Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Digital Heartbreak

  Here's my paean to "Digital Love" and Discovery, part of a terrific NPR Music multi-authored tribute to Daft Punk.

My #2 favorite Daft Punk tune: 

                             Before I ever heard their records, I saw them live - at their US debut. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

pause for the cause

 Observant readers of this blog will have noticed my burgeoning interest in the adverts that punctuated the shows on hardcore jungle pirate radio stations. I've been combing through my own tapes (cursing the preponderance of recordings where I pressed pause when the ad break started) and  trawling through sets that are online. The best adverts are distilled slivers of vibe and scene-character, and contain genuine sociohistorical interest. But mostly their nutty nonsense and DIY charm gives me a delicious memory-rush. 

So I was well chuffed to come across a fellow obsessive in Luke Owen, the man behind the archival audio label Death Is Not The End. In the last month or so, Luke has put out London Pirate Radio Adverts, 1984-1993 Vol. 1 and the just-released London Pirate Radio Adverts, 1984-1993 Vol. 2 - both of which are available digitally at a name-your-price rate and for a modest amount as a limited-edition cassette or in CD form. 

Here is my piece for The Guardian on the compilations, featuring quotes from Luke,  pirate radio historian Stephen Hebditch, and DJ/producer Nick Power who played on Pulse FM and other pirates, and who made one of my favorite ads for his own record store Music Power Records (it can be found on the Vol. 1 compilation).

In a week or so I'll run the full chat with Luke about his project, which I hope will continue. 

And do check out Luke's earlier collection from last year of sound snippets from the Bristol pirate radioscape of the late 90s. 

Three of my favorite pirate ads. 

The chap who voiced those Telepathy ads (there's a whole series of them running through the entire era) was called Sting and he was the founder of Club Telepathy and also owner-operator of Deja Vu FM. 

Back to Nick Power - as a producer, with DJ Ku - who worked as an assistant in Music Power Records -  he made these little beauties 


His label Ruff Tuff  & Wicked Stuff also put this minor classic out: 

And this little SL2 piss-taker


In addition to his DJing and retail mini-empire (two records shops and store selling disco and sound system equipment), Power - being of Greek-Cypriot background - also pioneered clubbing in Ayia Napa, long before it became a UK Garage destination. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Monday, February 8, 2021

rave before rave



earlier still

earlier even than that 

the same year (1967)


Around the same time, but also earlier

That's the Yardbirds  innit - well of course they had the album with "rave" in the title


But even earlier than that - rave was a buzzword on the trad jazz scene - all night raves, ravers, raving

pix of a "rave" on Eel Pie Island in August 1960

(via Another Nickel In the Machine

According to George Melly, the term was coined by trad jazzer Mick Mulligan and his agent Jim Godbolt: 

"Famous more for his Rabelaisian lifestyle than for the traditional jazz he played, Mick Mulligan was known as “the King of the Ravers”. The term “to rave”, meaning to party to excess, was coined by Mulligan and his agent Jim Godbolt, and slid into national usage."

According to Shady Old Lady blog, the term has a precise locus in space, if not pinnable down in time: 

Location: 44 Gerrard Street, Soho, London

Description: This building, now at the centre of chinatown, has a startling musical history.

After World War 2, it housed the West End Jazz Club run by George Melly and the trumpeter Mick Mulligan. It was here that the first all night raves were held and also where the term was actually coined by Mulligan. Melly said:

At seven a.m. the band played its final number and we'd all crawl up out of the sweat-scented cellar into the empty streets of a Sunday morning in the West End. Hysterical with lack of sleep, accompanied by a plump art student, her pale cheeks smeared with the night's mascara, I'd catch the Chelsea bus and try to read the Observer through prickling red eyeballs as we swayed along Piccadilly, down Sloane Street, and into the King's Road. Then a bath, one of those delirious fucks that only happen on the edge of complete fatigue, and a long sleep until it was time to get up and face the journey to Cook's Ferry or whatever jazz club we were playing that evening.

In 1967 it became Happening 44, Jack Braceland's (a pioneering light show artist) a trendy psychedelic club. Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention and Soft Machine played here, but amazingly it closed down barely 4 months later."

I doubt though that Mulligan & Co plucked the word and its connotations out of thin air. 

And indeed the etymology of the word is as follows:

rave (v.)

early 14c., "to show signs of madness or delirium," from Old French raver, variant of resver "to dream; wander here and there, prowl; behave madly, be crazy," of unknown origin (compare reverie). The identical (in form) verb meaning "to wander, stray, rove" first appeared c. 1300 in Scottish and northern dialect, and is probably from an unrelated Scandinavian word (such as Icelandic rafa). Sense of "talk enthusiastically about" first recorded 1704.

other meanings: 


To speak wildly, irrationally, or incoherently.

To move with great violence or intensity: The storm raved along the coast.

To speak or write with wild enthusiasm: Critics raved about the new play.

To utter or express in a frenzied or unrestrained manner.

to speak in an angry uncontrolled manner

(of the sea, wind, etc) to rage or roar

to enjoy oneself wildly or uninhibitedly


An extravagantly enthusiastic opinion or review: The play received raves.

A raucous party; a rave-up.

a fad or fashion: the latest rave.

"Rave" also appears in Ode on Melancholy by Keats connoting fury or inflammation of the spirit

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist

       Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;

Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd

       By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;

               Make not your rosary of yew-berries,

       Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be

               Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl

A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;

       For shade to shade will come too drowsily,

               And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall

       Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,

That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,

       And hides the green hill in an April shroud;

Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,

       Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,

               Or on the wealth of globed peonies;

Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,

       Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,

               And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;

       And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips

Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,

       Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:

Ay, in the very temple of Delight

       Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,

               Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue

       Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;

His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,

               And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

Also Dryden: 

"He raves; his words are loose / As heaps of sand, and scattering wide from sense." 

Van Morrison uses the term, connoting a holy folly of rapture, in this very non-rave-up, mellow 1983 song 

bigging up not just Donne but Yeats and Whitman and Omar Khayyam and Kahlil Gibran

Rave on, John Donne, rave on thy holy fool

Down through the weeks of ages

In the moss borne dark dank pools

Rave on down through the industrial revolution

Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age

Rave on down through time and space down through the corridors

Rave on words on printed page

Rave on, you left us infinity

And well pressed pages torn to fade

Drive on with wild abandon

Up tempo, frenzied heels

Rave on, Walt Whitman, nose down in wet grass

Rave on, fill the senses

On nature's bright green shady path

Rave on Omar Khayyam, rave on Kahlil Gibran

Oh, what sweet wine we drinkin'

The celebration will be held

We will partake the wine and break the holy bread

Rave on let a man come out of Ireland

And rave on, Mr.Yeats

Rave on down through thy holy Rosy Cross

Rave on down through theosophy and the golden dawn

Rave on through the writing of a vision

Rave on, rave on, rave on, rave on, rave on, rave on

Rave on, John Donne, rave on thy holy fool

Down through the weeks of ages

In the moss borne dark dank pools

Rave on, down though the industrial revolution

Empiricism and atomic and nuclear age

Rave on, on printed page

Saturday, February 6, 2021

darkside geezaesthetics


Brandon Ivers with some tasty new old skool / flashback-junglizm,  a 3-track EP released under the name DJ Scam as debut release for Psycho Bummers the label he's co-founded. Particularly like the second tune "Sodium Pentothal."

release rationale: 

"The EP’s opener, ‘Darkside Geezer’, is a tribute to the transition point right before hardcore morphed into jungle in 1993. Although producers worked with a small palette of sounds back then, the emotion and freshness they were able to pull out of their limitations remains unrivaled. ‘Darkside Geezer’ imagines an alternate reality of that period, drawing parallels between it and seeds of transition that 2020 brought us.

‘Sodium Pentothal’ is the roughest tune on this release, adopting the sonics of modern drum’n’bass production, but channeled through the tropes of the music in its early stages. DJs like Sherelle, Tim Reaper, and Coco Bryce played a tremendous role in inspiring us (and keeping us sane) over the last year, so we wanted to stick to the tempo they helped rekindle.

"The closer, ‘Black Swan’, focuses on the simplicity of early hardcore and jungle, but breaks away with glassy chimes and a folding, geometric structure. Made with old samplers and tracker software, ‘Black Swan’ was the first track Scam did for this release and it helped set the tone for what followed."

Here's an earlier tune by Scam from last autumn

full 12 inch at Bandcamp with the flipside "Metalknight"

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

MAXimalizm - Hyper On Experience versus Acen

Addressing the maximalist tendencies of peak-period hardcore, as exemplified by Acen, in both the Wire review and the accompanying online interview, I mentioned Hyper On Experience as the closest counterparts in terms of hyperactive grandeur. 

But I hadn't noticed that just like Acen has come back with new material, so too have Hyper On, with releases on Kniteforce in 2018 (The Family Man EP) and 2020 (a double 12-inch maxi-EP with 8 tracks, so really more like a short album, titled Runs in the Family)

MAXimalizm intact, in full effect. 

As is the jokey tradition of  family-idioms for titles: see the earlier Fun for all the Family, Keep It in the Family, The Family We Never Had and finally, taking the self-piss, Deaf In the Family (A Sad Title for an Otherwise Splendid EP)

There's also been a slew of remixes of classic Hyper On tunes by retro-junglist youngbloods (or relative youngbloods in some cases), once again through Kniteforce, which seems to be the hub for this kind of thing now. These packages are listed,  - questionably?  - as albums on Discogs, because they contain the original 4 track EPs and then the same number again of remixes.

Because Kniteforce is doing this thing of keeping it strictly vinyl (a sound business decision no doubt) and listing the obligatory Bandcamp digital option at a deliberately astronomical price (1000 quid) to discourage anyone from taking it, it's quite hard to hear either the most recent of the new EPs or the remix packages online.

You can get soundclip tastes:

Some individual tracks also got the multiple remix treatment

Here and there some have seeped out on YouTube. 

MAXimalists meet! Acen remixes "Lords of the Null Lines"

Another collision of old skool legends - Sub Love versus Hyper On

Sub Love themselves have had extensive Kniteforce archivalism

The reissuing and the remixing is a kind of maximalist endeavour in itself - a lot to digest. Kniteforce getting a bit carried away with excitement! 

Thinking back to the golden olden daze... there's so many great Hyper On Experience tunes.... "Imajicka" and "Assention' the twin towers over everything....  the equivalents of "Trip II The Moon" and "Windows" maybe...   actually it's more like triplets towers, because of "Lords of the Null Lines," awe-inspiring in both original and Foul Play incarnations

But this is one that I particularly loved for its skidding, turn-on-a-dime breaksmanship

Great title too (a Hyper On forte generally)

Fun video on the making of the Peter Cannon remix of "Thunder Grip"

And the finished re-work

Taking the how-it-was-made thing to the MAX - Alex Banks "deconstructs" the new-old choon "Cannon Rush"

A remix from the original time that de-maximalizes it, makes it less eventful, more repetitious

Another tune I really liked -  so inventive beat-wise

After Deaf in the Family and the 2 On 1 series one-off "Ouiji Awakening", Alex Banks and Danny Demierre went their separate ways - with Alex joining with JMJ to form EZ Rollers and DD becoming Flytronix. Both had their moments.... 

... but at the time I felt they had succumbed to the general Moving Shadow drift into the too too smoov.  (Everyone seemed to upgrade their gear at the same time and also decide that bongos were really cool sound-textures). I found Dimensions of Sound mostly anodyne and over-clean, and didn't bother with them after that.  Flytronix similarly quickly lost my interest (the name and the record artwork certainly didn't help). 

However, listening again recently, I found much to like in both post-Hyper outfits's output - perhaps because I'm listening at home at my computer, rather than out in a club. It's funny how music (ardkore) that was originally considered too hectic and pell-mell to even be music (according to some idiot ears) quite quickly matured into this very pleasant sound that was compatible with work, driving, having people round for dinner. The musicality that was always there, if you had the non-idiot ears to detect through the frenz-E, came out fully as this deluxe-relax sound. (The name E-Z Rollers captures it perfectly - and the contrast with Hyper On Experience as a name conveys the shift that took place with 2 or 3 years) 

It is a shame though that Hyper On in its original manic-epic incarnation never did an album (I suppose the 4 EPs added up to an album of sorts).  

They were high on the list of rave acts who could have should have never did discussed a while back here

Very high up

Second only to Acen...