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Monthly Archives: March 2009

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Comfortably the UK’s only semi-pro footballer and professional DJ/producer (I may be wrong), Cooly G is bringing a deeper flavour to Funky that I for one am welcoming with open ears.

Funky – for any of you unaware – takes the broken rhythms of soca and the 4/4 undercurrent of house and plants them both on the solid bassline attitude of dubstep. Artists such as Roska, Apple, Lil Silva and Hard House Banton have provided the high points thus far and there’s even been a bumrushing of the charts via K.I.G‘s faintly ridiculous Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes (not to mention the forthcoming Tribal Skank / Migraine Skank debacle – watch this space).

All of these have had a strong jump-up or dirty grime feel to them, but Cooly G takes it to a darker place without compromising the infectious dancefloor potential of Funky. The use of space and more intricate rhythms suggest classic techno but it’s the marrying of this with the insistant beats & bass that makes it truly special. The physical and the mental – yes, I want to have my cake and eat it. Or think about it. Or something.

The subtler textural and melodic elements are more in common with producers like Martyn, the Dutch wonder who turned me onto Funky in the first place (with his set at FWD) and turned me onto Cooly G. Her tune Narst has just been signed to bass tastemaker Kode9‘s Hyperdub label and you can hear it on this excerpt from Martyn’s recent set at BLOC festival. Download it here, it’s the first tune. And it’s the shit.

UPDATE

Tracklist for Martyn BLOC set:

1. cooly g – “narst” (hyperdub)
2. kode9 – “black sun” (hyperdub)
3. shed – “another wedged chicken” martyns 131 mix (ostgut ton)
4. aardvareke – “just washed that pig” (rushhour)
5. aardvarck – “revo” (kindred spirits)
6. armando – “land of confusion” (trax)
7. inner city – “good life” carl craig mix (kms/pias)
8. dj mujava – “township funk” (warp)

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Today is computer maintenance day.

In the meantime, any of you who’ve had your interest piqued by the recent whatever-you-call-it instrumental hip-hop stylings of Rustie, Hudson Mohawke, Bullion etc should check out the LuckyMe website. I’ll let them do the talking, but in the broadest terms they’re a Glasgow based collective (who include the aforementioned Rustie and HudMo) of artists, musicians and promoters who are – whether you may hear – not cool.

‘Cool’ is an absurd concept. What is it? Who has it? How does one get it? It seems that the coolest people around are always the ones at pains to not be. By that maxim, the only way to be cool is to avoid it.

People want to be cool because it suggests value or worth, which brings respect. This suggests a need for acceptance, to be part of something larger and validate them as people. Cool for the sake of cool essentially uncool as it itself has no singular, independent worth. Also, when things become cool, hip or trendy they become confined, a static photograph of the scene/sound/look at its point of crossover. It can then be commodified, sold and endlessly reproduced – existing but essentially dead as it ceases to advance or evolve. Whether or not this makes any sense, as a way of looking at things it’s outmoded.

I guess this is why so many (LuckyMe included) try so hard to reject any of these associations. This piece from their site probably expresses it better than me:

Did anyone catch the Guardian’s guide to new trends for 09. Man, we are the first up with ‘Wonky’. We don’t condone this word but I wont go into it again. It’s useful people are trying to talk about us – and to be in that paper is no bad thing. I just get the feeling that people are letting genre names just fall out the side of their mouth like the crumbs on cookie monster. It’s dumb. I mean, who would want to affiliate with any genre in 2009 when everyone has an attention span exactly the same length as the first level in Super Mario 3.

Diplo wrote a great article on the redundancy of genre in new music a few months ago for URB. I recommend it. Anyway, we are so grateful for people finding us but there is more going on here with than just that name. Suspend a little disbelief in the defining sound of Wonky and you will find it’s got nothing to do with Ketamin or quantizZzing, and everything to do with whatever we deem cool and relevant at LuckyMe.

I admit, I am guilty myself of singing the praises of Wonky but I put it down to enthusiasm and excitement – not bad things but after reading this and the Diplo piece I  accept a little more now the problems and hopelessness of trying to sum up a scene in a word. The interview with Diplo they mention is a particularly interesting view on the death of genre, I also suggest that you read it here. Cool, trendy, hip… all these terms are becoming obsolete. Teh internetz is making everything available to everyone, all the time. Fuck the hardcore continuum (of which there is a fine rebuttal here), it’s no longer relevant.

I digress. LuckyMe also have a wealth of mixes to download, provided by affiliates and those who share their aesthetic/ethos. Particularly good is Jamie Vex’d’s Sunday Walkman Mix. Get it here (right-click to save), or here for the mixtape page – check them out, they all look good.

Jamie Vex’d – Sunday Walkman Mix

jamie vexd – saturn’s reply
rich reason & fantastic mr fox – bleep show
scuba – twitch – jamie vexd remix
starkey – creature
jamie vexd – in system travel
erykah badu – twinkle
darkstar – aidy’s girl’s a computer
cannibal ox – f word (instrumental)
zomby – fantastique remix
falty dl – to london
shawty lo ft dg yola vs timeblind – lets decay it (dev 79’s blend)
stagga – lopside – doshy remix
modeselektor – black box – rustie remix
joker – psychedlic runway
starkey – mutter music vip
naptha – soundclash – grevious angel vip
tim hecker – sundown6093
falty dl – paradise Lost

Further to my decision to reacquaint myself with the quality end of disco (mainly of the Italo variety, early to mid 80s), I gorged on blogs and rapidshare links in a frenzy. One of my most enduring discoveries has been French/Italian singer Valerie Dore, best known for two singles ‘The Night’ and ‘Get Closer’ – virtually identical in arrangement but with different vocal performances. Both tracks (actually sung by Italian singer Dora Carofiglio, Dore mimed as performance front woman) achieved European chart success, though notably not in the UK.

Although part of the Italo-disco scene, this is more dream-pop. The wistful, languid beauty that is missing in much of today’s electro-pop but finds parallels (aesthetically if not sonically) in shoegaze bands that followed such as Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine. Starry-eyed with a faint tang of melancholy, rich in a tone that washes through you and over you. Sumptuous, luxurious and a little sad.

Contemporary equivalents are hard to place. The brief shoegaze revival has brought Ulrich Schnauss and Maps to the fore but the former seems a little impersonal and the latter (for me) failed to transcend run-of-the-mill indie-pop.

For me, Fever Ray has been the one act of late to touch on the certain ethereal quality of dream-pop. Admittedly the timbres are a little more visceral but the spirit manages to transport the listener into that ‘other’ state reserved such music with a nebulous, wondrous magic. I covered her album recently, but now I have an excuse to post more of her music:

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Shed – Another Wedged Chicken Martyn’s 131 Remix (Ostgut)

Ahead of his forthcoming debut LP on his own label 3024, one of the highlights from Martyn‘s set at FWD sees the digital light of day. A prime example of his Motor City 2 step sound – skippy, expertly programmed drums and an irresistible synth hook that he keeps to the fore without foregoing any subtlety. Infectious dance music.

Listen / Buy here

Teaser video for the forthcoming album:

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Fellow Londoners.

In these cash strapped times, what better way to enjoy a meeting of rave minds – past and present – than Cargo this Friday. Only £zero entry lets you witness living legends Ratpack share a bill with dubstep producer du jour Zomby.

Zomby’s recent ‘Where Were You In ’92‘ is the spirit of old skool UK hardcore filtered through today’s clattering dubstep sound, then played underwater. Although said LP makes a point of channeling the breakbeats and rave stabs of the early 90s (almost to, and sometimes past the point of pastiche), much of his other work has at least one foot firmly in the present. A loose dubby vibe ranging from skippy two-step to B-movie squelch, he’s becoming hard to pin down.

Rave pioneers Ratpack were there in ’92, providing much of the soundtrack. They’re probably best known for this solid-gold anthem:

Some old rave, some new rave, but hopefully no nu-rave. Although what that actually sounds like is unclear. Let’s hope they all turn up.

Dorian Concept – When Planets Explode (Kindred Spirit/Nod Navigators)

Another beat-monger to look out for in ’09, Dorian Concept is a Viennese toybox-synth prodigy who has been getting ‘mad props’ (ahem) from fans of Flying Lotus, Bullion, Madlib, J Dilla etc. Rampantly freeform yet head nodding beats lump him in with the above crowd but It’s the synthwork which gives him his specific sound, 8 bit jazz style. He’s clearly a talented and accomplished musician, Radio 1 Nu-Jazz perennial Gilles Peterson going so far as to compare him to fellow Austrian and legendary jazz fusion keyboardist Joe Zawinul.

Despite the obvious influences this is contemporary wonky (with a small w) beatsmithery, neon synths with a potent hip-hop backbone. There’s a little less of the badboy crunk element evident in a lot of his European contemporaries (Rustie, Joker, etc) but this works in his favour, leaving it a bit more cerebral and a bit less po-faced. Don’t worry, there’s dancefloor potential if you want it (Fort Teen, The Fucking Formula) but there’s also the promise of further melodic/rhythmic/textual depths. Get on it.

Listen / Buy

Jamming the fuck out:

Some more:

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I mentioned the charms of Acton beat-polisher Bullion in an earlier post. I won’t go into his sound again, suffice it to say that his few releases thus far have had a instrumental hip-hop skewed pop charm. His new EP ‘Young Heartache’ is his best yet, a solid release representative of his skills.

A producer’s DJ set generally provides certain things – a snapshot of their influences and a round-up of their peers, peppered with some future releases. It’s not to say that Thursday’s Hyp!Hyp!Hyp! (see flyer) didn’t provide those things, it just felt a little predictable. An unfocused mash of familiar hip-hop, soul and classic funk breaks, none of it bad in any way, just not particularly exciting. When an artist’s recorded output shows glimpses of invention and individuality it’s easy to expect too much – you want everything they do to demonstrate the same flashes of genius. If I’d gone expecting a standard funk / soul night, rather than the proverbial ‘next-level shit’, maybe I wouldn’t have been disappointed.

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Round the corner (almost) there is however The Joiner’s Arms, a love-it-or-hate-it semi-gay pub that’s perpetually rammed until its slightly unclear closing time. Beloved by many Shoreditch hipsters, what it guarantees is loud and lively late-night drinking for anyone feeling like they’re ‘on one’. It’s trendy enough to attract the arty type with generally good DJs and an extensive and tempting jukebox but not so cool that everyone’s scared to have a good time. Everyone dances, it’s a bit dirty but hey – it’s exciting. After an hour or so of worthy funk and wholemeal hip-hop it had the perfect tonic, a room full of people dancing on tables to some rousing, full-blooded, damn sexy Disco. I haven’t had to ask a DJ what tune he was playing for a long time but Stephanie Mills made it happen once more:

Time to get back into Disco.

Tim Hecker – An Imaginary Country (Kranky)

It’s been almost three years since the complex grandeur of Tim Hecker‘s ‘Harmony In Ultraviolet‘, an LP which commanded the same awe as a celluloid shot of mountainous terrain. Towers of melodic fuzz built from looping samples and mystery instruments shifting into moments of deftly controlled distortion. A shoegazing laptop-jockey, emoting with the skill of a scientist.

This offering feels more steamlined, fewer disparate sonic elements but the ones that remain filling the space left – Tim crafts with more confidence, letting chord sequences shift and evolve without always heading for a Spector-esque wall of noise. This confident, more delicate approach edges his music closer toward the neo-classical grace of Oren Ambarchi or Stars Of The Lid (mighty artists in their own right), although by refining he loses some of the chaos that makes his music so breathtaking. It seems flatter, somehow more ‘safe’. There’s less of the mountain range, more of the airport and I want a little more noise to temper the beauty and give it life.

But this is coming from a fanboy, you try pleasing a fanboy.

Off  ‘Harmony In Ultraviolet’…