Sunday, March 28, 2021

the sample-glow (ecstatic intertextuality)

Made this massive playlist of 80s R&B club postdisco "boogie" etc type music recently -  a few late '70s crept in here and there, - and while listening to this tune, was reminded how threaded through the whole astonishing vocal performance by Rochelle Fleming was sample after sample - or rather sample-to-be after sample-to-be

This is the opposite of the syndrome I earlier identified as the "sample-stain", i.e. the backwards-through-time contamination of a favorite song caused by someone you dislike sampling it. You can't hear the original tune without thinking of the perpetrator. 

The other syndrome, the reverse effect, could be called the sample-glow.  

An extra layer of bliss and delight - and fond familiarity - irradiates that particular tiny moment in the already fabulous song, because of how it is now wedded to a later fantastic piece of music.  As though, that particular part of the lyric-vocal (or instrumentation) has been highlighted with a fluorescent marker pen. 

It's like you hear with doubled ears. 

The First Choice song is littered with sample-glows

"It's not ov-ah" wormholes through time to the Citadel of Kaos's tune of the same title. 

"Your mind, your body and your soul" appears in a number of hardcore and jungle tunes (Omni Trio "Soul Promenade" particularly lustrous among them)

"Everyday of my life" is another portal to future-bliss

There are several other moments in the performance, sometimes just nonverbal moans and oohs, that you recognise with that future-anterior shiver. Like a non-elegiac form of hauntology. 

Here's another example stumbled upon in the same club/funk/boogie/postdisco playlist, Cheryl Lynn's fabulous "Encore" (produced and written by Jam & Lewis), which I'd only ever heard as the 7-inch version, and bought at the time. 

But in this extended mix the song is presented as if actually a live performance (in keeping with the "Encore" theme / double-entendre, I guess). Right at the end, Lynn calls out to the "audience" with an electrifying shout of  "WOOOH! All right?". To attuned ears, that cry immediately hurls you forward through history to the dozens of rave records that sampled it. Probably they got through this intermediary, a track some folk (including DJ Hype) have cited as a proto-jungle tune.  

So many examples

One more example from my playlist of the sample glow - another Jam & Lewis written and produced classic, Cherrelle and Alexander O' Neal's "Saturday Love" 

A gorgeous, glorious tune in its own right, but now it carries extra irradiation from the reappearance of "still on my mind" (which I always hear first as "stealing my mind" - poetry!)... (Or is it "you stay on my mind" ? either way, works perfectly for the sense of E's duration and afterglow. 

 Other good bits purloined from the original: "Feeling so special"...  "my feelings, can't explain" (ooh gosh) in various rave tunes, most notably

apparently in this other Ibiza/3rd Party family effort

couldn't be more on the nose this next one with its "there's no sniffing, snorting or injecting... just a matter of taking tablets" and "the designer drug craze, Ecstasy" soundbites - in combo with the "my feelings, can't explain" and "feelin so special" bits

Alexander O'Neal was so popular in the UK, where "Saturday Love" was a much bigger pop hit than USA, that he ended up moving there. 

But then he succumbed to sinister artificially induced "feelings so special" - not E but other highs

Friday, March 26, 2021



A 1994 tune. If sampling is ancestor worship and citation is a procedure within "the invention of tradition", this dates the ignition point of Nuum to 1988 - which is when the very first UK house and techno tunes emerge that are not pale copies of the real thing, that have a tinge of only-in-UK about them. Only a tiny few at that point (the real flood starts in '89-90 with early bleep and SUAD breakbeat house), among them Gerald and estranged cohorts 808 State. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021



In case you can't trace where that shimmer-sound originates, well it's from this - 


i seem to remember hearing that Salt Tank tune back in the day  (on a tape by the late Jones? Or was it one done by Jane?) and it seeming naggingly familiar but I couldn't put my finger on it

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Ziggy... played... space-time / a Little Matserpiece


I feel that Ziggy and Matt are speaking to each other, even if neither knows it 

Criss exercises in rhythm geometry, separated by a couple of decades

Little Mat's masterpiece, though, is this: 

Well, you learn something everyday - there were two Mats / Matts involved there -  and one was Matthew Cole, later known as MJ Cole, don of "musical" 2step garage. Lil Mat himself = Matt Quinn - later Optical, neurofunk pioneer. 

That's some right nummy-nuum stuff there for you. 

Apparently all the vocal samples in "Babylon Timewarp" come from this film! 

"Twenty-four seven, seen!' is at 1.44 or so... 2.44 is "bottle like this me use..." (sounding more like "rock me like dis me youth"

The non-vocal Jamaican licks sampled though, nobody seems to know where they're from  

The breakbeat fabric is woven through with strips of roots reggae riddim, which brings out another axis to the space-time triangle - the way the New Orleans sound (I particularly hear it with Lee Dorsey) affected The Upsetters et al. 

And vice versa, occasionally, rocksteady affecting soul - 

the opening lick of this 

lifts from this

Back to the main axis here, the invention of breakbeats in the late Sixties.... and their return in bionic form in the early '90s.... Modeliste roboticized...  

With Ziggy, the backbeat becomes the foreground focus - the hook (he makes the drums sing). And that's the exact same inversion of sonic hierarchy wrought by jungle. 


Here's Matt Quinn talking at the Dogs on Acid message board about the "Durban Poison" remix

"My first ever paid remix was of this tune! The original track was a cult classic badass tune!!! They made breakbeats sound so powerful and perfect at that time...with a lot of new techniques that I needed to learn in my own work.

"I did the remix with my friend Matt (MJ Cole) in Intense's studio in Earl's Court in London with Dan, Simon and Beau to help us as I had never remixed anyone else's song at that point...

"I worked with MJ Cole at Lazerdrome in Peckham doing the lights in 1992 and I knew the guys from Intense through my friend Nut-E-1, they were making the coolest music at that time and this was a killer tune! They asked us to do the remix and helped us with getting it to sound good....I had only had my first proper release a year before so they were like the guru's of breakbeat to me...I learned a lot from them around that time about production"

The name Babylon Timewarp (the "timewarp" fits the subject under discussion - transmissions across time and space, drumming as molding and folding of time itself) makes me think of this record... and this particular video, which cleverly brings out the GIF-ing of R&B and reggae riddim, the retriggering of breakloops.... roots hurtled into phuture

And a snippet of Ari Up whizzing through the foliage to make another circle in my life 

Another record that seems to fit this cluster of "Durban Poison" and "Babylon" is Criminal Minds's "Baptised by Dub"

"Now you know / can't beat the system / Go with the flow"

Criminal Minds have a massive discography; Splash, though, doesn't appear to have done anything else much, a few other tunes, and then a bunch of fairly standard rinser / roller type tunes as Undercover Agent.

What about Babylon Timewarp? 

Mostly it's "Durban Poison"

This was on the flip 

However they were also known as Intense, under which alias they were pretty active, and The White House Crew (less so)

I appreciate the use of this phrase in the title - "the quickening" always seemed poetic to me, a word for those electric moments or phase-shifts in one's life, when your mind or heart wakes up to an awareness of whole other dimensions of existence. Or it could be a period in an entire culture's life. 

(Apparently the expression comes originally from the moment the mother becomes aware of the unborn child as a living presence, moving inside) 

Also enjoy the misspelling here (deliberate?)

Other relevant tunes

The rest of We The Ragamuffin 

Tricky had a tune about Durban Poison didn't he? 

Actually, no, it was the name of a label he started.  

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Beats tunes

 chanced upon the rave movie Beats on a streamer, gave it a whirl 

the micro-genre of rave and club culture movies has a decidedly checkered history, but on the whole this is a superior effort -  some of the acting a bit one-note, there's the odd plot elements and dialogue patch that felt unconvincing and clunky -- as a historian-pedant some music choices struck me as not overly typical of what the Scottish scene was into (i.e. the tunes were too breaksy, not bouncy enough).  But the tunes used were mostly great so who cares? Overall I thought it captured nicely both the dreary social-reality surroundings and the hyper-hypereality of rave as exit / escape / sanctuary from same 

somehow I sensed from the start (well, you watch enough TV+movies, you get ingrained with "the grammar of film") that the fact that it's in black-and-white (bleached, grey-faded B/W too - even-toned matt rather than high-contrast, for even more depleted dreariness) guaranteed that at some point it would switch into full-colour - and most likely during the tripped-out parts of the rave experience itself. Sure enough it does do precisely that.

That whole bit was handled well - as was the earlier part of entering the rave (but before the drugs kick in full blast, so still B/W)  - the jostling of bodies, the escalating crowd fervour. 

And some top top tunes were woven through the whole thing, both diegetically and non-diegetically if you'll pardon me jargon.  (Whole soundtrack hearable here)

One nice surprise was this by Plus 8 (but heading into cosmic trance) artist Vapourspace, who I'd clean forgotten about but really liked back in the day 

This also was nice to hear, at the white-hot heart of the Xstatic Xperience

This one by Twitch pricked my ears (I think it's a different mix they used though)

Unexpected pleasure to hear this too

Now this next hands-in-the-air classic would have been in my ears during my own rave conversion moment in late 91 (when Njoi and other Deconstruction acts played this venue in Kilburn)

But I even enjoyed hearing on the soundtrack this anthem-for-some but not-really-my-golden-memories/not-my-area-of-the-90s

Initially watching the movie I had little bit of that older-wiser feeling you get when confronted with the credos and enthusiasms of your youth  - especially when the bearded slightly-crusty DJ is doing his "revolution" chat over the pirate radio or to the young protagonists of the plot. The context is 1994 and the Criminal Justice Bill and listening to this spiel, which falls midway between Prodigy circa Jitled Generation/"Their Law" and the Terence McKenna-ish patter you might have eavesdropped at Megatripolis or Megadog, you can't help thinking "hmmm, this is a bit silly" and "what were we all thinking?", Like, "how could this have ever been the basis of a new society?". Mind you, even at the time, I was sharply aware that these spaces of intensity, you couldn't actually live there... 

But when it got to the rave recreation, it came flooding back: why we believed what we believed, and how the belief was the point, its own raison d'etre

the quickening 

Friday, March 19, 2021

neon screaming target

Kit Mackintosh whets appetites for his forthcoming Repeater Books debut Neon Screams: How Drill, Trap and Bashment Made Music New Again with a proof-of-concept mix that vaults through four decades of dancehall's phonetic phuturism. Already aired on Repeater Radio, it's archived for your deliriumized delectation here

Check out Kit's earlier mixes in this series

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

"the endless pump"


descriptions of drugging 'n' dancing from Geoff Dyer's wonderful novel Paris Trance 

(not actually a novel about trance music I hasten to add)

(although Geoff did pen this nice short Guardian piece on psy trance's visual aesthetics

Monday, March 15, 2021

squatters ravers travelers (missus guest post)

 Joy Press on the targets of the Criminal Justice Bill, from Spin magazine October 1994

(via Matthew Perpetua) 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

mad for ads

A tweet from Death Is Not The End saying that the cassette version of London Pirate Radio Adverts 1984-1993 Vol. 2 is shipping out tomorrow reminded me I said I'd run the full chat with audio archivist Luke Owen here. So here it is: 

How did you get interested in pirate radio in general and in pirate radio adverts in particular?

I began tuning in to pirate radio from my early teens in Bristol in the late 90s - there was a lot of action on the dial back then and I was sucked in. It was a portal into the drum and bass/Full Cycle stuff happening in the city when I was too young for the clubs, and it also nurtured my love of reggae, dub and Bollywood soundtracks at a relatively young age. The ads were often infectious and endearingly DIY, and some were memorable to the point of fever loops, I can still remember one or two word for word. 

I came upon the Pirate Radio Archive website a couple of years back, and there I found a trove of recordings from across the 80s and 90s through which I could transport myself back in time to some of those broadcasts I had been brought up on. I had been running Death Is Not The End since 2014 as a record label and NTS radio show focused mostly on "deep digs" into early gospel/blues/folk, field recordings and various archival finds. Coming across these recordings I was immediately stuck by the desire to do something with them, and put together a mixtape for the Blowing Up The Workshop mixblog and subsequently released it on DINTE as a cassette. It was a bit of a left-turn for the label perhaps, but being both archival and field recordings I thought it fit. I'm interested in "folk music" having a broader contemporary remit, and what it can mean in context. To me, recordings like these pirate radio broadcasts can represent archival folk music of sorts - they are raw, impromptu and communal musical experiences. 

For me, the appeal of them is multi-leveled – there’s nostalgia, there’s period charm, there’s the amateur nature of them, some of the comedy ones are genuinely funny…   But I also think they provide a valuable and historically important archive of subculture and British ‘lifeworlds’, especially minority populations (e.g. you have the Greek salon ad on Vol 1 ).

Yes, a lot are hilarious and some to the point of being genuinely a bit unhinged in places... A big part of the uniqueness of pirate radio is in the ads I think - it reflects the alternative culture through the lens of local business and events in a way that often contrasts with the staleness of "commercial" radio as much as the music itself. The whole thing often just seems to thrive on amping up the madness a bit, because they can. The London Pirate Radio Adverts collection was also intriguing from a local history perspective. I've always been interested in the changing landscape of areas, the previous lives of buildings, music venues, long gone record shops etc. By chance a lot of the adverts I collected for this happen to be for clubs and bars in places in South East London and East London that I've come to know quite well since moving here in the mid-noughties so that's another facet of it for me. Also, Immigrant communities making use of pirate radio as a means to supply an essential community service is an inherent element to pirate radio as a whole I think.

I like also the range. You have the slick-aspiring ads (with a tiny bit of Smashy + Nicey about the patter,  quite common with pirate deejays before ’92 when it got a lot more ruffneck and hooligan in vibe -  or they’ll hire that voiceover guy that also appeared in cinema adverts, the one with the incredibly deep voice,  he pops up a few times on your tapes). And then the much more amateurish efforts.  

Redd Pepper? I'm never quite sure whether it's him or an imitator... He sure must have gotten a lot of work around this time regardless. There's another guy who seems to have been the voiceover guy for a large portion of reggae & dancehall/soundclash events in the past couple decades (this is him @ 5.40 on Side A) and is still going strong. I'm going to do my best to track him down, I think I might have a friend of a friend who hired him for an ad once.

I think there's sometimes a conscious effort to get someone with a posh accent (or affecting one) for some of the dances that are billing themselves as classy & exclusive affairs. Then you've got some hilariously oddball voices, and a really bad Scouse impression that I have no idea what it's trying to achieve! I think pirate radio in general is prone to jokes and reference points that only the small group of listeners (or more likely mates of the station and the DJs) are "in" on, and this can bleed through to the ads as much as the chatter.

They often seem to like putting FX on the voice.

Yes, the use of delay on pirate radio station voiceover and adverts seems to be a point of reference that's bled in from sound system culture. I think it also helps the adverts "pop" and the feedback has the handy effect of papering over cracks where they may often sound too muddy and amateurish otherwise. I've also added tape delay here and there to aid with the transitions from one track to the next - the idea was initially for this to have the flow of a mixtape as much as possible.

Most of the ads on pirates were for raves, clubs, records shops, occasionally a compilation or a 12 inch release … But  it’s interesting that quite a few of them are for non-music-related businesses -  there’s one I came across for a bakers, you’ll get ones for hairdressers or a restaurant.  Or on Vol. 1 the shop fittings ad for Trade Equip  and the one for Fidel’s Menswear.

In a way I find the non-music related ads as some of the most intriguing and charming. It shows that the stations were often genuinely part of a thriving localised economy, and not just for soundheads. It seems a bit mad to think of a small high-street business advertising on the radio these days, and I suppose with the advent of social media marketing we're probably seeing the last of small businesses in print advertising to a large degree - it's just not attractive as you don't get to monitor the traffic it's generating and target your audience down to the minutiae, but it leaves a document of that business that can be preserved from a local history perspective (whereas when a business folds their online presence will likely disappear with it).

Even on the music history level alone, though, they are  valuable – there’s a sort of established history of rave where certain legendary clubs get mentioned  over and over (Rage, Labrynth, Innersense) and the same applies to the raves, labels, record shops. But these ads capture just how many clubs, raves etc there were, in all different parts of London or UK… many that have been forgotten or only ran for a short while. And there are addresses, times, prices mentioned.

Yes, the provision of full addresses, and often bus routes and the general specifics for the clubs and venues always gives me a pang of nerdy excitement. The addition of local landmarks, "under this flyover", "next to Tescos" etc. gives me extra info with which I can go sleuthing on Streetview and look at the ghost of the club mentioned in the advert (and for extra nerdery I can swipe backward in time on street view to see it's former guises too).

The raver’s dateline courtesy Chillin FM advert is very interesting and surprising!

Yes I was surprised to come across so many ravers datelines! I wonder if this is something you had come across before? Hooking up and meeting potential partners never struck me as a priority to pilled-up ravers but I must be mistaken... It was relatively before my time, and I suppose it's easy to be swayed by the dominant narrative of early rave being a drug-fuelled oasis away from meat-market bars & clubs, but there was clearly a market for it! I can't help being reminded of Father Ted's priest chatback line whenever I hear it, also.

I think you mentioned in that Crack interview how most people paused the tape when the ads came on…   so there’s a limited number of ad breaks that have survived intact.

Yeah I guess it makes sense that the music is what the majority of the listeners are there for, and the ads can do one - or indeed be edited out later. The sources I had were pretty much all online, so I suppose you could say that a portion of those who have ripped/digitized their tapes didn't stop their recordings when the ads came on, and rather they have cropped them out in the process. But in general it's the same principle as to when you would record a TV show on VHS - a waste of valuable magnetic tape space. 

What number did you accumulate before you started winnowing them down?

Maybe 100 total? It's been a bit of a blur to be honest. At some point I think I was losing it a bit.

It’s good that you have ads that aren’t just rave / hardcore / jungle, but others kind of music that were big then – like mellow house and progressive house etc.

It's easy to imagine pirate radio as exclusively a place for jungle, hardcore, reggae and dancehall etc. but yes it's refreshing. I particularly am interested in the popularity of rare groove and how that fits into the mix. The Under 18s Disco advert strikes me for it's mix up of styles - 'ragga, house, rap & swing'.

What is your favorite ad out of all the ones on the two cassettes?  Or top 2 or 3.

I think probably the Videobox rental shop is up there, it's the faux dialogue that just makes me smile. The Rolls Royce & A Big House in 89 is just fantastic for the list of celebrities who have "been invited", and that you simply need to go into your local hairdresser for £1 tickets.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

the changing same

 I remember when I was younger

James Brown was so unique

I never understood how he did it

How he made his music groove your very soul

If you listen close to the music

You’ll find no difference between now and then, no

My synthes-istic humanistic sound’ll groove you, yeah

It doesn't really matter, it doesn't really change

It doesn't really matter, it all remains the same

I wonder if Roger was familiar with... 


(many pages missing)

full essay here