Saturday, March 20, 2021

Beats tunes

 chanced upon the rave movie Beats on a streamer, gave it a whirl 

the micro-genre of rave and club culture movies has a decidedly checkered history, but on the whole this is a superior effort -  some of the acting a bit one-note, there's the odd plot elements and dialogue patch that felt unconvincing and clunky -- as a historian-pedant some music choices struck me as not overly typical of what the Scottish scene was into (i.e. the tunes were too breaksy, not bouncy enough).  But the tunes used were mostly great so who cares? Overall I thought it captured nicely both the dreary social-reality surroundings and the hyper-hypereality of rave as exit / escape / sanctuary from same 

somehow I sensed from the start (well, you watch enough TV+movies, you get ingrained with "the grammar of film") that the fact that it's in black-and-white (bleached, grey-faded B/W too - even-toned matt rather than high-contrast, for even more depleted dreariness) guaranteed that at some point it would switch into full-colour - and most likely during the tripped-out parts of the rave experience itself. Sure enough it does do precisely that.

That whole bit was handled well - as was the earlier part of entering the rave (but before the drugs kick in full blast, so still B/W)  - the jostling of bodies, the escalating crowd fervour. 

And some top top tunes were woven through the whole thing, both diegetically and non-diegetically if you'll pardon me jargon.  (Whole soundtrack hearable here)

One nice surprise was this by Plus 8 (but heading into cosmic trance) artist Vapourspace, who I'd clean forgotten about but really liked back in the day 

This also was nice to hear, at the white-hot heart of the Xstatic Xperience

This one by Twitch pricked my ears (I think it's a different mix they used though)

Unexpected pleasure to hear this too

Now this next hands-in-the-air classic would have been in my ears during my own rave conversion moment in late 91 (when Njoi and other Deconstruction acts played this venue in Kilburn)

But I even enjoyed hearing on the soundtrack this anthem-for-some but not-really-my-golden-memories/not-my-area-of-the-90s

Initially watching the movie I had little bit of that older-wiser feeling you get when confronted with the credos and enthusiasms of your youth  - especially when the bearded slightly-crusty DJ is doing his "revolution" chat over the pirate radio or to the young protagonists of the plot. The context is 1994 and the Criminal Justice Bill and listening to this spiel, which falls midway between Prodigy circa Jitled Generation/"Their Law" and the Terence McKenna-ish patter you might have eavesdropped at Megatripolis or Megadog, you can't help thinking "hmmm, this is a bit silly" and "what were we all thinking?", Like, "how could this have ever been the basis of a new society?". Mind you, even at the time, I was sharply aware that these spaces of intensity, you couldn't actually live there... 

But when it got to the rave recreation, it came flooding back: why we believed what we believed, and how the belief was the point, its own raison d'etre

the quickening 

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