Friday, April 30, 2021

Storm 3000

 

Not one of the artists I liked or followed - associate them with the Muzik Middlebrow Strand

And yet this is a tuff little beaut of a tune that I really liked on their debut album.

Probably the first time I heard the low-pass filter - love the way it sculpts the riff into a bloc of sound that seems to tilt and shift within space 

Then the nice, gently boombastic breaks - flashback to breakbeat house, or sideways to Big Beat maybe, but I'd rather think of Congress et al.

And then the funny little synth-melody that now for all the world reminds me of Belbury Poly

These are the tunes Leftfield are renowned for though


 







They're all right.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

hoo noo fly bi had da vid yo

 


this is the really fun megamix version, with a medley of UKG classics from many phases underneath


but i prefer the other version that is just an original boombastic barebones track underneath








this version is banging but orrible 





Sunday, April 25, 2021

P.R.E.M. versus the C-word

Dale Cornish, not content with inventing the genre of "thug ambient", has coined another nifty name. In a recent tweet he announced: 

"Yesterday, in an interview for A Thing, I invented the term Press Release Experimental Music, whereby the promo blurb is 374 times more interesting than the bland music it's hyping up. "recorded in a cave in Belarus using rare AKG microphones" = sounds bloody boring though m8888"

Now, I know what you're thinking. 

You're thinking, "Dale, mate - it's been named. It's called Conceptronica."

And I admit, that was the first thing that popped into my head. 

But upon consideration, I decided they're not the same thing. 

They overlap, but Press Release Experimental Music is a purely pejorative term.

Whereas Conceptronica is actually value-neutral (no, honestly it is -  many assume it's a brickbat,  others a big-up, but it's neither). 

Under the umbrella of Conceptronica, you would indeed find a swathe of stuff where the press release was way better than the actual music.

But you would also find a swathe of stuff where the press release and the music were just as good as each other and mutually enhancing. 

And you would find yet another swathe of stuff where the press release was turgid and pretentious such that the music would be much better off without that framing - and in that sense is 347 times better than said press release.

And - we're not done yet - there is another subcategory (and in truth this probably was something the C-word had in its sights, as a target) and that is the swathe of stuff where the press release (interesting in its own right) and the music (also interesting, "stands up by itself") are both fine and dandy, but there doesn't seem to be any actual relationship between the themes, critiques etc asserted in the framing bumf and the actual sonic events that comprise the work. 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Apropos of this, recently I came across a bit of Mark Fisher writing that prefigures the conceptualization of conceptronica, although not actually being about music, per se. 

"What's interesting - and this has a direct bearing on some of the disputes about abstraction and the [hardcore continuum]to which I will return in a post that's been germinating ever since the UEL event - is the way in which Burial's music conducted affects and images so powerfully, so lucidly, without the mediation of the (facialised, biographical) individual or its self-understandings. (How different is Burial's abstract art - so painterly, so precise in the images it produced - to so much of what appears in galleries, with its overthought, overconscious, nulanguage meta-rationales, while 'the work' induces no ideas, no affects, at all.)"

K-punk here is slagging off art-art, not art-tekno -  visual art, gallery art. 

I am curious what Mark would have thought of the Conceptronica phenomenon - he seemed both amenable to That Kind of Thing (e.g. wrote about Ultra-Red I seem to recall, Mille Plateaux agit-proptronica) but on the other would have been reflexively suspicious of the self-curatorial turn in modern music I'd have thought (given his swipes at e.g. S. Youth etc). 

Recently also realized that the seed of conceptronica, which I've used on and off as a term since 2006,  can be traced right back to Energy Flash and the chapter called "Fuck Dance, Let's Art", in whose opening section the idea of the museum as space of non-vibe is aspersed: 

By the end of 1995, a new zone of music-making had emerged out of the ruins of ‘electronic listening music’: a sort of post-rave omni-genre wherein techno’s purity was ‘contaminated’ by an influx of ideas from jungle, trip hop, all over. Not particularly danceable, yet too restlessly rhythmic and texturally startling to be ambient chill-out, this music might be dubbed art-tekno, since the only appropriate listener response is a sort of fascinated contemplation. Imagine a museum dedicated not to the past but the future, where you marvel at the bizarre audio-sculptures, let your ears wander through the sound-installations, and boggle at the noise contraptions as they go about their pointless, captivating tasks.

One of the earliest events dedicated to this new omni-genre, the Electronic Lounge, was actually situated in the bar at an art gallery, London’s ICA....


But here it's cast as art-for-art's sake experimentation, music without social energy behind it or a social function... whereas conceptronica is very much purposed with a polemical or even didactic point, is in some cases an activist attempt to reconnect experimental music and Society. 




Tuesday, April 20, 2021

misleading monikers (1 of ??)

 


Putrid name, Dubtronix innit? Makes you expect something that could be on Guerrilla Records, or  a digidub crew, or perhaps some awful American brostep-meets-jamband type euuch. 

But that tune is tuff, ruff,  yet glossy 'n' slinky pure junglizm. Excellent stuff.

His/ their discography is well worth a delve 

This New Age EP particularly tasty




Sunday, April 11, 2021

gabber literature

 


!An exciting addition to the small body of gabber literature! 

Sbrang Gabba Gang: Gabber Reconstruction of the Universe, by Riccardo Balli

By an Italian but in English, written in a style that resembles the LOUD energy of a S.Wells sluiced through the unforgiving yet gleeful anti-humanism of a Biba Kopf, this monograph maps Italian Futurism onto gabba, and vice versa. So it's an intellectual entertainment - penned by one who knows viscerally whereof he speaks... who's sweated and stomped in the four-to-floor forge 'till the crack of dawn, and beyond...  been battered by drop-hammer bassdrum and blasted by hoover-noise...  soaked up the sensations and survived to make sense of the senselessness. 

                                                       


You can get the book here or here or here 

Check out the praxis (deejaying, producing, running a label) to the theory at Balli's Bologna-based operation  sonicbelligeranza.com 




Some of Balli's previous publications








Funnily enough, me and Paul Oldfield used to have a deejay "company" called Apocalypso Disco, or perhaps it was just Apocalypso - at any rate, we had the flyers and we did get a few college gigs. 

Acen - Trip To The Moon 2092 box set

 Acen

Trip To The Moon 2092

(Kniteforce)

The Wire, February 2021

by Simon Reynolds

There are many examples of box sets that collate all of an artist’s singles, complete with the original picture sleeves. But I’ve never before encountered a box dedicated to a single single. If ever there was a tune that could withstand this degree of inflation, though, it’s “Trip II the Moon”. Not only is this breakbeat hardcore classic widely considered the greatest anthem of the rave era,  there was already a certain grandiosity to the way Acen and his original label Production House rolled out the track across the summer of 1992.

The record came out in three successive versions, the second and third not so much remixed as re-produced: “Trip II the Moon, Part 1”, “Trip II The Moon, Part 2 (The Darkside),”  “Trip II The Moon (Kaleidoscopiklimax).”  Giving remixes, when done by the original artist, titles that involved words like “Part” or “Volume” would become a hallmark of the jungle scene. Most likely this trend took inspiration from Hollywood pulp franchises with their sequels, itself an echo of the sprawling sagas of Tolkienesque fantasy and Frank Herbert-style s.f.  But in ‘92, a track that came out three times over several months was virtually unheard of.  A sales-driving strategy designed to extend a tune’s currency and possibly rocket it into the pop charts, it also reflected artistic ambition: a growing confidence from some operators within a scene then sniffed at by techno-cognoscenti that they were not in the business of trashy, ephemeral floor-fodder but crafting popular art that would pass the test of time.

And here we are in 2021, almost three decades later, the original “Trip”tych  A-sides plus excellent B-sides arrayed across six slabs of vinyl, where they jostle alongside new interpretations by Acen and nine guest remixers. The box title’s reference to “2092” gestures at a posterity even further down the temporal line. “2092”  suggests both aesthetic durability and the implication that this music comes from the future. A sensation that felt absolutely real back in the early ‘90s and still somehow clings to these tempestuous tracks even now. 

The sheer solidity of the attractive if pricy box is a demonstration of maximal respect. “Maximal”, as it happens, is the right word for Acen’s sound and peers like Hyper-On Experience.  Before hardcore, and indeed after it during the later Nineties, techno and house generally cleaved to a minimalist aesthetic, sometimes taking a single riff or vamp and inflecting it subtly over five, six, seven minutes. UK rave producers, conversely, “get busy”, action-packing their tracks on both on the linear axis and the vertical.  Tracks unfold through time as multi-segmented epics hurtling through bridges and breakdowns, intros and outros. But each passing moment is layered with simultaneous sound-events, resulting in a stereo-field infested with audio-critters bouncing around like in some crazily detailed animation.

Listening again to all three “Trips” is a reminder of just how unique and curious an animal was hardcore. There’s hardly a trace of Detroit or Chicago audible here. Most UK producers, including West Londoner Acen Razvi, were former B-boys, electro fans who spent their teen years breakdancing and spraying graffiti. Acid house (and attendant chemicals) flipped their heads, but soon they reverted to type.  But while breaks and samples are the foundation, hardcore’s hyperactivity is a world away from ‘90s rap like Wu Tang Clan. No British rave producer would drag out a single break-loop across six sombre minutes of stoned monotony like RZA. There are hardcore tracks from this era that that contain a rap album’s worth of ideas crammed into them.

One thing hardcore did share with East Coast hip hop is soundtrackism. The centrepiece sample in “Part 1” is an impossibly stirring swathe of orchestration from “Capsules in Space” off John Barry’s You Only Live Twice score; “Part 2” likewise lifts a serene ripple of strings from the same Bond movie’s “Mountains and Sunrises”. Actually, that’s not quite accurate: the copyright holders blocked sample clearance, obliging Production House to hire a mini-orchestra to replay Barry’s themes, which Acen then sampled at a low-resolution setting to recreate the particular grainy quality he’d earlier got by sampling direct from vinyl. The fetish for movie-scores manifests also on the brilliant B-side “The Life and Crimes of A Ruffneck,” which heists the heart-spasming staccato melody of Morricone’s “Chi Mai.” 

Other raw ingredients come mostly from rap, R&B, and ragga: Rakim’s sped-up squeak “I get hype when I hear a drum roll,” Chuck D’s threat/promise “here come the drums,” Topcat boasting he’s “phenomenon one”.  The electrifying diva shriek “I can’t believe these feelings” that supplies the main vocal hook on “Trip” hails from obscure Britsoul outfit Tongue N Cheek, while Prince protégé Jill Jones supplies erotic gasps for another terrific B-side, “Obsessed”.  As for that eerily familiar goblin voice  murmuring “in my brain” – that’s a witty bit of self-citation, pulling from Acen’s previous single “Close Your Eyes”, which sampled Jim Morrison off The Doors’s “Go Insane.”

Nowadays, it’s easy to identify the constituent parts of beloved tunes thanks to websites like whosampled.com and the collective nerd knowledge of old skool message boards. But back in the day, the music barraged your brain as a kinetic collage jumbling the instantly recognizable, the faintly familiar, and the wholly unknown. (Whether you spotted stuff depended also on your listener competency – age, musical background, level of intoxication). Hardcore was technically postmodern, in its procedures. But as a sonic outcome, and in terms of motivating spirit, it hit with the juddering force of full-bore modernism. The conceit felt true: this was music from the future, built from mutilated and mutated shards of past.  That’s one reason why the idea of the space race –  Man’s greatest adventure, a surge into the unknown – resonated with rave and supplied Acen not just with the “Moon” title but the name of his next single, “Window in the Sky”. Drugs played a part too (understatement of the century). Rave was modernist but it was also psychedelic.

If the main meat here is Acen’s extended spurt of original genius, the remixes are mostly splendid. Kniteforce boss Chris Howlett a.k.a. Luna-C and old school legend NRG manage to stay true to yet also intensify the original “Trip” blend of cinematic and epileptic. Retro-jungle youngblood Pete Cannon offers a pell-mell scratchadelic take on “Ruffneck”.  The only misfire comes from doyen of scientific drum & bass Dbridge.   If only he could have reinhabited the mindset of his own teenage hardcore identity The Sewer Monsters! Instead,  “Obsessed” gets flattened into a dank neurofunk furrow a la Jonny L’s “Piper”. It sounds obsessive, for sure, but the emphasis on sound-design and moody monotony has nothing to do with the larcenous free-for-all and cartoon delirium of the early ‘90s.


Q + A with Acen at The Wire website. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

drill & brains

 It had to happen, it was inevitable, it's even been awaited - behold, the IDM-ification of UK drill

"ambient drill" even!

of course the funny thing is that drill already is ambient, already contains ambient elements within it, is listened to (I suspect, anyway) in an ambiently inattentive way










Sunday, April 4, 2021

CJ&POB






 


by the same dude who did these Ecstasy safety leaflets