Thursday, December 1, 2022


Well who knew there was an early "Terminator"?

(Well, I didn't)

Seems like there must be other ardkore / darkcore / jungle tekno songs titled "Terminator" or that sample from one or other of the film?

Or indeed some gabber cases

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

AoN versus Prodigy x 2

"the masters of the headstrong" - yes, arguably

" the ultimate hardcore scream-up" - not quite

probably a nice bit of wedge Liam got for a track he could have done in his sleep, or possibly had lying around anyway and could slot in some stems (never heard the original and have no intention of seeking it out) 

but then in the battle of the paydays, it gets decidedly assymetric as Prodge do AON a BIG favor with "Firestarter", where the "hey! hey! hey!" is from "Close (To The Edit)"

As a result the publishing for "Firestarter" is divided between Liam Howlett /Keith Flint /Kim Deal / Anne Dudley /Trevor Horn / J.J. Jeczalik / Gary Langan / Paul Morley

Of course that doesn't mean the publishing is divided equally - but even so, it's a nice thought that a steady flow of royalties (think of the radio play, globally) would be chuntering in to Ann D and Paul M et al for years to come

Kim Deal too for the riffage nicked from this Breeders tune 

Sometimes I think I got involved in the wrong end of this business! I have no tunes in me but I could have / should have hooked myself up with some genius hitmaker and done the lyric. 

Mind you, most musicians, it's a pathway to penury.

Still, there is always that hope, that dream, that chance of scoring the one big smash, a radio regular in perpetuity

I read somewhere that the woman who co-wrote the lyric for "Don't Fear the Reaper" received a check for 50 grand a year for decades, it being such a classic rock staple

(However, checking now, it appears Buck Dharma wrote the words and music on his tod. However on the single of "Don't Fear", the B-side "Tattoo Vampire" has a contribution from someone called Helen Robbins. And given that the B-side gets 50 percent of a single's proceeds - she would have made some dough there. But it wouldn't be an annual harvest, given nobody plays the B-side. 

In America (I think I've got this straight) radio plays remunerate to the writers of the song (and the song publisher), but not to the performers who recorded it. So nobody else who played on the record gets a dime, no matter how often it gets played. That seems extremely unfair. Think of all the pleasure  - one example out of countless - the drummer in the Steve Miller Band has given me and millions. He should have a river of dosh irrigating his bank account in perpetuity. 

(In the UK, the writers and the performers both get paid per radio spin, I believe. Much more equitable). 

(In the US system, does the orientation towards songwriters and songpublishing company, again mean that the record company - who put out the record, developed the artist, promoted etc etc - gets nothing from radio play? Again, that seems unfair. How did this way of do things ever get set up?)

(What about MTV etc - does anyone get paid when a video gets played, or are they supposed to be grateful for the promotion? Talking back in the day, obviously - MTV should be renamed TV without the M given how it's dispensed with the music bit) 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

air breaks

I was thinking about the ways in which music seems to irresistibly provoke a mimetic physical response. 

Well, for some of us. 

Air guitar, air bass, air drumming - these are the big ones. But there's also air piano, air sax, air  trumpet, air trombone even... 

Certain kinds of music are particularly triggering. 

For me,  it's certain kinds of rock (not indie!), Certain kinds of jazz - fusion, jazz-rock, as opposed to Blue Note.  Music where there's a bit of a swagger, a performative flourish. But also where the music is hard-hitting, has a physicality to the impact as well as the playing.

Now this effect on listeners must surely have died out as music has become more digital - less about manually played instruments and more about click-and-drag, shunting information about on a screen.

There's no such thing as an "air" response to hip hop, is there? The mimetic response would be rapping along, which you'll see-hear in the street when someone is listening to rap or grime on headphones. I suppose one could imagine a mimetic impulse to trap drum patterns. But in practice, I think not - somehow the body knows that it's not a human hitting those drums. The physicality of impact, the pull on the body, is not paralleled by a physicality of execution. 

What got me thinking on this topic in the first place was playing some jungle and succumbing to the urge to mime out drum patterns - to do "air breakbeats".

Resulting, of course, in an absurd parody of actual drumming, based on things I've seen on TV - wrist-flexing, rimshot cracks, ride cymbal flutters...

That made me wonder if jungle really is unique among the digital-era musics in that it still has that capacity.

For instance, I can't imagine the mimetic impulse being triggered when listening to house or techno - anything propelled by a 909. 

Jungle - being based on samples of breaks, of hand-played drum patterns -  retains a musicality and humanity that can still pull at your limbs in this way. 

But with jungle, the mimesis is a bizarre distorted form of mirroring. You're responding to the human player still audible within the barrage of chopped-up, resequenced drum breaks - the ghost in the machine. But these are accelerated and hyper-syncopated beyond what the original player would be capable of, let alone flailing failing you.  So the element of wish-fulfilment is doubled. Two ghosts inhabit your flesh and take possession: the manual, near-automatized movements of the sampled drummer, and then the producer's edits, treatments and other decisions, which override and re-imprint the original performance. You feel the twin pull of funk and of superhumanization, and fall even further short than with regular "air drumming". 

postscript 11.25/2022

The unfinished thought here - the idea on the tip of my brain...

air guitar, air drums, air breaks, air whatever.... are they actually forms of dancing? 

Nerd dancing -  for those too physically awkward to get down.... but  who can model, or self-project, into the role of the one who makes others get down. 


postscript 11/22/2022 

Andrew Parker notes that "Maybe air-playing instruments is favoured by those who have no proficiency - their imaginings are unencumbered by technical knowledge." Although proficient in guitar and piano, he never air plays, precisely because  "When I listen to a fast passage.... I'm mindful of the technical demands and what they would require to be developed."  Good point: ignorance is prequisite for air anything! 

He also sends through a video of a drummer doing an authentically hectic and hyper-syncopated simulation of jungle breakbeats, showing that an exceptional human player can equal the "superhumanization" effect of breakbeat science 

If listening blind to this I would probably think it was a jungle track, except 1/ the rhythm switches up too often and 2/ I'd be wondering when the bass was going to make its entrance. After all, it's called drum and bass, not drum and drum...

Friday, November 11, 2022

He Be The Prophet

Randall Roberts on a soon to be excavated 1986  recording of Sun Ra exploring the potentials of a Prophet VS synth: 

"In the summer of that year while in Boston with his band, Sun Ra splashed down in a high-tech studio called Mission Control. Among the many synths and sound generators he approached was a newly released Prophet VS (“Vector Synthesizer”). The programmable digital keyboard, created by genius electronic synthesist Dave Smith, was remarkably sophisticated. Ra took to it and started playing. A recording of that session, called Prophet, will see release in December [on Modern Harmonics].

"You can thank gravity, the force of the cosmos and the magnetic field that a studio engineer as able to hit record, capturing for posterity the Space Traveler’s first experience with this particular synthetic future. Not that Ra was inexperienced. From an early age, the artist and composer took to new musical technology. Notes Ra biographer John Szwed in Space is the Place: The Life and Times of Sun Ra, the composer “kept up with new developments in music technology, especially those involving electricity, and dreamed of the possibilities of composing for instruments with new musical timbres."

That's the same synth that Keith Levene used on "Careering". Actually no, the Prophet 5 was the one he used - the Sun Ra one is a later, digital iteration. 

A pal of mine who shall remains nameless owns a Prophet 5. So I have actually touched one. He's a vintage synth junkie who actually had to conceal his habit from his wife, hiding the gear in closets and then pulling it out for a jam when she was off at work.