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we're happy: it's a fact.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

making me smile today:
"nah we don't wanna clash, that's long
cuz we heard yr tracks and you sound swaggish".

no-lay, of unorthodox fam.

no one sounds more London than No-lay.

Monday, July 25, 2005

amusingly, my mum calls grime 'numbers music', because of the shout outs to mobile numbers in the pirate radio tapes she overhears.
big up the 280!
240- your chestle!

being back in the north west, where i grew up, is odd. i can go most places without having to think at all. i am a danger on the roads.
the smell of old books.

this summer it's all about Ghetto's voice. get to know.
are owls intelligent, or do they merely look intelligent?

that's more than half the battle.
the north cheshire accent can be the most beautiful sound in the world. like when the old lady in the shop down the road says 'hiya' to me. you should hear it. you'd love it.
best bit of risky roads dvd (or might be Practice Hours...they all just kind of merge into one...) is the recording of an old deja vu set, where Ghetto's doing one of his long fast streams, then he stops, rolls his eyes really theatrically and goes, 'mind works like my nine works, yeah that's ghetto, yeah he merked Flirts'.

the dj kills the record, and Ghetto breaks the silence with a muttered: '...and he's still merking him'

you cannot 'fight' a 'war on obesity' with dick cheney as vice president. you just can't.

we need more jokes about terrorism. apparently a female british-iranian comedian asks audiences 'does my bomb look big in this?'. that's funny!

Friday, July 22, 2005

is it wrong to get romantic and ornate in writing on grime?

well obviously i don't think so. ruff sqwad can be sad and romantic, as can wiley's lyrics. i mean, when demon goes 'yr best friend could be yr worst enemy' there's at least some pathos there, right?
this whole thing has just been about me trying to write, as honestly and openly as i can, about how i hear this music. and yeah i tend to focus on the romantic and sad aspects of that music, but that's how an (ex?) indie kid like me will hear it. of course this can come across across as ridiculous and personal but i've never tried to make this blog, or claimed it to be, anything other than a very personal take on music- this isn't even close to a definitive 'grime blog'. like you hadn't guessed. i've never tried to intellectualise anything, or out do anyone.

fuck it, i don't know why i'm even defending this. it's not like anyone gives a fuck.

ISOLEE is one of my favourite musicians ever. with his first album, Rest, he pre-empted the knotty psycheledic techno that has now emerged as a kind of scene- villalobos, steve barnes' cosmic sandwich stuff, may be robag wruhme- which still lacks a name. i think michaeL F gill suggested 'romance drones' a while back, and i loved that. with his new one, 'WEAREMONSTER', isolee initially didn't grab me in the same way as he did the first time round- the dazzling twists and folds didn't seem quite so dazzling anymore. but now it's all fallen into place. after the glorious sensory overload of The Glade, wearemonster is the most perfect album for me at this moment in time, because it sounds exactly as you feel after serious nights of fun and techno.

there's something totally cerebral about this record- synth lines and beats echo round like distant chemical memories of the dancefloor. shivers and tingles along the pathways of the mind. didn't virginia wolff come up with the concept of the 'time of the mind' or something? i think that that's what's going on here. this is isolee's disco-house record but it's so stretched out and a little elusive- a patchwork of suggestions and signs, but it all feels very naturally and easily understood. this is the chicago jack bit/this is the hands aloft bit/this is the electro bit/this is the blissy bit/this is punkfunk bit---fill in the blanks.

but most of all- not that you can really separate these things- this album sounds gorgeous. i love the way the bass always gurgles + squelches, matched with these little whispers of wilted metallic melodies. infinite gentleness! Sounds like early morning, a last dance and head back home, have a little contented chat. and everything's so human and charming, to the point of being almost clunky- but also kind of sexy and wholesome. As with 'rest', there's a level of detail in the music that swallows you, and it all teems with this dappled grace. unlike with a lot of techno, this can never be any form of background music: it has you, you have it, for an hour. my favourite moments are when it takes delight in a little bit of minimal jacking, and then wanders off, back into the undergrowth. where next?

some records bring out this sense of wonder in you, and wearemonster might be the sucessor to the 1st Selected Ambient Works in that respect. and, like that album, this feels like a crystallization of techno without being techno in any traditional sense. isolee is to techno what keiji haino is to rock, perhaps, which is to say, he's both part of and outside techno, without being in anyway 'meta'- techno refracted, not reflected upon.

but those are minor points, really. this record is beautiful. god i'm in love L U V.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

first things, you really must listen to Mac 10's Rinse FM show (fridays 7-9pm). crucial biznizz. he tends to play stuff that falls outside the roll deep/ruff sqwad/ fire camp hegemony that you often get on the pirates, so each show is a treasure of unexpected delights, with nasty jack quickly emerging as a new grime hero. and he's returned to the superfast cut and chop delerium that i wrote about a while back in that post on grime DJs. also nice is that he seems to be currently favouring the quicksilver melodicism style of grime- music for the post-gype, post-str8 flush age. there's hardly any of that jammer/davinche dulled brass sound peering out from dark corners anymore. to paraphrase sharkey major, things are getting livelier. so lock in and shock out.

the media love all this terrorism stuff, don't they. feel the gravitas!

sometimes, a single is released which is not just a great single, but an all time classic EP. roll deep's 'the avenue' is such a single. the A side i guess i don't really need to talk about. but aside from the main event, there's two pieces of genius. first, the danny weed refix of 'the avenue', which, following the honourable tradition started perhaps by dizzee's i luv u remix, sounds nothing at all like the original. We get a sad-clown wheezy stagger of a bassline that's lovingly rickety. what's holding it up? dunno, but it stays up and together, somehow. i like it when danny weed gets all charming and minimal, like he did ages ago with salt beef. riko takes the chorus that i've been singing in my head ever since i first heard it. it's particularly good when they play this on roll deep's rinse sets, cuz they get to shout, 'heartache!' at the end of each line with the Mic Tutor. scratchy is amazing on this tune. sometimes he's easy to love but hard to really admire, if that makes sense, but here yr just blown away by his dexterity. he lifts up the track and twists it any way he feels like. often when people talk about how good riko is, they focus on his skills as a war/hype MC, but i've always preferred his more conscious, introspective stuff (check 'critical', 'don't want you back', and 'chosen one'). there's something about that combination of the nobility in his voice and the very direct, almost blunt lines with corruscating detail that tears yr heart out. 'i don't wanna hurt no more, and you don't wanna hurt no more, it's never gonna work no more'. ach!

finally, there's the wiley remix of when i'm ere. anyone else, you wouldn't want them to fuck with the perfection of the When i'm ere/shank riddim, but wiley is, and always will be, the special case. he twirls the accordions even further off into the merk, and gets all liberal with the gunshot samples. listen to this on speed and you might have a heart attack. the best bits are the occasional 20 second snatches where this almighty bass cuts in, sounding like a DJ is chopping Surgeon-esque flailing techno into the mix for a little while. On this track, and on 'firefly', wiley has crafted a unique stutter-style of bassline, that's so restless but so precise. i imagine insect legs moving in kinda jerky but liquid-perfect waves. and oh yes, the lyrics, too: they're all new for the remix, with my highlights being Trim getting all weird talking about horse rallies, wiley kicking his bit off with a fire-and-brimstone 'It's BAIT!!', biggie pitbull again being thrillingly angry but with top boy skills to back it ('again', cuz of poltergeist relay...), and tinchy strider doing that thing he does of somehow calming everything down while also sending tingles down yr spine.

yr morally obliged to buy this single in order to help roll deep go to number 1, but thanks to b-sides you'll have fun doing it. it's a hit!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm back! from the half mad-max style apocalypse/half pastoral utopia that's the Glade Festival. dazed and frazzled, i feel nice. too many good things for me to bother putting them into some coherent form, but i liked: the psy-trance dust bowl caving in heads in the baking heat, the techno-tim burton stylings of the chillout area- complete with giant dandelion seeds hanging above us magically-, the party grime of virus syndicate, the chance encounter with man like MMS, luke vibert's piano rave medley, andrea parker bomping righteously and mightily despite playing through monitors facing the crowd cuz of the fucked PA, carl craig playing detroit classics, sancho panza being the most blissy thing EVER, richie hawtin taking a journey from bare 909 clack and click to jacking techno and back again and looking ever so cute with it, cassette boy being joyfully puerile, the way the stewards were on way more drugs than anyone else, and the halloumi sandwiches.

but most of all i liked feeling so part of the modern world. many festivals you go to hark back to a mythical golden age that no one my age can remember. but the glade felt like Our Time.
hippy bollocks fi dead! (sorry)

talking of eski, which we weren't, but we kind of always are on here. in the background, somewhere. anyway, talking of eski, scientists have found a way to freeze dogs, effectively killing them for a few hours, then bringing them back to life! they reckon they'll be able to do it to people soon, to create real life eski-boys.
best grime lyric ever:
crazy titch's little used hype chant of:
'old skool
rude boy
ruff neck
as i get older
heart gets colder'

it's on that sidewinder rave tape that i occasionally get all over the top about here.


occasionally, perhaps more frequently of late, people start wondering when grime is going to change into something totally new and radical and different. come on, it's been 3 years, people think: when's the revolution on the hardcore continuum going to happen? surely we're due?
in a way, this is all a bit odd. grime is still some of the weirdest, most unpredicatble, passionate and fun musics out there, so why the impatience? but i am, and a lot of people are, impatient for the new, for whatever reason. i blame it on being a child of late capitalism, and that might be a cop out, but who cares.

that's not the point of this little piece. the point is: grime doesn't feel like it's going anywhere anytime soon. it feels like it's here to stay. the skeleton/prototype of this theory is that the rapid turnover of the 90s hardcore years might be the anomaly- the more natural, usual, pace of change might be much slower. there might be nothing new round the corner, and to expect that there will be is to generalise too much from a very particular set of circumstances in musical history.

i guess i see the 90s hardcore continuum as being this quite unique odd marriage between two very different musical traditions or, uh, paradigms: house and techno culture on the one hand, and what could be called- however loosely- 'urban' culture on the other, where that encompasses hip hop, R n B, and dancehall. the hardcore continuum was a time when these two musical cultures and approaches (and audiences) came together, with radically destabilising effects. because this marriage was so new, and so unique, with no established ways of combining/reconciling the two traditions, there was a great deal of opportunity and freedom to break new ground, with few constricting expectation- hence the short lifespans of jungle/jump up/speed garage/two step- there was just too much space for new ideas for a style to become all conquering for any great length of time.

other reasons, stemming from this 'odd marriage', for the rapid turnover might be suggested: one enticing one is the possibility of disatisfaction in the massive, with its different components all wanting something slightly different but still being wedded together- jungle and jump up rejected as too moody and not ravey enough/ 2-step emerging to appease those who wanted the slick and sexy glossiness of R n B from their raving.

but now, with grime, the hardcore continuum seems like it's finally settled on the 'urban' side of the fence. the destabilising effects of the odd marriage no longer exist, because of the odd marriage no longer exists. instead, the hardcore continuum has eventually become a strand within hip hop, with all the established ways of doing things and expectations that come with falling under such an umbrella. of course, i don't want to get all fukuyama-esque about this and say that things will never change. but i think that things will now change much more slowly. there's now an identifiable set of musical traditions and institutions that grime/the continuum belongs to, and inevitably that will shape the direction of change. unlike, perhaps, in the period where the odd marriage was still extant, anything doesn't go anymore.

that's my bare-bones theory, anyway. of course, it needs much more work and it may be/probably is largely wrong. but something to think about innit.

going to bed now. tomorrow i will talk about roll deep, mac 10, and isolee. see you there, hellcats


Thursday, July 14, 2005

ok i'm off to the glade festival now for 4 days of raving, so i'll just do a quick run down of what i like at the moment and then i'm gone:

-roll deep, 'heartache refix'.
-new low deep and imp batch, as heard on Mac 10's friday night rinse show.
-bossman, 'bongo v.i.p'.
-sick sense cru, 'real sound' [hear it here: the orchestral-grime micro-scene gets some new recruits].
-Real FM, 99.1FM- great south london grime pirate, which is very adamant to point out that it lives up to its name. when i was listening a few days ago the MC started discussing rice and peas recipes, which then became a kind of allegory for the vengeance he would serve to haters!
-Triple R mix; 'flashback' (a collection of recent My Best Friend Records stuff).
-vegetables, 'trompettes de la mort'
-tomas andersson, 'washing up'.
-einmusik, 'jittery heritage'.
-martha wainwright- s/t
-isolee, 'wearemonster'
-the juan maclean- 'less than human'.
-get physical 2nd anniversary comp.
-dominik eulberg, 'flora and fauna'
-dj rolando, 'aguila'.
-vitalic, 'ok cowboy'.
-animal collective + vashti bunyan, 'prospect hummer'.
-ellen allien, 'thrills'.
dj genocide (ardkore) and tony vibes (88-89 house) freeze 92.7 fm wednesdays.

and that's it. you'll note there's a lack of soca and dancehall in there- come back dave and tell me what to listen to!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Roll Deep Entourage were just on Top of the Pops, like 2 minutes ago. performing 'the avenue', of course. it was...charming, and slightly embarresing too. watching them dance along to the chorus was difficult, and i had to do it through cringing hands covering my face a few times. and i kept thinking of tigers performing demeaning tricks in the circus. but, really, who cares: riko's now been on top of the pops!

and hopefully, this is all just the groundwork for a paradigm shift if/when When I'm Ere gets on there.

sometimes, as someone once said, all it takes is a song...

it's been a weird and difficult week, because of the obvious and also because of matters non-bomb related. but here are 3 songs that mean a lot to me right now, and have helped. like Trim says on Practice Hours, 'music's helping, it's helping...'. i love that bit.


tori alamaze- don't cha.

philip sherburne has already written about this, and done so better than i could. so i'll keep this brief. (i try to keep everything brief, but it rarely works out). this is dark side lunar R n B- pock marked with craters of salty dissonance and surrounded by endless space. bomp bomp bomp goes the drum. that's the main melody: yeah it's a minimal one, this one. there's the odd bit of scratching and a few slivers of machine-grind synth but it all sounds so isolated and devoid of any meaning or purpose- it just Is, and it could go on forever. but that's what makes it so great, a uber-eski cut of ice-cold numbness, that's almost totally removed from The Human World. She sounds like a superhuman android in a coke and lust-crazed trance, and without being all weird and male and geeky about this, that's got to be cool, hasn't it? it's the most steely, odd, and sexy song you'll hear all year, unless you have very strange listening habits- the thought of something which goes beyond 'don't cha' scares me a little bit.

And here's the mp3.

kano, demon, ghetto- Mic check 1-2 refix.

i'll do a little list of the things i like about this record, just for fun:

-it's far better than the a-side, the dire 'remember me'.
-the brass and strings that have this pathetic wounded grandeur about them, like those bulls that have to stagger around while matadors spear their necks.
-the bitter sweet glimmers and pings that flit over the top.
-the itch-and-scratch clackclackclack of the beat.
- kano's slurred opening lyrics- he should get smeary and sloppy like this more often. all those verbal smirks and winks he sometimes does get tiring.
-kano's line of 'it's kano, and the nigga with the best verse on Forward'. Yes!
- the head-rush effect when demon comes screaming in, while the track switches instantly to this other, cardiac stutter thing.
-demon has the most exciting voice in the world.
-the nonchalence of the chorus: 'fucking with the team, fucking with the team...'
-Ghetto's awe-inspiring pointillist MCing, in which he sounds like he's literally spitting. With disgust.
-ghetto's use of the word, 'div', if i'm hearing correctly. it's like grime's gone all 70's grange hill!

ok, i've just had the idea to do something on, 'which grime MC would be which old skool grange hill character?'. that's a terrible idea, isn't it? or, perhaps, is it, might it be, a fantastic idea?
no, it's awful. but god...how tempting...

enough! on to the next tune. which is:
Nasty jack- unknown.
i heard this a few weeks ago on Mac 10's friday night Rinse show, which is THE grime show you must hear, along with the roll deep one on sunday. i don't know the name of the track, i rarely do with these ones on radio, but i feel like i need to write about it anyway. Nasty Jack's been around for a while- he did that 'i'm the hackney kid, not from hackney, but i like to hack knees' lyric, er, 'back in the day'. he's even better nowadays. he has this odd gimmick of going 'oh, okkaaay' in a strained voice. i love these little funny grime gimmicks. it's the Music Hall Continuum, may be? i dunno. i know fuck all about east end music halls, or any other kind, for that matter. but i know what i'd like them to be, and that's full of verbal tics and gimmicks that make no sense but are loved by the crowd. 'where's me washboard? etc. does anyone else feel like this 'review' is losing it's way?

ok, so back to the music innit. the track's a pleasing and basic grimey pummel. nothing really radical here, but that means no distractions so you can listen to Nasty Jack properly. he goes through three stages of merkery. first, he gets higher and higher in pitch so by the end of each line he's almost squealing. ooo, what a rush! then, he settles a little bit, but it's still wantonly intense, as he cracks the last syllable of each line over the snare. third, it all gets a bit more circuitous and confusing, like he's tying himself up in knots, re-iterating again and again why he 'hates this yoot'. and then it's over, and you start to catch yr breath.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

"marching on, marching on,
life goes on,
man just march on"


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

first things first: you should all go to this, cuz Bardens Bar is a wonderful, lovingly decorated, place, and current kings of the cologne sound Triple R and steve barnes will bliss you out (cut and pasted from an e-mail ambrose, the organiser of the night, sent me):

Trapez/My Best Friend/Traum Schallplatten Showcase

Barden's Boudoir (http://www.bardensbar.co.uk, 38-44
Stoke Newington Road, London N16 7XJ
9th July 2005, 10 pm - 3 am

Triple R/Riley Reinhold Dj
Process (Steve Barnes) (Live)
Burnski Dj
Michael Fentum Dj

Riley Reinhold AKA Triple R, the head of the German
label Traum
with sub-labels Trapez and My Best Friend, is due to
make his first
London appearance, in the first of a series of planned
aimed at bringing the sound of Cologne, Detroit,
Barcelona and Paris to
the UK. Our aim is to provide Londoners with the
chance to see what is
happening in the rest of Europe and America,
the new wave of house and techno that seems to be the
dominant force in
dance music at this time, the sometimes minimal,
jacking tech-house
sound that is most closely linked to the great Kompakt
but is also being pushed by myriad smaller labels.

The first party will be a showcase of talent from all
three labels:
Burnski has just released a new 12", "Coldcut" on
Trapez, Steve Barnes
has released records on My Best Friend as Cosmic
Sandwich, and as
Steve Barnes (with Riley Reinhold), put out the killer
tune "Odyssey"
on MBF. He also records as Process, and has released
on Fat Cat, Traum
and Trapez.

today i have been greatly enjoying the death rattles of terror danjah's beats, echoing and shaking out of themselves. he also goes 4 a.m techno on 'sonar', so check that out.

micheal mayer and ada and jennifer cardini at fabric was ultra biggle. the crowd was actually friendly and smiley and chatty for a change, which was lovely, even tho i can't be bothered to chat to strangers on drugs any more. slowly, bit by bit, the cliches become less appealing, don't they? but anyway. Ada was exquisite and mournful to begin with. it was like being in a huge rave cathredral or something, this reverberating mountain of notes piled on top of each other. she does this odd thing of kind of grinding her hips against her synths. in some ways it's uncomfortably sexual for an old prude like me, but it's a cool move really. nice to have a bit of show, isn't it? the best bit was when she prolonged the start of THAT bit on 'the red shoes' for ages, repeating the opening notes for a few minutes and then suddenly sinking us into the sunlight of that lovely little melody (you know, that bit...) as it was revealed in full. when songs blossom after a long build it can be so beautiful, can't it.
micheal mayer was a lot harder than i expected. bosh bosh bosh. he didn't play air guitar, disappointingly. at first it was a bit odd, nothing seemed to make sense. 'where's he going with this?' you thought. i thought. but gradually a kind of narrative, or pattern, was built up and things started to fall into place. he did these long arcs of creeping intensity, but offset with funny tangents of more frivolous, neo-disco sounds. in an interview once he talked about how he sees his djing as almost touching the crowd, and i think that's true. there's a very gentle, unhurried, friendly side to his djing- everything's in the right place, and he's going just where you want to go. but more than that, his sounds had this odd, gauzy quality that you could almost feel: little silky wisps of high-end floating over you and teasing out goosebumps.
he played a remix of baxedale's 'built this city', with i presume was his remix, out soon on Kompakt Pop. it's a HUGE track, exploding unexpectedly from minutes of low-end reveries into this glorious, high-camp chorus that had me and Jack exchanging 'this is fucking amazing!' grins. and i finally got to know the name of the track which has been providing me with a great deal of pleasure over the past few months: it's tomas andersson's 'washing up' (on bpitch), which michael mayer also played. it's a cartoonishly febrile piece of techno pop, that sounds like being trapped in a very small room full of computer game characters who are on poppers and ritalin. does that make sense? perhaps not. perhaps i better stop there.

oh no, can't, sorry. not before i tell you that after the night and the morning's raving, me and jack went to the 24 HOUR (!) 'Tinsel town' diner, for milkshakes which we drank in the blinding sun, saying hello to passing office workers on their way to keep this country afloat. i can highly recommend this as a way to spend the morning after.

"what's the word, a yiddish one i think, that means 'standing on the stairs, leaving the party, and just realizing the devastating reposte you should have made to some jibe at the party'?" i asked, a few days ago.

well, Matt, who does the excellent and very much recommended U Mean competitor blog, which is a little like prancehall, but dealing in screwed and chopped stuff rather than grime, was kind enough to tell me that i was probably thinking of the French term, "l'espirit d'escalier". i don't know why i thought it was a Yiddish word. may be because there are so many great yiddish words.

i'll update the links bit of this blog soon as there are so many fantastic blogs that i read now that aren't on there. mean time, i'll say: you must read kid shirt's review of the 'ultra' 7 inch. it'll make you realise that, although previously unknown to you, you NEED this record, otherwise yr life is pathetic and incomplete (i've been trying to hunt down a copy today). it's a great bit of writing.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

"yr hoping it'll be a light at the end,
but why would it?
so you could come try it again?"



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