Posts from May 2003

May 03


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FREAKS – The Man Who Lived Underground

What a perfectly odd little art-efact: a series of windows opening up to strange goings on, ruttings, gruntings, slices of a party you weren’t invited to and aren’t quite sure if that makes you happy or sad. Like a Kubrick movie, re-shot by Hype Williams. Soundwise it harkens back to the earliest house: the minimal ball-bearing-inna-tin-can jack & acid trax, albeit with 16 years of production finesse and sampler-concrete. Only a few tracks that could really be called “songs”, and even then it’s mostly just because of their lengths: a wonderfully moody descending strut called “Where Were You When the Lights Went Out”, one that explicitly nods backwards in time to Mr. Finger’s “Washing Machine.” The rest are sketches, doodles, harddrive burps, injokes, Cubase scribbles. The male vocals rewrite Prince as a gibbering crackhead. It sounds like the Basement Jaxx of “Yo-Yo” or “Get Me Off” starved on a bread and water diet, and driven a little batty from the hunger.

May 03

Linus Loves-“The Terrace”

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Linus Loves-“The Terrace”
It’s actually May. Difficult to believe. Have I been out less or have there been less good records to rave about/to?

Either way I’ve been mostly listening to my favourites from last year, aswell as compilations from last year I’ve just managed to pick up this year. Part of my problem might be actually remembering the names of the songs. I listened to Pete Tong’s show on Tuesday. I usually skip to songs where I know the producer, but somehow I heard Linus Loves and instantly recognised it as the song which was the highlight of last Saturday.

It’s very 80s for starters, not electro though. It’s a two part record, the first is an insanely catchy 80s synth loop. I haven’t heard a loop as beautiful since last November or October. The second part is a sparkly piano bridge which only exists to tease you into going crazy when the first loop comes back. Most of the big tunes so far this year have been latin style, and it’s all well and good but it’s been done ten thousand times. It’s becoming increasingly clear that electro and the french house mafia are far and away the best resources for house music to draw on. Having said that there are a whole glut of homogenised “lets remove the camp” electro house records this year, which are a waste of time. The Terrace is the best house record of 2003 so far, by a long long way.

I never doubt my doubts will be dispelled at some point, but forget how that feels almost daily.

May 03

ORIGINZ — “Family of One (BK Max Out Remix)”

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Arpeggiated guitar chords so clean they must’ve emerged from a scented bath in holy waters. Reverbed jazz keyboards that tinkle, tinkle, tinkle and finally disappear into thick cappuccino bass swirls. Metaphors that mix less like vodka and milk and more like blue in green… my god it’s TASTEFUL! Has South African hip-hop forsaken blood sex sleaze trash nasty dirt grot push bump gutta grind ooh I like it POP JOY to find itself in another ghetto (albeit one with gold-trim and working toilets)? In attempts to distance itself from the middle-body-happy hip-house hedonism of kwaito has it adopted jizzless jazz ‘culturally progressive’ “aesthetics? Or am I buying the wrong records?

‘Expressions’ is a SA hip-hop compilation. I’d heard two tracks on the radio, both of which I liked, and bought it on a semi-whim. When I’m in a better mood, I’ll talk about the record’s successes, right now they feel like happy accidents. So I’ll tell you about this track by Originz, it sounds like 7 other songs on the CD anyway (unsuprisingly, almost every track on the disc shares a producer in Tongogara — think Hi Tek mixed with… actually, just think Hi Tek). So it’s jazzy (moreso in remixed form than slightly bouncier version I remember hearing on the radio), flow’s slow, enunciated, Rakim-ish, some breathy r&b melisma round the edges. ‘Family of One’ is a morality tale, a melodramatic one, almost to the point of unintended hilarity in places. In summation: Mom and Dad made it through the struggle, but the kids succumbed to hypersexualized, hypermediated society. Brother runs guns in Cape Town, Sis 1 is an upmarket booty4bling Ho and the other’s a ‘kwaito fanatic’. No coincidence that it’s made to rhyme with ‘crack addict’.

About two years ago I was trying to relate my frustrations with my local music kwaito to Mr. Ewing. I thought the genre was stuck on the sonics of a ’92 YEAH!’ bargain-bin dance-mag cover CD house compilation (tellingly I wasn’t really listening to much kwaito OR house then). Tom couldn’t understand the problem. And now? A synth! A synth! My Keith Jarrett records for a synth!

Most probably I doth protest too much, some purchase-distance and repeated listening’ll hopefully lessen my desire to read the song, the record, as this monolithic mission statement. Still, at the risk of sounding pat, a little Ludacris goes a long way.

May 03

“mOBSCENE”-Marylin Manson (video)

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“mOBSCENE”-Marylin Manson (video)
Marylin Manson is smarter then he is given credit for, with a history of glam and metal, a fuck you to censorship and a clever deeply personal need to offend all the small people- he is a freak, and his new video, with its lindy hoppers, pin ups splashing through martini glasses, goose stepping chorus girls under a crimson neon sign screaming obscene, shows how little that word means, it is a meta narrative mocking his own shock tactics. As well, his new gf, Delia Teese the burlesque performances artist, is useful for him, keeps his more baroque instincts in check.

THE RAPTURE – “I Need Your Love”

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Echoes seduces from the outset: the re-recorded “Olio”, the latent Curey tech-mope once wriggling to be free from the shitty post-hardcore recording quality made gloriously explicit. Then “Heaven”, brittle guitar raunch, closer to what you “expect” The Rapture to sound like. “Open Up Your Heart”, unexpected like its title, a wilting piano ballad. And then “I Need Your Love”, rock song of the year if you can even call it that.

“I Need Your Love” is, for all intents and purposes, a disco song. (We call it house music these days, blame the British.) Chattering sequencers, warm lugubrious synths, that metronomic tick-tock boom-tick, & not a guitar in sight. Never has Tom’s “it’s like they found some secret bunker full of stale 1979 air and have been reverently recording in it since” been more and less apt. On the one hand, this is not “house music” in the sense that you could expect to find it on the next Ministry of Sound comp. (Although it’s only one remix and bongo breakdown away from being there.) On the other, it’s not heritage-disco either. (Which is why it’s been appearing on the more outré house comps this year.) Like electroclash, The Rapture has figured out a way to make retro-leaning music which stands apart from whatever the great modernist project of the year is (gutter garage, micro-whatever) and yet could have never been made in any other moment but this one (A Certain Ratio never got on such a good foot as The Rapture does here, just like electroclash’s neuter vocals would have never made it in 1982’s arch-pop landscape.)

(Oh, album of the year so far, btw. In case you hadn’t figured that out.)

May 03


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MY ROCKIST SHAME!!! So I’m tidying up and “Carnival” by Archigram comes on and as you do I find myself bopping around the room, and then it suddenly dawns on me that I’m not just dancing, oh no, in fact I am playing air guitar to the track. You can take the boy out of the indie, etc etc.

Factological amendment

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Factological amendment to Simon R’s Rough Trade bit: it depends on the RT shop, dunnit? Yes none of them stock garage but in general the Ladbroke Grove one is the one that goes for nu-skool breaks et al. The Covent Garden one is much better: minimal breaks section and yes they do stock dancehall. In fact last time I was there they were blasting one of the riddim albums (Hard Drive) – I asked what it was and was seized on with enthusiasm by the counter guy and inveigled into buying an import dancehall 7″ they’d just got in. (And could have left with plenty more if my wallet had stretched to his recommendations.) Their hip-hop section is broader too, though neither shop is very good on the UK stuff, ‘proper’ or otherwise.

I think the no-hardcore and no-garage thing isn’t entirely a class thing, too – I think it’s partly to do with the economic trajectories of these musics: both of them hit commercially big quite early on and then went underground, by which time the anti-pop radar of the Rough Trade record buyer had no doubt been firmly pinged. (Of course, they kept on stocking baggy/grunge/americana etc. no-hopers long after those commercial stars had waned, but as Simon says they know their market.)

A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS – “Wishing (I Had A Photograph Of You) (Extended Mix)”

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A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS – “Wishing (I Had A Photograph Of You) (Extended Mix)”

What really gets me about nostalgia clipshows is their desire to get everyone remembering the same 80s. It’s the same objection I have to Top 100 polls – hands off my experience, fuckers! It’s the same objection people who don’t like music in ads have to music in ads, too, and the Sinker Argument (as seen on ILM threads passim) applies – to reject ad-music is to acknowledge its potential power over you. I dislike canonisation because I feel all sorts of cultural guilt and resentment about not liking so much of the canon. Similarly the False Memory implant regimens of I Love The 80s or School Disco annoy me because I’m so vulnerable to them.

Take A Flock Of Seagulls. Everyone knows AFOS – that haircut, man! And what was their song – the photograph one? – yeah, that was great. I know them too. Except I don’t think I ever saw or heard them in the 80s. In fact I think that the first time I heard “Wishing” was a few weeks ago when I downloaded this (presumably 12″) mix off an FTP site. You all know them better than me, so I won’t bother too much with description except to say that the extended mix is staggering, a strength-through-length move that just keeps getting grander and grander until eventually it ends though in some higher dimension you suspect it cycles on still. It’s an unusual 80s 12″ in that there is no drum break fuckery to keep the minutes quota up.

Actually I love drum break fuckery. “Dub mixes” where the ahem tricknology extended as far as fake scratching on the chorus – “The Reflex – R-r-r-r-reflex – “ and so on. Those are what my friends and I used to get nostalgic about, about the 80s, in the 90s, so much so that one of my friends made me a 12″ mix tape, heavy on the Ben Liebrand, he got bored after one side but I still laughed. Now when we’re sitting in a pub and waxing nostalgic there’s this nibbling guilt, embarrassed meta-references to Andrew Collins and Kate Thornton and “What were we thinking?”. They’ve ruined it for everyone: no more golden eggs, just a rather thin buffet of goose sandwiches.

These scatty reheated thoughts are a poor replacement for a piece which should have gone up on Freaky Trigger, also – sort of – about memories and nostalgia, by the Pinefox. It’s been delayed by formatting problems. I’m moving house this weekend and may be in computer limbo where I can update NYLPM but not the site proper. Next week me and my two new co-editors are going to sit down and work out a masterplan for getting FT back on track – if you fancy joining in your ideas and submissions are of course very welcome. Meanwhile go and listen to that Flock Of Seagulls track, it’s smashing.