Thursday, July 27, 2017

before Omni

i knew about his postpunk / avant-funk / industrial / NwW-aligned deep past - all the Satie/Budd-esque piano etudes

but i didn't realise (until I read this Drumtrip piece) that Rob Haigh had hardcore form before he hooked up with Moving Shadow

shortly before Omni Trio he recorded as Splice and ran the label Parliament Music, aka PM Recordings -  an extension of his Hertford record shop Parliament Records. The label put out 16 EPs and 12 inches in a fast burst during 1992 and a little ways into '93

Haigh never mentioned any of this when I interviewed him in '94 (via letter not phone, let alone in person: the replies arrived  handwritten but in capital letters - as if lower case, a glimpse of his actual handwriting, would be too personal)

i wonder if he was embarrassed by his early breakbeat efforts?

let's give them a listen then, to see if he should have been

w/ partner Rhodes.K - the Fuck It Up EP

on his tod, the Bass Odyssey EP

the Re-Edit to Taste EP

Aspects of Dub EP

Pianism EP

is that the first appearance of the Omni Trio name? now i think about it i think i have this record somewhere, surely picked up just because of the Omni rmx - not realising it's yer classic auto-remix (under an alias) maneuver

and then this bonus track which is Haigh showcasing his piano skills and giving away some licks for other producers to use

with his mate Rhodes-K again - the All You Need EP

a one-track collab with Syko as part of the multi-artists EP This Is The Future

Well, it's juvenilia definitely (meaning in terms of his rave-era artistry - he was already quite old by this point), but enjoyable in its scrappy, nutty, made-in-minutes energy - i can perhaps see (especially in the context of speaking in '94 and its ever-maturing growth to artcore) that he'd want to draw a discreet veil over these early sketches

odds and sods by other bods on the label

you got love the title "Progressive Handbag"

Monday, July 24, 2017


and this one - the last word in jazzy jungle -  drum and double-bass

Thursday, July 20, 2017

when you need to feel love


relick on the next EP is even more flustered-frantic and treble-hissy, but sans the wicked bassdrop and the "jongaliss"

and that whisked-into-soul-souffle chanteuse sample comes again on this 95 tune

where does that Tinkerbell tingle of Angel Delight hail from then?

perhaps her identity should remain a mystery

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

paradigm shifty

over at Dissensus, Sadmanbarty recently posed the question: Who's the Best Artist Since 2000?

interesting answers in the thread (Kanye versus Gaga versus Gucci Mane versus Wiley versus..)

but none more interesting than Sadmanbarty's own comment, in which he averred that grime was the best music of the period (only up to mid-2000s though, after that didn't evolve - co-sign that!), and then mentions T Pain as influential-for-the-good (but not actually good, or lastingly good himself as music-generator) through his popularisation of Auto-Tune:

"The novel use of autotune has lead to some of the most paradigm shifty music of the last 17 years; late-00's dancehall, afrobeats, chicago bop and the post-Future wave of Atlanta rap."

He then picks Vybz Kartel as his #1 Best Artist Since 2000 (partly cos of his "alien autotune tracks") with Young Thug, another language-liquidizer, at #2.

That comment about "most paradigm shifty music of the last 17 years - late-00's dancehall" caught me by surprise, because, well - perhaps ignorantly - I had thought that after its early 2000s burst of ideas-packed excitement (and mainstream penetration) Jamaican music had pretty much dropped off the face of the Earth.  Certainly hadn't got the sense that any paradigms were being shifted there, at any rate.

So I asked Man like Sadmanbarty for some recommendations and he kindly obliged - not just for recent-ish dancehall, but for Chicago bop and Afrobeats too. You can listen to them all in a continuous flow at this YouTube playlist I've assembled. There are also below in the post.

What they all have in common - and it's almost a generic global-ghetto-beatz gloss that covers the surface of all music now - is the crinkled sheen of grievously over-done AutoTune. Standardized bizniz seen. AutoTune and similar devices / apps (e.g Melodyne) have established global dominion, audio hegemony. They're inescapable, and seemingly even more so in the non-West such as Middle East and North Africa.

Found it a bit wearing on the dancehall to be honest (even though there's quite extreme and inventive things being done here and there by the singers who doubtless record in the studio with AutoTune in their headphones affecting their vocals in real-time, so they work out how to push the effect). Similarly with the Chicago bop (liked the MBE stuff marginally more than Sicko Mob for some reason).

Partly the finding-it-wearing has to do with how rhythmically I can't hear anything really new going on in the dancehall - just that bashment big-beat style, often with a kind of digital smear to the drums. Perhaps that's the overall maxed-out sound quality. The end result is that everything in the tracks feels like it's made out of the same denatured stuff, it's like there's this flat plane of hypergloss. The tracks are so toppy that they feel imbalanced (one wonders how they sound in the dance). Still that reflects the fact that the treble sector is where all the innovation, or extremism, is taking place maybe, and has been for much of the 21st Century so far.

Where it sounds most appealing to me - most ecstatic - is the African stuff, especially where the rhythms are more lilting and sinuous than big 'n' bashy. The AutoTune pleasingly exacerbates the frothy fluidity of the singing and the snaking shapes of the melody-lines.

AutoTune dancehall

Chicago bop


As to that original Q - who's the Best Artist Since 2000....

no overall single figures springs to mind, i'd have to divide it up into categories and with multiple contenders jostling for the top spot

* Pop Star as Public Figure -  Kanye West versus Ke$ha (with Gaga not far behind on sheer zeitgeist points and with the proviso I've little appetite for the audio bar "Bad Romance". i suppose you would also have to honestly mention Drake somewhere here)

* Performer / Vocal Presence-  Future versus  Ke$ha versus Dizzee

* Beat-maker  - Terror Danjah versus Metro Boomin versus Mustard (aka Dijon McFarlane - no really that is his actual  name).

* Pop Group in the Bygone and Obsolete Sense - Vampire Weekend versus Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti.

* Endless personal pleasure tinged with awareness of marginality in the scheme of things - Ghost Box versus Moon Wiring Club versus Ariel Pink

* A Compelling Case to Be Made although somehow i don't quite feel it fully myself - Burial versus Radiohead versus Daft Punk

i feel i''m forgetting things from the first half of the 2000s but it all feels quite long ago and hazy

Sunday, July 9, 2017

playing trix on your mind

not forgetting this early beaut

interviewed Neil T around this Enforcers epic for this 1994 Wire "continuum series" piece on ambient jungle

soundbites from the Kurtz scenes in Apocalypse Now...

getting a teeny bit smoov for me with this one but love the vocal lick

yes going with the general drift towards slick and "soulful"


older and ruffer, better

and well weird remix

re-remix, well mashed n strange

a very odd 94 track with strange bird-like tweets and a very angular stompy beat -  can't imagine this got a lot of action on the dancefloor - cool anomalous tune though

wonder what he did after D&B? and what's he doing now?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dark House more like

scuttling beats + slimy samplige

my personal fave Whitehouse is i think this one, which is on the "distraught ecstasy" / "harrowed-by-bliss" tip - a cousin to Johnny Jungle's "Flammable" but better i think

mind you White House also put out:

Criminal Minds 'baptised by dub', globe + the hardcore massive "anthem", shit ton of bay-b-kane, some bizzy B, A-Zone "Calling the People", Rood Project "Thunder", buncha Remarc,

and Warped Kore, "The Power" which might actually jostle the Untouchables out of #1 spot now I think of it

One of the great hardcore labels

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dr. S. Gachet

always loved the fact that there was a rave DJ called Dr. S. Gachet

i bracketed it alongside names like LTJ Bukem


what did these people look like?

how did they come up with the names?

Bukem - it transpired - came from Hawaii 5-0 ("book 'em, Danno")

Dr. S. Gachet, someone told me, was a character from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

however i can find nothing to substantiate that at all

so it remains a mystery and perhaps this is as it should be

a couple of sets from Gachet at his height as a AWOL regular

here's a feature about the return of Dr S. Gachet to the deejaying scene after what seems like a rough personal patch in the 2000s following a jungle-related injury to his back and various other misfortunes

other names from pirate ads and rave flyers  (or artist names) that always tickled me

Shaggy & Breeze
Kieran the Herbalist
Gappa G
Rude Bwoy Monty


Zanesi being one of the INA-GRM concrete bos

not sure about  Arnaud Rebotini

an explanation

shades of this

and perhaps this

and also this

ardkore internationale

artist via this comp of the Singeli sound of young Tanzania, Sounds of Sisso

via FACT's best 25 lps of last quarter

compilation just one of several by the label Nyege Nyege Tapes

Monday, July 3, 2017

Renegade Snares - a book about drum & bass

Recently I was in London and kept seeing an ad for a compilation on the walkway walls of the Tube - Drum & Bass Arena 2017.

The thought - Drum & Bass, in 2017 - did my head in. Because 2017 is twenty years since 1997, the last year I fanatically followed every twist 'n' turn in the drum & bass dialectic (by 1998 I'd switched pretty much wholesale to UKG which was then mutating into 2step).

I've checked in every so often since then, heard the occasional encouraging flicker of renewed invention, but for the most part it's been a mutual divergence of paths.

20 years! That's a hell of a lot of history, though. That's four times as long as the first phase of the genre, even interpreted rather generously as summer 92 to summer 97.

That first phase - the emergent years of darkside>jungle>drum&bass (artcore-vs-techstep-vs-jump-up) have been covered quite thoroughly, but there isn't a book that looks at the whole arc of D&B's lifespan - then and now and all points in between.

Renegade Snares is the title of a project launched by Carl Loben and Ben Murphy of DJ magazine to take on and fulfill that mission. The book is being funded via Unbound.  Check it out and lend them your support.

Mission statement:

A fusion of Jamaican dancehall, American hip-hop and Belgian techno, drum & bass is a uniquely British concoction born in multi-cultural London. From its roots in the underground over 25 years ago, drum & bass has gone on to top the pop charts, fill concert halls and sound-track movies. It’s an amazing, futuristic creation that has resonated around the world.

Drum & bass has given rise to charismatic figureheads like Goldie and Roni Size, had the patronage of Björk and David Bowie, and periodically mutated into new forms, staying one step ahead of trends and fads. It’s an underground, outlaw sound that has had a remarkable impact on popular culture.
But drum & bass doesn’t, yet, have the definitive book. A few have told individual stories or given accounts of the early years, but Renegade Snares tells the whole tale. It charts this extraordinary genre from its fiery beginnings, through its mainstream acceptance and periodic movements back into the underground, gaining unique insights from all the scene’s biggest players — both established and brand-new.

Written with the blessing of the scene’s leaders, including Goldie, who’s kindly agreed to write the foreword, Renegade Snares tells the stories of DJs like Fabio, Grooverider, Hype, LTJ Bukem, Andy C, Roni Size, Randall, Ed Rush & Optical and Bryan Gee, and of lesser-known mavericks like Dillinja, Omni Trio, Remarc or Calibre – the renegades who’ve stayed true to the scene every step of the way. We’ll shed a light on the new school trailblazers too, from High Contrast, Noisia and London Elektricity, to futurists dBridge, Kasra and Fracture.

From warehouse raves and hardcore, through soundsystem jungle to intelligent drum & bass; from the Bristol sound to tech-step; the Brazilian connection to a second surge into the charts; heavy metal and neuro-funk, to its influence on genres like nu-breaks, dubstep and bass music, this is the true unexpurgated history of drum & bass we’ve been waiting for.

Carl Loben is the editor of the internationally acclaimed DJ Magazine. A music journalist for more than 25 years, he wrote for Melody Maker for most of the 1990s before joining the staff at DJ Mag toward the end of that decade. He has also written for many other titles including MOJO, Guardian Unlimited, FACT, The Quietus, the Huffington Post, Muzik, Generator, Vox, Attitude and lots more. In 2003 he wrote the Electronic Music section of the Billboard Music Encyclopedia, and has also worked as an Associate Lecturer at Solent University in Southampton.

Ben Murphy is the former editor of DJ Magazine. A music journalist for over 15 years, he’s also worked in artist management with acts including Roots Manuva and Leftfield. As a freelance writer he’s contributed to Bandcamp, Clash, Crack, Electronic Sound, FACT, The Guardian Guide, Highlife, i-D, Record Collector, Red Bull Music Academy, Songlines, Time Out, Vinyl Factory, XLR8R and more, while also providing sleeve-notes for record labels Warp and Harmless, and giving introductory talks for the respected Classic Album Sundays record listening sessions.