Posts from March 2002

23
Mar 02

Pitchfork Inna (Very Confused) Dancehall Stylee.

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Pitchfork Inna (Very Confused) Dancehall Stylee. First things first: Mo Wax’s Now Thing comp. (another timely Pitchfork review) is dub only in the most tangential sense: that it features (mostly) instrumental “versions” of ragga dancehall tracks. (Except, unless I’m mistaken, these are all original instrumentals which makes them not dubs at all.) The fact that the word “dancehall” doesn’t appear once throughout the course of the review is telling; in a (semi) recent essay for The Wire, Simon Reynolds discussed the process of avoidance by which hipsters can dodge having to discuss the physicalities (the roots, pardon the pun) of Jamaican music (be it reggae or dancehall) by using the red herring of the dub process. Now Thing has little to do with Lee Perry (a bit more to do with King Tubby, who produced digi-dubs of current dancehall hits until his death); it has everything to do with Prince Jammy’s “Sleng Teng” and it’s followers. In other words, closer to Elephant Man (or Ludacris for that matter) than Saint Bob. It’s not “new” at all, but part of a living, writhing tradition which James Lavelle has so graciously provided the Headz massive with an in. Avoiding the dancehall connection, the reviewer also sidesteps (is unaware of?) Now Thing‘s main weakness: no words. For a genre so bound to the word, to endless strings of almost indescipherable patois, an “instrumental dancehall” record seems a bit, well, easy. No pesky cultural connections to contend with, no gun-bitch-ho talk to cringe from. De-fanged? Maybe. A bit like if everyone started falling all over themselves for an instrumental So So Def or Cash Money LP. Oh…wait. Plus, it’s on Mo Wax.

No Doubt, in their way, are engaging with dancehall more directly than Now Thing.

22
Mar 02

Vive La France

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Vive La France: Pete and I are off on holiday for a week, hooray! That means we won’t be round here, and it means no Freaky Trigger updates. Unfortunately I am leaving without answering a load of e-mails because my connection’s been down all day – apologies to people waiting for me to get in touch. It also means that Duel! is forced into hibernation yet again – but it will be back after Easter, along with the Birthday Special and lots more new articles. Meanwhile NYLPM is in the capable hands of Sarah, Dave Popshots, and anyone else on the team who fancies contributing.

A hip-hop version of The Weakest Link

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A hip-hop version of The Weakest Link??? What’s next, R&B Celebrity Squares? Except whole new rapping concept albums about how Da Brat should have known the capital of Australia and B-Real’s disgruntlement at being voted off in the third round after failling to bank.

21
Mar 02

G-g-g-gareth G-g-g-gates’s

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G-g-g-gareth G-g-g-gates’s website, to all of you WILL HATAS/lunys/nappy wetters: www.ggates.co.uk. Even his WEBSITE is having a laugh at him! (This was pointed out to me via popbitch). I’ve got fcuking Unchained Melody in my head now.

COURTNEY

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COURTNEY, COURTNEY, COURTNEY: Three articles from the NME website. So much to say, but there’s just not enough time in the day / week / lunar cycle. And now I hear her voice in my head, saying all these stupid stupid things. Calgon, take me away, oh PLEASE. (Thank / blame Badger for the pointer.)

20
Mar 02

Destiny’s Child — Nasty Girl

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Destiny’s Child — Nasty Girl

Up until now, they have managed to surprise me with every single and – sorry Popistas! – for a popact that’s a whole lot. But the forced demeanor of this particular gem just can’t seem to keep the tired theme from standing out even more (maybe it’s just my personal Catholic hang-up talking here but aren’t these ‘nasty’, ‘trashy’ girls being frowned upon just for wanting to dress up like DC?!). When you’ve been untouchable for so long, that’s when the inevitable hits the hardest. If the obit’s not available yet, then where’s the remedial remix?

Okay – so the flute thing didn’t pan out

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Okay – so the flute thing didn’t pan out (flute – pan – geddit?). Perhaps the big chart sound for the next couple of mintyhs might be the carnival sound. This is not strictly latin or soca, just anything vibrant, strident and infectiously danceable. WHich is where Shy FX & T-Power come in. Their new single “Shake Your Body” has a relentless latin piano over Shy FX’s beats which are informed by – if not actually – drum and bass. Shy FX was always one of the more poppy of the jungle producers anyway, and the clipped, fast and solid beats he lays down here certainly do the job. The bass is tucked away though under the piano line – but burbles away nicely. Its a pity about the lyrics, since T-Power has a nice enough voice. Its just that I am slowly getting a little bit bored of records which tell me to blindly let music take over my feet, body and soul. If I wanted to be possessed I’d get into devil worship.

AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD – “Source Tags And Codes”

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AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD – “Source Tags And Codes”

The problem of boredom in alt.rock music is probably just the problem of me noticing boredom in alt.rock music more easily. (That’s the generous interpretation, anyway). I don’t hear musicians expressing anything much, and I don’t feel much need to express anything much back, since all I do hear is musicians wrestling with structures. If the structures are new enough to you then you might get a jolt anyway – the rock you like best is the rock you hear first, in other words, which makes rating individual bands a bit pointless.

But isn’t wrestling with structures interesting anyway? I don’t know – when I was writing the first sentence of this I put “(b-dum b-dum)” after “boredom” as a nod to the Buzzcocks and then I took it out because it didn’t do anything other than prove I’d heard the Buzzcocks. Most of what I hear in this music is a succession of similarly petty micro-choices. I can imagine someone settling for that, but I can’t imagine anyone being satisfied with it.

Ethan on ILM flailing to describe a condition I’ve been experiencing (and therefore trying to explicate) for some time now.

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Ethan on ILM flailing to describe a condition I’ve been experiencing (and therefore trying to explicate) for some time now. Listening right now to the new(est) Unwound record – and yes, it’s every bit as good as everyone makes it out to be…I’ll be sad to see them go – and I’ll be damned if I can get worked up about it in the slightest. My ears feel as if they’re packed with oatmeal, or maybe rather that it’s dribbling slowly out of the little holes in my speakers. Everything sounds like extruded siding or the stuff they use to make the ceiling panels in public school ceilings.

Of course, being sick doesn’t help much. When I’m sick – sick sick, sick of the unable to move from bed for a few days variety – all music sounds like this. It’s a bit like being trapped in some ennui mobius strip; the more clogged my head, the higher the fever rises, the more my throat aches, the more the music feels like a swarm of locusts between my ears. I’ve had records ruined by their association with particularly bad illnesses.

Sometimes I think the whole thing makes recovery take just that much longer: being unable to do anything but suck up TV like an Electrolux, cut off from my normal lifesblood of recorded sound. I’m ever so slowly crawling out of my current pit of despair (call it apocalyptic acid reflux…and trust me, it’s nothing you want to experience if you can avoid it), but music is taking longer than ever to reinsinuate itself into my life. It hasn’t helped that I was feeling increasingly alienated from music before I took ill.

Today is apparently the first day of spring. It’s bitter cold outside, and snowed pretty much all day yesterday. Spring/summer (and the endless pop thrillz they promise) seems ever so far away.

19
Mar 02

SOULWAX – “Push It (Remix)”

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SOULWAX – “Push It (Remix)”

The major labels are circling, and if that’s not a writ they’re carrying it’s a chequebook; the clubs are packed so tight you can’t breathe; the papers are racing to be first to sign the scene’s death certificate; and the bootlegged tunes just keep rolling out, more of them and more again. Some of the people who got the early star treatment are keeping the scene at a safe distance, parlaying their cut-and-paste notoriety into a fair hearing for their own music. Some of them, though, are cashing in while they can – Belgian outfit Soulwax have ‘the first Bootleg album’ out this week in, theoretically, a High Street shop near you.

Their reworking of “Push It”, swiped off the radio and available for download at Boom Selection, is a treat, dropping Salt N Pepa’s vocals over loops and cut-ups from the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. It’s the first bootleg I’ve heard in ages (ages = weeks!) that approaches the spunky punk-pop energy of “A Stroke Of Genius”, exploiting the transferability of the girls’ raucousness and the corruptibility of Iggy’s rockboy riffing. “Push it real good!” yells Salt-or-Pepa, “Come AWN!” replies Iggy – ‘versus’ in this case is kind of a euphemism.

Soulwax’s stuff all sounds like Big Beat – if you don’t like your rhythms big and dumb you’ll find them painfully corny going. But Big Beat took electronic music and rocked it up, while Soulwax bootlegs take rock and chisel at it until a dance track emerges. It blurs the line between ‘bootleg’ and ‘remix’ still further, but who cares when the dynamics work this well?