Thursday, November 30, 2023

the insulting algorhythm

Whenever I am listening to something off YouTube, and the selection in question ends and I'm distractedly doing something else and not making an active choice about what to listen to next... then  what plays next automatically is invariably a dub techno mix. Something that descends from Basic Channel / Chain Reaction but drained of all swing, soul, and sensuality. 

Things like this 

or this

as created by this anonymous - conceivably nonhuman - YouTube channel

What puzzles me is that this is not music that I habitually listen to, or indeed ever listen to. So where is the algo getting its data from? On what is it basing these suppositions about my supposed audio sweet  spot? 

If it was tracking my purposeful activity on Youtube - playlisting, watch-listens, searches etc - and  wanted to come up with something appealing to make stick me around... well, it ought to be choosing something from the following categories: peak-era ardkore and jungle, pirate radio sets and pirate radio adverts, weird old East European animations, Britcoms and TV plays from the 1970s, various sorts of avant-garde and electronic library music, maybe some jazz fusion and some reggae...

Below-par dub techno - it's one of the the last things I'd ever want to hear! Right down there with trance and landfill indie,

Truthfully, it's music that I've never listened to -  except for a period in the late '90s when I scooped up all the classic Basic Channel and for a while religiously bought each new Chain Reaction until the label went right off the boil. I did like Pole. I loved Gas. 

If I was going to listen to that kind of thing, I would listen to exactly that kind of thing - those artists, those labels. I wouldn't seek out some dilute knock-off version. 

But clearly YouTube thinks it's got the measure of me and that's someone who's easily palmed off with the ersatz and tertiary-level derivative. 

Perhaps it can tell that I'm preoccupied with something else, work or reading an article or following some internet spoor ... and thinks to itself "hmmm, this old fart would like something vaguely dancey yet inconspicuous, that'll putter along warmly and soothingly in the background". 

On the contrary - every time it drops into that marshmallowy amorphogroove, I jolt into alertness, exasperated - "not this shit again!".

I swear there was a week or two where it was the exact same mix that would restart in any YouTube lull.

Mind you, these dub techno and ambient techno and ambient dub techno mixes, they are all such featureless blanks, so boringly and un-alluringly titled,  I might just be imagining it's the identical mix each time... 

Monday, November 27, 2023

feel the mellow

 31 years on, a mystery tune, on an old Touchdown FM cassette, uncovered!

found via this sampled source

as also heard in this 

and also this 

The title "Feel the Mellow" comes from another sample, "feel the melody", from Soul II Soul's "Back to Life (acapella)", but mostly likely via Njoi's "Anthem".

Almost entirely a composite of other things (prominently Liquid "Sweet Harmony") but  "Feel the Mellow" is a tune I've never forgotten and always itched to know what it was

Here's the flipside, similarly collaged into existence 

Darren Pearce aka The Tripper seemed to have many alter egos

Saturday, November 25, 2023

brux out

Via Kode9, an astonishingly blown out ruffride from

Not sure if this bruxaria or some other subset of funk carioca (it's funny how these scenes / styles dip into wider-world view and then dip out again and then....  after quite a bit.... dip back in again... see also the periodic excitements about Jersey Club ) 

It hits that spot of so-wrong-it's-right, is-this-music-yet-I'm-not-sure-who cares that you had with early grime or early darkcore 

Kode mentioned that a key element of bruxaria is drastic overuse of side-chain compression (see this old blogpost which engages with ideas of Ryan Diduck about side-chain as defining sound of the now)

It's a bit much for everyday listening (trying to concentrate on anything else almost impossible while it's on!). In truth my metabolism more in alignment with the Andre 3000 record these days....

But one for the TikTok / ADD generation for sure.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

now jump up all bunglist cru


Production (love the pockets of reverb) and beat mayhem on this = fantastic. A mad skidding scrambled frazzler of a track, cartoon physics in full effect, until it goes into an idyllic ambi-jungle section... then frenzies up again.   Dozens of ideas thrown out with typical 92-93 largesse...

But why oh why is it called "Twisted Bungle"? Are there samples from Rainbow? If there are, they are pretty mangled. 

At some point I must embark upon a study of the S.M.F. uuurrrv  (or is it SMF? Seems to be inconsistency there) and its various solo tributaries.

This one still blows my mind 

First heard by me on Don FM in early '93, just before this bit 

"Rush Stimulator" was a mystery tune for the longest time, had no idea of the title or who made it. 

Then, one day,  grubbing through scuffed 12-inches in this stall in Greenwich Market that was a bit of a cache of old kore, I saw the title "Rush Stimulator" and I thought, "that's it, that has to be it" - because of the "you stimulate me so much" sample. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023


The other month I went on a bit of a rant about remix albums and how shite nearly all of them had been during that late '90s boom. With particular reference to Sacrilege, the Can "tribute", via an Eno sleeve note for that project that more or less recants the whole idea of remixology. 

Well, here's the opposite - the Anti-Sacrilege. A Can remix project that achieves veneration through distillation:

Rather than replace most of the original with some sub-par music of one's own, these remixes are all-Can - I don't think there's anything added at all. Instead  Tom Caruana makes loops out of peak moments of Can rotormotion.  It's hip hop methodology in excelsis.  

Listening, I was reminded of a fantastic scene in The Get Down - Baz Luhrman's underrated drama about the early days of hip hop in the South Bronx - which juxtaposes "Vitamin C"  with graffiti-daubed subway trains rattling along an elevated track at night.

Inner Space Instrumentals is from 2019 and is one of dozens of Caruana re-edit projects

Hat tip to Dave Segal who alerted (and who himself hat-tipped Sasha Frere-Jones)

Tracklist for Inner Space Instrumentals:

1. Bel Air 03:20

2. Barnacles 02:34

3. Pnoom 01:57

4. Midnight Men 02:09

5. Hunters & Collectors 02:11

6. Quantum Physics + Come Sta 01:16

7. I'm So Green 01:36

8. Dead Pigeon 02:47

9. Midnight Sky 01:33

10. Soup 02:01

11. One More Night + Future Days 03:13

12. She Brings The Rain 02:33

13. EFS no. 7 02:12

14. I'm Too Leise 01:31

15. Mary So Contrary 01:26

16. Shikaku 01:48

17. Radio Beam 01:50

18. Empress & Ukraine King 01:36

19. LH 702 02:31

20. Vitimin C 02:31

21. Dead Pigeon 2 02:51

22. Under The Surface 02:32

23. Messer Scissors Fork Light 02:19

24. Evening All Day 01:34

25. Bubble Rap 02:35

26. Mushroom 02:48

27. Halleluwah 03:32

28. Father Cannot Yell 01:47

29. Harry The Theif 02:21

30. Spoon 02:25

31. Gomerrha 02:48

32. Aumgn 02:57

33. Cutaway 01:58

34. Prehistoric Future 03:18

35. Bring Me Coffee or Tea 01:07

36. Obscura Primavera 01:36

Ah, well I was looking for it on YouTube and quickly discovered that Inner Space Instrumentals is the dubversion of Inner Space, a proper old skool (meaning early 2000s-style) mashup that meshes Canstrumentals with MCs like MF Doom and Kool Keith. Actually, the rapping isn't sampled - Caruana sent the loops to MCs and they came up with stuff to go with it.

So even more redolent of The Get Down then...  

It's cleverly done, weaving the rapping with the riddim. But I prefer the pure Can-and-nothing-but-the-Can - even if it's actually a byproduct of the initial project.  

Check it out - it's name-your-price too. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

melodic spacing in postdisco boogiefunk (slight return)


Suddenly remembered this S.O.S. Band deep cut from their 1982 album III.... 

It has this clipped, staccato melody thing, that would be taken to the limit in their biggest (UK) hits "Just Be Good To Me" and "The Finest".  Something I particularly associate with Jam & Lewis's songwriting for them and others (although in the case of "Looking For You" it's not actually written by them)

A post-Chic style of "melodic spacing," as discussed earlier here. 

What's cool about "Looking for You" is that the staccato feel is really strong in the verses, as opposed to where it usually sits, the chorus. (The chorus in "Looking For You" is actually a little blah). In the verses, the choppiness creates a lurching quality that matches the song-character's frantic lovelorn / lover-lost state of  mind. That desperation is further supported by an equally jutting distorted rock-guitar riff, that - in tandem with the prickly rhythm guitar part - exacerbates the off-balance feeling. You picture a swivel-eyed person, literally looking around trying to spot their missing lover in the crowd... catching someone with a faint resemblance out of the corner of the eye and for a second hallucinating their face.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

The Darkside


Darkside before "darkside"...  

Writing about this next Derrick May tune in early '88 - in the middle of a piece on acid house - I was reminded of Joy Division, indeed describing as one of those "lost Joy Division B-sides". What can I have meant? The compelled-sounding feel of "She's Lost Control"? It certainly doesn't sound like "These Days", the great lost B-side of "Love Will Tear Us Apart". 

Listening to it again now, I can't really hear why it made me flash on Joy Division. If anything, it's closer to an incredibly reduced, emaciated take on "Everything's Gone Green".

Hearing postpunk echoes in postfunk sounds outta Detroit... this brings up the strangeness and drifty unfixability of temporality in music. For as much as these records seem "ahead of their time today" (they did in fact blueprint much of '90s techno), at the actual time of writing I said it reminded me of early '80s avant-funk. I even used the phrase "lost future" to describe these vibe-echoes of DAF and Liaisons Dangereuses audible in acid house and the darker side of Detroit (in particular Reese "Just Want Another Chance" and Phuture's "Your Only Friend")

Probably what I should have said is "interrupted future" - with the guitar-y main body of the Eighties representing a deliberate abstention from technology - sequencers, drum machines, MIDI. By main body, I really refer to the alternative rock sphere - the future carried on unfurling in  mainstream rock to some extent, as digital took over in studios. And I suppose there were corners of the alternative - industrial and Electronic Body Music - that embraced the latest tech. Still, with indie, the return of guitars, and the wistful casting-backwards-glances to the 1960s dominant, outright futurism dropped away in alternative music sufficiently for me to wield this trope of "the lost future" - referring to something that went into abeyance only five years earlier

Returning our ears to the May heyday, the thing that gets me in his tunes are those egg-whisk sounds - hi-hats, I think - whose scything rustle creates that distinctive nervous propulsion. Heard at their most sibilantly nagging here:

And to lesser degree here:

Also the melodies with their indefinable alloy of serene euphoria and lonely desolation.  

Also the basslines

Okay, the whole thing is consummate - but I do love the egg-whisk sounds. 

It's kind of ASMR-y, a delicious itch in the ear.