Posts from 29th August 2003

29
Aug 03

MATTHEW DEAR – “Dog Days”

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 777 views

Those who bet on microhouse in the 2003 microgenre deathpool can officially kiss their wagers goodbye. The top of this year’s class — Audision’s “First Contact,” Luomo’s “What Good,” Ricardo Villalobos’ “Easy Lee,” Ada’s “Believer,” Anders Ilar’s “Coastline,” Luciano & Quenem’s “Orange Mistake,” Mikkel Metal’s “Lowfour Rmx,” Jonas Bering’s “Normandie 1,” Mathew Jonson’s “Typerope,” the Modernist’s “Silicon Minor,” Dimbiman’s “V,” Sten’s “Part Three,” Benjamin Wild’s “You Never,” Rod Modell’s “Solar Cross,” Horror Inc’s “The Sentinel,” Krikor’s “Peeping Tom,” Robag Wruhme’s “Beatkutter,” M.I.A.’s “Milchreiter,” Pleite’s “Pleite,” Jabberjaw’s “Girlfriend” – has been just as terrific and lingering as any other, if not more so. The lack of stagnation, along with the fact that we’re at least five years away from ‘Do You Remember Microhouse?,’ means that the engine isn’t likely to sputter any time soon. Just as important: Every couple weeks or so, something has squeaked out from the woodwork that has stuck out from everything else. The majority of those responsible are also DJs, and you can sense that they are studying and revering their peers’ releases while being pushed into new directions.

Take Matthew Dear’s ‘Dog Days,’ a single off Leave Luck to Heaven, my album of the year thus far. None of the other tracks primed for the definitive microhouse box are quite as singsongy and springboard-buoyant as this one. There’s a steady loose-limbed swing and a periodic Moodymann-gone-teutonic jack to it that might put it somewhere between Herbert and Perlon, if it must be placed somewhere for context’s sake. Dear’s baritone, tightly tailgated by Dear’s near-falsetto, rides the contours of a mass of wriggling keyboard tendrils, stabs of synthetic trumpet and a clipped vocal sample (more like an attenuated millisyllable ground into hiccups). Dear’s voices repeat a four-line nursery rhyme of his own making several times over, and I couldn’t extract it from my head if I wanted to. It’s as contagious as “Hark Hark the Dogs Go Bark,” and the music accompanying it provides enough of a unique thrill alone.

DARKSTAR

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,023 views

DARKSTAR! Nope, I haven’t been down the Intrepid Fox for a few cider and blacks but instead have found a SUPER new ALE called Darkstar Hophead. From Darkstar Brewery (strike ONE!), located somewhere in ANSTY (sounds like angsty => strike TWO) it can supply a superb nights pleasant drinking. We’d started in Brixton and had a horrific pint of BASS in every Street Drinkers favourite pub, The Goose on Brixton High Street, and then moved across to the next cheapest pub. O no Wetherspoons O no I hear you cry but FEAR NOT!!! The Darkstar guest beer on tap was almost ridiculously fruity, imagine a pint of Pride crossed with a packet of Opal FruitsStarbursts (keep the faith).

I do have a soft spot for street drinker pubs. You can generally keep yourself to yourself, the drinks are cheap and the lack of atmosphere leads less to the horrible uncomfortable feeling of sitting around like a nonce, rather a quite nice neutrality which can only improve. Which is more than I can say for a recent trip to The York on Islington High Street before a trip to go and see PIRATES in the Warner Village. After striding into the pub and ordering a pre-emptive RHUM I found myself sitting in the hem hem WASTELAND (tseliot ref there). But not to worry, it could improve when I was joined by companions… and then at 5.45 my ears were graced with the precense of Reel 2 Reel feat. Mad Stuntman. HUrrah! I thought, Rave On Feel the… hold on this is a bit bluddy loud… OW MY EARS MY EARS!

And then they started playing it again!

We soon put in a hasty retreat to the Red Lion Theatre Bar on the opposite side of Angel station, but more to come on that later…

Jess has the new Basement Jaxx album

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 274 views

…and thus needs not the minor pleasure that links can provide but I’m going to link him anyway because he’s saying some interesting stuff, about genres and lulls and scenes and Freaky Trigger’s particularly poptimistic stance. Which I think he (ever so slightly) mischaracterizes: I completely agree that genres swing from good to bad, even yes even my lovely bubblegum pop. Last year was a ‘lull’ in ‘manufactured’ pop taken as a genre — Girls Aloud and Justin and Lene Nystrom and TaTu and, yes, Busted have made ’03 a very satisfying year so far but there wasn’t anything very special coming along in 2002, or 2001 for that matter. The early and mid 90s weren’t great either. And only Justin feels momentous in the way that the Spice Girls or Britney or the Monkees were.

(It’s dead easy to spot momentous pop acts because they’re the ones that inspire pieces like the Alex Ross / Sasha Frere-Jones essays that kicked this whole thing off.)

(I think we can sadly conclude that TaTu have blown it, magnificent though the records were. Trevor Horn must have signed some devilish long ago pact whereby no hit band he produces can have more than 3 or 4 great singles before collapsing into acrimony or despond. The Buggles, ABC, Frankie, Propaganda, TaTu — one stunning LP and then the fallout. Watch out Belle And Sebastian! But that’s another story.)

What I do believe though is that the overall quality of the pop charts, with their bubbling mix of genres, remains much the same, and that the more music you get the opportunity to hear the more good music you will hear. Given these two factors each year seems better than the last to me. That’s what I’ve generally meant when I’ve suggested that ‘pop’ in the wider sense has no lulls. If you increase the scale of your scanner wide enough, even the biggest revolutions or genre-quakes seem less important.

It’s kind of a Gaian view of pop — a vast macro-organism of consumption whose surface fluctuations can be beautiful or devastating to people near the epicentre of a ‘pop event’ (UK garage, or 80s Amerindie, or even punk) but meaningless elsewhere. Sometimes there’s a Krakatoa which really does fuck up the pop biosphere, but it’s much rarer than genreologists might have you believe.

But to extend the metaphor, can’t there be serious shifts in this ‘biosphere’ which might lead to genuine, macro-scale decline, shifts that ‘popists’ might ignore, the pop equivalent of climate change. Yes, is the answer, but they’re gradual, to do with the ways music is distributed and disseminated before they’re to do with its content. The transformation of music to digital data is one big shift (cf K-Punk). The globalisation and centralisation of pop creation and broadcast is another.

What I don’t buy though is the idea (hinted at by Reynolds) that by boosting pop at the expense of ‘underground’ musics pro-pop writers are automatically bolstering the forces behind this latter shift. A Timberlake song is a Timberlake song, but it’s treated very differently by his record company, by Clear Channel, by Freaky Trigger and by an FT reader sharing it on Soulseek, though all of them are ‘promoting’ it in some way. What used to compromise some areas of pop music was that in order to consume it you pretty much had to give money to somebody who you might have felt didn’t deserve it: that is no longer a necessity.

I’ve got far away now from anything Jess was talking about. I will say though that I liked and was flattered by his assessment of what I (and NYLPM I hope) do well — the Alan Bennett of popcrit is a far from terrible thing to be. More tea, Vicar?

The only reason I went to see Confidence was because it was raining.

Do You SeePost a comment • 258 views

The only reason I went to see Confidence was because it was raining. That, and hopefully seeing the film in full might wipe clean the stain of its fucking annoying trailer. Edward Burn saying “that’s confidence!” as if he has something to be confident about. Not Rachel Weisz’s accent for one (a shakey amalgam of Kensington and New Jersey which gives the film some of its unexpected highlights). I don’t really understand Edward Burns appeal, though my female companion seem happily sated by his somewhat blank presence. I did not care for his character, which was fine because this is a conman film. Everyone double crosses everyone including the audience in conman films which means that since any likable character ends up bad there is no real investment. And since most conman films turn on implausible or out of character tricks you nearly always end up feeling cheated.

Actually, there is one thing that Confidence has on many of its rivals. Unlike the selection of heist films of the previous year (The Score and Heist in particular) Confidence plays it pretty honest. Despite the voice-over, the scam makes sense and very few people swap sides, excepting those you can already predict. The film is fair with its internal clues, and even parts that annoy you since our decidedly unomniscient narrator would not know about them soon resolve themselves. So if you like a little set of nested logic problems, Confidence won’t annoy you unduly. It is just the presence of Ed Burn in the middle that will; considering the wealth of great supporting talent orbiting around this relatively empty space. I want to see Donal Logue and Luis Guzman’s bent cops again – these are the actors with real confidence in this film. Probably about twenty lines each, and the steal the entire film.

And the cinema was dry.

Britain’s Best Sitcom

Do You SeePost a comment • 268 views

Britain’s Best Sitcom is what the BBC want you to pick, using that pollster-friendly method of listing 100 items in order to glean a Top 100. For once though the method is appropriate as the list feels horribly exhaustive as is: the knowledge that programmes even more mediocre than Kiss Me Kate exist and have only been kept off the list by its arbitrary limitations makes you fairly grateful.

The presentation leaves something to be desired though – the A-Z of sitcoms offers summaries that manage to eradicate whatever tiny mote of fun remained to each show, and the idea of actually thinking through a vote left me despondent. There are unlikely to be too many surprises in the final rundown either, and the whole exercise smells more than usual of Bank Holiday spacefiller. (Of course I’ll still watch it.) Most interesting factlets: the number of episodes each sitcom ran. Porridge got only 21, Sorry! managed twice that, and the human mind was not built to contemplate quite how many Last Of The Summer Wines have now been made. There’s something faintly sick about the irony that a show based on three old codgers should have clung to life with such horrid tenacity while a hundred twentysomething rom-coms have mercifully bitten the dust. (Who’s for a write-in campaign for Babes In The Wood, by the way? Oh. OK then.)

Weblog Response

Do You SeePost a comment • 597 views

Weblog Response: to make up for the lack of a comments function, here’s an ILX thread dedicated to Do You See? If you’ve got anything to say about anything on this blog and you want to do it publically, here’s where to go. (We’ll be putting this link somewhere prominent, as it’s a rolling thread.)

Weblog Response

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 305 views

Weblog Response: To make up for the lack of a comments facility, if you’ve got something to say about The Brown Wedge and want to make it public, this is the thread to do it on. (We’ll be adding this as a permanent link somewhere prominent, as it’ll be a rolling thread.)

Weblog Response

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 345 views

Weblog Response: To make up for the lack of a comments facility, if you’ve got something to say about Pumpkin Publog and want to make it public, this is the thread to do it on. (We’ll be adding this as a permanent link somewhere prominent, as it’ll be a rolling thread.)

Weblog Response

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 329 views

Weblog Response: To make up for the lack of a comments facility, if you’ve got something to say about NYLPM and want to make it public, this is the thread to do it on. (We’ll be adding this as a permanent link somewhere prominent, as it’ll be a rolling thread.)

TEH BUZZ

TMFDPost a comment • 205 views

THE BUZZ.