Sunday, December 28, 2014

bass for the weight

In The Wire end-of-year issue, Louis Pattison talks about the "weightless" quality of the nu-grime. And he doesn’t mean that as a pejorative. Not at all: the essay is full of warm words for operatives who "advance grime into structurally abstract, melodically rich realms". No misgivings discernible when it's noted that "weightless tracks do not welcome the presence of an MC, and for the most part, on record at least, that's the way they stay: untethered to personality or postcode, left to explore space,melody and emotion in a state of zero gravity."

All very accurate, that, but I for one do take "weightless" as a pejorative, unintended as it is is.  Grime has gone from purpose-built MC tools to purposeless instrumentalizm: not what I'd call "advance". A form of music that once served as a vehicle for individual and social expression – explosive with individual hunger, freighted and feral with social demand -  has been reborn as art-muzak. Superficially jagged and challengingly ugly;  ultimately placid. *  

Compare the nu-G with deep tech (e.g. the Jack 'n Danny set + MC above), which does feel purposeful, does pack some (bass) weight. (A genre, intriguingly, totally cold-shouldered by your FACTs and Wires - deep tech doesn't figure into either's official account of 2014, the tally of treasurable or notable sonic landmarks). 

[stop press: check Dominic Morris's just-out Guardian piece on Deep Tech)

Deep tech works according to classic sceniotic/ "changing-same" principles. Its form is stringently determined by function: DJ tools for adjusting the pleasure-machinery of the crowdfloor. Eclecticism is refused/refuted in favor of rigorous vibe-consistency.  A sort of pleasure-principled puritanism:  austere-yet-hedonist. Like a person with a very defined set of sexual kinks, returning fixatedly to the same narrow set of erogenous zones and turn-ons. 

It makes me wish I was back in London – something that  funky didn’t manage,  nor dubstep.  

The last thing that made me wish I was back living in London was grime, of course. Old grime, meaning - in its own time - new grime, in so far as it was a new thing, then, a shock of the new thing.... not a long-established template or blueprint to be tinkered with, "expanded" or "advanced" upon. In itself, it was the advance guard.     

* Mr Mitch and Yameneko - perfectly pleasant toy-musik - could almost have been designed to prove my contention that grime, 10 years after the fact, has become yet another province of the Nu-IDM).

Even the DJ patter here sounds nu-IDM...



Thursday, December 18, 2014


not in English and no subtitles but it doesn't matter

can't work out if this gabber doc is old or was really made in 2013 as it seems to say  - if it's about gabba now then the scene really is frozen in time

frozen, perhaps because it was the furthest promontory into the future....  a bridge incapable of extension (at least along that particular axis of extremism - speed / noise / assault / frenzy)

a bridge too far (Nightmare in Arnhem reference, apologies)

stop press: Steeve Cross says the doc is "indeed recent -  however it uses lots of 20 year old footage (early 90s) and you have those mid 30 / mid 40 guys talking about their youth as Gabbaheads. The footage from the parties is very like 1993-95-ish - hints: the video aesthetics/ the fashion/ the total lack of smartphones.  If it were recent, you'd see at least the phone screens flash here and there."

stop stop press: Roy de B points out helpfully that there are in fact subtitles in English you just have to click a button - never seen that function before

(tip off from Toby Reynolds, no relation, who knows a thing or two about extremes - he was  formerly known as DJ Scud, nowadays works with mountains)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dove Plate Pressure

oddity stumbled across trawling YouTube

never heard of the label or the artist

groanworthy pun on Dubplate and Doves there

samples from LFO and Holy Ghost Inc

label nod to Nasty V and the Don FM Crew

even the chaff of this era is treasurable

oh lookee here, Dove Recordings is the name of the label

how many other labels named themselves after a brand of E?

Well there was E, the Ibiza imprint, but that's generic

A small discography but rated by at least some

dude at Discogs opines:

This label, although relatively unknown, produced some of the ruffest tunes available in 1993, in my opinion. Using dark and atmospheric samples Crazee M managed to capture the spirit of the Darkside era brilliantly and i would recommend this label to anyone who likes Darkside hardcore. Customs + Excise Volume One and Genesis The Sequel / The Message in particular are two fine pieces of plastic, just dont listen to them in a darkened room will you!

like a junior Ibiza, i would say

Monday, December 15, 2014

via Blog to the Old Skool - a "live" PA by Rufige Cru, from November 1991, at a rave in Toronto - the most Anglophile rave scene in North America.

What a great find....


1 / that's about as live as a group on Top of the Pops, they're just standing there jigging about in front of the keyboards while the tracks play!

 2/ Goldie's not that hot as an MC let's be honest.

Still, v. nice little historical document....

Now, I seem to recall there was a DJ set + interview floating about that Goldie and cru did on a Toronto radio station around that visit, as ambassadors for Reinforced...

Ah, here it is (cheers to Daze of Reality in comments for better hook-up than the broken into eight bits on Youtube i had before)

and the other seven instalments here

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

community radio at its best (you nutter)

Being a tape I made in the mid-Nineties of my favorite pirate-tape bits from the early-90s

Now the excerpt from Index FM (starts at 5.05 minutes in) is engraved in my heart and memory for all time on account of these two tunes:

The first time I ever did hear Foul Play - the start of a lifelong love affair

And very fond of this one too, which kicks the sequence off

Got all three on vinyl. But none of them has ever sounded as electrifying on their own as in this sequence,  even with the fucked-up mix between "It's Not Over" and "Living Lonely" - a classic case of "not in spite of, because of"

Sunday, December 7, 2014

RETROlogic (frankly my dear I do give a Damm)

Martin Damm, who made breakbeat, gabba and Krautkore tracks under the name Biochip C and about 27 other aliases has been rereleasing his classic 90s tunes in a EP series he's named Lost Memories, through an imprint called RETROlogic

This second EP was originally released by Force Inc in 1993.

(via Strictly NuSkool blog)

Don't think I ever interviewed Damm, which is a pity because he put out some blinding stuff, and so much of it.

The Biochip C stuff was great but I particularly liked his emissions under the alter-ego The Speedfreak

I think this LP on Shockwave was the first one I scooped up by him, when I was most taken with the whole idea of gabba / speedcore / terrorcore.

I mean, a double album of gabba - the guy had music pouring out of him!

He could turn his hand to any style, Martin  - for instance he did experimental / IDM / abstract techno stuff for Mille Plateaux as Steel  - although I don't recall being as taken by that identity as much as his more ludic romping hKore and hhhhhgabbah identities

As Biobreaks he did some wicked speedjungle tracks for Riot Beats

I wonder if he is considered, as he should be, part of the ancestry of breakcore?

His name (as Biobreaks) pops up in this review I did in 1995 of the Rough and Fast compilation (which follows on nicely from the discussion of the Two On One series in the previous post)

(Riot Beats) 
The Wire, 1995?

by Simon Reynolds

All my anxieties about jungle's upwardly-mobile drift
towards dubious concepts like 'musicality' and 'maturity'
seem to be on the verge of becoming horrendous reality.
You've got artists utilising 'real' musicians, punters who
(ap)praise tracks in terms of how 'clean' their production
is, and a burgeoning mutual admiration pact between the Mo'
Wax posse and the drum & bass intelligentsia. All the new
styles in what must now be termed post-jungle are ultra-
smooth and mellifluously mellow--from hardstep, with its
fussy hi-hat shuffle-beats and tastefully restrained soul-diva
passion, to the fusion-tinged serenity and long sustained
synth-tones of the LTJ Bukem school.  Don't get me wrong,
these developments are still generating astonishing music.
But sometimes you've got to wonder: whither jungle's mania,
madness, ruffness?

For that, you might look to the UK's 'happy hardcore'
scene, which has back-lashed to '92 in order to follow a
different path than that taken by drum & bass, i.e. fixating
on staccato synth-stabs, rush-activating piano riffs, helium-
shrill vocals and stomping 4/4 beats. Or you might check out
Germany's small but fervent breakbeat scene, as represented
on Rough and Fast.  Based around a handful of labels,
Germanic jungle has more of an explicitly political edge than
its British cousin.  Key figure Alec Empire of agit-tekno
combo Atari Teenage Riot released a jungle track called "Hunt
Down the Nazis" (appropriate given that jungle is all about
musical miscegenation and post-colonial cultural hybridity).

Doubtless by necessity, German jungle is less polished
and fluent than current UK fare, but in a way that only adds
to its raw appeal--there's a fierce inflexibility, an un-
swinging rigour, to the drum programming that's curiously
invigorating at a time when so much UK drum & bass verges on
fuzak-with-breakbeats.  Much of this comp harks back to
jungle's under-rated 'dark' phase of early 1993, when
hardcore producers were first messin' with fucked up rhythms
but the music still retained some relation to techno (Joey Beltram/Belgian brutalism style as opposed to trance).

And so DJ Moonraker's "Lion King" and Space Cube's "Dark
Dive" both let rip bass-blast synth-riffs, redolent of the
Frankfurt-based PCP label's brand of stormtrooper tekno,
amidst the jittery, shimmery breaks, while Roland 303
aciiied-squiggles are woven into the hyper-syncopated bustle
of Sonic Subjunkies' "Djungelstadt" and Dr Echo & DJ
Reverend's "Fine Style".  And on Doc Tom's "Moskito" there's
a terrific ear-searing synth-noise that, yup, sounds like a
squadron of mosquitos dive-bombing upon your flesh.

As with most non-Anglophone appropriations of Brit-pop
there's something slightly wrong-sounding about the results:
just check those names--Doc Tom, Sonic Subjunkies, Mental
Bombin, DJ Reverend. But the best tracks here--the
itchy'n'scratchy insectoid scrabble of Biobreaks' "May The
Funk Be With You", the prehensile rhythmic intricacies and
gamelan-textured percussion-rolls of Da Captains of Phuture's
"Legendary Flight"--suggest not just that the Krauts may soon
catch but with their UK forebears, but that jungle's next and
most interesting phase will involve regional hybrids across
the globe: G-funk junglism, Miami Bass'n'drum, Latin-
breakbeat, Scandinavian new complexity 'ardkore....

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A comments-box commenter reminded me of the Two On One series that Moving Shadow did, starting in early 1994 -  an artist - either from the Shadow roster or an admired ally / peer -  given  one side of a 12 inch on which to explore their more "experimental" tendencies....

Very excited by this idea I was, but the results were generally underwhelming .... less intense than each artist's usual offerings, and in truth often less mindbendingly strange than the more slamming crowd-pleasing things Moving Shadow were doing at that time, such as Dead Dred's "Dred Bass"

The Goldie tune (Two On One Issue 1) was good, but no "Angel"

This is how I reviewed it at the time in Melody Maker:

"You could call it 'ambient hardcore', you could call it 'cyber-jazz'--either way,
"Fury"'s demonic timewarped bass, soul-diva-in-agony samples, orchestral synths
and jazzy tangents all add up to one hell of a phuture shocker."

This 2 Bad Mice effort was probably the best of the lot.... metallic stepper with sinister-slinky glow-bass

The MM review:  "a complex mesh of shifting snares and treated percussion"

The Foul Play was a middling sort of effort - although a Herbie Hancock "Watermelon" rip is always nice

The Omni Trio is lovely but it's just an alternate mix or a preview (can't remember which) of a track on the Vol. 4 EP, so hardly much of a stretching-himself step into the avant-zone for Mr Haigh. Bit of a fob-off, really.

The Deep Blue is decent, but more like a messy pageant of tasty drum sounds -- an unnecessary complication of what works so sublimely on "The Helicopter Tune"

The rest, though - mostly an early indication that the drift towards musicality and smoothed-out ambient textures was going to be a mixed blessing

(In MM I was still trying to maintain my enthusiasm for the series: the mini-review for that one goes "Tango's "Think Twice" is a dancefloor desolator, all demonic bass-surges and hideously clammy samples. Isolationist jungle? Sounds like a good idea to me."

Really beginning to lose interest by this point: "JMJ & Richie's "Deep Bass 9" is a pleasant enough confection of vocoderized ragga, blissed diva and two-step shuffle. But it's Size & Krust's "Witchcraft"--a dreamswirl of s(h)immering percussion, spangly wah-wah and hall-of-mirrors vocals-- that really substantiates the experimental intentions of the '2 On 1' series."

Now I guarantee you I never played that one ever again - but listening today, it's okay: "Music Box" + creepy sound-wraithes.

sadly not sampling the Renaissance tune... nice enough little groover though

ah the tell-tale pitter of the hand-percussion, and then the sickly synth-washes

it's the synths that spoil most of these tunes - uninteresting chords, pallid textures

See this one is quite exciting rhythmically - like frenzy inside a fog, with that susurrated spray of beat-particles...

... but then the World's Least Compelling Keyboard Chords keep interrupting the proceedings

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Matt Anniss goes deep with bleep in a probing piece for Resident Advisor on the bass-intensive Northern sound of early 90s England.  Nice images / graphics / colour-palette (blue and lime-green) too -  evocative of the period.

Anniss also did a thing on Unique 3's "It's Only The Beginning / The Theme" as Original Bleep + Bass Trak  for Juno Plus

And check out this bleepmix of his from a few years ago