Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012


viiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiibin off this awesomely monotonoid tune -  from Hemlock Recordings Chapter One, an excellent label comp

interesting thoughts in this recent  Quietus interview with Hemlock bods Jack Dunning (aka Untold), Rohan Walder (aka Randomer) and Andy Spencer


RW: "To be honest, I don't really dig that much new stuff. I'm still digging stuff from the 90s - of so many different genres, and stuff that's really basic, and also really crunchy sounding – B'more, grime, hardcore as well...."

JD:  "... about two months ago I completely switched up my DJ sets...  I realised, 'Hang on, this is jumping around too much, especially in longer sets, this isn't really making a statement, this is just like blegh! [makes vomiting noise] at people'. So I focused in, and now I'm just playing really stripped back percussive stuff. And I'm enjoying the purity I've found in these tracks...

- a lot of them are just tools, from producers and labels I'd never heard of until a few months ago. And since then, I've been enjoying my sets much more - there seems to be a massive reaction to this music that hasn't got much in it at all....   It's quite raw and repetitive - just horrible, banging drug music [laughs]. If you've got a long set, after an hour of playing something with only maybe two or three melodies in it, this peculiar vacuum happens in the room, and if the crowd's with you - and, touch wood, they have been - it starts to become a real tribal thing. It reminds me of times when everyone was off on the same drugs and into some atmosphere and momentum in the room...


AS:  "I think there's a pressure right now to identify a tune straight out - to be the one who identifies it as something that's going to be big. I think that's a particular symptom of where we're at at the minute - everyone's feeling a huge pressure to be on everything all the time, and that content overload is getting in the way. And I guess that's a fairly recent thing. Historically, tunes would take ages to catch on - it'd take a hell of a lot of DJs to play them, a hell of a lot of tape recorders in the rave before a tune became a big deal. So I think you've got to allow yourself space to come back to something and think, 'Oh fuck, that's actually a great tune' - and not kick yourself for not seeing it the first time round."

JD: "That's totally how I'm feeling as well. There is something about that promo listening mentality which is similar to a YouTube or Spotify way of digesting music - it's fingerfood. Like what I was saying before, in finding those new producers - having the pleasure of buying vinyl and having a huge stack to go through - I'd actually listen to them, and then listen to them again. It was like, 'This feels like a weird arcane art!' So I'm having my own personal backlash at the moment, I don't know whether there will be a broader shift."




Tuesday, November 27, 2012


"LEE GAMBLE 'Diversions 1994–1996' (PAN 33)

'Diversions 1994-1996' is made up entirely from samples from the collection of Lee Gamble's Jungle cassette mixtapes. The audio has been subjected to analog and digital deformations, whilst trying to extract, expand upon and convey particular qualities emblematic of the original music. The effect is that of a musical body scan, all that is solid melts into air. Sounds are unearthed, dissected on the operating table, melted and unlocked, evoking sonics not unlike the heavy dub processes of Jah Shaka and Scion in a INA GRM frame of mind or bearing  a similar  methodological approach with what explored Mark Leckey in his piece "Fiorucci Made me Hardcore". It can be heard as a ‘memory’ of a period of music and for some could work as a ‘cued recall', which is a form of memory retrieval.    

Lee Gamble started out as a teenager dj-ing on pirate radio and on the emerging Jungle scene, however his own approach to music has taken a more experimental direction. Exploring the outer realms of abstraction through digital synthesis/resynthesis, Lee has described his current compositional process as: “…The configuration of material (ex nihilo) via various digital synthesis methods, prompts further disfigurations and reconfigurations. What you then have left is often the detritus or debris of an idea. Phantasms of both previous and current musical, pseudo-scientific and sculptural influences are manifest as new material abstractions, created from the digital blank canvas. This abstraction allows several interests to appear in the works simultaneously…”.  




 
 

  


Monday, November 26, 2012

EDM, rock, numbness, dumbness, immortality, adolescent sense of time



 
"... What's important now is not where or how you heard a track first; it's that it's heard repeatedly and by as many people as possible. It's the opposite of hipsterism. Where hipsterism is about being part of the few in the know, the EDC scene is about being a part of the many. Insofar as it's a scene at all, it's one geared toward the universal coalescence that the focus group of the Internet makes possible. This is a youth phenomenon that has submitted to the fact that access to knowledge—the secret location, say, of a warehouse party—no longer sets one particular group off as a special vanguard. They've forsaken the secret-remote-warehouse culture for the understandable reason that it defines itself by whom it leaves out, and from the standpoint of lunchroom sociology, the Speedway feels downright utopian. Distinctions obtain, but frivolously: Whether you look cool at the door has been replaced by which subgenre you've allied yourself with. It's less a scene than an indistinguishable panoply of micro-scenes. But it's hard to tell if anybody worries that when you have so many "friends" that you'll "never be alone again," what constitutes friendship—its texture and specificity, its content—might have been diminished. In a world where the highest compliment you can pay a piece of music is to compare it to a virus, where the Internet seems to function as an all-encompassing and largely inexplicable lottery, it's easy to see how the effortful things become secondary, and why we might just be glad to concede that we're all athrum in these beats together".


While others find reasons to detract and deplore:


"EDM has effectively bypassed the club culture on which house and techno were founded and gone straight for the stadiums and festival jugular. Judging by the many clips on YouTube, its stars have taken their cues from rock stars rather than the clubbers who helped to create dance culture around the skill of DJs such as Frankie Knuckles. This new breed of star DJ is not content to be hidden away in a booth with a tiny slit, like Junior Vasquez was at New York's seminal Sound Factory. Instead they mosh and crowd surf (DJ Steve Aoki was hospitalised after an incident involving a trampoline last week: he's clearly no Nils Lofgren) from their elevated stage, while the crowd look on, shuffling and whooping. Worse still, some of them are alleged to perform to the kind of pre-mixed sets that have caused the Calvin Harris controversy....



"What marks out these events is how little interaction there is between DJ and audience. The audience consumes rather than participates, foregoing any form of empathetic experience in favour of bland ingestion (and usually faithfully documented by the cancerous presence of a thousand camera phones held aloft). A great DJ can coax you into places you didn't know you wanted to go until you get there. It's what marks them out from a ninny with too many tattoos playing a CD"  


^^^^^^^^^^^



Meanwhile Robin James at It's Her Factory offers a series of neuropolitical diagrams of how EDM works as an architecture of affects and intensities:


 




and 


"Numbness" features in the most rave-like / EDM-y of Ke$ha's songs, "We R Who We R", where she sings: "We're dancing till we're dumb / Our bodies going numb / We'll be forever young".  

Numbness figuring as a trope of sensory overload, neuro-electric circuit burned out, pleasure centers maxed

Robin appears as a cultural pundit in my NYT Ke$ha piece


I'm not sure i really buy this idea that "“die young”/no future aesthetic is TOTALLY a co-optation of gay male musical and subcultural practices from the late 20th century. "  

the music, you might say (house, club, Euro etc) comes in large part from gay culture

but the attitude?

Well, it goes back as far as Romanticism (and its sequel, fin de siecle decadence -- Baudelaire, "be drunk always" etc)

It's deep in rock (I mention Jim Morrison, but "no future" is pure punk -- the song it's from is "God Save the Queen" which  contains the millenarian line "if there's no future/how can there be sin?")

Also, there's plenty of straight, working class, white examples through history of living for the weekend, druggy no-sleep excess as a maximisation of non-work time  (Northern Soul, mod, etc)...

and straight, middle class, white examples too (binge drinking at college, Spring Break, etc)

Part of the sense of time in the music relates simply to adolescence, to the teenage ability to A/ not think about consequences B/ that teenage thing of feeling  invincible, indestructible, immortal ("we're gonna live forever"--Oasis)

And in our conversation, Robin described the non-providential, live-for-now temporality as "immature behaviour" 

(I think it's been exacerbated and given a darker edge by the precariousness of the last several years economically)

Now gay dance cultures, arguably, created lifestyles that could stretch this temporal modality way beyond adolescence (because settling down / quieting down could be staved off for much longer, even indefinitely)

But equally you could say that rock as it became a long term career option also turned  adolescence into a kind of permanent way of life, an exile or exemption from grown-up temporality

(think of Sunset Strip metal, as heterosexist as it comes, but equally dedicated to waste, excess, recklessness) 

which i think is why "rockstar" as an abstract quality (signifying excess, going too far, recklessness) is such a reference point for this otherwise all electronic, guitar free club music (cf. the recurrent references to Mick Jagger --  representing a kind of Peter Pan ideal, maybe)


Saturday, November 3, 2012

some of the comments appended to Andrew Ryce's Trap article at Resident Advisor tickled me:


Sheeeit! another subgenre raises its head..... like a blackhead going full on pustular.

I have Now Thats What I Call Trap, on MOS in heavy rotation......

Andrew ,The Guardian will be contacting you soon as the UKs go to expert on North Americas hottest new scene.Please contact Idris Elba for the documentary vox pop.

I call bs on a bs article, about bs tracks, played at bs festivals by bs jocks but then again, I am 43years old.

To the editors, please stop infantilising this site! the interweb is brimming with digital faeces, why do you feel the need to contribute?

Smilies and Trap music Fuckever!
Leave this stuff to Sherburne and Reynolds, if and when it does develop.......digital drug noise is so nineties


and more sensibly


Trap def. has its qualities if you don't have a problem with stupid, full on and energetic dance music. I must confess that I sometimes like the idea behind it all more than the music itself, but I can't deny there are som really cool trap(y) stuff out there.

Someone compared the trap movement with UK hardcore back in the 90s. I would even go as far as comparing it to the first wave of house music in the 80s. The raw energy is there, the young age and background of the producers, the cheap equipment (or probably illegaly downloaded), the uneven quality of the output and the movement around the music. There are of course differences but I still see it as very much the same thing.


and




I'm a long-term junglist and trap 4 me is 'hiphop finally got dancemusic'. I enjoy every bit of it. It's got the same fire and badness as raggajungles amen tear-out's. Music does no have to be serious. Fck the haters- move on. Let's mash in some more jungle in this soup + ragga and distored sound of hardstyle and that will be be gold.

the article itself raises a lot of interesting issues:

is this the first time that a genre has emerged that is like a slightly-distorted-mirror-image of an already existing genre, on which it is fully parasitic, right down to having the exact same name as the original genre? (at least drill 'n' bass was a nomenclative tweak on drum 'n' bass). A para-genre, existing besides the real-thing but without really interacting with it.



is this the first time that underground dance music has so totally followed the lead of commercial mainstream black music? because trap, or trap-py styled street rap, is about 60 percent of what you hear on stations like LA's Power FM, from artists like Tyga, as also picked up on for certain tracks by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna

the other thing (as per the previous post about the frozen idea of "contemporary" in sonics across the musical spectrum) is this question of  how different it really is from all the Dirty South rap of the early 2000s or even late 1990s -- something Ryce points to without necessarily intending to through  his description of Lex Luger's production style as "like a satanic Mannie Fresh"

I listen to Power FM regularly in the car and often hear things that make me go "oooh, that's cool,"that's modern sounding , "oh yes yes yes, it's 2012, for real". But then recently I heard something that made me really go "ooooh gosh": it felt  so advanced, so strange and off-kilter in its groove structure.

It took me about half a minute before I realised it was Ludacris's "What's Your Fantasy" -- one of my favorite street rap tunes of the early 2000s! Released in September 2000 in fact, twelve years ago...


Still and all, it's good stuff, the real-deal original trap, and the secondary-parasitic internet version of it - not retro but nowtro


shame about the lyrics, yes, but then if the sound is in a sense arrested, then you'd perhaps expect the social consciousness to be equally retarded




Friday, November 2, 2012

MAXimalist grime




brash 'n' busy, coarse 'n' crowded

an older, slightly more spartan tune from Maxta


grime feels like a million years ago....   there's mixed emotions, listening to it again... like an awkward accidental encounter on the street between lovers, who didn't part on the best of terms, but there's still a spark, this attraction...

sounds good, the 2012 stuff

and yet,  it doesn't feel like it's advanced that much in the decade (decade!!) that's elapsed since "I Luv U" hit the pirates during that memorable summer of 2002 ... certainly not a full decade's worth of advance...   the main difference is the high-definition sound quality, bigger bolder brighter and busier with detail....  upgrades, as opposed to leaps forward

like so much stuff around (e.g. trap versus dirty south circa 2002) yes, it sounds "contemporary", still  - but only because our idea of "contemporary" seems to have gotten frozen at a certain point in the late 90s/early 2000s

Thursday, November 1, 2012

gurnin' and grindin' and gaunt as fuck



rave footage from 1997 somewhere in Northern Europe
(via Daily Swarm)

wait up a sec -- that's actually a short excerpt from this, and not even the maddest bit of it either



 which is the second of four chunks of this: Thunderdome '97, 23 march 1997, Sportpaleis Antwerp

here's the first 



and here's parts 3 and 4 to follow



well nobody said the Phuture was going to be pretty...