"My purpose was simple: to catch the feel, the pulse of rock, as I had lived through it. What I was after was guts, and flash, and energy, and speed" - NIK COHN -
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "When the music was new and had no rules" -LUNA C
Keysound Recordings present Sully's Blue EP -- "four sides of warm vinyl
dedicated to classic break-based rollage ‘n’ choppage: less “where were you in ’92?”
rather “who wants more from
The press release continues:
"One title seems to sum it up best: “Simple Things.” This double pack is not a
statement about 2014, it is not trying to be a new sound, scene or development.
This is just seven tracks of uncomplicated, intensely emotive, rhythmic fun –
as MC’ed over by original-junglist-at-heart Riko on a recent Rinse FM show. It
is concluded by a beatless “vapour dub” from Logos, as he sublimes the title
“The inspiration for these
tunes essentially goes back to the free parties I spent weekends chasing in the
early ‘00s,” explains Sully. “Youthful optimism put an almost spiritual spin on
what were sketchy, chaotic, DIY happenings. Vision blurring subs felt like
epiphanies. The EPs raw, chopped up sounds reflect that feeling: thrown
together, reckless, but elevating with it.”
“Blue” is definitely a theme that runs through many of the tracks, a kind of
synth-lead wistfulness. “Solitaire” riffs around the vocal fragment: “remember
we like lone ranger: we ride alone, man”, while the title track timestretches
“no man test” to form a kind of emotional push back, keeping all comers at arms
length. “M141”, perhaps the ruffest of the EP, speaks of intoxication and submission:
“taking… me… over.”
of course I disapprove of this kind of historical redundancy, but...
but.... when it comes to certain stages of the Nuum - ardkore,
darkcore, jungle, speed garage, 2step - I am quite seduced by this "more
from" idea - the notion of stretching out the past, revisiting those
years that went by way too fast, elongating and extending them -
turning a transition into a permanence...
Mental image of self as Oliver Twist holding out his plate and begging, "please sir, I want some more"
Harry Secombe's Beadle as Father Time scowling, then softening - "oh, all right then"
Plastician is to reissue his early vinyl-only Plasticman releases of 2003-04 in remastered package
He explained to FACT that “I re-opened the original .flp Fruityloops
files in the same versions of the software they were built in at the
time and bounced them as wavs completely flat. I’ve not added any new
effects or eq to any of them. They all contain exactly the same sounds
and mix settings as they did in the early ’00s, even as basic as they
are I felt it would be wrong to change anything.”
But as well as Plasticman Remastered there will also be the inevitable slew of remixes and refixes.
hadn’t already guessed from the name, grime inverts values. Dutty, stinkin’,
even disgustin’--all are positive attributes in grime parlance. So when I say
“Hard Graft” is utterly dismal,
you’ll know this is the thumbs up. Grime often represents itself as gutter
music. Mark One and Plasticman go further, or deeper, with this track, and seem
to plunge into the sewage system. Full of clanking beats, septic gurglings,
eerie echoes and scuttling percussion, “Hard Graft” makes you imagine pipes,
storm drains, dank chambers.
Plasticman and their cohorts constitute not so much a subgenre of grime as a
side-genre, running adjacent to the scene proper. The sound is techy, MC-free, and
more danceable than grime. Although a number of black producers are involved,
you could fairly describe this style’s sonic coding as whiter than grime, and
situate it on a Euro continuum running through Belgian industrial techno (Meng
Syndicate, 80 Aum) through the cold technoid end of rave (Nebula II) to No U
Turn’s techstep and Photek-style neurofunk (the beats on “Hard Graft” sometimes
recall his “Ni Ten Ichi Ryu”). Plasticman’s nomenclative proximity to the
Richie Hawtin alias seems telling.
Here's the transcript of an enjoyable interview I did in late 1998 with the Irish journalist Jonathan O'Brien, i.e. shortly after Energy Flash first came out, when - as so often happens, after the process is done - I am starting to get a clearer idea about what I was trying to do all along. Plus some glimpses of what was ahead for the music, at least as I saw it at that precise vantage point in time. How it turned out - a quite different story.
JO'B: What motivated you to start writing the
book in the
SR: I'd been writing a lot of stuff about most forms
of dance music,
particularly hardcore, since I really got involved in the
was towards the end of 1991. So I'd accumulated quite a lot
including think-pieces and essays. My initial idea was to
just do a
collection of it, but then I realised that would be kinda
lazy and I
should probably just really go for it, and try and do a sort
definitive, comprehensive book on all the different styles
music. I knew that another book was coming out, Matthew
but I knew that it was more a history of Ecstasy, and crime
gangsterism and the law. So I felt like there was a clear
field for me
really just to deal with the music.
JO'B: Did you want to avoid the sociological aspect of
SR:You have to have that in it, but I wanted it to be a sort
celebration and analysis of the music, because there have
been so many
amazing mutant forms of it.
JO'B: Tell me about the Energy Flash CD. When
did you get the idea for putting one on the front of the
book, and did
you have any licensing difficulties?
SR:Initially, I thought we'd do a CD with a . . . y'know,
people have done this, David Toop did this thing of having a
was in parallel with the book, and that was the initial
idea, to just
do one like that. But then, my editor at Picador said,
"We can actually
stick the CD on the book." I don't think anyone has
really done that
before. Someone did a book of John Cage's lectures that has
a CD of him
actually reading the lectures attached to it. Disco
Biscuits, that collection of club fiction, had a CD in
parallel with it, put out by a record label. But the actual
sticking of a CD on the book is a new thing.
I was a bit worried that it would spoil the design, or
steal it, or whatever. It seemed fraught with problems, but
worked out really well. Originally, the CD was gonna be a
broad-ranging, as well . . .
JO'B: Well, certainly, there seems to be a preponderance of
hardcore on the CD itself.
SR:Yeah. I mean, it was always gonna be like that, because
hardcore is my favourite music, and it's also the stuff I
people haven't heard. It's quite hard to get hold of on
days - there's a collector's market for this stuff, the
for thirty quid now. So the CD was always going to be mostly
I wanted it to be more of a continuum running from . . . eh,
would have wanted it to start with something like Todd
Terry, which I
sort of see as the origins of hardcore, because it's had a
hip-hop influence to it, although it was considered as house
the time. It was really chopped-up, with lots of abrasive
edits in it.
So the CD would have gone from that through all the
Nightmares On Wax,
bleep-and-bass stuff, and Beltram. I wanted some more
Belgian stuff but
we couldn't get those, it was too hard. And then I wanted it
actually go all the way up to Big Beat. Right up to the very
end of the
process, Skint Records promised us these tracks by Fatboy
Bentley Rhythm Ace. Then they signed this big deal with a
and the tracks were sort of tied up because of that. Also, I
Fatboy Slim's stuff has so many samples in it that there
there as well.
So in the end the CD was very focused on hardcore. But I'm
bothered by that, because I think a lot of people have never
lot of this stuff, so I wanted a CD that hopefully
descriptions of the music (laughs).
JO'B: Most people would think of hardcore as the stuff that
in the charts in '92 - very cheesy and toytownish-sounding -
stuff on the CD couldn't be more different. It's a lot more
than I thought it would be. I hadn't heard very much of it
SR:Well, there are quite a few tracks on the CD that are
sort of toytown-like. They have high, squeaky voices . . .
JO'B: The Blame and Hyper-On Experience tracks are like
SR:And also DJ Trax. But even then, I think this is really
music. The beats are put together very well. The thing I
that music, a lot of it is real value for money. You get people
through seven different segments of a track, instead of this
dragging out one or two ideas for a whole track, which seems
to be the
norm now. (excitedly)The tracks are, like,
action-packed! There are bridges and breakdowns - you can go
literally six distinctive ideas within a track, like with
that DJ Trax
thing. I just wanted to put this stuff down and make a claim
for it as
great music, as well as rave anthem fodder.
JO'B: Why do you think that things changed, that people
using only one motif for an entire track, instead of
cramming in as
many ideas as they could?
SR:I don't know. I think back then, maybe people were more .
.. hyped-up, just throwing stuff out. They weren't
really thinking that far ahead, and maybe later people
could put seven 12-inches out instead of one. Also, in a
weird sort of
way, a lot of the music made back then was actually pop
music, in its
ambition, whereas now, people make stuff as kinda DJ tools -
reason there's only one idea is because the DJ's only going
to play it
for two minutes or so, then mix into another track. So it is
materials for the DJ to work with.
JO'B: I unearthed some of your cuttings before this
and I was reading some of the stuff you'd written about Omni
theme that kept coming up again and again was the . . .
naïvetyof the melodies, in his music in particular,
but also in other acts.
SR:Well, I write some stuff in the book about the
non-importance of melody, but in actual fact there's a lot
tunes in this music. A lot of it's very catchy. I was
listening to a re-release of, you know Steve Reich? He did
minimalist stuff. But he also did this record called Music
18 Musicians or something like that. It was much more lush and
beautifully textured. And his whole thing is based around
inane, childlike little melodies. Little plinky-plinky piano
And it's this dense weave of these little tiny melodic
sequence of it sounds purely like Orbital or Omni Trio. Very
naïve-sounding melodies and naïvely happy textures . . .
little sounds. I was struck by the fact that there were respected
composers doing this childlike thing. That's one of the
things I like
most about Aphex Twin, his stuff which is most naïve in its
rather than his . . .
JO'B: You're talking about the music from his first album,
than things like 'Quoth'?
SR:Yeah. I think the other stuff he does is fantastic, but
there's something about the childlike-ness of the euphoria .
. . little
simple melodies and plinky sounds.
JO'B: To get back to hardcore itself, you say you got into
around the end of '91. And you stuck with it until it sort
into jungle. What were the exact circumstances - did you
just hear it
on a pirate station, or did you get sent a particular
record, or what?
SR: Being a journalist, I got sent some of this stuff, like
R&S was doing, people like Beltram and that, which I
loved. And my
friends, who had been indie-rock fans, had started going to
events that The Shamen put on, or Primal Scream gigs, or
had been really into Screamadelica, and I kinda kept
one eye on some of these things - 808 State and such.
The first two raves I went to, which I describe in the
the book - one was this event by The Shamen, and the other
was what I
realise now was a really cheesy event for most people. It
was N-Joi, M
People and Bassheads. I had no idea this was naff! I knew at
that they'd all had hits. And so I was just blown away by
events, and then I did start obsessively listening to the
stations in London.
At the time I was quite into the hard Belgian stuff, and I
really care much for the breaks. I couldn't get my head
round it. But
gradually, I realised it was not only the most exciting
stuff but the
most creative stuff, compared with what was being touted at
all this stuff on Guerilla and Leftfield. There were a few
in that area, but hardcore seemed so much more
insane and crazy. Coming from a rock background, that's what
appealed to me, the insanity of it.
JO'B: I remember reading some of what you wrote for
Melody Maker about hardcore/jungle in '93-'94, and you
were saying that it was almost like a crusade for you at one
trying to get other people interested in it.
SR:Yeah, I was just obsessed with it. It's the most exciting
scene I've ever participated in. I was into punk rock but I
missed it -
I got into the Sex Pistols after they split up. I could say
I was a
participant in Pixies, Sonic Youth, Loop
and My Bloody Valentine, all
that stuff that happened in the late '80s, in the sense of
about it. But there was never really a subculture there,
hardcore was the first time I was actually a participant in
I couldn't understand why the people I knew didn't actually
the pirates. I couldn't get my head around the fact that
this stuff was
FREE! You could tape it off the radio! It was
interesting. And I was there defending this thing that
nobody in the
world took seriously. Critically speaking, there were
couple of years where there was only me, and then, towards
the end of
that year, this friend of mine - Kodwo Eshun - started
it, but not quite as regularly as I was.
I don't want to sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet, but
amazes me is that during this entire period I was spending
half my time in New
York, and I was more on it than
those in London.
I didn't think anyone had an excuse to miss out on
this stuff if you were living in London. In '93 I think I spent three
months in London,
and the rest of it in New York;
I was writing
The Sex Revolts with my wife at the time, so I was in
most of the time. I would come back, and in the space of three
or four months, it seemed to have leapt another era ahead,
I'd keep asking my friends and people I knew had they heard
and nobody seemed to have.
JO'B: Did you think you were missing out by spending so much
SR:I was terribly frustrated. It's very hard to get the
Although that sort of rave music had been big in '91-'92 in
the New York
scene, I think the New York
scene veered off, and if you
were into breakbeat you were a tiny minority. So it was
pretty hard to
get the records in the USA. And there were no compilations
It took me a little while to work out that you had to go to
stores in London
to buy the stuff, although I could find the odd thing,
like the Omni Trio and Foul Play material in the local
branch of Our
Price in Brixton.
There was certainly an appeal in it being fantastically
but at the same time I was very frustrated that I couldn't
convince anyone to investigate it. So whenever I wrote about
always stressed the fact that you could get this music for
pirate radio. It's there, it's accessible.
JO'B: But of course jungle ended up splitting up into six or
seven different strands, and it seemed to peak, commercially
around 1994-95. What do you make of it now? I was looking at
the stuff on your website, and you were having a go at
people like LTJ
SR:I think that stuff about Bukem, I actually wrote it about
couple of years ago, when all that mellow sound was kind of
ascendant, and it kinda needed to be taken down a peg. But I
have a weird respect for Bukem, in so far as he's stuck to
aesthetic guns. He could have easily gone along with
techstep, but he's stuck to what he believes in, and kudos
to him for
that. It's certainly not my favourite kind of drum and bass,
things are still done in it - Adam F has done some good
Generally, I think drum and bass is like a sonic narrative
stalled at the moment. I dunno, it could be renewed at some
the line, but it feels like it's painted itself into a
current sound which rules would be the Optical
sound. It's like, they
don't wanna be too jazzy because they think that's a media
don't wanna be too dark because techstep made it too dark.
So it's like
nowhere music. It often has no definable mood to it, or
emotion, or anything. I just find it very numbing.
JO'B: Have you heard the new 4 Hero album? One disc of it is
jazzy kind of stuff, and the other disc is really
drum and bass.
SR:I thought that was a good record. I actually didn't mind
really strings/jazzy-orientated stuff, I almost kind of feel
earned the right to do that, because they've done so much
stuff. And the second side I probably like more. I think
there'll be good drum and bass albums coming out, and the
track. But it's a bit of a fallow scene. I feel it's gone
the way that
techno went a few years ago, that really purist techno
JO'B: What about Goldie? You wrote a lot about him in
Melody Maker for a while, but from what I can gather
from the book, you don't think much of his new stuff at all.
SR:Well, I think Timeless was a bit overrated
and overblown. There's some really amazing stuff on
it, but I
sort of came round to this intellectual, theoretical
position on the
music, which is kind of my opinion on all of dance music.
begins to stray from the dancefloor too much, or from what
DJs need at
any particular moment, it comes a bit of a cropper. It's
without a reason to be, in a weird sort of way. It could
totally atmospheric, and then it's not really any relation
music at all - or it could be semi-danceable . . . there are
amazing things on Timeless, but also some real
embarrassing things . . .
JO'B: The jazz-rock elements?
SR:Yeah . . . and the new one is a bit of a stinker, isn't
let's be honest (laughs).
JO'B: I'm not wild about the big long 60-minute track,
SR:Although I know someone who claims to be really moved by
and thinks it's brilliant!
JO'B: Do you think these guys are just striving for
from the critics, by using "real" instrumentation,
like guitars and
SR:I had an interesting e-mail from someone who took issue
my idea that it was a legitimation complex or a secret
complex - that they wanted to be taken seriously. I think
of it. But this guy said something which is quite true:
overconfidence, in a sense. Maybe the tons of really
over-the-top praise Goldie got made him think, "I have
power to do whatever I want."
Also, there is this weird sort of thing within that culture
wanting to go further. At a certain point you just go too
artistry and conceptualism. That's one of the things I find
about the whole world of dance culture and particularly drum
and bass -
how a lot of the people involved do conceive of themselves
artists, aesthetes. And they don't really have any
literary culture, like they don't read books. A lot of it
comes from a
weird mish-mash of style, fashion, and film.
JO'B: Certainly, a lot of these fellows seem to name-check
SR:And Bladerunner. I mean, I think
Bladerunner was a huge aesthetic experience for a
whole generation of people. It's like their equivalent of
Dante's Inferno or something. Same with The
Godfather and Apocalypse Now. . .
JO'B: One thing apparent throughout the book, especially
you're writing about acts like The Future Sound Of London,
is the way
you line yourself up with - for want of a better phrase -
ravers, against the goatee-bearded chin-strokers.
SR:Well, partly that's me trying to avoid my own . . . class
destiny, or where I should be. And partly I just associate
and a better vibe with those sorts of clubs and scenes. You
go to these
events, like chill-out events and eclectronica, eclectic
nothing really ever happens. There's no real spark, no
energy in the
air. I mean, I can move in that world, and it's sort of an
place for me to be, in a way, given my background. I have
taste in music and quite a lot of knowledge of it, and I write
magazines like The Wire and stuff. But in some ways
it's the least interesting place for me to be.
There's a weird sort of class tourism thing, as well. You
fun of it, but in actual fact I think it's quite a good thing.
actually got a lot from encountering the real energy and
working-class people, the way they really take their
like there's no tomorrow. It's really inspiring.
But it's more the case that working-class culture in Britain kinda
moved by its own dynamic towards my territory anyway. I was
psychedelic music, avant garde music and
avant-funk, such as early PiL. And it's almost like
the music moved into my area anyway. So it's not like I'm
trip into some exotic, other place. It's come nearer
me in a way.
JO'B: I've read some of the stuff you wrote about bands like
Young Gods, and if I can get all high-faluting for a minute,
obviously more of a Dionysian than an Apollonian . . .
SR: Hahaaa. I try to be.
JO'B: You're obviously well into the idea of the
SR:Yeah, 'cause I'm naturally a quite cautious, organised,
well-planned kind of person. So anything that can take me
out of that
frame of mind, I find very rewarding. And that's what I tend
in music. My crowning moments in music are things like the
Sex Pistols, Hendrix, My Bloody Valentine . . . stuff that's
about chaos, in a way.
JO'B: In the book, you avoided - studiously, it would seem -
writing about the more popular, song-based bands like
Leftfield and Underworld.
SR:Well actually, I like some things Leftfield have done,
especially early Orbital. I like most of the things they've
'Halcyon' and 'Chime'. Immense tracks. I actually wanted to
on the CD, but it didn't work out. There are certain people
scene who are doing more art-oriented stuff, who I really
Someone like Björk, who I think has done really amazing
stealing ideas from dance music and presenting them in a
But I still really think the motor of the music comes from
dancefloor and not from a really song-oriented thing.
actually do like stuff that has vocals in it, such as the
stuff, with these twisted, warped vocals.
JO'B: Reading the chapter on ambient, I get the feeling you
regard it as the successor to prog rock - music for white
are afraid to get their hands dirty with jungle and
SR:There is that element to it. There was a lot of good
produced, and there was a period when I was equally
enamoured of it;
had quite a bit of interest in that whole area of music. But
I think it
just became a dead end, wispy and not very interesting. And
if you compare it with the whole grand tradition of ambient
music, a lot of it was not nearly as good as Brian Eno or
Jon Hassell or Harold Budd
and other people in that field.
So a lot of the sonic hallmarks which people decide signify
"experimental" are actually conventions in a weird
sort of way. You
can actually change the conventions. So within a
couple of years' time, breakbeats, which had been considered
crap and degraded and stupid, became the hallmark of what
experimental. All the bands that had been doing
"intelligent" stuff all
started using breakbeats, and mostly not very well.
It's weird: a lot of the signifiers of supposed intelligence
experimentalism are actually just conventions that are
particular moments in the music, constructed by labels,
and critics together. So whenever a concept becomes too
rigid, you try to disrupt it in some way - which is what
trying to do by pushing gabba (laughs).
JO'B: I was just going to ask you about that. Gabba is the
opposite of a lot of the stuff you write about in the book.
probably the most prole-centric of all the musical art forms
mention. It seems even more . . . again, for want of a
better phrase .
.. . more down and dirty than even hardcore.
SR:Yeah. It's weird, gabba . . . um, is it popular in Ireland
at all? Or Northern
Ireland, given its relationship with Scotland?
JO'B: No, it's all 4/4 techno over here. David Holmes is the
dance figurehead in this country.
SR:Oh, right. I think the gabba audience does have a mass
of proleness - but then you find that there are all sorts of
involved in it, like Technohead. Michael Wells is from an
background originally, and he went to art college and stuff.
of odd people can actually move within that scene, and a
lot of the
people doing it now are actually from an avant garde
background or anarcho, y'know, a lot of anarchists are into
weird - the anger in gabba seems to attract types from right
political spectrum, from right-wing people to really
anarchist people. A lot of it is moronic, but I think
there's a lot of
ideas in it that are actually quite interesting: the noise
of it, and
the textures in it.
JO'B: And the sheer speed of it.
SR:Yeah, that in itself is quite radical.
JO'B: You were saying there are certain melodic ideas in it
are interesting, but if you were to just cast your eye over
it and take
it at face value, you would think it's merely
for mad Ajax Amsterdam fans who are out of their boxes on
from what you're saying, there's obviously a lot more going
on inside .
.. . to be fair, I haven't heard an awful lot of it.
SR:Well, there's a sort of outer fringe of people who tend
to like using the word "gabba" - they say
"hardcore". They have all
sorts of new terms for it, like "stormcore" or
JO'B: It must be difficult, living in America, trying
to keep up
with all this stuff that seems to change on literally a
SR:Well, I actually find it easier to keep up with it in New
than when I was in London.
Because the scene here isn't so big,
any given specialist store tends to have a little of
everything. You go
to one store and they'll have a little bin of hardcore, a
little bin -
well, a big bin of trance, and Big Beat. You would just have
spectrum of stuff, often. In London, you can't find any gabba, I don't
think. You have to actually mail-order it from these
JO'B: In Holland?
SR:Well, there's some guy who operates a distribution
out of his bedroom in South London.
It's like a really tiny, incestuous
scene in London.
But in New York
there seems to be a representative of
every scene or sub-scene. Very small, but they bring the
just to service these people.
JO'B: This seems to be one of your pet subjects - rescuing
obscure 12-inches from anonymity. In another interview you
were trying to "save these records from the dustbin of
as unknown Omni Trio 12-inches that no-one will ever hear
SR: (laughs)Well, a phenomenal amount of music
was made: I don't know when it really went into hyperdrive,
I guess it
was around 1991. But it seemed like one in five people who
went to a
rave made a record, or something like that. You could
probably work it
out, but it does seem like nearly everybody had a go.
Initially, when I listened to stuff, it was on pirate radio,
didn't know who the creators were, because the DJs never
said. But then
later you find out who made it, and often it's by these
people who go
on to do great things. A lot of early things I liked, and
who they were by, turned out to be by Goldie, 4 Hero, or Rob
2 Bad Mice, or Sonz Of A Loop
Da Loop Era. But a lot of stuff was just
inspired one-offs by people who hit upon a good idea, or
were sampling someone else's good idea, but they fucked it
up in an
interesting way and created something different.
JO'B: To you, this music is obviously good enough to stand
alongside the likes of The Young Gods and My Bloody
SR:Well, I don't know how damaged my perspective is, through
having been a raver and getting almost neurologically
addicted to these
kinds of sounds. I've become a bit of an obsessive about it.
If I was
being objective, maybe I wouldn't honestly rate some of this
the top 300 records of all time. But then again, there are
so many odd
little weird records.
There's this record, 'Bad Girl' by Bad Girl, on Ibiza, which was one of
the first jungle labels - and it's just a really strange and
record. It's like hardcore meets early jungle . . . just a
wonderful track. There are so many examples of tracks like
people will never have heard of again. Maybe they (Bad
Girl) resurfaced as somebody else later on. That's why I had
such a huge discography, to commemorate some of this stuff.
JO'B: Did you feel that unless you recorded it for
would all be lost forever?
SR:I think so, yeah, because within the dance scene there's
lot of auteur theory - I didn't totally escape it
myself - where people are always following the careers of
artists, and a lot of that wayside stuff is forgotten about.
was actually kind of grist to the DJ's mill at any given
JO'B: It's outlived its usefulness?
SR:Exactly - so, in a weird sort of way, I went against some
the spirit of the book, by trying to record this stuff and
put it into history.
JO'B: Earlier on, you were referring to neurological
and that kind of thing. With regard to the sort of material
you got off
on when you were out raving, surely you'd be the first to
admit that a
good deal of that music would sound rather poor in the cold
SR:Well, it does sound good in the cold light of day to me,
I don't know if that's because I'm kinda
those sounds, y'know? I mean, when I was in America I would
these tapes constantly. I was leading a very sober, boring,
stay-at-home life, because I was working on The Sex
Revolts, but I was still listening to it, and it was kinda
reactivating memories - and I almost think that the memories
somehow encoded in your nervous system.
It's impossible for me to say if they sound good. People
to that CD on the book and said, "Oh, that's really
good" - and these
are people who've never had any E experiences or proper rave
experiences. So I think some of it stands up. Some of
it just is pure drug noise, I think, but . . .
JO'B: Do you still go out raving these days?
SR:Now and then, now and then I go out. New York isn't that
good a town for it, really, but I was in Berlin recently and had a very
good time, as I did the last time I was in London. And I went to this
dance convention in Miami
and had a wild time there as well. So I do
still have my Dionysian moments now and again
(laughs). But it's not like a lifestyle for me. I'm
like twice the age of a lot of the people involved in the
scene - I'm 35, which is a source of grief to me
(laughs)- so yeah, you do sometimes feel a little bit
odd when you're surrounded by . . .
it's better, because more people are still carrying on, so I
see people my age or people much older than me. Maybe
they're the same
age or younger than me, but they look older because they've
caning it, but they just won't stop.
But in New York
it's a much younger scene. It's very fashion-oriented,
and you do kind of stand out if you're 35 and not dressed in
trousers. One time I went out and people kept asking me and
if we could get them ketamine and all these drugs, and we
horror that they actually thought we were the dealers, and
was the only reason we were there (laughs).
JO'B: Your first couple of books were about rock, but you've
writing about dance music for a good while now. Do you think
any mileage left in rock? Is there anything currently out
would inspire you to write another Blissed Out?
SR:Um, probably not. I hate it when people say rock is dead,
because they're always just talking about their own self,
usually a sign of their own energies fading. I could say
that rock is
dead for me, or at least in a coma, or hibernating. I hear
thing now and then, like I was quite taken with Radiohead
stayed with a friend in London and she played the album 25 times
I was there. Eventually I conceded it was actually really
There are certain things a rock band can do that a dance
can't do, like when it's a good rhythm section and the band
raunching or whatever . . . y'know, that's something that
quite deliver, that kind of spark. And I hear the odd thing
that I do
like, the odd sort of pop/rock hit in America on MTV
. . . I think
that's kinda cool. But it's pretty few and far between.
And in terms of it being a culture, or a cultural formation
. . . for
me, as well as the music, there's always gotta be this buzz
of it going
somewhere, or a narrative of resistance, or some kind of
sense of it
culturally mattering. I just can't see how anyone could make
or convincing argument for that for rock right now. It just
defeated by its own history.
JO'B: Too much to live up to, you mean?
SR:Yeah! And also defeated by its own awareness of its
and referencing points. You get all these bands who are
trying, like The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I can't take
seriously myself, but I can see that they're trying to bring
lost fire that early rock 'n' roll and blues had. But it's
many times for it to affect me. Still, you never know. I
was pretty played out, around the time that Nirvana came
along. I was
briefly rather excited by that, so . . .
JO'B: But you live in America, and although I've never
myself, based on what I see on MTV and in the magazines, it
as if American rock has been dreadfully dull for God knows
SR:Well, the big things here, in a weird sort of way, are
people wanting to dance again, but they don't want to dance
music. So it's like, they get into ska. And the swing
revival is huge here. Under the term "swing", it
could mean bands
ripping off 1920s hot jazz. You know Brian Setzer? Remember
The Stray Cats? He's got a no. 14 album in the American
charts at the
JO'B: Yeah! I saw that on one of the MTV chart shows the
day! All of a sudden, Brian Setzer pops up, and I was like,
Who the fuck let him back in?"
SR:It is pretty unbelievable, when you think about it.
JO'B: From reading the articles on your website, it's
you've got a thing for swingbeat at the moment.
SR:There hasn't been so much good stuff this year, but there
have been a few really good tunes. I really like that stuff!
remember who said this, but someone made this point that
people go on
about electronica, but actually some of the most amazing
music on the planet is hip-hop and swingbeat - or R&B,
as they call it
here. It's very, very technological: the rhythms, especially
someone like Timbaland, are just really amazing and very
The stuff I like most this year in the British dance scene
is the stuff
that's come out of speed garage but which has more of an
R&B feel. It's
got more of a breakbeat . . . it's almost as if the jungle
has come back a bit. But then it's like slow-motion, and
sexy. It has an R&B influence, an American,
That's the stuff that has most excited me in recent months.
JO'B: What are your future plans - like, what exactly is
description at Spin? It says here on the back of the
book that you're Senior Editor there.
SR:Well, that's just a title. I'm not really sure what it
means, but my specific job is to be the album reviews
editor, and I
also edit the occasional feature. But mostly it's the albums
guess I was brought in to bring more dance music in, or more
of a feel
for it, anyway. But y'know, Spin is basically still an
alternative-rock paper, and there's only a certain amount of
stuff they'll take on. I usually do one record review a
month, or a
column or something. I haven't done any features for them; I
some later on, but . . . editing is quite hard work.
JO'B: Before I let you go, tell me about your website. When
you set that up?
SR:I was just working on the book, and I was kinda taken
the idea of doing something amateur, for the love of it.
various ideas and opinions I had, that couldn't really be
sold in the
marketplace as a freelancer - pieces that were too vicious
self-indulgent, but which a certain number of people would
People particularly seem to like the Over-Rated section -
really get that much unbridled negativity in dance
very supportive and boostering. It's like racing tips:
"Here's one to
watch". It's all like that. And you also notice that
people very rarely
give less than 7 out of 10 to a record.
It's kinda like a bit of a flashback to this fanzine I used
to do with
my friends before Melody Maker: we did this thing
called Monitor. Plus, my wife is really into
cyber-stuff. She's really good at constructing websites.
Also, the idea
was for it to be a kind of electronic billboard, like
"I've got this
book coming out". I don't think it's that effective,
I don't get that much traffic. But there are a few people
followed my books and stuff, so as a little service to them,
wanted to say, "This is what I'm doing now".
Additionally, I'd done a lot of writing for obscure
magazines that most
people would probably not pick up, like art magazines and
thought a few people might be interested in seeing the
pieces. So I
just put them up there. But I have done stuff that's
Sort of maximalist
bassline... or Jaxxing house (as in Basement...)
Incidentally Dom tells me that nobody calls it jackin' anymore.... the flava-denuded term "house and bass" has taken over, signifying an intent to expand audience range to the house mainstream
Offmenut seem to be going the other direction, with a thoroughly atemporal omni-Nuum approach that is ravenously regurgitative - as the label blurb has it "rave/bassline/techno/jungle/breakcore/ We are into anything that is
vibin'" Viz, another nut-E-1 on the label, putting the ludic in ludicrous - like Raffertie going bassline
Blurb's a giggle:
"Matlocks top bassline team make their debut full EP on Off Me Nut ,
with this 7 tracker packed full of screecherz ! 4x4 whistleman style
bangerz 2 get tha party jumpin about with dem fingaz in tha air ! With
both gully and fruity riddims , this can cater for the rudeboy who loves
to slip on the pink ben sherman and then slip it off again when too
buss up and start skankin about like a complete fruitcake . Get this
one 'ere , now !" "Both gully and fruity"!
Check the flyer for this label anniversary party from last year -- lineup of Luke Vibert, Krome & Time and Steptoe (an alias for Shitmat)
Playing in the "Rave Cave" are S.0.G., or Squire of Gothos. That name rings a vague bell.... but i thought they were in the vicinity of filthsteppas like Stenchman. Not really, they're rather more omNuumivirous than that: