. he's not really got a standout gimmick like d.e.e[ mueey, mueey!] or flirta d [warpspeed brrrrr] or lethal b [pow pow POW!] or doogz [it's REEEEAL!'] or dizzee do. may be wiley doesn't either, although he's got the production talent to mark him out, and also certain little things he does like that way of saying 'ti-gurrh', or slurring the word 'radio'.
jookie mundo doesn't really have anything like that [although he does do a nice, funny closing-time ish chant of 'who are ya?'], and so he might stand less chance of becoming really big, less chance of being noticed as an exceptional talent, which he is. i mean, you could say he's generic, and not really pushing things forward, but he does what he does so well that it doesn't matter. a scene needs people like him to work and refine an established idiom to perfection. he always sounds so light, and crisp and agile and can ride the beat so tightly it's almost telepathic.

another good thing about being up north is that i saw a badger last night. they're massive. honestly, it's like having small bears roaming the country side [and a small bear is still massive]. also, there's a few owls outside my window. tawny owls. more people should use the word 'tawny' more often. next time you find yourself wanting to use the word 'brown', check yourself and say 'tawny' instead. it deserves more frequent use. fight the good fight.

i'm wearing tawny shoes.

Monday, April 05, 2004

good news.

a pre-emptive strike against the coming gentrification of kings cross perhaps

Friday, April 02, 2004

glastonbury tickets:

"' We couldn't have predicted this demand,' an Aloud spokeswoman told BBC News Online."

then you are stupid.
fuck me this is frustrating...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

this news story has a brilliant headline, but as you read on you find that the claims that the dog can sing and dance are based on pretty spurious evidence. a clear sign of slipping journalistic standards at the BBC.

today i was walking up goodge street + this man in a car who was stopped at traffic lights leans out and says to the man next to me ''excuse me mate, do you want to buy a lap top?". the man said no, so he drove off.

righ i'm going to walk to regents park because i bloody well can.
mile long shadow + 86400 seconds have both been writing about soup, which is, perhaps sadly or perhaps not, one of my favourite things in thw world. if you haven't made it already, i recommend this soup very, very highly. it only takes abut 25 minutes + it's lovely. i like to add a few tomatoes to fry with the onions, which i think works very well.

also, another great soup recipe is Delia's one for what she calls 'stilton soup'.
don't know the exact quantities but it goes roughly like this:
-chop up a leek, an onion + a peeled potato + fry in butter until leeks and onions are soft
-add 500ml cider + simmer for about 5 minutes
- add about a litre of vegetable stock
-simmer for about 30 minutes
-reheat + melt bits of stilton in it [say about 100 grams in total]

a combination of strong chedder + gruyere also works quite well

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