Posts from 20th February 2002

Feb 02

UK Garage In 2001, Part 2

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UK Garage In 2001, Part 2: Tim Finney’s overview of UK G concludes as he talks us through some of the year’s best tunes and how they fit in to the scene’s continuing evolution. Some mouthwatering descriptions!

Must be a slow day in music…

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Must be a slow day in music… I suspect I’ll always be a bit baffled by the canonization of Richard D. James as the Most Innovative Electronic Artist of the 90s. (Saying this, mind, as someone who owns nearly everything the man’s put out, excepting the last album: I dodged that train wreck thank god.)

In regards to the claim: “it’s easy to forget that, back in the Warp Records heyday, Richard D. James was to this new breed of ambient and electronic music what Babe Ruth was to baseball.” Well, if we’re talking runs batted in, I’d have to guess that both Chill Out and …Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld sold more copies (although I certainly don’t have the sales figures to back it up.) I’d also argue that their impact was more immediate, their scope broader, and their followers almost nonexistent (especially in the case of The KLF,) owing to the uniqueness of the product.

I will concede that his influence was far reaching, although not necessarily for the good; IDM – as we know it – would certainly not exist without James. Part of this comes down to his own mythologizing of himself: the mad bedroom scientist from Cornwall, soldering his own circuit boards and riding around in a tank. It goes right back to the cheeky title of the album at hand – Selected Ambient Works 85-92 – oh, go on Richard. The lone-figure myth divorces him from his contemporaries, where he was obviously drawing inspiration.

Listen to Johnny L’s ‘Hurt You So’ or 4Hero’s ‘Journey From the Light.’ In the case of the former, acid squelches (or something that sounds like them anyway), wistful melody, and breakbeats. The latter, a beautiful synthetic string arrangement and manic beats, although not so manic (and body-boggling) as ‘Girl/Boy Song.’ There was, for an ever-brief period, even a Richard D. James who ‘stooped’ enough to produce something like ‘Powerpill Pacman’, which became a rave-era classic.

Of course, that’s hardly his best tune; the childish willfulness that drives him to create tracks like ‘Girl/Boy’ and ‘Windowlicker’ is actually his greatest strength. And his particular cult of personality is probably the closest that stodgy old IDM will ever come to a celebrity. In the face of the blinkered critical attitudes that put him there — still ignoring the early 90s dance ferment which served to nurture him as much as Eno or Stockhausen, ‘forgetting’ the fact that so many of his thrilling bastardizations are pop-parasitic — it’s still a bit frustrating.

Just leave me alone!

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 223 views

Just leave me alone! Pubs are for drinking in – that seems pretty obvious. For me, it’s no particular problem if people want to have too much to drink in a pub. Indeed, it’s not quite the same if there is no row of drunken sods propping up the bar. But I feel there some etiquette to these things.

– by all means, sit silently in the corner with two dozen empty pint glasses on the table in front of you. Feel free to glare around menacingly.
– by all means, start shouting and start banging the table (goodness knows, I’ve done it enough times myself).

Just don’t come over and try to engage me in conversation!

I’m not an unamiable person. I pride myself on being easy-going. But there is a time and a place for making new friends and it is not when you are drunk and your selected t’te-‘-t’te target is trying to have their own conversation (or a pub quiz). Twice in a couple of weeks some really dodgy geezers have tried to make my acquaintance before closing time. Do I look like I want to hear their ramblings? Do I? DO I?

Some examples of the kind of drivel I’ve had to put up with of late.

“I’ve got a hundred and fifty thousand pounds in the bank. I bloody well have!”
“Dutch waterways, yeah you know, like KLM!”

If they want to be addled and sociable, they should get themselves to the nearest Wetherspoons where that sort of behaviour is tolerated/condoned+encouraged.

Records which should not be played in pubs

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 275 views

Records which should not be played in pubs: Tom brings us to the awful spectre of Radiohead in pubs. I have nothing against the odd playing of Creep, Just or even bleeding Pyramid Song in a pub – the whole point of a jukebox is to throw up the odd eclectic juxta-poz. However when a pub takes it into their own hands to play an entire album you better hope its at least a half decent compilation. And not Kid A. or The Bends. Or even The Best Of Leonard Cohen. Albums which work in angst-ridden teenage bedrooms are guaranteed not to work in ver pub.

Return of the mournful Two-Tone record?

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Return of the mournful Two-Tone record? As always with me I hear two tracks which appear to have a similar kind of backing and instantly conjure it into a trend. Nevertheless what – for want of a better name – I will call mournful Two-Tone (for which I suppose I mean slowish reggae/ska) has slipped under a few new records. The two new tracks I have heard from The Streets – Too Much Brandy and Let’s Push Things Forward both have this dark shuffle behind them. To add to this the Herbaliser’s new single has an equally dark, horn filled, skank behind it. Not only that but Good Girl Gone Bad also features a rap by British MC Wildflower which isn’t a million miles away from The Streets in its rugged Britishness – down to the Marmalade Atkins name checks. This is not strictly new territory for the Herbaliser, but it dovetailed nicely with what the Streets are doing. There is something about the lone horn which fit a night shuffling through the darkness, the wet and the rain.

Worst Blackboard Art-Rocity

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Worst Blackboard Art-Rocity is surely the Wheatsheaf in Oxford’s piss-poor painting of Thom Yorke with “Cheer Up Thom Come To The Wheatsheaf” sloganned next to another painting of the Cheshire Cat out of Alice in Wonderland (why??). The whole thing, inescapable if you sit anywhere in the front end of the pub, must I think be the product of some charity project to gradually reintroduce habitual stoners back into the community. Needless to say the juker ‘boasts’ Kid A.