Sunday, December 28, 2014

bass for the weight

In The Wire end-of-year issue, Louis Pattison talks about the "weightless" quality of the nu-grime. And he doesn’t mean that as a pejorative. Not at all: the essay is full of warm words for operatives who "advance grime into structurally abstract, melodically rich realms". No misgivings discernible when it's noted that "weightless tracks do not welcome the presence of an MC, and for the most part, on record at least, that's the way they stay: untethered to personality or postcode, left to explore space,melody and emotion in a state of zero gravity."

All very accurate, that, but I for one do take "weightless" as a pejorative, unintended as it is is.  Grime has gone from purpose-built MC tools to purposeless instrumentalizm: not what I'd call "advance". A form of music that once served as a vehicle for individual and social expression – explosive with individual hunger, freighted and feral with social demand -  has been reborn as art-muzak. Superficially jagged and challengingly ugly;  ultimately placid. *  

Compare the nu-G with deep tech (e.g. the Jack 'n Danny set + MC above), which does feel purposeful, does pack some (bass) weight. (A genre, intriguingly, totally cold-shouldered by your FACTs and Wires - deep tech doesn't figure into either's official account of 2014, the tally of treasurable or notable sonic landmarks). 

[stop press: check Dominic Morris's just-out Guardian piece on Deep Tech)

Deep tech works according to classic sceniotic/ "changing-same" principles. Its form is stringently determined by function: DJ tools for adjusting the pleasure-machinery of the crowdfloor. Eclecticism is refused/refuted in favor of rigorous vibe-consistency.  A sort of pleasure-principled puritanism:  austere-yet-hedonist. Like a person with a very defined set of sexual kinks, returning fixatedly to the same narrow set of erogenous zones and turn-ons. 

It makes me wish I was back in London – something that  funky didn’t manage,  nor dubstep.  

The last thing that made me wish I was back living in London was grime, of course. Old grime, meaning - in its own time - new grime, in so far as it was a new thing, then, a shock of the new thing.... not a long-established template or blueprint to be tinkered with, "expanded" or "advanced" upon. In itself, it was the advance guard.     

* Mr Mitch and Yameneko - perfectly pleasant toy-musik - could almost have been designed to prove my contention that grime, 10 years after the fact, has become yet another province of the Nu-IDM).

Even the DJ patter here sounds nu-IDM...




Tim 'Space Debris' said...

That Mr Mitch comment chimes in with my thoughts here

I thought it was electronica from 1994!

Daze Of Reality said...

this is a great post, I have lost interest in any new grime unless it's MC videos from RinseFM, even if they are in the studio. And the deep tech (or whatever you call it) sound has excited me more than anything in the last 10 years.

I'll give that set at the top of your post a listen too, curious to hear you say it features an MC, as I tend to appreciate Radford's approach on MCs even though I am an old-skool jungle/hardcore MC lover.

Strange times.

Unknown said...

Funny how Wire/Fact et al always seem to avoid the fun stuff - like good times are anathema to serious music. I used to get this back in the day from the "intelligent" techno crowd who looked down there noses at hardcore/jungle (until it became gentrified of course.) Seems the same rules still apply. Must try and get up to London and check a deep tech night - that mix was bumping...

Tim 'Space Debris' said...

Wire/FACT no fun zones. That made me laugh. I'm sure the FACT crew have some fun though. Hey Simon how grim is it at Wire HQ?

Tim 'Space Debris' said...

Sorry I know you can't kiss and tell. I got carried away. I'm really diggin Nightshift's Through The K Hole at the moment.

Daze Of Reality how's this for strange times-My 8 year old nephew just showed me 2 Dizzee Rascal tunes on youtube and sang all the words. He was not even born when Boy In Da Corner came out. Now that's what I call retromania.

CrowleyHead said...

Honestly you're never going to get anywhere following Rinse for MC Tunes, as they're getting further and further adherent to a strict cluttering of familiar faces. Especially given their fondness of having instrumental DJs (more and more you see that having MCs have become regarded as a thing to leave for 'the stageshow').

I think part of this is that a LOT of the current instrumental grime scene are dubstep expats who either came to grime later or had transitioned from grime after it regimented itself into a more rap-like genre, only to return with the instrumental boom.

This is especially important when you look at the beats that are getting popular vocals tending to be either grime nostalgia (Skepta's hit) or lean on the trap-rap side (Everything else).

So who can say where the blame really lies... is it the MCs become increasingly conservative in their selection unless they're being treated as 'big name hired guns' like in the case with Riko's big features amongst the Fact/Noisey crowd last year? Or is it the producers forcing grime to adhere to their instrumental desires?

Daze Of Reality said...

Interesting comments CrowleyHead, and I agree. I don't really follow Rinse for MC tunes or even grime as such, I follow it more for the deep-tech and different stuff that we simply don't hear enough in Australia.
I guess it's a matter of convenience, following it through Soundcloud too.
If you had an online resource where I could hear quality MC based grime I'd be excited to check it out - as I said, I don't make much of an effort to seek it out anymore so a boost in the right direction would be ace.

Matt Moore said...

Discussing Deep Tech / Shuffling with a fellow 40-something UK expat. He noted the Northern Soulish vibe to a lot of the dancing (e.g. knee drops, twirling hands/feet from the elbow/knee joints). He also made a dance comparison with MC Hammer / C&C Music Factory - except for me the dancing is much less exuberant. It feels confined, squashed even. How do you express yourself in an ever shrinking physical, social and economic space?

Music-wise I love the mix of warm and cold - the cavernous bass, the syncopated ticks, the splashes of house vocals. It feels like minimal 2-step, austerity garage? (which is a contradiction in terms but it would make sense for garage's boomtime opulence to be reconfigured for leaner times).