Saturday, December 31, 2011

bretter daze / better days

this tune, which i heard for the first time only the other day, sums up pop music in 2011

the king of crunk hooks up with the kings of party-rocking

result: in a track that brings out the latent gabber i always heard in crunk

damn near just drums and that bugle-like sax parp calling the assembled to attention

Lil Jon mad-barking like a drill sergeant of reckless getting-wreckedness

an anthem of concussive hedonism

kickdrum beat like a battery of shots to the dome

bretter was what the Germans called the hardtekno that became gabber - bretter meaning literally boards, planks, and thence banging, slamming, and thence hammered, sledgied, monged

have a wicked NY's Eve, keep it tidy, and here's to much better days in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

hip house

replaces lyrics about a homeless woman with lyric referencing mansions!

Friday, December 23, 2011

michaelangelo matos in the guardian investigating the phenomenon of hipster house aka chillrave

they do seem awfully sincere and respectful

perhaps overly so

the question remains for me though is:

if you wanted to dance, what's wrong with the existing, ongoing dance culture (in which house has undergone a resurgence across the board)

why is it based around dance / house as it was 20 to 25 years ago?

and so again it seems to fit that retro / vintage chic mentality of getting the period sounds right, the period styling (the record covers, the fonts, the flyers, the allusions) just right

there is this parallel thing going on with ex-noise/drone types getting into early techno and EBM /Cold Wave/ ate 80s dance-floor oriented industrial -- people like Prurient and Pete Swanson

in that case i suspect it's wanting somewhere to "go", musically -- noise-abstraction being a diminishing returns zone and also absolutely blanketed, choked with output

Monday, December 19, 2011

really didn't think the Joker album was as savagely disappointing as people made out

glitz-blitz bombast
deep dee-deep deep deep DEEPAAAAH

deep deep deep inside deep deep down inside

deep deep love

bonus beats

woah this is poor

can't decide what's more artistically bankrupt, the song or the video
Clonk's Coming (Again)

an ideal stocking stuffer -- this pretty package RetroActivity: basically the Best of Sweet Exorcist on two discs.

almost the All of Sweet Exorcist, actually... well, there was this later album Spirit Guide To Low Tech on Touch(when Kirk & Parrot had moved into post-Artificial Intelligence zones and accordingly sounds closer to R.H.K's work as Sandoz, also for Touch) but RetroActivity scoops up the bleep/clonk era material for Warp

here's a fave Sweet Exorcist tune, minimalism getting maximal - the title track of the C.C. EP and C.C.C.D.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

bought this record at the time

don't remember this "Plunky" though -- pretty sure it got put out in the U.K. as just Oneness of Juju

it was almost a hit in the U.K.

back then i thought they were this one-off group but in recent years realised that
Oneness of Juju have this extensive history going back into jazz-funk-fusion and Afrocentric mystical what-not

"Kazi", "Poo Too"? these titles would have raised a snigger from scato-puerile Brits i fear

they remind me a tiny bit of this outfit, whose fab hit "The Message" i had on one of those great Soul Gold comps, the ones with the graffiti wall covers

that last one is said to have been ripped off by Stone Roses for "Fool's Gold"

then there was this lot -- mixed African and Caribbean band, often described as "African Rock", pitched to the prog market

produced by Tony Visconti

in some ways not a million miles from War

"Low Rider" at one point i thought was the ultimate song

love the Beastie Boys but can't help but empathise with War's indignation that the Beasties got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before they did

Howard Scott (vocalist and founding member of War) griped: “We were cranking out gold records when they were still in diapers. How could the Beastie Boys get in before us when they sampled War's music on their first album?! I'll eat their platinum records!"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

amen to that

superb archaeology of the most famous break in jungle by Tom Nuttall for The Economist (although in Economist style he's not given a byline)

at the Economist blog T.N. has further thoughts on classic instances of Amentalism + soundclips

here's my vote for the mightiest of the mighty - Renegade, a/k/a Ray Keith, "Terrorist" - an army of amens

Thursday, December 8, 2011

now tell me people, who was it invented this kind of disco-funk (with the emphasis on funk) heavy on the downstroke crunchy-thwacking snare rhythm?

as a postpunker-turned-funkateer, i used to be obsessed with records with that kind of beat, which at one point was almost all dance records

this is a particularly thwacking example, as was most of Steve Arrington's stuff, and probably Slave's too

that really strident downstroke snarecrunch, you don't really hear it in James Brown or Ohio Players

you can hear it coming a little bit with this things like this 1975 tune

was it Hamilton B who done it first?

at one point this next one would have seemed like the ultimate music to me

Gap Band probably took it as far as it could go

then probably as postdisco/boogie got to be less a band-oriented sound, more about producers + players + machines, the thwack-snare probably start to fade out

oh now i think of it, probably Parliament-Funkadelic had something to do with it, right?

this is a primo later example where the downstroke really dominates the record in a super-imposing way, like a great slash across the sound-stage

and then there was Cameo

pre-codpieces and "Single Life"/"Word Up" crossing-over-to-pop Cameo

i remember a DJ at Oxford in 1983 earnestly telling me that Cameo made the hardest toughest street funk around

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

RIP Dobie Gray

one of the greatest songs about dancing ever

the mod manifesto

people have been pointing out some earlier examples of maximalist dance - in the original baggier (maxi-er) version of the piece I had a reference to "psy-trance's Mandelbrot-mandala curlicues"

but in terms of 90s examples I clean forgot about Sven Vath

not just the critically acclaimed Accident In Paradise LP

but the critically not-acclaimed (un-acclaimed? anti-acclaimed??) The Harlequin, the Robot, and the Ballet Dancer which was bloody awful by all accounts

Jam & Spoon's big album whose album i title forget also veered prog-wards

there was also a house/trance hybrid in the mid-90s called "epic house" which if i recall meant BT

then while jungle and drum'n'bass generally was minimalist and tracky or anthemic, and even when bombastic it was bare-bones bombast (No U Turn), you did have quite a few exceptions

Hyper On Experience had a fussy, busy-busy orchestrated sound that was thrilling on their classic run of singles

obviously Goldie with Timeless and then, jeepers, the prog'n'bass orchestral epic "Mother" on Saturnz Return

this is just the radio edit i guess! the full length is 40 minutes or so

christ on a bike i've never seen that video!

IDM by the late 90s had maximalist tendencies, through its misunderstanding of drum'n'bass actually i.e. drill'n'bass. Squarepusher had some Jaco Pastorius style bass noodle in there

also Max Tundra was pursuing a sound that was pretty max at the turn of the millenium, albeit on the very outer edges of electronica in the dance/post-dance sense

when dance producers decide to do an album, they do quite often go for an ALBUM in the big sweeping overblown/prove my versatility sense and it does tend to head towards that proggy maximal zone

you could probably collate a list of these vanity projects, ranked according to utter uselessness, with the effort by Paul Oakenfold seeing off most if not all comers

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

looking-back-at-2011 piece by me on Digital Maximalism - Rustie, James Ferraro, Grimes and others - for Pitchfork

slike Terror Danjah turned into a bouncy castle

more and more I think James Ferraro is our Jeff Koons

Grimes against Nature

yer a dirrty wee radge Russ - a dirrrty dirrty wee radge

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

piece by me on xenomania (with a small x, i.e. the syndrome, not the pop production team!), i.e. the new exoticism and fiending for all things post-geographically far flung... looking amongst other things at the beat-geek early-adopter chase to find the next global ghetto groove (aka woebot's "shanty house" of yore concept)

it's at the website for MTV Iggy (their panglobal station)

the highest profile of RDJ's anonymous juvenilia

was this almost a hit?

had no idea he went by the alter-ego Gak for this one release on Warp

bought one or two of these as well at the time and not very happy either although listening now there's some wee gems amid the relentless acid

i think i bought this, or is it one of these, not sure-- at any rate, was a dissatisfied punter, to put it mildly

moving on to the just very rare, barely released rdj juvenilia

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

another alleged aphex unreleased cache, the joyrex tape

track seven unavailable

well i thought i was a proper fan but i never heard of this allegedly unreleased Aphex Twin lp from the mid-nineties until today. in some stories it was made as a gift for friends at rephlex and warp, in others it was demos to be sent out as a calling card to videogame companies...

what do you think? a spoof? a scam?

i could almost believe it for Track 5

Monday, November 28, 2011

james blake on brostep

“I think the dubstep that has come over to the US, and certain producers-- who I can't even be bothered naming-- have definitely hit upon a sort of frat-boy market where there's this macho-ism being reflected the sounds and the way the music makes you feel. And to me, that is a million miles away from where dubstep started. It's a million miles away from the ethos of it. It's been influenced so much by electro and rave, into who can make the dirtiest, filthiest bass sound, almost like a pissing competition, and that's not really necessary. And I just think that largely that is not going to appeal to women. I find that whole side of things to be pretty frustrating, because that is a direct misrepresentation of the sound as far as I'm concerned.

brostepper bites back:

I think the sleepstep that has come over from the UK, and certain producers-- who I can't even be bothered naming because I'm over generalizing-- have definitely hit upon a sort of snoozing market where there's this urge to sleep being reflected in the sounds and the way the music makes you feel makes you drowsy. And to me, that is a million miles away from where the sound started. It's a million miles away from the slumber of it. It's been influenced so much by pillows and cushions, into who can make the softest, poofiest bass sound, almost like a resting competition, and that's not really necessary. And I just think that largely that is not going to appeal to the conscious. I find that whole side of things to be pretty relaxing, because that is a direct representation of the sound as far as I'm concerned.


surely there's a Third Way?!?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

almost sounds like they've been listening to footwork

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

like an elephant at a roller disco

same album (Mr Gone), worlds apart


(what may be an intriguing possible-parallel-development to "hipster house")

mnml ssgs's silent partner writes about "post-techno" a/k/a "outsider techno"

which seems to refer to people who've gone back - to some extent or other - to techno's less-acknowledged roots in industrial music

while also rejecting digital-tech for (he doesn't quite says this but it's implicit) its insidious promotion of "audio trickle" / addle-daddle / nuance'n'layer-itis

a deliberate going-back to relative lo-tech -- to hardware not software -- ways of making music that are less-wieldy, less-facilitation-oriented

and that therefore produces starker, harder results

music with a spine

a bare-bones structural strength

as opposed to digital's "infinite flexibility"

perhaps they are the Billy Childishes of electronic music, Canute-like figures turning their back on progress

but perhaps they've got the right idea

i couldn't say

i've not heard any of the exemplary exponents he's cited

but i'm wondering if Ekoplekz belongs in that company

or Perc
wotsnot 2 like?

Monday, November 14, 2011

out in the US in the spring of 2012

this is the expanded/updated version of Energy Flash that Picador put out in the UK in 2008 (and now out of print there)and which added 40 thousand words to the book, covering developments between 1998>2008

since the original 1998 Energy Flash was significantly longer than the abridged and streamlined Generation Ecstasy (what came out in the US)

what will soon be available in the US for the first time is about 60 thousand words longer than Generation Ecstasy

IMPLUVIUM (Official Video) - SUN ARAW from Daniel Brantley on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 10, 2011



rewind and come again

not quite so immortal

not quite so invincible

don't remember this version at all - dirty b-line, amens not smashy enough by half

increasing proof that remixes are 19 times out of 20 a waste of time energy and vinyl

i mean, i'm sure they're all intended with great love and reverence

but you can't improve on perfection

back to the original

and funny thing, i think this was really meant to be the A-side

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I guess producers are looking for something new to do. Something where they have a bit of space to breathe"--Jacob Martin aka Hodge and Outboxx

which is why The Future Sound of Bristol is... house music

The good thing about taking influences from house music (again)... is that bad house music is most definitely already out there. 4x4 was bastardised a long time ago, so it doesn't even have to be considered that it's going to be ruined by scenester monkeys, as it's already happened a thousand times over. It's not a new thing [to do], it's just more a welcomed resurgence.

Hang on, i thought produces were "looking for something new to do"?

this is confusing

it's like people don't know up from down, left from right, new from old


hyperstasis, aka the uni-linearity of music-as-progress goes haywire, topsy turvy

what's it sound like? well if you've managed to retain any long-term memory (and i know it's hard in the endless digi-now recursive churn) it sounds a bit... familiar

s'nice enough spose

not a straight 4/4, a bit of a broken feel in there

reminds me a tiny bit of that Giant Steps NYC dude Viktor Duplaix

a tiny bit, that's all

"right in the middle of you is where i wanna be"

dirty git that Viktor
ardchive fever

Monday, November 7, 2011

yer a dairty wee radge Rustee

a dairty dairty dairty wee radge

Sunday, November 6, 2011

forgotten gem of "intelligent big beat"

gtr riff is mekons sample

soundbites from that Radio 4 gardening program

crikey, the Bolshi label

this isn't the Rasmus track i really cared for ("Afro blowin' in the wind" on the Mass Hysteria EP - youtube don't have it), but it will do for now

youtube don't have any of the other wee gems by Beachcomas, like "it's eggyplectic" or Planet Thanet EP, but they do have this

which i don't remember at all, despite trying in those days of madness to pick everything up that Bolshi ever put out (not really a worthwhile enterprise since a lot it weren't 'specially hot, e.g. Laidback)

but defnitly worth picking up the first Donuts comp if you ever see it going cheep, just for "Donuts" and "Eggyplectic"

this is what i wrote about Beachcomas back in 98:

"Black sheep of the Bolshi roster, Beachcomas are even more into mix-and-mismatch. The partnership of programmer Matt Austin and sample-finder/"chaotic influence" Tony Freeman, Beachcomas first scored on the Big Beat scene with their Bolshi debut "It's Eggyplectic", a glorious squelch-funk surge of jazzy keyboard licks, burbling clavinets, and fierce acid stabs. But the duo really started to live up to their scavenger name--inspired by the surreal sight of a bed washed up on the mudbanks of the Thames--with "Donuts," an off-kilter delight that became the title track of the first Bolshi compilation (where you can also find "Eggyplectic"). Its unlikely constituents include quaint, regionally-inflected English voices, taped from a TV gardening program, talking about "peaches, split and juicy", "strawberries," and "nuts and medleys"; the panting of their pet dog, who refused to bark as desired; and a clipped guitar riff stolen from the B-side of the Mekons first single, "Never
Been In A Riot". This influence from an earlier phase of indie-dance crossover--the punk-funk of Delta 5 and Gang of Four--carries through to the Pop Group sample on Beachcomas' latest EP for Bolshi, the disappointingly ungainly "Big Tuddy Session". Although I could swear it's "Where There's A Will There Has Got To Be A Way" (the Pop Group track on the split-single with The Slits's "In The Beginning There Was Rhythm") that gets sampled on "Waiting For The Beach" (from the second Bolshi EP, Planet Thanet; also available on Donuts 2). Beachcomas say it's actually a Diana Ross loop, combined with rooster noises generated from rubbing Styrofoam together. Either way it's a killer tune, if too rhythmically eccentric to do well on the Big Beat circuit. Right now the Beachcomas are the group who could do most with the album format ("Donuts" was one of the most oddly poignant tracks I heard last year, strangely reminding me of A.R. Kane's second album) but the artist least likely to get the chance."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

unhipster house

History, meet Farce

one thing you can say for them hipsters, they sure do their research

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

succumbing to a strange fascination with this

there's some kind of effect been put on it, a filter or something

something that's making it look even more stilted and gormless than it actually is


they actually choreographed and rehearsed every single move being made by the dancers

it seems so... studied

are they taking the piss, or feigning taking-the-piss to disguise the real "go back" yearning?

the music is a bit like that outfit that did "7 Ways To Love", Cola Boy, who were Saint Etienne connected...

except more pallid and washed out sounding

but, like, 20 years after doing it would be any kind of timely response

and yet for all that, not utterly devoid of pleasingness

strange days are these

umtimelich days

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

some call it hipster house, but John Calvert deserves some kind of
award /reward for this coinage:


just let that roll around your palate for a bit

here's his piece on chill-ravers Stay +


re. hip(ster)house, fellow who goes as RSR informs:

"i'm hearing the name 'homeless house' used by practitioners and scenesters, i.e. geneva jacuzzi and xorar. apparently a hat-tip to jus-ed who started djing for the second time while homeless and using only the six records he still owned"

and adds, accusingly:

"sometimes it seems like you think only certain people should like certain music. sometimes it seems like you think there's an authentic way to like music and a non-authentic way".

to which I say: au contraire, if anything hipster/homeless, it's a little too reverent towards early Chicago/ Detroit, they don’t fuck with the blueprint enough, could definitely be bastardised some more. no, what I do find a little odd, a little off, is this... okay they’re so into house music, but it’s not like there isn’t an ongoing house music culture that is the extension of music that inspires them. So why don't they participate in that, contribute to its furtherance? Could be that they don't like current club culture for social reasons, antipathy re. the sort of people into house-as-is. But it's not like house music has disappeared from the face of the earth and needs to be revived and resurrected. it's not even the case that it's changed so much that a Return to Original Principles is required. so there is the suspicion that hipster house = people whose productions wouldn't cut it on a contemporary dancefloor. Which is not to say that the stuff doesn't have a stand-alone charm and appeal outside that context.


James Grant points me to some "hipster hardcore"

a compilation of the stuff from the label Coral Records which you can hear in its entirety here

and an article about the conceptual framing of the project as "seapunk" (!)

well they've really got the old skool sound on that first track

and the third track, it's more Bukem aquajungle / "dolphin" vibes, so even more attuned to the concept (one does wonder if this "seapunk" is for real or a spoof on micro-genritis within the Zones of Alteration...)

other stuff is more omnivorous/post-everything-dance/digi-maximalist in vibe but cool

talking of "dolphin", there was this Nebula II track "Eye Memory" that sampled dolpin-chatter and was about how a dolphin, once it's met you, will never ever forgot you. i remember it getting played on a pirate as a hot-off-the-press tune and the deejay explaining the concept of "eye memory"... it was an incongruous David Attenborough moment on Touchdown or Destiny or whichever pirate it was...

Friday, October 28, 2011

brostep versus blubstep

brostep taking over

they shoulda used this

except it's too pensive and sombre and dark-clouds-a-gathering

too proto-blubstep

the hangover to brostep's binge

the comedown after the rush

(here's the full version of the brostep tune in the advert)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Could digs be any more influential on the bass-continuum in 2010? First came UK funky, next the future garage movement, the Night Slugs camp, Joy Orbison’s filtered dubstep anthem “Hyph Mgno”, Kyle Hall’s bombshell of a 12″ on Hyperdub, not to mention an influx of South African flavors: London pirate sounds through all of which ran the influence of commorancy and shop, in differing pecks. Even the Dutch are bubblin. But there remains one London camp which are domicile momentum totally distinctly from all the others. If you don’t be schooled them, soon after you’re perhaps not in the Circle.

Four years ago, when the ashes of UK shop had cooled and the intense heat of grime began to drive fans away, a little collection of pirate station DJs made a rewarding decision: Unhappy with the status quo they took items into their own hands and started their own night. And with the bravery of true pioneers, they started it on one of perhaps the riskiest day of the year: Christmas Day. “You eat and relax on Christmas Day, I couldn’t see why we wouldn’t be busy or why it wouldn’t be a success,” insists Tippa, the Circle camp’s host and one of its co-founders. “[The] rest is history.”

What began Christmas Day 2006 is now rapidly turning into a completely self-contained, autonomous scene. Built by its co-founders Supa D, Kismet, Feva, IC, Gemini, and of movement Tippa, and showcased on their weekly Rinse FM show, the Circle sound and the DJs they offshoot themselves with jibing Geeneus and A Plus are distinct and separate from the UK funky movement that has garnered consideration in recent years.

The Circle parties began as unadvertised events of 150-200 ravers who attended after receiving an invite through the post. To get the invite they’d have to share their nest address and personal details, a alike of disclosure that both ensured the Circle knew and controlled exactly who their clientele were. “That way we could kinda have an influence on the humans that were attending, making it easier to charge any hots potato on the night should they occur,” explains Tippa, who’s seen numbers grow to 700-1,000. “More and more citizens hankering to attend because all alters ego are talking about it, or the younger heads hark their older siblings gassing about how ace the last event was.”

Asked to describe the scenes at Circle, Tippa paints a vivid picture: “Typical Circle Rave: a new generation of twenty- and early thirtysomethings raving to rock-and-roll and atmosphere very similar to UK carport at its peak, but with a sound that has has-been all over for years– rejigged, refreshed, and re-energized into what we signal dubbage.

“Typical raver? People will say our crowds are ghetto, but really, there are no ghettos in the UK. There are poor parts, but something on the scale of the States or parts of third earth countries. We’re middle class, our inhabitants are middle class. Some are aggressive, some are super cool, 80% are super sexy girls, who beautiful up themselves in the maximum expensive dresses and shoes they can get from West End to rave at Circle. They express themselves in means else crash pad raves/events before could only dream of. I can say hand on my heart, you come to a Circle event, you will angle round to me and say ‘Tipaa… where the fuck did all these girls come from?’ That’s what character of lumpy it is.”

As the events have become more successful, offshoot raves have sprung up, particularly Tippa and Rinse’s Yellow in Brixton, DPMO and Adultz Only, and Its My House. A Plus– one of the first DJs on Rinse, a Roll Deep associate, and the founder of grime DVD film crew Media Gang– spun an ridiculous set from February’s Yellow. Anthems played by the DJs subsume Dennis Ferrer’s “Hey Hey”, Bassjackers & Apster’s “Klambu”, Kentphonik’s “Sunday Showers”, Paul Woolford’s “Pandemonium”, Rishi Romero’s “African Forest”, Kentphonik’s “Hiya Kaya (Rocco Deep Mix)”, and Ultra Nate’s “Loves The Only Drug (Adam Rios Shelter Mix)”, divers of which are on Rinse FM’s “I Love Funky” compilation.

The parallels with UK service centre are uncanny: dressy raves for an older, female-dominated crowd, held in the bars off London’s financial City district not unlike the seminal Gray’s Inn Road parking lot raves that gave DJ Kismet his eponym. Though in that case it’s almost matching the timelines are running in reverse: UK shop started as the Sunday scene, London’s take on U.S. doghouse for the older “mature” raver, before a younger, ruder crowd swarmed in, changing the role of host to MC and spawning grime. But that tide over, the younger ravers have had their bit first, with UK funky’s skank tracks attracting all the immersion in the anterior six years, while the Circle sound was busy incubating out of the limelight. But despite the comparisons, mold no underestimation, there’s precious little the hots lost within the two camps.

“It’s not just your basic tribal beat soon after any old melody, bass line, and dead-singer-that-can’t-sing-live-to-save-her-life uniform max so yawped UK Funky…” says Tippa of the difference centrally located UK funky and dubbage, making his position on the former entirely clear. “[Dubbage is] more intelligent, more of an experimental dubby ting that you will very feel on a decent sized sound utilidor…”

While so lots of the Circle setup bears the hallmarks of lockup, the ragtime itself is perhaps the best interesting element, not because it is so alien but because as diggings it is so stock. If you view the beginnings of UK funky five years ago as a reaction to the harshness of grime, when in that context the dubbage sound maintains the groove and sophistication that the rougher snares, MC bars, and ruder bassline drops of the common UK funky scene has in some parts edged back toward. Within these cluster of clubs, MCs play the host role with the DJ at the fore, riding enduring seamless mixes of tracky instrumentals, avoiding drops or breakdowns.

What’s curious about the gap medially the London/local/DIY/pirate feel of how Circle operate and their dressy crowds and sophisticated universal habitation sounds, is that it makes an ambiguity. Is that a subset of the foreign pied-a-terre melody lineage, as would be recognized by ravers from Ibiza to Berlin? Or is that the next pirate-inspired, grassroots civic London jungle, UK parking lot, and grime scene? Paradoxically, you can say “yes” to both. (This kind of ambiguity is reminiscent of dubstep, another subgenre focused on high-quality productions, unlike grime.)

When entertainering sets, Tippa generally very charismatically states, “that is our style/our folk…,” exerting the strong spirit of ownership endemic over preceding London genres allying UK lockup. “[Our sound] means it’s something that we brought to a new generation” he explains. “This is what we push, what we fully believe in, what we need to conceive when making swing but with our influence, and not influences from the States akin maximum UK artists portray in their tune. in that let’s be honest, a lot of deep habitation can be boring and shit, a stupendous gob of it.”

House is arguably the largest dance genre in the nature and by the very nature of its size and popularity, lots of it is bland, conservative, and generic. Some argue that the digital era in which we alive offers access to an effectively limitless supply of ragtime that causes musicians to be glutted and fudge together clotted song. But in the case of the Circle DJs they are reaching out into that vast wares of popular and using it as an opportunity by trawling through that massive grand pool to jewel tracks with which to define their sectarian identities as DJs, in London clubs and on pirate radio.

“I used to buy vinyl for myself,” explains Tippa. “Feva & IC and it was the carbon copy when, researching all the sites and shops for new tracks and hard to boast gems, paying settled the odds sometimes on eBay. It’s filtered through to MP3s and the equivalent ethos. Between April and June there was congeneric 17-20gb worth of melody downloaded by Kismet and APlus to sieve through, which we all have a go at and anon passage on to each auxiliary. It’s chip and parcel of staying on top and playing sounds that we feel fit into what we fancy others to descry and follow.”

Taking parish ownership of a sweeping sound is something London DJs have antique performing for decades, highest visibly with the shift from UK DJs playing U.S. garage records to again becoming UK workplace producers, and that shift is happening too with dubbage. Just as the World Wide Web has provided evident access for DJs to flat’s massive cosmic library, so it has democratized the tools of swing production, and several of the Circle DJs– Kismet and IC– are making the transition. Other DJs uniform Lighter, Teaser, and Comfy are hotly tipped.

“Kismet’s sound is straight dubbage,” explains Tippa. “whereas he downloads so lots folk, his sound knowledge is amazing at the minute. Every tune he has made is completely single from the one before, but he always keeps it dubby, dubbage. IC is also producing, he’s style is dubbage, but it’s more rollers that roll continuously. Kismet’s will in truth take you on a journey at times…. he’s got that early WBeeza mould going on, that’s imaginably because they’re really tip-top and close mates.”

The immediate future for the sound is not self-evident, but akin dubstep, it has aggregate at its disposal to translate to clubs worldwide. Indeed Tippa lately hosted with Geeneus at Global Gathering, one of the UK’s largest dance festivals and a far cry from the London underground. For now the Circle are busy action what they “fully believe in.” The rest will be history.

Monday, October 17, 2011

hipster house (slight return)

Where's Yr Child is this LA-based irregular club / DJ collective involving Sun Araw's Cameron Stallones, ex of the NNF family. The name is a nod to this acid house classic.

And then there's this image which bestrides the website--an all-black crowd of dancers with hands raised ecstatically:

I grabbed that image off of the WYC website and the jpeg has the title "cropped paradise garage". so that's what the pic is: Levan's congregation

i suppose that's no different from German techhouseheads calling a club Robert Johnson or indeed the Rolling Stones naming themselves after a Muddy Waters song.. but something about it jarred... i haven't been to a Where's Yr Child, but somehow I'm guessing the audience composition of a typical night is rather different, and probably so is the atmosphere...

right now, along with the Paradise Garage shot, WYC have a picture of a mass of mostly white ravers. But generally the iconography at Where's Yr Child is black--supersharp dancers at various clubs from several decades ago, a picture of dancehall act Scare Dem Crew, a Rasta with enormous bulbous infolded dreads. And didn't I read that Stallones is actually making a record with The Congos?

"Impluvium", the last track on Ancient Romans, the new, dense-with-detail Sun Araw record, is a house jam of sorts...

IMPLUVIUM (Official Video) - SUN ARAW from Daniel Brantley on Vimeo.

i suppose there's a natural fit between digging psychedelic rock and digging psychedelic dance... indeed now and then the wah-wah glare of Sun Araw makes me think of baggy's trippier, looser-fitted moments... that Stone Roses B-side "Something's Burning"... the Can-nier side of Happy Mondays... even Cope's copping a baggy feel on Peggy Suicide

i wonder how he (and "they", in general) got into this stuff in the first place (meaning house, acieed, balearic etc)... most likely from a completely different route than contemporary club people get "there"... i.e. not from clubbing but from records, books, Internet deposits (Hot Mix 5 radio sets from Eighties Chicago, Baldelli mixes, Youtubes of classic jams).

(i wonder how i'll feel if/when this crowd latch onto the stuff i really cared about/lived through... "hipster hardcore", "hipster jungle")

then again, I do recall reading somewhere that Stallones comes from a heavy duty religious background... so perhaps there's an underlying trance-endental logic that connects the attraction to psychedelic/kosmische rock, roots reggae and house in both its acid and gospel-deep strands

as the sample on that Ultramarine tune (forget which one) puts it "they're searching for spiritual reasons, they're looking for something more than this world has to offer"

or "dancing is sacred" (from this great late acid jam by Ultramarine)

Friday, October 14, 2011


an odd upshot of the emergence of "hipster house" is that there are now several currents of house-homage /retro-house running concurrently

* hipster house (100% silk *, miracles club et al)

* post-dubstep producers dabbling in early 90s vibes

* german (and elsewhere) producers operating in that zone between mnml and deep house purism (into which category you could shove for convenience sake theo parrish and his ilk)

(this is in addition to output from surviving original producers in the long established Chicago/NYC house tradition (like Dennis Ferrer) plus plus contemporary clubtrax that basically adhere to the house template but bang 'n' bosh it up a bit with filter and trance and digitalizm elements in the mix (Swedish House Mafia)plus all the house-trance/ibiza-lasvegas based stuff in the Top 20 pop charts plus "the kind of international trad house [i.e. not UK funky house] that currently dominates a lot of the pirate shows" in London according to Blackdown.)

(is 2011 house's biggest year internationally since 1989-90 or whenever it was crystal waters was in the US top 10?)

house is clearly rich and long-running and wide-in-scope a tradition to seed off a whole range of retro-house throwback styles...

but equally: hasn't house always had its own innate tendency towards harking back self-reflexively? it's always been as much about invocation as innovation... about the celebration of continuity and continuum-ity... certainly at least since the invention of the idea of deep house (end of Eighties, a swerve away from ACIEEED by many of the people who invented acid house, including Pierre/Phuture himself... and then in UK terms Shoom-head Danny Rampling embraced the New Jersey sound pretty swift I believe as a reactive (and reactionary) move against the Acid Ted incursion

there's always been a side to house that was conservative and preservationist: not acid tracks and jack tracks (i.e. the becoming-hardcore half of its soul - of which Green Velvet was its own resurrection, in a way) but the keep-on-holding-on to disco-underground principles side (as manifested in Cajmere, or a track like Gusto 'Disco's Revenge" )... the idea of "true people" was invented for Detroit by Eddie Flashin' Fowlkes but it is just as applicable to house's self-image

that ethos was always particularly strong in Britain, and indeed one the things that turned me off house for much of the 90s... the fidelity, the purism .... and above all the epigonic narrative of decline that everyone who gets into this music, at whatever point in the timeline, seems to buy into... the location of "Better Days" in the rear-view mirror, rather than just around the corner

Take Black Science Orchestra's album Walter's Room. Named in homage to NYC remix pioneer Walter Gibbons. Nod to Philly's orchestrated lush proto-disco with track "City of Brotherly Love". Another nod to Philly with the track, um, "Philadelphia". Jersey and NYC homaging tracks with titles like "New Jersey Deep" and "Hudson River High" and "Downtown Science". Track that'll make any NYC resident snigger a bit: "St Mark's Square". Cringe-inducing titles like "Rican Opus #9" and "Heavy Gospel Morning" and "Bless the Darkness". All couched in a musical setting of pallid luxuriance and mild slinkiness that is pleasant enough in its tepid way but just as historically redundant as Hives and Jet were in their own traditions.

Black Science Orchestra was masterminded by Ashley Beedle. A different kind of dance-retroism was pursued in his other supergroup project The Ballistic Brothers, particularly with their much-ballyhooed-at-the-time, now unremembered album London Hooligan Soul.

this is the sleevenote:

If our memories serve us well... Bunking school for crackers on a Friday lunchtime, forget your dinner ladies. Pirate radio,codes from the underground...Saturday night blues dances and forbidden moves to Phoebe's,Four Aces and Club Norick. Shaka, Fatman and Sir Coxone, the original drum and bass. Sneaking out of the back door with your brand new shoes. Saturday's alright for fighting. Skinheads getting a beat down, ambush in the night. Stuarts in the day Fila, Lacoste, Tacchini, Armani, Lois, Nike and Kappa. Taxing the rich and famous and rushing the Burberry door. Scoring a draw down the Saints. A pick up from the SPG. Blair Peach a crying shame the NF and unmarked police vans who is to blame? Clash city rockers and white men in Hammersmith Palais. Road trips to Caister, Soul Tribes, The Frontline and the Soul Partners. All dayers in Bournemouth taking the train, taking a train, ego trip dabbing speed it's all you need. Westwood, Family Quest no contest. West End B-boys and fly girls, chrome angels Graff bombing the Met. Breaking in the Garden ... Covent to you suckers. An armful of Studio 1 from Daddy Peckings. Flim Flam to Meltdown. The Jay Brothers, goodtimes and great tribulations. Gilles P and Paul Murphy Zulu style at the Electric. Brother Paul boogie times. The Beat Route and Hard Times. Fifteen years of fucking Tories, on the dole, a thousand stories of promised lands and meccas - Blackpool. To you the sweet sounds of Levine and Curtis. The Language Lab said and Dirtbox spread and old bill cracking miners heads. Who killed Liddle Towers? The Jam at Wembley seven times and National Health for the last time. Bump and hustle, soul 45s, too far gone there is no way back. Phuture, Acid, Confusion, The Rush, The Love, the smiling hooligan with dodgy gear open minds close and get the fear. East Grinstead and Bognor lads away, falling and laughing, escape to Brighton or off to Ibiza tying to maintain the buzz. Getting older and getting wed. Elvis is dead. Is anybody out there? A poll tax riot going on. They have sold my country...

It reminds me a bit of Garry Bushell's impressionistic "set adrift on memory bliss" freeflow blurb on the back of the Strength Thru Oi! comp, but with rather different reference points... a different version of working class youth-style.... a different route, in fact, from The Clash... closer to the route Mick Jones actually took into Big Audio Dynamite in fact

this Ballistics tune is all right in its repro antique way: reminds me a bit of when the Heavenly Socialists like Jon Carter did Big Beat meets rocksteady type tracks

Of course Ballistic Bros were on Junior Boys Own. As in Terry Farley who was Chief Inspector in terms of policing house music in terms of its fidelity to the source, via his column in Muzik (or was it Mixmag?) in which he was wont to talk in vexed tones about "proper black dance music"

talking of which, here's "Blacker" from the Ballistic Bros's 1997 follow up album Rude System

note the "blacker than thou" sample at the start

and then there was the Black Jazz Chronicles on Nuphonic, home of Idjut Boys and Faze Action (debut LP Original Disco Motion) and others who verily wanted to go back and dwell forever inside Walter's room

and in fact one of Ballistic Bros and possibly Black Science Orchestra too was Dave Hill the dude who founded Nuphonic. So it all ties together! (This is getting to be like one of those Kev Pearce/Yr Heart Out follow-the-lines jobs innit -- all it needs is a couple of studio engineer names plus a snideswipe about yours truly!)

Wiki-facts about Ashley B:

-- born in Hemel Hempstead in 1962 (which means we are neighbours and contemporaries)

-- after the career peak of getting to #2 in the charts in his alter-alter-ego X-Press 2 (with "Lazy" featuring David Byrne on vocals) he spent the 2000s heading the labels Soundboy Entertainment, Afroart, and Ill Sun

-- released an album in 2010 on K7 as another alter-ego, Mavis. (A nod to Staples, presumably. I think I got sent this. It features vocals from Candi Staton but also unlikelies such as Sarah Cracknell and Edwyn Collins)

-- Beedle is referenced in the Daft Punk song "Teachers."

Did that really get to #2 in the UK pop charts?

At least these early X-Press 2 efforts have a bit of British balls about 'em


* thinking about the semiotics of "silk" as in 100% Silk, obviously Steve Silk Hurley aka JM Silk springs to mind.... or the great late-disco West End track "Do It to the Music" by Raw Silk... but then how about King Britt (the US equivalent to Ashley Beedle in many ways, except Britt's actually from Philadelphia) who started out as a resident DJ at Silk City in Philadelphia, later recorded as Sylk 130, and recently did the Black Science/Afrofuturist type project Saturn Never Sleeps inspired by a certain Philly jazz god. But equally "silk" is part of the imagery of UKG, as in Pure Silk the club/compilation.

which then makes me ponder how Dave Keenan is mentally managing the drone/lo-fi/hypnagogic scene's turn towards the very Nineties zones he always reviled as "Dance Plodders" -- Volcanic Tongue blurbs for 100% Silk 12 inches often try to throw in the words 'kosmische' or 'psychedelic' presumably to mitigate against its rather more apparent resemblances to electroclash / Metro Area / Italians Do It Better

Thursday, October 13, 2011

PS to preceding post

interesting to consider what makes this London-based, dub-flecked take on NYC/New Jersey house so significantly different from the take that was took a few years later by 187 Lockdown/Dreem Teem/New Horizons/Lady Penelope & Abstrac/et al

is it really all down to the difference between West London (all those Clash/Portobello references in Ballistic Bros) and East London?

between music made for big well appointed clubs and shady clubs/raves/pirate radio?

because JBO-world blends into Heavenly Social/Big Beat world, and it's a world apart from Kool and Rinse

still they could all agree, sometimes, on Norman Jay and Giles Peterson...

Monday, October 10, 2011

second time as farce

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

protodarkcore w/ the Poltergeist little-girl-lost-in-TV sample

nuff respeck to Mr Playford

Monday, October 3, 2011

Michaelangelo Matos with a meaty in depth interview with the legendary Lenny Dee, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Industrial Strength Records:

the money quote, on being played "We Have Arrived" for the first time by Marc Acardipane:

"I just sat there and said, "Marc, you did it. This is it. This is the future. This is where it ends and where it begins."

and on dropping the track at a rave for the first time, at Mayday II in Germany:

"I've never seen ten-and-a-half-thousand people in one room raise their hands all at once, ever. Everyone was in awe when that record came out. It changed electronic music forever. That music, especially in that period of time, was the birth of something completely different. You get a guitar and it was totally acceptable to distort it and make rock records. Why wasn't it totally acceptable to distort all the electronic instruments? People had never heard anything like that. It's like a kid hearing rock & roll for the first time, back in the '50s. It took off and I never looked back".

and on then versus now:

"The early techno guys were a different breed of cats. I look at the new techno DJs now like, "Man, you've got to be kidding me. This is what's carrying the torch? Are you fucking nuts? This is the most boring-ass music." Techno music used to be the most exciting, new, upfront, underground, banging music, not clean, poncey, boop-boop-boop-beep-beep-beep-bup, one little thing—that's crap. You listen to my records from the '90s, and you listen to records now, and go, what happened to techno?"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

imagine the pop future as a Vengagirl stomping on a human face -- forever

longer mix sans pix but still with the submissive-masochist lyrics

Sunday, September 11, 2011

WoT, a band

WOTta band!

but what's this

what the fuck

how dare he/they


they make it sound like something by Atomic Rooster!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

more and more convinced that every single song on Quality Street is about E

even "This Too Shall Pass Away"

Friday, September 9, 2011

director's cut The Wire, 2008

By Simon Reynolds

Easily the most precious sonic artifacts in my possession are the tapes I made of London pirate radio shows in the early Nineties. Everything else is replaceable, albeit in some cases at considerable effort and expense. But these ardkore rave and early jungle tapes are almost certainly irrecoverable: given the large number of stations active then, the sheer tonnage of 24 hours/Friday-Saturday-Sunday broadcasting, and the drug-messy non-professionalism of the DJ-and-MC crews of those days, it's highly likely my recording is the only documentation extant of any given show.

In which case, if only I'd used higher quality cassettes! Before I got wise, I'd tape over unwanted advance tapes from record labels: since the radio signal could often be poor, buying chrome blanks seemed a waste . Plus, in those early days, I wasn't doing it out of some archival preservationist impulse. Like a lot of ravers I was just taping to get hold of the music, something hard to do otherwise because deejays rarely identified tunes. Later I'd discover that many were dubplates that wouldn't be in the shops for months anyway; in some cases, they were test pressing experiments that never got released at all. I was taping simply to have the music to play through the week when the pirates mostly dropped off the airwaves, and in 1993, when I spent large chunks of the year in New York, I took the tapes with me to keep the rave flame burning during my exile.

These relics of UK rave's heyday are editions-of-one because they're mutilated by my spontaneous editing decisions: switching between stations repeatedly when a pirate show's energy dimmed, or the DJ dropped a run of tracks I'd taped several times already; cutting off arbitrarily when I couldn't stay awake any longer, or dwindling into lameness because I'd left the tape running and went off to do something else. In the early days I often pressed 'pause' when the commercial breaks came on, something I now regret because those that survived are among my absolute favourite bits. With their goofy, made-on-the-fly quality, the ads for the big raves and the pirate station jingles contribute heavily to the dense layering of socio-cultural data and period vibes that make these tapes so valuable.

The crucial added element to these tapes, something you don't get from the original vinyl 12 inches played in isolation or even from the official DJ mix-tapes and mix-CDs of the era, is life. In two senses: the autobiographical imprint of my personal early Nineties, someone hurled disoriented into the vortex of the UK rave scene and still figuring it out, but also the live-and-direct messiness of deejays mixing on the fly and using whatever new tunes were in the shops that week, of MCs randomizing further with their gritty and witty patter. The tapes are capsules of a living culture. Something about the mode of transmission itself seems to intensify the music, with radio's compression effect exaggerating hardcore's already imbalanced frequency spectrum of treble-sparkly high end and sub-bass rumblizm. Pirate deejays, typically mid-level jocks or amateurs, also took more risks than big-name DJs crowd-pleasing at the mega-raves. Playing to a home-listening or car-driving audience, the DJs mixed with an edge-of-chaos looseness and squeezed in some of the scene's odder output rather than just sticking to floor-filling anthems.

Oh, they're not all pure gold, these tapes. Many shows stayed stuck at "decent" or slumped outright into "tepid". But the ones that ignited… ooh gosh! The vital alchemical catalyst was invariably the MC. On some sessions, it's like a flash-of-the- spirit has possessed the rapper, as electrifying to the ears as a first-class Pentecostal preacher or demagogue; you sense the MC and the decktician spurring each other to higher heights. It tends to be the lesser knowns that thrill me most: not the famous big-rave jungle toasters like Moose or Five-O but forgotten figures like OC and Ryme Tyme, who forged unique styles that melded the commanding cadences and gruff rootsiness of U-Roy-style deejay talkover with the chirpy hyperkinesis of nutty rave, or collided barrow boy argy-bargy with B-boy human beatboxing. Some of these tapes I know so well that the tracks are inseparable from the chants and the chatter entwined around the drops and melody-riffs; years later when I finally worked out what the mystery tunes were and bought them, they sounded flat without that extra layer of rhythmatized speech thickening the breakbeat broth.

1992 to 1994, ardkore to darkcore to jungle, is the prime period for me. I seldom revisit the drum and bass years, when things got serious; things pick up again with the poptastic re-efflorescence of UK garage and 2step, when the number of London pirates resurged to its highest level. Grime is an odd one: I've got masses of tapes, and there's masses more to be found archived on the web, but the emergence of the MC as a capital A artist strikes me as a mixed blessing. With one eye on their career prospects (an album deal) the MCs increasingly came in with pre-written verses, reams of carefully crafted verbiage dropped with little regard to how it fit the groove. Pirate MCs always had an arsenal of signature catchphrases and mouth-music gimmicks, but with grime a vital element of ad-libbing improvisation got severely diminished. So excepting some 2002 tapes from grime's protozoan dawn, I've not got the same attachment or affection as I do for the classic rave sets.

Oddly, I've rarely found people who shared my obsession to anything like the same degree: a handful of collector-traders, and a guy called DJ Wrongspeed, whose fantastic Pirate Flava CD collaged the best bits from his now defunct Resonance FM series based around re-presenting pirate radio broadcasts. Often I've come across people who'll talk enthusiastically about recording the pirates "back in the day," only to reveal they'd long since taped over the cassettes, left them in the car to curdle in the heat, or just lost them. Aaaaargh!

But as a quick web search reveals, pirate tape fiends are out there lurking, and not just ones obsessed with the London-centric hardcore continuum: there's online archives and merchants for the original pirate radio of the 1960s (stations anchored in international waters or occupying abandoned offshore military forts) and sites dedicated to the land-based pirates of the Seventies and Eighties and to the Eighties hip hop mix-shows broadcast by London's pre-rave pirates. In terms of my particular addiction, you can find ardkore, jungle and UK garage sets archived at old skool sites, or offered for trade or sale; on various rave, drum'n'bass and dubstep message boards you'll come across individuals sharing huge caches of vintage transmissions.

The pirate penchant seems to be a minority taste within the larger niche market for DJ mix-tapes of the sort recorded through the sound board at the big commercial raves and then sold commercially through specialist record stores. People have been selling or swapping dupes of these sets for a dozen years at least (nostalgia for 1990-92 set in as early as 1996!). Today, an original Top Buzz mix-tape circa 1992, say, might fetch sixty pounds on Ebay. Strangely, from my point of view anyway, old skool fanatics generally prefer the slickly-mixed official releases to the vibe-rich but erratic pirate tapes; a lot of people just don't like MCs, it seems. But if, like me, you dig the brink-of-bedlam atmosphere of the pirate set, or are just curious to cop an in-the-raw feel of what it was like in those crazed days, seek out these online deposits of delirium:
A sizeable cache of 1989-97 shows, mostly from the London area.
Sets from two of my favourite stations of the 1992-93 "golden age"
Massive archive of broadcasts from Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, York, Huddersfield, Hull and other North of England stations, 1992 - 2006
Huge selection of pirate tapes, albeit for sale rather than download.