Sunday, November 30, 2014

trad rave

"An All-Night Rave at the Alexandra Palace" - 
An all-night 'trad' ball held in the echoing and chilly infinity of the great hall of the Alexandra Palace. Band followed band from 9-30 PM until 7-30 AM the next morning. The audience were dressed almost without exception in 'rave gear'. As the essence of 'rave gear'  is a stylized shabbiness, the general effect was of a crowd scene from a biblical epic.  To describe an individual couple, the boy was wearing a top hat with 'Acker' painted on it, a shift made out of a sugar shack with a C.N.D. symbol painted on the back, jeans, and no shoes.  The girl, a bowler hat with a C.N.D. symbol on it, a man's shirt worn outside her black woolen tights. 'Trad' dancing in the contemporary sense is deliberately anti-dancing.  When I first went to jazz clubs, there were usually one or two  very graceful and clever couples.  But today the accepted method of dancing to trad music is to jump heavily from foot to foot like a performing bear, preferably out of time to the beat.  I have no explanation to offer for this unattractive fad, unless it is to underline that they have no connection with the lovers of pop music, all of whom dance rather well in a somewhat mechanical way. Trad musicians have christened these self-made elephants 'Leapniks'.
- George Melly, Revolt Into Style

And then in an old Newsweek article from 1961:

"Among their fans is a teen-ager who. holding a container full of cider, whisky and gin. said the last word on the trad boom recently on BBC TV: "If it really comes to it.'' said the traddist, "I prefer jazz to sex."

Redolent of the classic pill-popping  born-again techno head who says they prefer raving to sex...

deep (tech) thoughts

or thought singular

"this stuff is narrowed by design, the appeal in deliberately focusing on a specific claustrophobic minatory tension, using it as tautly-wired rotational axis" - bob zemko, aka r/t/c, at ILM

changing same innit

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

how about some nookie?

Met Gavin Cheung once, round Goldie's gaff on Englands Lane

This next is one of the greatest things ever.

To the bone

And this one.... ooh gosh

Not sure I ever even heard the original!

He done a lot, Nookie

Appy ardkore, as opposed to happy hardcore, if you get me.

But although most famous for uplifting bright-toned piano tunes, he could do dark rolling choppage

Why Return of the Donut?

Never heard this, Foul Play on the remix -  wait for the drumz!

odds n sods

and the Anthem

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Missed this mordant review of Arca's Xen by Britt Brown in a recent issue of  The Wire , which chimes with some of the feelings (or not-really-feelings) in this post of mine.

Brown writes:

"The music of Arca... often feels indistinguishable from a high tech software demonstration.... every texture a labored mirage of plug-ins and processing. Pondering the click count necessary to construct one of his labyrinthine designs is enough to induce carpal tunnel syndrome...."

He further asserts that Xen is "as much a scrapbook of frequency oscillation experiments as a set of tracks meant to evoke some sort of human response....   Shorn of vocals, Xen suffers the same fate as much beloved contemporary beat music, which is a kind of dazzling monotony. Rhythms are fractured and abstracted to the point of nonexistence; glassy soft synths swoop and wander, indifferent to songcraft or notions of structural momentum. This refusal to pursue ideas to fruition is the record's shallowest quality - though it may also explain something of Arca's generational appeal. Nations of curious culture hounds skimming videos and audio waveforms in search of content worthy of their time has birthed an aesthetic of impatience, click bait, listicles, streaming previews."

Brown also offers some acerbic analysis of the aesthetic economy of out-sourced beat-making. He notes that it makes sense that Arca's "convoluted, maximalist music caught the attention of Kanye West's subcommittee of Yeezus production delegates" because "the cold blooded wisdom of Yeezus is that brilliance can be bought. A star like Kanye can approach a new album with nothing more than a vague desire to sound fresh, and simply delegate the rest.....  Electronic music is an arms race like any other... [and] Arca is as much a mercenary as a musician, padding his portfolio with exotically blasted snare drum sounds and melted circuit reverb patches in an effort to tempt new clients. Xen should keep his workflow steady."  

Brown's critique does get a rather forceful and thought-provoking rejoinder from Mike Sugarman at Ad Hoc, though....

Stop Press: Aaron Grossman from Airport Through The Trees steps "meekly into the Arca fray" with some very interesting thoughts on Xen (including taking issue with Sugarman)  plus adjacent topics such as postmodernity, architecture, and the difference between Music As Cause versus Music as Style.  


Thinking about Brown's argument, the thought did occur: when it comes down to it, isn't a lot of dance music, a lot of  electronic music, actually - on some level, to some degree -- a tech-demonstration? A run-through and showcase for what the latest gear can do?

For sure, it must also have that functional aspect of working on the dancefloor. There has to be a groove there - a sensual and kinaesthetic matrix in which the effects and new noises are embedded. But usually there is a fairly sizeable element of ostentatious deployment of  the latest tricknology and special FX.

With IDM, given that the obligation to service the deejay and the massive is diminished severely or eliminated altogether, there's much greater danger of falling into the ear-candy-for-ear-candy's sake zone...  audio fireworks....  digital pyrotechnique... 

In that respect, IDM in its purest and most uncompromised forms is simply a junior cousin to academic electronic composition. (Autechre and Curtis Roads: the only difference is that one works within the music marketplace and the other through institutions of higher learning). For the 
history of electronic composition and computer music is likewise all about making use of the latest machinery. Literally building the state of the art;  being the first to use it because you made it yourself, tinkered with the hardware and the software....  The results can get close to being barely more than audio-engineering, as opposed to Artistic Expression. (Which may explain why some electronic composers over-compensate with Lofty Themes, reconnecting what they do to the grand history of Western Civilisation, poetry and literature and philosophy... and occasionally taking it all the way back to Ancient Greece).

For examples, check out all this early computer music as curated and annotated by Alex de Nunzio on YouTube, which I've been devouring lately. If you fancy a go yourself,  I would start at the start, and work your way forward historically. Go back to de Nunzio's first uploads from 3 years ago, figures like  David Lewin, Max Mathews, Newman Guttman, John Pierce. These guys, operating in the late Fifties and early Sixties, are much more technicians than composers.

This Max Mathews piece was actually "produced as a demonstration of some of the effects which could be achieved with the computer in the early 60's"

But even later on with your James Dashows and James Tenneys, there is an element of what Brown is accusing Arca of doing...

Some incredible stuff de Nunzio has put up there for our delectation / edification, all of it interesting, but the best of it finding a wondrous balance between tech-demonstration and musical-world-building.

Emmanuel Ghent was a Bell Labs colleague of Laurie Spiegel, who also fits into this zone - what I once, long ago, dubbed "the engineer-poet."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

and it sound ruff

dark shark bass

Jeff Wayne / Richard Burton remix!

Monday, November 17, 2014

keeping track of dance in the decade of atemporality

quite a few retro-jungle and ardkore-replica tracks in FACT's Top 100 Tracks of the Half-Decade (2010 to 2014)

good tunes, all, but...

well, let's just say I smiled wryly at the comment on Kallisti's "Arc of Fire" -- "Blissed-out hardcore is the name of the day – certainly not succour for those who spent the decade subscribing to the Retromania thesis, but as throwbacks go, impeccable."

also a lot of classicist house and techno...  a bit of nu-disco...  and tons of nu-grime (on Logos's "Kowloon": "the elegant balance here between respectfully referencing vintage grime – in this case Wiley’s Devil Mixes – and moving it forwards with extreme production finesse is really something to behold")

I was unaware my daughter has been secretly recording and release neo-acid trax

Anyway loads of things to check out in FACT's 100 Best Tracks of the Decade So Far - and some do sound future-y or at least NOW!ist.

PS Always disconcerting, with magazines that one feels sympatico with, to find so little personal overlap - of the list I would warmly co-sign only "2 On" and "Rack City" and perhaps "Wut". Others would get a "'spose so" or a blank look.

PPS For instance - one thing I noticed -  not a single deeptech / Audio Rehab-HouseEntertainment-Mokujin-et-al release...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sound of E(den)

can you feel the gush (ooh that diva)

On ZTT...   presumably an X-tension of the interest in that area evidenced by signing 808 State

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

there's a ghost in this house

love the name Ghost House Banton

any relation to Hard House Banton?

and if not then

what is the nuumological resonance of the word "banton"?

This fellow?

mad beats - all kinds of things going on in the bassline(s) on "Bogle" I'd not noticed before - bubblin!

by comparison this stuff is a bit linear

Monday, November 10, 2014

consciously continuumnous

not just an echo or a borrowing but a valedictory wave to Mark Bell / LFO from deeptech producer RS4, who comes from bleep city Sheffield and writes: "Heres a tribute to the original track that got me in to electronic music. Download, share and remember your history. RIP Mark Bell."

some of his other tunes

listen to the bass science on that one - black rippling darkness

Saturday, November 8, 2014

oh dread

can remember hearing this on the radio, in early 1994,  mesmerized, entranced, bass-blessed....

more rumblizm, from about a year later

similar kind of thud-boom bass

but the beat is different -- love that clip-clop feel

these tunes ruled my life for months

but I only heard them on the pirates or at home, when I got the 12 inch, or in "Take Your Mind"'s case, it was on a compilation

never heard either played out

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

the bassweight of memory

Celebrating ten years of blogging, Blackdown shares a live recording of the greatest dubstep set he ever witnessed: Mala b2b Loefah ft SGT Pokes live at FWD>> 01.06.06 . Writing about that night and the (bass)weight of memory, Martin also analyses the dialectic between scenius and genius: a tension between innovation as a collective process versus the impetus to self-differentiate.

"This sense of understanding extended to most of the key producers of this era and how they interacted with each other. This music was made to be played together, they all knew they were contributing to the sound that was being built. But yet equally there was a repulsion as well as attraction interaction happening: people were very protective of their sounds and their spaces; it was massively frowned on to clone one another (even if copying/mutating/being inspired by – implicitly or explicitly – is a massive driver of scene-based musical progress). I remember Loefah saying he couldn’t use an arpeggio or an arpegiator after Skream wrote “Request Line” and “Tapped”, despite the fact that Olly had hardly invented 1-3-5-8. 
  .... D1 had his trance-y sound, Loefah the dark deadly halfstep, Mala caused upward percussive euphoria, Coki that jump up insanity, Skream could turn his hand to so many styles (jazzy, warm, breaky, jump up, grimey and the aforementioned arpeggios), Kode went on his own abstract plane. People had an understanding of each other, but only some understanding. There was commonality but differentiation, dialog but distance, attraction but repulsion. Some understanding."

Had to nod at this bit:

"The funny thing is, as a non smoker (of any kind), I actually miss smokey clubs a bit. It sorta (literally) added to the atmosphere, if not over the top. Maybe I might feel differently about this when I die in my ‘50s of lung cancer, but as an occasional vibe to be part of, it worked. Medically irrational I know I know…"

Annoyingly my computer's protection software won't let me download the bloody set in question. 

just one carnao, give it to me....

Carnao Beats interview by Jack Law aka Corpsey aka Dirtnap 2 , now also blogging about deep tech at Peak Time

another continuum-ous fellow, Mr Carnao -  started out in UK garage, later involved in funky, and now one of the most creative producers in deeptech

special mix he done for Pack London

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

that's why they call it a continuum folks part 393283753027465648939203949 (the deeptech remix)

reminds me at times of sub-lo or narrows-y darkgarridge  - viscous bass undertow writhing like snakes in diesel  -- slinky slick 'n' sinister

bonus nuum echoes -- the longest historical span between source track and revamp i know of - 24 years 

with a bunch of remakes in between including this junglistic one

and this speed garrigdey one

Monday, November 3, 2014

That Laugh

That girl's laughter = one of the  most recycled samples in the history of dance music

Where did it come from?

Well, I reckon this right here is the source for 99 percent of usages...

Except it's not the original source

It's Alf's laff from this big club tune of the early 80s (especially in American clubs)

Feel like I've heard That Laugh - that liquid trickle of girlish delight - in hundreds of  tracks.

Its only rivals as a Stock Sample Cliche would be Malcolm McLaren's echo-chamber hillbilly whoop at the start of "Buffalo Gals" and "this is a journey into sound" as used by Coldcut, Marc Acardipane, and 15 thousand other producers.

Can you think of any other notable appearances of the Laugh?

Stop press - dude in the comments box points out this rather glaringly obvious example:

Stop Stop press -  another couple of examples from Ricardo Rainho!

Scroll to 4.04 in "Theme From S'Express" and there she is again -  Alison Moyet having a good throaty chuckle in the echo chamber!

And again in the Simon Harris song at 1.02 

Thing that makes it work, I think, is that it doesn't feigned or forced -- sounds like she was genuinely having a giggle in the studio. Perhaps Vince caught it on the sly.... 

Stop Stop Stop PressHere's another lovely use of it right at the start of "What Is Love" by Deee-Lite - easily my favorite of their songs - although there's some other girl mirth sampled in the track as well later on.