Wednesday, February 29, 2012

piece by andrew ryce in Resident Advisor on the convergence of "bass music"/dubstep with house

a development that has doubtless led to a plenitude of "quality", nice-vibe-creating, dance-friendly music

but just seems like such a boring development (back to house, again?)

i instinctively side with this comment, by one Scurvydom, out of the 80 odd comments the piece has elicited:

"Of course there's good House out there, of course House can be gully, but in the UK context I can't help but see this move towards techy-deepy-polite piano House as a massive retrograde step, a watering down of vibe, a loss of ambition and an unnecessary compromise that surrenders the ground of ruff energy to the Skrillex lot.

"I want to go to a club and hear forward thinking music which makes me bust a gunfinger and demand a wheelup, not some well produced mild-garage-influence-shuffly 4x4 shit to tap my feet to."

Monday, February 13, 2012


February 23 - 7.30 pm - Circus 1 @ Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, Stratford, London E15

Critical Beats #3: Innovation and Tradition
with me, Tony Herrington, Lisa Blanning and moderator Steve Goodman . Part of a series of panel discussions co-hosted by The Wire and the University of East London and looking at aspects of electronic dance music and club culture. Lisa Blanning stepping in to replace Mark Fisher who had to withdraw from the event.

Admission: £5/£3 - information and tickets: 0844 357 2625 or
sometimes the right coinage is just hiding there in plain view


inspired neologistics from Resident Advisor to describe all this ex-noise underground types making beat-driven form-minus-function techno-like records using strictly analogue gear

(c.f. chillrave as superior term for hipstahaus)

artistes covered include Container, Diamond Catalog, Frak, Unicorn Hard-On, Laser Poodle, Cuticle, No Fun Acid, Viktoria, Leslie Keffer, Prostitutes

with brief namechecks for Dariius, Mammal/Midlife Vacation, Lazy Magnet, Max Cloud, Innercity, Danse Asshole, Pete Swanson, Mat Brinkman/Meerk Puffy/Ton B/ZZ Pot, Extreme Animals, Magas, Pleasurehorse, Vatican Shadow/Christian Cosmos, Sinking Body, The Three Legged Race

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


starting February 16th I’m on tour, with events in Norway (Bergen Kunsthall; Oslo’s By:Larm festival), England (Critical Beats in London; Off the Page festival in Whitstable) and Paris (launch of the French edition of Retromania)


February 16: BERGEN

Talk at the Bergen Kunsthall on retromania + recreativity

Time: 6-30 PM

Location: Bergen Kunsthall, Bergens Kunstforening, Rasmus Meyers allé 5

more information

February 17: OSLO By: Larm Festival

Conversation about Retromania with Audun Vinger + Q/A

Time: 3 pm

Location: Ragnarock conference room, ground floor, Hotel Royal Christiania, Biskop Gunnerusgate 3 PB-768 Sentrum, Oslo

More information


February 20–22: PARIS

February 20: Soirée Rétromania, a/k/a RETROMANIA ! Réflexions sur la pop culture à l’heure digitale. A presentation to celebrate the launch of the French edition by Le Mot et le Reste. Discussion with Etienne Menu (journaliste musical), Jean-François Caro ( traducteur) and Guillaume Kosmicki (musicologue et dj).

Time: 6-30 PM

Location: POINT ÉPHÉMÈRE, 200 quai de Valmy 75010 Paris (telephone: 01 40 34 02 48)

Cost: entrée libre

More information


February 23: LONDON

Critical Beats #3: Innovation and Tradition
I’ll be joining Tony Herrington and Steve Goodman for the third in a series of panel discussions co-hosted by The Wire and the University of East London and looking at aspects of electronic dance music and club culture as they manifest in East London and beyond. Mark Fisher was scheduled to participate but has had to withdraw owing to circumstances beyond his control.

Time: 7.30 pm

Location: Circus 1 at Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, Stratford, London E15

Cost: £5/£3

Information and tickets: 0844 357 2625 or

February 24 to February 26: WHITSTABLE

The second annual Off the Page Festival: a weekend of panel discussions, screenings, talks, and debates on sound, music, and music criticism co-hosted by The Wire and Sound And Music, with contributions from Linder Sterling, Dave Tompkins, Jonny Trunk, Rob Young, Chris Cutler, Vicki Bennett, Gavin Bryars, Evan Parker, Kiran Sande, and others.

Saturday February 25: I’ll be giving a talk about the work of David Toop.

Time: early afternoon (details TK)

Location: The Playhouse Theatre, 104 High Street, Whitstable, Kent.

Cost: £40 for a weekend three-day pass; £20 Saturday pass.

More information on tickets and the full schedule of events
acid house visual journal c/o Retronaut
mnml sggs's PC on two good aspects of 2011, first of them being collaborations

this struck me as wonderfully nuanced assessment of where music is at: the bounty of harvesting a crop, or crops plural, that were sowed long ago

"Several of these collaborations produced exceptional, if unsurprising results. A lot of them were my favourite records to actually listen to. Again, this is unsurprising, given that we’re dealing with well-established projects and, well, middle-aged dudes and dudettes who’ve really nutted out their approaches to sound. This is why, fundamentally, I think of the best of these as culmination records, recordings that cash out a bunch of ideas that have been kicking around for the past decade or more. But/so: not that exciting, really. And also, you know, I really hope that each is kind of the ‘last one’ in its sequence or series. For the sake of transformation. Culmination, then conclusion, then... rip it up, and start again. To continue on these trajectories would be to court the trage-comedy of true repetition. Add in more time, and you’ll endup with farce, if Woody A is to be believed. But being careful, culminating collaborations between people who really, really know their shit, these records are also very satisfying, if you give them your full attention. Repeat: they are amazing to actually listen to."

the second good aspect of last year was mixtapes, and he provides some examples/links to favourites - a couple of which i'd heard and would also recommend highly -- Moon Wiring Club at FACT, Mark Van Hoen at Pontone. And I must have missed the Endless House Foundation one, i'll have to check that out and the others recommended.

Mixtapes = "a feast" as PC says, but then again since their provenance trawls so far and wide and so atemporally, you might say that they too are a banquet based in harvesting crops planted long ago
modern-ish versus modernist

they're back!

this sounds like a record from 1991

"unique rap-rave group from South Africa" says Dave, rap-rave = hip-house right?

i love it, I love them, I'm glad they didn't just crawl away with their tails between their legs after the flop of the first album, i'm looking forward to hearing Ten$ion

but it sounds like a record from 1991

i find this.... eerie

i mean, even so, it sounds more modern than Adele, just as tracks by Pitbull and LMFAO and Flo Rida and the rest sound more modern than Adele

so if there's going to be throwbacks, i'd rather the charts were full of this stuff, stuff that throws back less far back than Adele-type music does

but still

the fact that it actually still sounds quite modern, modern-ish, is perhaps what's really perplexing


On February 23, I’ll be joining Tony Herrington (The Wire) and Steve Goodman (Kode9/Hyperdub)for Critical Beats #3: Innovation and Tradition, third in a series of panel discussions co-hosted by The Wire and the University of East London and looking at aspects of electronic dance music and club culture as they manifest in East London and beyond. Mark Fisher was scheduled to participate but has had to withdraw owing to circumstances beyond his control.

Time: 7.30 pm
Location: Circus 1 at Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, Stratford, London E15
Cost: £5/£3
Information / tickets: 0844 357 2625 or here


As a taster for the discussion, here's an extract on the hardcore continuum as a form of street modernism, from Partly Political, #4 in my series of reflections on the Nuum Debate of 2009.

....The power.

The power that anyone felt, anyone who was there--meaning 1992, or 1994, or 2002--any year where a new phase of the nuum kicked off.

The power in the music, at once purely sonic and yet emanating from outside it, passing through the music from the world of the Real and the Social, and going back out there, spilling the bounds of music as a segmented-off category.

I'm thinking of the electrifying sample that kicks off DJ Crystl's "Warp Drive"--"feel the power". (Apparently from the movie The Dark Crystal). The power is the breakbeat--which at the time "Warp Drive" was getting heavy play on the pirates seemed just about the most jagged and mashed slice of breakbeat science yet unleashed upon the world. It feels like a sculpted riot, a paroxysmic portent of social collapse. If I recall right, on "Warp Drive" Crystl was inspired by the ominous humming drone and beats-and-bass minimalism of Doc Scott's "Here Comes The Drumz," a track which samples Public Enemy, the original "fast rap" group so inspiring to the Brit B-boys who would build ardkore from the ground up.

There was a feeling this music gave off, not unlike the forcefield aura emitted by "Rebel Without A Pause" and "Bring the Noise" and "Welcome to the Terrordome", a feeling that this was both the ultimate dance music and much more than dance music. I think of Disco and the Halfway to Discontent, the album by Cornershop alter-ego Clinton (whose name--George or Bill?--further plays on the ambiguity of party-hard and party-political). I recall also the sleevenote on Rufige Kru's Ghosts of My Life EP, Goldie writing, "For those who don't quite understand, 'Ghosts' isn't about 'Disco'… It's about life and my experience, The memories, the haunts, the people, the places. All of us have ghosts in our lives." Both these inflections--the idea of a politicized party music, and of artcore, dance music that's both experimental and expressive--are claiming that there's more going on here that just celebration and letting off steam, the temporary utopia of weekenderism.

What was this power in the music, amorphous and yet real like a punch to your gut? It evoked forward-motion, violence given focus and discipline. The feeling of being in the vanguard, in both the artistic and military senses. In other words, the same "militant modernism" recently invoked by Owen Hatherley. Modernism, in its early 20th Century prime, almost always burst the enclosure of Art to take up one form or other of political commitment -- mostly (not always) left-wing, which in those days usually meant Communist.

I think of the hardcore continuum as a flashback to--or unscheduled recrudescence within popular culture of--modernism. But with a muffled or absent sense of the imperative felt by its High Art precursors that art had to escape the category of the purely aesthetic and spill out into the world if it was to truly realise itself. Or as Adorno put it, "in order for the work of art to be purely and fully a work of art, it must be more than a work of art."

You could see rave as a whole, and the nuum in particular, as modernism's last stand, or unexpected comeback, long after the ideals of modernism had been abandoned, eroded, questioned, everywhere else (including in pop music). Various factors enabled the nuum to evade the general drift towards postmodernism (factors perhaps shared by other black musics such as hip hop and dancehall). Amazingly it was able to evade the blight of postmodernity (irony, referentiality, citational aesthetics) even as it embraced and explored to the hilt the potential of what would on the surface seem to be the ultimate postmodern sound-machine, the sampler.

Miraculously holding pomo at bay, the nuum preserved within itself, within its own partially cordoned off space, the heightened temporality of peak-era modernism: a sensation of hurtling into the future. Like modernism before it, the nuum propelled itself headlong thanks to an internal temporal scheme of continual rupturing; it kept breaking with itself, a reactive dialectic that pushed it ever FWD. As a result it qualifies as one of those "steadily fewer" examples of "combative, collective movements of innovation" (Perry Anderson) that managed to withstand the onset of postmodernity and its culture-pervasive sensibility of eclectism, historicism, and cosmopolitanism.

"Pulp Modernism" is how Mark Fisher classes this renegade aesthetic. With my more Subcultural Studies bent, I prefer the term "Street Modernism". But we're basically talking about the same thing.

According to Fredric Jameson, what defines the modernist artwork is a relationship to time. It enacts the break with the past forms of art within itself. "The interiorization of the narrative [of modernity/modernism]…" becomes an integral element of the artwork's fundamental structure. "The act of restructuration is seized and arrested as in some filmic freeze-frame" such that the modernist work "encapsulates and eternalizes the process as a whole."

What could that mean in music? Precisely a genre that involved a kind of suspended clash of sampling/digital processing with the analogue/hand-played, such that the uncanny time-warping of digital technique coexists with and permeates the hands-on, real-time musicianship. Thus breakbeat science captures the moment of superhumanisation, the funk of flesh-and-blood drumming (just eight seconds of G. Coleman's life-force from "Amen, My Brother") mutating into something beyond itself. Likewise with vocal science. Jameson, again: "the older technique or content must somehow subsist within the work as what is cancelled or overwritten, modified, inverted or negated, in order for us to feel the force, in the present, of what is alleged to have once been an innovation." The shock of the new, eternalized.

People regularly refer to Plato's wary conception of music as inherently subversive, his idea that music in its very essence is a threat to social stability, and therefore something the state needs to control tightly. Actually what he wrote is slightly more complicated , and even more interesting, in the present context. In the imaginary philosophical dialogues of The Republic, speaking through the historically real but here fictionalized figure of Socrates, Plato warns that "the attention of our rulers should be directed so that music and gymnastics [dancing, presumably?] be preserved in their original form… any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited... For the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions."

Could that be true? I don't know, it seems far-fetched, at this remote vantage point. It's almost a struggle to remember that this, precisely, was the affective sensation generated by this music, in its various heydays. The shockwaves of the beats and bass passing through your body seemed to herald equivalent tremors passing through the body politic.

Monday, February 6, 2012

hipsterhouse in San Francisco - the monthly party Haçeteria

not just Detroit Techno and Acid House - they play New Beat and Italo too

can never remember the title / artist with this tune, seems to have had multiple -- Mark Pritchard and Tom Middleton on the astral D&B tip, gooooooorgeous

multiple names and different versions, actually -- the second one here is the lusher and fuller-sounding

okay now i'm feelin in a bukem-y, logical progession-y mood

Thursday, February 2, 2012


news about the American first-time release of Energy Flash plus Retromania's foreign editions

Energy Flash

Energy Flash is issued in its expanded/updated form in America in May via Soft Skull. Because the original Generation Ecstasy was an abridged version of the UK edition, this is the first time it's been available here in its full-length form; it also has the 40 thousand extra words, covering developments in the 2000s, that were added to the UK-only 2008 anniversary edition. More information here and new about events TK.


* the French edition is published by Le Mot et le Reste Éditions on February 9th as Rétromania: comment la culture pop recycle son passé pour s'inventer un futur. I will be in Paris for the launch 2/20 to 2/23, details about the presentation on 2/20 to follow soon.

* the Spanish edition is being published in April by Caja Negra Editora as Retromanía: la adicción de la cultura pop a su propio pasado.

* the German edition is published in October by Ventil Verlag.

* in other Retromania news, the US edition has gone into its fourth printing, while the UK large-format edition, now sold out, has been replaced by the smaller, cheaper B-format with a new cover

brazilian vocal scientist Psilosamples a/k/a Zé Rolê

his new album Mental Surf is apparently the bizniz

lot of his material is sourced from the Internet and Brazilian equivalent of stuff that Oneohtrix Point Never would use