Posts from 27th March 2003

Mar 03

DJ Lance Lockarm – “Lose Yrself Fitter”

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DJ Lance Lockarm – “Lose Yrself Fitter”

The notion of The Voice in pop is a long standing Freaky Trigger/NYLPM obsession – just check the archives if you don’t believe me. Little thought seems to be paid to the matching of voice and music once the initial work of forming a band (or grooming an artist) is done. Form follows function, or vice versa. They guys in Creed and Staind sing the way they do because Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder (or the guy from Foreigner) did; you wanna play grunge ballads, go with what works. “Expanding” the role of the voice seems then to either be a dog’s dinner or a very, very slow process of refinement.

So at the one extreme you have someone like the Red Krayola, who believe that any vocal (or more accurately any text) can be matched to any music, Ma(y)oist polemic over cod disco-funk or soulful crooning over nasty garage rock or whatever. Occasionally it works, but more often – like a lot of art rock – it’s like a failed lab report, two solutions suspended between each other. At the other, new styles of singing are really points in a continuum: a direct line can be drawn between Otis Redding and K-Ci & Jo-Jo, although you’d be hard pressed to see it in isolation. (Then there’s the outright experiment – Thom Yorke chopping his voice to fuck-all on “Kid A” – and the inspired one-off – Robert Wyatt’s out-of-time bleached mahogany.)

One of the best features about our much-maligned modern Pick’N’Mix culture is that – with the cycles of recycling shrinking every day – the inspired mutations are sticking out and the lame ones receding into the depths of faddish memory even more quickly than usual. So, as Tom pointed out, DFA finally found a working platform for those parched indie yelps, twenty years after the fact. Bootlegs — essentially being the ephemeral crap of bored middle-class computer geeks — shrink those cycles even further, if not obliterate them altogether. Bootlegs do away with the ‘form follows function’ rules at the outset — usually to their detriment — but they also do away with the continuum, so long dead styles — vocal or instrumental — are suddenly reanimated, given new purpose.

‘Lose Yourself’, in it’s original form, blew it when it determined that Eminem’s rabble rousing AOR rap had to be matched with music as turgid as AOR usually was. This boot reanimates the words — which really are invigorating despite overexposure – by linking three alt-rock instrumentals: Smashing Pumpkins ‘Cherub Rock’, The Cure’s ‘Primary’, and Sonic Youth’s ‘Titanium Expose’. (Which, despite seeming incongruous and ‘wacky’, actually form a rather complex new song: grungey opener, punk-funk bridge, careening avalanche rock ending.) Totally ‘tossed off’, despite the obvious work involved, it magically provides a context — one he or his handler’s never would have seen or had the guts to try – for Em’s most ‘rock’ performance yet, while almost making you forget the whiny gurgling, goth poesy, and beatnik affectations of the originals (as good as they can be.)

LISA MAFFIA — ‘All Over’

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I seem to have spent three years of this weblog trying to think of different ways to describe ever drier beats and ever sharper synth lines: R’n’B — even British R’n’B, who’d have thought it! – just keeps getting uglier and uglier and more and more synthetik and I still love it. ‘All Over’ doesn’t get going until Lisa goes patois – her voice gets richer, gains authority, and when the chorus comes back I’m suddenly feeling it more. ‘LIIII-suh! Maffia!’ yell the throaty backups as the beat shudders and jabs in place. ‘Remember I told ya, I’m a sold-ya!’ (Oh right? So why aren’t you in Umm Qasr? The first casualty of war is metaphor.)

But it’s a good track, the best and hardest So Solo Crew yet. And it’s a wonderful pop world where we can take this kind of jitter and scrape so absolutely for granted as chart music. Long live nastiness.

MADONNA — ‘American Life’

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The admirable: Madonna’s thinking big, and she’s working through a sound not playing magpie. It’s a pretty individual sound, too: Madonna’s time-smoothed voice, funkless rhythm’n’blips from Mirwais, and soothing shots of more trad instrumentation if the audience gets fractious (acoustic pluck here, strings on the Bond theme). I like that she’s exploring this particular patch, and so far it’s paid off – most of her recent singles have sounded queasy on first listen and got steadily better.

So the risk-taking’s changed up, from music to concept — ‘American Life’ is a big title, like ‘Music’. This is an Event Record, it says, and I like that too. But Event Records have a tendency to be damp squibs (think about what you wanted Eminem’s ‘White America’ to be, and what it was) and for all its production muscle ‘American Life’ footles around, limps through its chorus and leaves its payoff to the last minute when Madonna does a rap.

She can’t rap, of course, but American life and ‘American Life’ is all about a sense of entitlement, the right to do anything even if you can’t. The rap is a litany of luxuries, funny and forceful, rhyming pilates and hotties and latte and shot because nobody’s there to stop it, and when the list speeds up and ‘You know I’m satisfied’ becomes a howl of ‘Do you think I’m satisfied?’ it sounds like a monster who could swallow the world. My desire is so voracious I’m gonna eat your nation-state.

Not great but worth hearing, in other words.

Can you pick your favourite from the

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Can you pick your favourite from the Time Out Pub Of The Year competition? Oddly much of the publog regulars are in a position to take part this year having been to almost all of the pubs (and come on, how can a pub in Greenwich win). We are currently torn between the Seven Stars off of Fleet Street and the Swimmer (more on which coming soon). As a trad run-down but servicable boozer the Seven Stars wins hands down. Centre of town, good beers. Unfortuantely full of lawyers which lessens its charms a touch, and too poky to get a truly comfortable pint in exceppt mid afternoon. The Swimmer on the other hand is a revelation for the area it is in – the Holloway Road has suffered from no decent pub syndrome for quite some time now. There is something a tad too clean about the place at the moment, but very friendly, knowledgeable bar staff plus a fantastic selection of beers nudges it above the average.

One question though, both of these pubs seem to do pretty serviceable food – almost up to gastropub level. Yet the food’n’drink awards also have Best Gastropub as a seperate catagory. I’m sure there is a proper definition between the two – but surely the point of the gastropub is to blur the line twixt pub and restaurant. Which both The Swimmer and the Seven Stars do.