Sunday, 18 October 2009

Not Dead

Just resting.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Teen Horror Movie Gone Wrong

[This is the most recent short story I've been working on. As you'll see, there's still a couple of bits that need expanding or ironing out. Enjoy.]

This is how it all happened. The place was about 30 miles out of town. Which wasn’t really so far, with the new main road most of the way. But the point was once you got there it was like being right out in the middle of the country, in the open air, with nobody watching you, nobody getting in your way. Now that a few of them had driving licenses anyway. Just the two cars was enough, plenty of space left for equipment and booze. Cruising along the road and you could hear everything clinking and sliding about in the back.
People had different reasons for coming along, that was important to remember, but they were mostly keeping them to themselves for now. Crushes long held, drugs stashed away, rivalries boiling up and waiting to be settled, it was all there. But when they pulled up at the end of the road by the loch, just for a minute all they were thinking about was the sunshine and the air and the breeze, summer was here and you could tell it just had to be the start of something good. The rules were supposed to be that you camped up past the far end, about a mile or two’s walk on. But there was a beach around the corner, with some good flat ground at the top, so what was the point in going further, who was going to stop them out here? A big ‘No Camping’ sign right enough but that just meant that they had a bit of shelter if the wind got up. That was Chris’s take on it anyway, and people usually listened to what he said. Chris prided himself on being the faster driver. There were three of them that had got there a little ahead of the rest, in the Rover. They stood looking around the curve of the loch to their chosen site. “Really quiet out here”, said Kev. “Yeah, well spotted like”, sniggered Chris back and they all laughed awkwardly. “You’re right enough though, once you get off the main road you really notice it. Not another soul about, twisting and turning about, must only be a few miles but you feel like you’re heading into the back of beyond”. There was another pause. The sun beating down seemed to fix the scene in place, stop anything from moving. “Well, looks like someone’s beaten us to it”, Sarah piped up, pointing over to the old car sitting away in the corner of the car park. “Reckon there’s plenty of space for both of us”. Chris grinned smugly. “Jeez check the state of that banger eh?”.
What was going on between them all, how did they fit together? Well, it was simple really. Kev was into Sarah but Sarah was with Chris. Chris was into Jane but Jane was with Tom. Nobody had asked Tom what he wanted. But you know the score, it was an old story. [This para can probably go].
Right now Sarah and Chris were putting up their tent. Or rather, Sarah was putting it up and Chris was supervising. He could pull off a good supervisor pose, Chris. Always one arched against his side; a keen frown of concentration across his brow. Sarah stooped to hammer in the third of the pegs. “Mind you get it deep enough yeh”, Chris called over, “last thing we want is it blowing over in the night”. He peered hard at the numbered instruction diagram. “Now once you’ve finished with the pegs, the next thing we need is to hook up these red togs onto those blue straps. They should keep the front holding up nice and sturdy”. With the corner of one eye he caught sight of Tom and Kev coming back over from the cars bringing more booze. “Here let me give you a hand”, he said, bending down beside here. He started hammering in another peg. As the lads drew closer, he called over to them. ”Can’t trust women to put a tent up eh? If you want something done properly you’ve got to do it yourself”. Sarah looked on but didn’t say anything.
This was early afternoon. It was about the first time that Kev saw the man. Just wandering into his vision, a tall figure getting out of a white car, nothing weird in itself; but it made him jump, silhouetted against the falling sunlight like that. The man took a couple of bags from his boot and then moved away in the other direction, up into the hillside. “Jesus, look like you’ve just seen a ghost”, Chris sneered at him. “Piss off” Kev muttered back, but in a way it was true, the figure was an intrusion from somewhere else, somewhere inexplicable. You couldn’t register it as a person, not at that speed or distance, just a rapidly shifting mass of stuff.
Jane and Tom were up by the top of the loch; Kev could see them away on the horizon, Tom had his hands up waving above his head. Every now and then, if he strained a bit, he could catch snippets of their conversation.
“Well I’m just saying, maybe it would have been better to wait a while”.
“Oh thanks, you’ve changed your tune. I seem to recall you were quite keen on the idea at the time.”
“But it’s just, I feel like... what are we really getting out of it right now?”
“Thanks for that, thanks a fucking lot – you want to stick the knife in a bit further?”
“Oh don’t be like that, please”.
But then the breeze changed, and Kev couldn’t hear any more. He stood there for a minute, watching their overexcited gestures like a distant puppet show, then moved on back towards the campsite.
“Anyone up for some fishing?”
“Nah you’re alright Chris, maybe later”.
“Telling you Kev, what it’s all about”.
“I might go and take a wee dip actually, now it’s brightened up”.
[More description in amongst this]
Chris looked over at Tom and Jane coming back over, Jane’s top tight against her chest in the summer breeze, her hair strewn across her face. “You go on ahead love, I’ll be down in a while”.
Kev bounded over to her as she started to wander down towards the shore. “Hey, I’ll join you.”
Jane gave him a dubious look over, just for a second. “Yeah alright then, let’s go”.
Kev and Sarah came running up from the shore. They were yelling. “Here, I didn’t mean to, I swear, it was an accident.”
“Piss off Kev, you knew exactly what you were doing.”
Sarah was in a swimsuit. Quite a small one. Chris came striding over to them. Kev was awkwardly trying to throw a towel around his trunks and chest.
“Hey now what’s going on, is everything all right babe?”
Sarah went as if to speak, then stopped. Her face flushed red. Then she started again.
“Nah it’s fine Chris, it’s nothing”.
Chris glowered over at Kev, who was staring down as if he’d found a complex pattern in the grass.
“Did you touch her, mate”.
“Look I said it’s nothing Chris, leave it”.
Another pause. Chris looked back over to the campsite where Tom and Jane were experimenting with some sausages. “Well screw it, I don’t even know what’s going on with you anyway. I’m getting a beer, and seeing what’s going on with the food”.
They’d made an awkward circle around the fire, chewing away on burnt sausages. Cans and bottles were out. Chris was shouting, still.
“I’m telling you, it’s always the same. You just don’t give a toss about what I’m into these days. You’ve changed, you’re all sticking to yourself now.”
“Oh give it a rest Chris, you’re pissed.”
“And you, sitting there smoking that crap. Who the hell do you think you are?”
Kev scowled up at him. “I swear it’s always sniping with you, isn’t it? Can’t give anyone else their own space”.
“Their own space! Listen to you, ya div”.
“Look just calm down a bit eh Chris”.
“Screw the lot of you then, I’m going fishing.” He looked over at Sarah hopefully.
“Yeah go then, go fishing. I’m hanging out here a while longer”.
Chris gave a last sour look back, grabbed a couple of cans and stomped off.
There were four of them around the campfire now. There were drink cans strewn round about. And the girls were starting to act differently from how the guys had expected. “Well”, Sarah piped up, “are you going to pass that over here or just smoke it all yourself.” Tom gave her a surprised look but did as she asked.
“Is that it then? It doesn’t do much eh?, I was expecting something a little more mind-blowing”
“Well, it’s not instant you dummy, you have to give a while to take effect. And probably keep smoking”.
Everything around was calm, growing calmer. It must have been gone midnight already, but with the sky a perpetual half-light, never quite seeming to darken, it was impossible to keep close track of the time. Things drifted.
“Oh hang on that’s alright yeah, that’s more like it I think. Here Jane, you should take it a while”.
Jane shrugged. “Ok then, anything once.” At that moment, Jane and Tom linked eyes for the briefest of moments.
Kev leaned up for a second from his hunched position. The rest of them had almost forgotten he was there.
“Telling you, there’s some bad things in the world. Like when they kill people by paying them to stare at goats. Or maybe it’s the goats they kill. Someone told me though”.
Jane looked over at him. “Kev, what the hell are you talking about?”.
“You’re losing the plot man”, Tom chuckled nervously.
“Nah, you lot just aren’t paying enough attention to the world around you, is what it is. And you’ll end up regretting it. Eyes peeled at all times, ‘cause you know for sure they’ll be watching you back.”
Sarah tried to hide her face, creasing into a sad chuckle.
Jane stood up. “C’mon Kev, we’d best be getting you off to bed”.
Kev shook away her helpfully extended arm. “Jeezo, ‘s alright, I can take care of myself, know when I’m not wanted”. He began to wander off, vaguely in the direction of the tents.
“Hey don’t worry about it Kev”, Sarah called back at him, “you get some rest, we’re just going to stay up a while longer, do some more.. talking”.
“He’s well out of it. Been smoking too long”. Tom was muttering into the campfire, at no-one in particular. After a while Jane replied, in the same tentative tone.
“Sometimes it’s maybe just better to let things go, no when it’s best to stop”.
Another flicker of glances exchanged.
Then it was Sarah’s turn again, talking slowly but surely.
“You know what, I’m fed up of all this paranoid thinking. Kev, Chris, they’re all the same. Right now I’m more interested in thinking positive. You’ve got to believe that you matter, that what you’re doing in this world is worthwhile. It’s weird, it’s like the way we’re brought up, that’s almost something you’re taught is bad, but truth is you need a little pride in yourself. You don’t get anywhere if you think you’re just human waste.”
There was a silence all round. Then Jane give a little laugh.
“Yeah, I like that. Dunno what it means really, but it sounds good”.
And this time they all laughed.
Moon blue, water green. Hills falling purple into sunset. Breeze lapping smoke lapping faces against deep flame of the campfire. Tents fluttering. Just a little.
Over back, out of sight amongst hills, a man stalked. Stooped, serious, dragging behind him an unknown weight. Through the trees, ever onward, ever closer.
Backs sprawled against turf, arms stretching, touching, lingering. A peel of laughter ringing across the grass. A pause, then another. Eyes meeting, flickering apart then cautiously drawing back.
And still the man came closer.
Confused touchings, awkward recoils and whispered apologies. But only for some, and only at first. Pale blink of stars, shading into the halflight. Murmurs, barely words now, but still communicating deeply. Slowly one of the three slips away, leans back into the comforting whirpool of sleep.
So then in the late twilight all was still except for the steady shaking of Sarah’s tent. Which should have been what was right in Kev’s focus as he came out of the trees, but he was a man on a mission and oblivious to everything around him. As he trotted down into the campsite the shaking grew louder and faster, as if rushing towards a secret goal. And then nothing, absolute stillness, all tension wholly absent from the scene. But not for long.
“A man with an axe has got Chris! He’s killed him!”.
It was Jane who was the first to stir, lurching up from her sprawled position beside the embers of the fire. “Huhwhat.. Kev , ‘sappenin.. ‘slate”
Kev lauched into his speech again, chanting the words as if in a trance. As he carried on, Sarah began to stumble slowly over from her tent. She had a towel draped over bra and panties. Her hair had reached a new degree of dishevelled.
Tom crept out from the back of Sarah’s tent. He was in boxers with a t-shirt half on. As he came up behind the group by the fire he hoped nobody had clocked where he’d come from. He coughed.
“Jeez, Tom, where’d you spring from?”
“Eh, nature called. I was just about to come see if I could you back to the tent, you were out cold. What’s going on?”
“It’s Chris. Kev’s saying he saw him attacked.”
They both looked Kev hard in the face.
“It was all in front of me, frozen like a photo. I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t stop it.”
“Now steady on Kev, what are you saying? You saw Chris get attacked, or you just thought that you did?”
But they got no reply.
All frantic bursts of movement now, raking, calling, flashing torches. Back and forth across the campsite.
“Someone check down by the shore. He said about fishing, didn’t he?”
“Crap, Sarah says he’s not in his tent”.
They clambered down the slope towards the shore.
“I still reckon he was just sleep-walking. I mean look at him, he’s out of his mind still."
“Shh, he’ll hear.”
Torches came streaming, wobbling back up from the shoreline. “Still no sign of him. Shit, what the hell’s going on here?”
And then in straight into the middle of the panicked silence, an almighty snore. Followed by a weird, panicked laugh from Sarah.
“Hey that’s him! I’d know that sound anywhere!”
“He’s alright then. But where the hell is it coming from?”. Tom looked around, trying to follow the sound. It was coming from a tent, all right, but not Sarah and Chris’ own.
They pulled up the zip on Tom and Jane’s tent, and hesitantly peered inside. There was Chris, lying half-asleep on top of a sleeping bag, an open beer can wobbling in his hand. He greeted them with a bleary smile. “Jane darlin, I knew you’d make it. Come in and make yourself comfy. Oh hang on, you’ve brought company.”
There was a prolonged silence. No-one knew where to look. It was Jane herself who piped up.
“What the hell are you playing at Chris? We were worried sick looking for you and now this crap”. Chris looked a little confused.
“Look don’t mess about, we both know you want it”. His face creased into a leer. “Better off with me than that wimp Tom, I can get rid of him easy if that’s what you want”.
“Oh fuck off Chris”.
They backed out of the tent again. Sarah turned round to them.
“I’m not sleeping with this waste of space tonight. Can I come in with youse two?”.
There was the briefest of pauses. It was Tom who replied.
“Aye alright. Kev you should get some sleep too, you need to get yourself sorted out pal.”
And so they awkwardly dispersed again. This time the excitement for the night seemed be all over.
Blue sky in the morning but nobody smiling. Everyone was wanting just to get home with the least amount of hassle and talking possible. But Sarah had this certain something going on, this secret look in her eye you could see if you caught it right. Tom had it too, that little twinkle and sideways glance at her when he thought nobody was looking. Kev was speaking to nobody, not even looking at them if he could help it. The old Vauxhall was gone when then got back to the car park. But by this stage nobody really registered it. As they pulled off onto the road, the landscape still sat there, impassive, as if nothing had ever changed.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Tentative Mixing aka Shameless Self-Promotion

Most of the people who are in contact with me through various combinations of Dissensus/Twitter/Facebook will already be aware of these couple of recent mixes I've put together, but I thought it would be worth archiving them here too. Here's the first -
Cooly G - Narst [Hyperdub]
Geeneus - Yellowtail VIP
Shystie - Pull It (Ill Blu remix) [It's Funky]
Roska - Gone to a Better Place [Roska Kicks and Snares]
Emvee - Nocturnal [Wireblock]
Alison Hinds - Roll It Gal (remix) [1720 Entertainment]
Roska - Our Father [Roska Kicks and Snares]
Royal P - Like That [Rhythm Division]
Cooly G - Love Dub [Hyperdub]
Stush - We Nuh Run (Sirens riddim)
Maxwell D - Industry Watching (Inflation riddim)
Benga - 26 Basslines (L-Vis 1990 edit)
Untold - I Can't Stop This Feeling [Hessle Audio]
Wiley - Eskimo [WileyKat]
Gremino - Be and See
Untold - Anaconda [Hessle Audio]
DJ Oddz vs Tempa T - Strung Up Hype (Oneman blend)
Burial - Unite [Hyperdub]
Kode 9 - Babylon [Hyperdub]
Benga - Roller [Tempa]
Joker & Ginz - Re-Up [Kapsize]
Zomby - Aquafresh [Hyperdub]
Starkey ft Durrty Goodz - Gutter Music [Keysound]
Rustie & Joker - Play Doe [Kapsize]
DVA ft Badness, Riko, Flowdan, Killa P - Bullet A Go Fly (Dusk & Blackdown remix) [Keysound]
Zomby vs The Streets - Sound System Banger (Bare Bones blend)
Joker & Ginz - Purple City [Kapsize]
Gemmy - BT Tower [Planet Mu]

And here's the second -
Rustie – Zig-Zag [Wireblock]
D-Malice – Gabrielle refix [Diamond In Da Ruff]
Sticky ft Ms Dynamite – Bad Gyal (Crazy Cousinz remix)
Slackk – Bambara Fly
Hard House Banton – Reign (edit) [Spoilt Rotten]
Perempay & Dee – Buss It [self-released/Ministry of Sound]
Maxwell D – Blackberry Hype (Different riddim)
Moony – Donnie [UK Funky]
MJ Cole ft Digga – Gotta Have It (funky dub) [Prolific]
Roska – Elevated Levels [Roska Kicks and Snares]
Apple – Chantes [Ministry of Sound]
Mala – Left Leg Out [DMZ]
Ramadanman – Revenue (Untold remix) [2nd Drop]
D1 – BG [Tempa]
Sticky ft Ms Dynamite – Booo [Social Circles]
Zinc – 138 Trek [Bingo Beats]
Dusk & Blackdown ft Durrty Goodz – Concrete Streets [Keysound]
Newham Generals – Mind Is A Gun [Dirtee Stank]
Maniac – Ugly [GPP]
James Blake – Air & Lack Thereof [Hemlock]
Footsie – 3 Plates [Dirtee Stank]
Mark Pritchard & Om’Mas Keith – Wind It Up [Hyperdub]
Jamie Vex’d – Radiant Industry [Planet Mu]
Joker – Hollybrook Park [Kapsize]
Rustie – Tempered [Kapsize]
Ikonika – Phonelines VIP

To justify making a blog post of this I should probably have a wee rambling chat about the thought process behind, in my typical style. Read if you want, skip if you want:
I'm still very much at the learning stage with this whole thing, and these two mixes represent my first attempts at putting togther something for other people to listen to. As I've made sure to say wherever I've posted them, I'm not under any illusions as to either of them being some kind of masterpiece: they're done on software, there are certainly a few clangs and clatters, and also some points where although the tunes are in time and in harmony with each other they just weren't the best choices to put together.
Just by looking at the tracklistings you'll see that the mixes span different genres, primarily house/funky, grime and dubstep shading into wonky/purple/post-dubstep stuff (btw, can we please start a campaign for better genre names in UK bass music, starting this instant? It gets embarrasing writing/talking about these things!) You'll also that they incoporate some older tunes in among new or recent ones. However, I wouldn't want to overemphasise any eclectic or free-floating aspect to my mixing. There is a kind of logic to how I put these together.
Mainly it's to do with energy. I'm rather dissapointed and suspicous of the way that in the last couple of years (particularly in the dubstep sector, it has to be said) the old opposition between a 'mainstream' centred on the dancefloor and an 'experimental' fringe aimed more at the head has crept back into dance music discourse. Insisting on this rigid distinction, in my opinion, can only lead to both sides losing out drastically. Historically the best raving music has always been populist and cutting-edge. Therefore in these mixes, I am totally unabashed about aiming to keep energy levels high throughout, but equally I want to express this energy in a variety of ways, including by showcasing what I take to be some quite forward-looking music.
Of course, in part this style of mixing is imposed on me by not being a dubplate DJ, by mainly only having access to released material. As I hope to discuss in future posts, my belief is that notwithstanding its venerable tradition, the dubplate approach currently has as many drawbacks as it has plus-points. I both hope and believe that we'll start to see more people doing it differently. Not being able to rely on hype surrounding the newness of a tune or the priviledged access of a particular DJ to it has forced me to really think about my selection and make sure each tune both stands on its own merit and contributes to the whole mix.
Increasing the tempo gradually over the course of the mixes works as a simple way to build them to some kind of peak. But at the same time, having each of them end in tracks which use the halfstep should ensure that the contrast between beginning and end isn't too sharp. (In the near future I want to try doing mixes which go from faster to slower to faster again, again to allow different kinds of intensity to come through). Different styles of UK bass music are placed side by side not to show off my diverse taste, but instead to explore the inherent similarities and points of overlap between them, and challenge the way people have divided themselves over very minor distinctions. The same but different. Similarly, when I include an old tune, it's to highlight the way they can sometimes uncannily foreshadow what is going on now.
At the most abstract level, I want to use these mixes to explore the emerging aesthetic which I've mentioned in previous posts, which is this slightly odd combination of tension and euphoria, where the two elements don't so much balance each other out as both conflict with each other and reinforce each other.
I should state absolutely, though, that I do not take myself too seriously in all this. I'm practicing quite hard with this - indeed harder than with anything for a long time, and it's something where I can experience myself progressing along the learning-curve in real time, which is both a big pleasure and something of a rarity for me - but ultimately I see it as a hobby. I hope a few people that I know download and find something to enjoy in the mixes, and probably my long-term aim would be to play in person for friends and acquainances, just for fun. If the opportunity were to arise in the future to do local or internet radio, or indeed play out at a club night, that would obviously great, but it's not my main aim, and the chances of it transpiring this way are low.
I've added a somewhat patchy discography on to these, for those wanting to chase down any tunes they don't have. I decided it was best to restrict myself to the tunes that were fully released and where (or so I think ;D ) I knew the label, due to the rather uncertain status of some of the other tunes (how do you label them? - forthcoming, unreleased, unknown, legitimate free release, semi-legitimate free release etc etc.... ). Any corrections or additions to this would be welcome, go to the comments box as usual.
Should have another mix, in similar style but hopefully a bit longer, done soon. But for now, enjoy these!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

FAO all Glasgow readers

Some big musical goings-on coming up between now and early September time. Collecting the details here so that we don't miss out:

Friday 14th August
A Night with Berkane Sol.
Geiom (Berkane Sol, Skam, Wigflex)
Brackles (Berkane Sol, Applepips,Planet Mu, Pollen, Blunted Robots)
Spamchop (Berkane Sol, Wigflex)
Electric Eliminators
Pivo Pivo (Waterloo Street)
11pm - Late
£7 on the door

Saturday 15th August
Joker (Hyperdub)
Spencer (Wireblock)
Production Unit (Highpoint Lowlife)
VJ Retina Glitch
Numbers @ Stereo (Renfield Lane)
11pm - 3 am

Sunday 30th August
Electric Frog Street Carnival
Yorkhill Street
2pm - 11pm
Featuring Theo Parrish, Roska, Jackmaster and many others. Full line-up + details here:

Friday 4th September
Moderat - live!
aka Modeselektor & Apparat
+ The Village Orchestra & Goodhand
Live visuals from Pfadfinderei
Numbers @ The ABC, Sauchiehall Street
8pm - 11pm
Advance tickets £12 + bf, available from Rubadub, Ticket Scotland (Argyle Street) and the ABC box office (Sauchiehall Street). Or online from Rubadub or Ticketweb.

Very swiftly followed by...
Friday 4th September
Official Moderat afterparty
Untold (Hessle Audio/Hotflush)
+ Spencer & Jackmaster
Numbers @ Sub Club, Jamaica Street
11pm - late
Free entry with Moderat ticket stub / £10 otherwise.

Friday 11th September
Prefuse 73 live
Jamie Vex'd
Ballers Social birthday night @ Stereo
8 pm start
(no other details about price etc available yet, will update when I find them).

Sunday, 12 July 2009

'Order now, to avoid dissapointment...'

Okay, before I get started with tonight’s post, allow me to get up on my soapbox for a minute. There’s a part of me that’s rather dubious about the idea of regularly using this blog to promote new music releases. I think it risks becoming part of a wider trend – seen regularly in review sections of magazines, papers, tv shows etc – that patronises and exploits the audience by making each supposed critical discussion of the arts into an opportunity to manoeuvre them into a new purchase. “And if you like the sound of artist xyz, why not pick up their album at.....”
So when I discuss the current and forthcoming releases below, I do so according to the following ground-rules. I’ll only promote stuff that I’m really feeling, and that I regard as underexposed and potentially difficult to track down, especially for those without a strong existing investment in the music. These records on the whole are small releases on small labels – they represent some of the few remaining flourishing of genuinely independent, non-corporate music production and distribution in the UK, and for that very much deserve support. Finally, highlighting new releases becomes important at a time like now when many small, independent records are appearing; lists like these are then useful just to keep on top of things, not least for myself, and prevent worthy music from slipping through the cracks.

First up, the Blunted Robots 001 release that I’ve been banging on about since time. Mickey Pearce – Innami on one side, Martin Kemp – No Charisma on the other. This is currently OUT, in fact has been so since 6th of July, this last Monday past. To my knowledge there are still plenty of copies available, but y’know, don’t sleep on this if you want get one. You can order a copy here; only vinyl at the mo but apparently a digital release is planned for the near-ish future. The BR label is run by Brackles, whose DJing has been widely praised of late ( including by me in previous posts) along with a bloke called Shortstuff, who has done some nice co-productions with both Brackles and Pearce; hopefully we might seem the come out on BR later. Also already on release is this cracker of a package - 4 remixes of Tempa T’s Next Hype, from Plastician, DVA, Brackles (there he is again!) and Starkey, downloadable here . So that’s four pretty major current figures, covering a decent stylistic range, and of course the original is a modern classic, grime anthem of the year. The Starkey mix is an excloos, or so I’m led to believe. A vinyl follow-up run is planned for the near future, which is excellent as to the best of my knowledge Tempz’ original crazily never made it onto wax. No sightings of the mash-up mixes by Oneman and co yet – in fact, my wager is that licensing issues mean that they’ll never see the light of day beyond radio rips. But we can still hope, and in the meantime we’ve got this.
Now onto Keysound, a fine imprint which is the brainchild of Rinse DJ and production duo Dusk and Blackdown. Currently they’ve got Bullet A Go Fly, produced by DVA, out on vinyl and mp3 release here . This tune’s a bit of a monster, featuring Riko, Flowdan, Badness and Killa P all taking a turn on mike – that’s pretty much the biggest patios-style grime MCs all right there! At first the brutality of the lyrics was almost a bit too much for me, but I’ve warmed to it; the production def helps, there’s a cold, barren element that prevents it from coming across as purely as a swaggeristic macho celebration, more like a resigned acceptance of impending doom, whatever the lyricists intended. The real one for me though is Dusk and Blackdown’s remix on the flip – boosting the bass, slowing it down a touch, focussing in on the sinisterly shuffling cymbals, it’s both more danceable and even more ominous.

Not resting on their laurels though, they’ve also got a fantastic double-header forthcoming on the 27th of this month. On one side, Grievous Angel’s VIP remix of Soundclash by Naptha; on the other, GA’s own tune Harpy. I’m not sure I can do justice to these tunes – basically the former is 2-steppy garage but with a hard junglistic feel to it, while the latter is wonked-out dupstep-ish business with a real swagger going on. Best way to get a proper feel is to listen to the clips here though. Big release.

Mr Grievous is in fact being pretty prolific right now; in addition to the above, he also has his funky remixes of Move Down Low and Loser coming out on the 13th - that's tomorrow! -through his own Devotional Dubz label/project. Copies of the vinyl will be available at both Boomkat and Redeye, so should be easy to pick up over the net. Anyone who’s seen and/or heard a Kode 9 set over the last few months will know that both of these tunes mash up the dance – now they’re finally leaving his clammy exclusive grasp so the rest of us can get our eager hands on them.
A very interesting project is forthcoming on the Planet Mu label – Gremlins, a retrospective compilation of classic beats and mixes by Terror Danjah, one of the legendary all-time grime producers, and to my mind simply one of the most innovative and consistently exciting figures in electronic music that this decade has seen. Piano Madness, Zumpi Hunter, Code Morse, Boogeyman, Radar, they’re all here plus plenty more. Also being released alongside the comp is an EP, the 4th instalment in Terror’s Industry Standard series, which features new material - Sidechain is a personal fave. Release is due on September 28th. Oh and you gotta check the Gremlinz cover! -

From that to something a little different – I’m sure that if you follow the little pirate/internet radio/blog/website circle of which this page is a small part, you’ll have either heard or at least heard metion (usually in the form of ecstatic praise) Joy Orbison’s recent tune Hyph Mngo. The full tune can now be heard, in fairly glorious audio quality, through this youtube vid.

At first, although enjoying it, I wasn’t as fully sold on it as many peers seemed to be. But then a few days ago it just clicked – this tune is just pure euphoria, anthemic hands in the air biz, with a vibe totally reminiscent of sentimentality-overload, ravey early 90s material (check that wordless diva vocal snippet!) but with sonics that are fully up to date. Love it. The news currently is that it should be out on the Hotflush label in the near future - sadly no exact date seems yet to be announced. In a somewhat similar vein (for me at least) is James Blake’s Air and Lack Thereof, just recently out on Hemlock, the mini-label run by major current don Untold; pick it up here.
In previous posts I’d touched on the fact that along with those pushing a forward-looking (post) dubstep direction through experimentation with big, freakish synth melodies and unusual, ear-twisting textures (Zomby, Joker, Ikonika, Guido, Starkey, Gemmy etc.) there was a parallel development, influenced in certain cases by grime but more strongly and across the board by funky, focussed on complex percussion and off-centre but highly danceable rhythmic structures – the sound associated with artists like Untold, Martin Kemp, Mickey Pearce, Shortstuff, Geiom, Pearson Sound, Brackles and others. To my ears what Blake and JO are doing slots in as part of this mini-movement; in fact I might tentatively go as far as to say that their tunes represent part of the ‘deeper’ end of it. But in this case the d-word shouldn’t be taken as the instant par it can sometimes justifiably be, because these tunes are far from tepid or headnodder-ish, they manage to combine rich textures and interesting emotional moods with real energy and immediacy; in fact if anything the former factors intensify the latter. All of this is of course not to say that this direction is the way everything should go, of course; there’s plenty of room, indeed need, for tunes experimenting with harsher, grimier textures as well. (And neither would I want to suggest that there's some sharp dividing line between the two approaches). More of everything please!
Seeing as how this whole post has a had a bit of a ‘surveying the terrain’ feel to it, thought I’d round it off by quickly giving some praise to a few other blogs that I’ve been appreciating and that have been exploring similar avenues of enquiry to mine. Something which again I don’t want to do too much of, ‘cause it create a smug in-crowd sort of vibe and just generally not be of much interest to those involved. But in this case I’m allowing it, both ‘cause these are newish blogs that I think need and deserve the exposure, and because it’s useful to see confirmation that certain ideas have a degree of common currency and are not just the fevered fictions of my paranoid mind!
In addition to blogs which you’re likely to already be familiar and having a look at (and if not, why not, eh?) like Blackdown, the Heatwave and Lower End Spasm, and ones that I’ve praised before like Colz and Butterz, I draw your attention to the following:
Main mention has to go to Corpsey of the Ol Dirtnap blog, who like me has been investigating the recent trend for cross-genre fertilisation, focussing particularly on the DJ end of things. His reflections come from a slightly different angle to mine, given that he seems to have the background of being more of a dubstep follower and expert – so this gives an interesting twist to the way he approaches things. He’s also got some intersting things to say about contemporary r n b and its innovative production values. Like many with a background in both rock and ‘serious’ music, I have that slight inexplicable squeamishness when it comes to r n b, but I think I’m starting to overcome it of late. Anyway, the So Bones mix Corpsey discusses and links to comes highly recommended. Also well worthy of mention in terms of blogs covering the new music as it happens are AlgeirsTwin at Just A Moment , Alex Deamonds at It's All About and Jeff Pestario with There Was Always Doubt. All three have provided me with invaluable information of late.
So there’s loads going on at the moment, now that you (hopefully) know something about the state of play, best thing to do is jump right in there!

PS – I’ve recently joined the world of Twitter, here. Still rather uncertain about the whole concept of it, but I’ve already gotten plenty of fresh musical info off of it. Big up everyone I follow :D .

Friday, 19 June 2009

Meanwhile, outside....

In case any of you were starting to become (understandably) worried that I've withdrawn myself totally into some esoteric little realm of purple-wonky-psych-funk-mutational-nuumoid-tension-step, I am aware that there is some fairly serious, important stuff going on out in the wider world right now, particularly as regards the aftermath of the Iranian election.
This has so far been my main source for keeping track of events. It provides a sort of meta-level commentary-on-the-commentary, with links to Twitter tweets, photos, news reports, opinion pieces, plus informed discussion on all of the above.
Sending out massive respect, sympathy and hope to all those risking their safety and security on the streets right now...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Bonus extra unity

(Just when you thought it was over...)
Whilst many of the readers of this blog will already be as familiar, if not more so, with the music under discussion as I am myself, I am aware that some of you out there may not be. So I thought a nice way to wrap up the topic (for now, at least) would be to share some of what I think are the best introductions to it.
I am rather wary of the blog becoming an mp3 dump cum link-fest, but I'm going to allow it in this particular case becasue it serves a specific purpose. I reckon that mixes are in many ways the best way to hear this music, partly because of practical reasons - many of the tunes are unreleased or from artists with so far a very small output - but also because, as I've mentioned a few times below, this type of music 'mixes well' in a way that's somewhat hard to specify; a lot of its excitement is generated by pushing one tune up against another, seeing how what might seem like disparate material can form a coherent whole. The Pangea mix for Reprise linked to in the last post would be an excellent place to start. I can also wholly recommend the following:
Jackmaster's recent mix for the Wire - A true musical thrill-ride from start to finish. (The degree of ecleticism here, I should point out, goes beyond what is the norm in UK music right now, particularly in the ammount of hip-hop material used. Though perhaps this is not outside of the norm for the Glasgow scene in particular: more to come on that at a later date).
Bok Bok's new guest mix for the Lucky Me family - Just beautiful, with loads of woozy psychedelic synths.
Jamie Vexd's mix also for Lucky Me - A bit older this one, but still sounding exciting and relevant.
Marcus Nasty MC special on Rinse FM - Bit of a different take on the unity concept this one, but a classic and pretty much an instant historical event from the moment it was broadcast last November.
Terror Danjah's May mix for FACT magazine - More recent excursion into grime/funky territory, with plenty of Terror's own amazing instrumentals.
Ben UFO, Oneman and MC Asbo doing a recent Ruffage Sessions show on Sub FM - high-energy stuff from start to finish with surreal hosting chat from Asbo.
Also make sure to check out Colz' blog, which hosts a proper shedload of relevant mixes, including plenty of recent radio sets.

Finally, I thought it might be helpful to share links to blog posts and articles that have been of use to me in attempting to get to understand 'the new music'. Along with those linked to in the original post, the following are well worth a read (tending perhaps to focus on the w*nky concept, but covering other stuff too).
(+ follow-up posts)