Wednesday, July 24, 2013

happy birthday FACT magazine

It's FACT magazine's 10th birthday and as part of the archival overdrive celebrations, they've dug out a couple of E-Flash related thingies - my Top 20 Bleep List, and the Fisher versus Hancox Nuum Debate

other goodies include Woebot's visit to Rinse FM amd Jonny Trunk's 20 best soundtracks

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Interesting Guardian article on the Ten Cities project which forges links between European beat-makers and their counterparts within the "global ghetto" /"shanty house" beat-scenes of Africa. 

Groove magazine's Florian Sievers, while interviewing me for the magazine about Energy Flash recently, mentioned this project, which he's running together with the Goethe-Institut, the German cultural organisation. Ten Cities involves musical performances, collaborative recordings, documentaries, and ultimately a book, and it is an attempt to explore the differences and the affinities between "club culture, dance music, public sphere, and urban spaces" in "African and European cities". Says Sievers,  "it is the biggest project that Goethe-Institut Africa has ever funded." 

Florian and I had been discussing the difficulties for even the most curious and dedicated of beat-geeks re. finding out what these xeno-riddims actually signified in their native context: you could access the beats, thanks to the internet, but the surrounding web of subculture, all the the rituals and behaviors associated with the music, were inaccessible to you, along with the place this music scene had in the wider culture. So it was inevitably a somewhat superficial form of  exoticism.  

Ten Cities seems like a vast improvement on and vital corrective to the typically one-directional, trend-hopping relationship of dance hipsterati to the succession of xeno-beats from favela zones around the world; a relationship which  rather too often resembles a procedure of cultural-capital extraction than a reciprocal engagement.

Blurb from the Ten Cities website:

Whether it's in Nairobi or in Kiev, in Bristol or in Cairo: in all the major cities of Africa and Europe, people get together in dedicated spaces to dance to music and party – and create communities, subcultures and public spheres. Club culture is a global phenomenon, but what music are these people dancing to in these cities and what music did they use to dance to in the past? In what sort of spaces do they meet up? What public spheres do they form? What do these club cultures mean to the urbanity of a city? And what happens when the club music from two different continents meet head on?

We will look at ten cities on two continents that have been influential centres for club music up to now: the European cities of Berlin, Bristol, Kiev, Lisbon and Naples and the African cities of Cairo, Johannesburg, Luanda, Lagos and Nairobi.

TEN CITIES is a journey of musicians and writers. It consists of a music- and a research part. The project brings together about 50 DJs, producers and musicians from the ten cities, enabling them to cooperate and produce music together. This part is guided by ten local curators in each city who have chosen the participants, together with a central curatorial group in Berlin and Nairobi, and are facilitating the cooperations. Intensive work periods by the participating musicians in the ten cities will form the central stages of the project, accompanied by concerts and parties. At the same time, a research project will use the perspective of club cultures to explore and investigate again a crucial notion of political theory: the public sphere. From a different perspective than the usual research tradition and in a serial, intercultural approach. About 20 authors, all from the city they are writing about, will tell us the history of club music in those ten cities, and the history of the public spheres that have been formed around club music for the last 50 years. More content will be published on this website, among others: city portraits by our musical curators, free downloads, mix tapes, photography and visual content. In addition, we will screen film series with a selection of documentaries and feature films on club culture in different parts of the world, in most cities, in cooperation with the local Goethe-Instituts.

Participating producers and musicians:
Adeniyi Abiodon Akeem, Alai K, Andi Teichmann, Aremu, Ayo Odiah, Batida, Bikya, Caetano, Camp Mulla, Cannibal, Diamond Version, Dirty Paraffin, DJ Satelite, DJ Raph, DJeff, Dubmasta, Duro Ikujenyo, Gamebouy, Gboyega Oyedele, General Plago, Hannes Teichmann, Ibrahim Cox, Jah Device, Just A Band, Lucio Aquilina, Marco Messina, MC Sacerdote, MC Viola, Moonchild, Mother Perera, Muthoni, Nelly Ochieng, Nothando Megogo, Octa Push, Octopizzo, Olegbade Oluwafemi Moses, Oren Gerlitz, Pinch, Planet Lindela, P.O.P., Rob Smith, Salam Salam Agidigbo Band, Temi Oyedele, Thabiso Mohare, Themba Mokoena, Thuli Mdlalose, Tito Pulling Strings, Tshepang Ramoba (BLK JKS), Vakula, Wetrobots, Wura Samba and more... Participating writers and researchers: Angela Mingas, Bill Odidi, Carly Heath, Danilo Capasso, Florian Sievers, Iain Chambers, Joyce Nyairo, Kateryna Dysa, Michelle Henning, Mudi Yahaya, Rangoato Hlasane, Rehan Hyder, Rui Abreu, Sean O'Toole, Toni Ogaga, Vincenzo Cavallo, Vitalji Bardezkij, Vitor Belanciano and more...

TEN CITIES is a project of the Goethe-Institutes in Sub-Saharian Africa organized by Goethe-Institut Kenya and the Berlin collective Adaptr.Org in cooperation with the Centre for Postcolonial Studies at the University of Naples and a network of partners in ten cities.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pearsall Presents Actual Pirate Material - a mix of jump-up jungle and militaristic drum & bass circa 1995-1996

here's his earlier related mix Urban Takedown

and another favorite of mine from that time, Swift, "Just Roll"

further reading - my 1996 The Wire hardcore-continuum-series article Slippin' Into Darkness, based around a series of visits to AWOL, regimental parade ground for the hardstep soljas and jump-up commandoes
"Scaling up the dance" - Sonic Truth on "the peak-time Pavlovian exhilaration" of David Guetta and Calvin Harris at T in the Park this past weekend

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jo / Wiley

file under "... and that' s why they call it a Continuum, folks!"

(via the Man like Matt aka the Mighty Woebot)

the backing track, serious 1993 rufige

indie-dance, 2013 style

Monday, July 15, 2013

why i loved club music but hated club culture (well, London club culture) until acieed / rave came along - the Wag Club

Robert Elms on The Wag: ‘It quickly became the centre of a very small world. It contrived to make you feel special for being in there... The Wag was an unofficial members’ club.”

Once did a interview about Energy Flash -- the first time it came out, 1998 - with Elms on his Radio London show. In between half-watching the cricket, Robert opined that in his opinion, "house and techno and rave, to me that was the death of the great British working class love affair with black music". I pointed out that house and techno were actually in fact black music forms, from Chicago and Detroit, and that rave was full of reggae and hip hop elements. But for Elms, the consummate Wag-ist, after jazz-dance and go go, it was all over, kaput, the mod-soulboy continuum.... 

Talking of mod, I did not know that  the Wag's location, 33 Wardour Street was in factthe same location for "smoking rhythm and blues cellar The Flamingo, famous in the ’60s for its weekend all-nighters, as the birthplace of mod" (and before that the location for "jazz club Whiskey A Go-Go"). (Funny how these spaces often endure through the phases of youth culture: 100 Club being a trad jazz haven, and then the spawning ground for UK punk, and later a Northern Soul club (second-phase Northern, the 80s version), and probably many other phases and stages.)

Melody Maker actually had one of its annual parties at the Wag, but the resident deejay insisted on / persisted with playing what was then hip in London clubland circa 1987  - rare groove - which is to say substandard funk from the early-to-mid Seventies -- rather than anything anyone from MM or our guests might have rather heard, which is to say, virtually anything else but rare groove.

Chris Sullivan, the Welshman behind this archetypal London-Eighties club, who has "no qualms about The Wag being elitist" and who is quoted in the piece thusly “the club was intended purely for our group and not for those who walked up off the street", has another claim to fame - as frontman of Blue Rondo A La Turk.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Show Me Some Signal" - interesting piece on the history of pirate radio in New York - or rather "Caribbean Pirate Radio"

always had the impression that pirate radio in America was rarely music-oriented, much more political - left-wing radicals railing against the corporate-controlled mainstream media

however saw a programme once, or a documentary (i can't remember) about Miami Bass and it turned out that scene has its own pirate stations, I guess because the music is too bass-intensive and lewd for any commercial stations down there to play it. (There is also a Haitian community pirate radio station in Miami -- Touche Douce  - and awfully, one of the people who ran it, Baz Normal, died in an antenna-maintenance related tragedy)

so perhaps there are insular-scene / minority-genre pirates scattered all over the USA? Is there a footwork pirate? A hyphy pirate?

and in fact I did once play on a Brooklyn pirate station that was all about music - albeit very different from the ones I was so obsessed with in London, much more a hipster oriented music policy (this was in Williamsburg, back when Williamsburg was Williamsburg, just starting to be Williamsburg in fact). So the guy before me was playing stuff like Anthony Braxton. However I did get to play my-idea-of-pirate-radio-ish stuff - a set of nuum-y things plus The Mover and whatnot -- unmixed but aesthetically congruent and logical in its escalation, i like to think

the Red Bull article mentions this track which is one of my absolute favorites and have used at the start of talks like "Just 4 U London" on Londoncentrity in UK dance or indeed the FACT/Liverpool talk on the Hardcore Continuum

Saturday, July 13, 2013

just 4 U Toronto

crikey, the Motherlode -- Toronto Rave Mixtape Archive

via Michaelangelo Matos, who directs me to the Rufige Kru / Phantasy set on Harddrive 89.5 FM November 1992. Goldie and Phantasy on the mic with some vibetastic patter, ruff tune selection of hardcore-into-darkness and jungle tekno.... a premiere of "Knowledge" and its timestretched/pitchshifted breaks (Phantasy: "if your jaws are hanging out, tuck 'em in")  and an interview with the NRG Crew as in "Need Your Lovin'"

You can find it two items before S section begins in this monster A to Z treasure trove of mixtapes

Toronto famously had (has?)  the most Anglophile rave scene in North America, followed the nuum a long way along the line, hardcore to jungle to drum 'n' bass to UKG + 2step.... seems to have got off the train with grime ... either stayed on it with dubstep, or got back on?

Friday, July 12, 2013


Adam Curtis, in that FACT interview about the stuckness of pop, on Skrillex and by extension, EDM:

It’s extreme music which is kind of entertaining but it doesn’t tell you a story. It’s a mood, and to be rude it’s a zombie mood. Things like Skrillex are the remnants of the old music carrying on in a kind of zombie-like exaggerated way. It’s stuck, it’s not going anywhere.”

Rather like my point about the "arrested futurism" / "frozen future" of Black Eyed Peas/ Flo Rida / Taio Cruz / et al in the conclusion to Retromania

"the state-of-the-(ch)art is an omnipop that pulls every trick in the book of Eighties and Nineties club music, meshing together elements from R&B, electro, house, "Euro",  and trance to create a high-fructose sound of  brash, blaring excitement. This super-compressed, MP3-ready, almost pre-degraded sound is engineered to cut through on iPods, smartphones, and computer speakers. This is the way that pop history ends, not with a whimper but a BANG BANG BANG BANG."

Or indeed rather like the NOW!-ism of EDM.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

rrrrrrginal junglis

fascinating interview with Congo Natty, once upon a time known as Rebel MC, conducted by Joe Clay for Quietus, about new album Jungle Revolution

Q: So you're not looking to innovate?

CN: We have innovated already. Jungle Revolution is innovation. Whether I give you that album in 2013 or I gave it to you 1994, it is exactly the same innovation. All that's happened between '94 and now is this… [gestures to his laptop]

Monday, July 8, 2013

I had a very enjoyable conversation with Angus Finlayson about the new edition of Energy Flash, and the dialogue is now up at Electronic Beats.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"Monster Energy drink for the ears"

At Resident Advisor, an extract from the new section added to Energy Flash: a visit to an EDM massive, differences between now and the Nineties, the rise of digital maximalism.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

open your (re)mind

Foul Play mini-mix by John Morrow formerly of FP now trading as Skeleton Army

via Blog to the Old Skool, who rightly and righteously notes that"with a back-catalog like theirs, it’s hard to call [it]  just a “mini-mix” since there’s about 60-90 minutes worth of top notch tunes crammed into about 20 minutes..."  He also offers a bigupyachess, which I fervently second, to John and his sadly-RIP partner-in-ruffage Steve Bradshaw.

Hard to pick a favorite Foul Play tune but these five would be equal first I think:

But then there's also "Being With You" the original and the remix... plus all their remixes of other people...

Some back in the day writing about FP, by me

Moving Shadow
Melody Maker, 1995
With next to no media profile, Foul Play's John Morrow and Steve Bradshaw have quietly built up one of the finest back catalogues in drum & bass. As is the norm with jungle albums, the back-cat is basically what you get on "Suspected": this is Foul Play's greatest hits, reworked by the band plus a r-r-r-rollcall of famous remixers, and bulked up with a handful of new tracks. While this makes "Suspected" a superb introduction for the uninitiated, for fans who've been following the duo's career for a while, it's a tad disappointing (ditto the ratio of new to old material on Omni Trio's "Deepest Cut" and Goldie's "Timeless").

Still, fans will crave those remixes, which all add new dimensions to the beloved prototypes. "Re-Open Your Mind" remodels Foul Play's 1993 classic (possibly my fave drum & bass track of all time), retaining the goosepimply synth-ripple (still the ultimate aural analogue of a skin-tingling E-rush) but convoluting the beats and bass in accordance with 1995 specifications, and making the twilight-zone bridge passage even more ethereal. "Total Control" is rinsed and blow-dried by Desired State (one of several alter-egos used by top production team Andy C & Ant Miles), who toughen the beats and sub-bass and  curb the original's misguided sax solo (for which, many thanks).

Then come all four new tracks in a row. "Ignorance" sustains "Total"'s military-jazz vibe, with stabbing bass and almost be-bop hi-hats and cymbals, which are programmed with such glistening intricacy they tie your ears in knots. Less impressive is "Artifical Intelligence": E-Z listening jungle, its Mantovani strings and twinkling tinkles of cocktail piano conjuring up a rather obvious aura of  'heaven'. As does "Night Moves", a stab at downtempo hip hop graced by a keyboard motif uncomfortably close to Omni Trio's "Together". "Strung Out" is far better, living up to its paranoiac title with fidgety, feverish snares, a stalking B-line and an edgy, persecuted guitar-figure that sounds like it might be sampled from Santana or somesuch jazzbo fret-wanker.

The remainder of "Suspected"  reverts back to Foul Play's 'Club Classics, Vol 1'. "Cuttin' Loose" is a drastic revamp of the duo's contribution to Moving Shadow's experimental EP series "Two On One". Kickstarted with an unnerving Afro-futurist kazoo motif sampled from Herbie Hancock, the track unleashes a swarm of scuttling breaks, glassy percussion and furtive, sidling bass. "The Stepperemix" is even more militantly minimal, an endless tidal wave of rustling snares and metallic rim-shots, sheer digital gamelan. Hopa & Bones' evisceration of "Being With You" is the most brutal of the four  remixes this late '94 beauty has undergone, with a brand new drum & bass undercarriage and a spray-job to boot. Wiping the floor with the fusion-lite that dominated  'intelligent'  jungle in '95, "Being With You" is real phuture-jazz, its densely-clustered synth-chords verging on harmolodic dissonance. The CD version of "Suspected" adds Omni Trio's widescreen film-muzik reinterpretation of  "Music Is The Key" (beautiful, but the 'real' diva vocal is a tad Whitney) and the original version of "Total Control".

Hardcore Foul Play devotees, like myself, might be impatient for more new hints as to where the duo is headed next.. But as a summation of the story so far, "Suspected" is fabulous and undeniable.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

playin' Footsie

Man like Kristian of Braindead Entertainment gets in touch about these CD compilations of early grimestrumentals made by Footsie of the Newham Generals - mostly tracks that were played on pirate radio but never released. The retrospectives are entitled King Original Vol 1 (came out last year, covers 2004-2006) and King Original Vol 2 (just out now) and they are both really excellent.

You can buy Vol 1 here
and Vol 2 here

Now Man Like Kristian says this music is actually heard at its utmost in the mix, and directed me to these mixes. The first, by Spooky, works with Vol 1, and was done for his Deja FM show. The second, by DJ Tempo, works with Vol 2 + some new Footsie beats, and was done for Big Dada

King Original, incidentally,  was the name of Footsie's father's reggae soundsystem, which prompted in me the thought that, for all the flak I got / get over the Nuum, it really is not just a genreological continuity but in quite a few cases, a genealogical lineage. Father to son, uncle to nephew... many crews that contain brothers or cousins.  Mostly male-to-male: a fratriarchy, yes. But not always. One good counter-example I came across was Mz Bratt, the female MC whose dad was MC Scallywag (as in Spiral Tribe, as in the voice on that 1992 harcore tune by Grant Nelson under the name Xenophobia, "Rush in the House")

Here's a Youtube interview Footsie talks about his dad's influence on him.