Shackleton Three EPs

October 8th, 2009

3×12″ Vinyl
Perlon (PERL76)
October 2009

shackep3

‘Not an album’ from Sam Shackleton but a coincidental set of ‘EPs’ packaged together by German techno label Perlon.  The following is not a review.

A1  (No More) Negative Thoughts
B1  Let Go
B2  It’s Time for Love

In some other version of now, it was Mala’s ‘Conference’ not Coki’s ‘Haunted’ that proliferated like rhythmachinic spam filling up the shops and forums.  There, it’s all about delirious, teasing rhythms, percussive texture, weird incantations, flailing arms in dark rooms decorated by chthonic slide projections.  Ongy bongy, etc.  Space with your weight.  Shackleton is iconic of the whole thing and ‘Splash‘ goes for £100 on Discogs.

Several years on from the first Skull Disco releases, ex-pat Shackleton keeps a studio in a former East German broadcast centre. Like fellow travelers Mordant Music, his idosyncratic catalogue is easy to see as a genre unto itself.  Its sounds and themes are nurtured and re-crafted from record to record but they never settle.  A languid rhythmic psychedelia – first fully explored in 2007’s ‘You Bring Me Down‘ – has become his specialty.  ‘Let Go’ sees him back in 140bpm territory, beats halting and skipping, almost Jungle-like, around an agitated bass pulse.  It’s hazy, radios are squealing, and something keeps attacking from above.  Down in the runout groove German cartoon men talk about pants.

C1  Mountains of Ashes
C2  There’s a Slow Train Coming
D1  Moon Over Joseph’s Burial

‘Moon Over Joseph’s Burial’ – Skull Disco’s conceptual start point was the intergenerational necrorave – dig up your kin and get down.  ‘Moon…’ goes deeper.  Loose earth, lost footing.  Tricky slopes from a pitchbent organ.  Rhythms from bones and trinkets. Viscous drips that chatter across long corridors before flooding forward, leaving all the percussive bits to slosh around in a subterranean tide.  Scrapes and struggle.  Body-swelling pressure.  “Oh… oh .. oh. ..” a step out of time and repeating vacantly.  A mournful chorus responds but it’s out of reach and its song makes no sense anyway. Altogether it brings to mind a mind lingering longer than we’d like to think – after the end – shuttling between earthly ego panic and uneasy calm: Joseph perched at a threshold between the corporeal and a none-too-inviting Something Else.  Dim panic and glimpses through decomposition, and then it’s over, constantly, forever.  Liminal calm in lockgroove catatonia.

E1  Asha in the Tabernacle
F1  Trembling Leaf
F2  Something has got to Give

“He’s got the whole wide world in his hands…,” pitched down like a chorus of Jolly Green Giants.  What do you make of ‘Asha in the Tabernacle’?  “Sense it, know it, let it be.”  It’s another disorienting micro-epic: trip-you-up drums and bass, breathy pads in distress, and rapturous chants.  Somethig big is happening but we’re not meant to know what it is.  On the F-side, ‘Something has got to Give’ amplifies the tension and the noise.  More voices, more difficulty breathing, then quieter, into Photek-like suspense scene of reverberant percussion and an insistent, muted throbbing.  Recommended!

Buy Three EPs at Boomkat

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Next: The surprising reappearance of Mr.Bump and the circumstances surrounding his equally sudden return to obscurity.

October 4th, 2009

gloriette2gala2

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Dancecult Journal

September 29th, 2009

Dancecult Journal

“After the initial call for contributions some ten months ago, I am now delighted to announce the launch of Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. The first edition of Dancecult, a peer-reviewed, open-access e-journal for the study of electronic dance music culture (EDMC), is now live, with downloadable PDFs accessible at http://dj.dancecult.net. Alongside Managing Editor Eliot Bates and Reviews Editor Karenza Moore – who have thrown themselves headlong into the journal – I am happy to see the EDMC research mothership slide down the sluiceway to begin her maiden voyage.”

– Graham St John, Executive Editor for Dancecult

I joined the dancecult listserv a couple of years ago and, while there have been some sparks, the discussion never kicked off with the intensity I’d hoped for (not that I helped much).  It also became clear, watching those discussions on one hand, and the whole (let’s say) DissensusFACTWIRE-etc. axis on the other, that a lot of people with similar interests weren’t really on each other’s radar.  But, judging from its impressive advisory panel and the diverse list of contributors to the first issue, the new Dancecult Journal looks like it could be a major step towards something more rigorous and productive.  Take for example, the whole hardcore continuum debate [three links from the multitude], which has gone on ad nauseum in Dissensian circles without seeming to accomplish much more than a retrenchment of positions.  If, as some defenders of the concept have argued, opponents of the HHC haven’t offered up adequate theoretical alternatives, then DJ issue 1 makes a step toward soliciting new critical responses by including a pair of HHC articles from Discographies co-author Jeremy Gilbert and Mark (k-punk) Fisher.

All in all, it’s a good start: a theory-focused venue for discussions that are too often reduced – in the blogosphere, etc. – to arguments over the merits of theorizing culture at all.  And, as a peer-reviewed e-journal, it can be both rigorous and nimble, keeping better pace with accelerated music culture than slow-moving print journals usually manage. So, congratulations to the editors.  Hopefully I’ll add something to it myself in the near future.

The full contents of Volume 1, Issue 1 are available here in HTML and PDF formats.

Sounds of the Future

September 28th, 2009

Erkki Kurenniemi
Computer Music
19??

Erkki Kurenniemi
Electronics in the World of Tomorrow
1968

These days I’m more solder and flux than diamonds and wax, if you know what I mean. This one’s for Gutta because I think he’ll like it.  Last winter I was supposed to release some of my early electronics-and-tape experiments on his netlabel Bleepfiend. But, regretfully, I bailed after losing confidence in the material.  After keeping it to myself for almost 15 years it was difficult to imagine people listening to it.  Now it seems the label has been mothballed, which is too bad because it was a great idea with some really promising stuff lined up.  I hope he tries again in the future.

JG Ballard tributes

September 28th, 2009

Illuminated Man

Illuminated Man

For those who didn’t catch it, ‘Deeptime’ is a nod to JG Ballard’s first neuronic odyssey, The Drowned World. And the last ten minutes of my 2007 Blogariddims mix was also a partial tribute to the book, meant to work as a soundtrack to its closing lines.  Ballard died of prostate cancer in April and it’s really good to see some projects popping up in his memory.  His death nearly brought me back to blogging, and I actually sketched out a couple of different posts, but it felt unnecessary as more eloquent tributes from those who knew him began to accumulate at Ballardian.  Still, I was struck by two things.  First, how strange it seemed to enter an era ‘after Ballard’ knowing that a ‘Ballardian’ condition only seems set to become more the norm in coming years.  That’s what oracles are all about though isn’t it?   Second, was just a fascination with his time in Canada: training and discovering science fiction, in the early-1950s, at the same RCAF base where my grandfather (who died in a similar fashion) had been a flight instructor during the war, and then, writing his first stories on a 3000 mile winter train ride through every place I’ve lived between Alberta and Quebec (by which time my grandfather was working those rail lines as an engineer tasked with tidying up after crashes and derailments).

In any case, now that the brief wave of mainstream media memorializing/recuperation has passed, we’re starting to see artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers collaborating on works in his honour.  Ike Yard’s Stuart Argabright has been at the centre of it all, and he’s given this loose itinerary of upcoming projects and events…

Read the rest of this entry »

Jumeirah Riddim

February 8th, 2009

Jumeirah

After lurking around the edges of Funky (see last year’s enticing vocal number ‘How Very Dare You’), UKG / Grime don Sticky lobs this grenade onto the dancefloor. Fierce as all get out – easily an 11 on the ‘African Warrior’ Scale .  You wouldn’t want it all to be like this but it’s perfect peak set material. Loads of vocals forthcoming, apparently.

Sticky – Jumeirah Riddim

Blogariddims Terminus

October 7th, 2008

So today is the end of Blogariddims. Eleven of us have contributed ~6-minute mini mixes to mark the occasion and it all kicks off right here. Thanks again to Droid for asking me to be a part of this amazing series. I know it’s taken a lot of work on his part and I think it’s fair to say that the results have exceeded everyone’s expectations: 200 000+ downloads to date, a 23-hour Blogariddims orgy on WHRB Cambridge, and lots of positive responses from listeners. Out to all the contributors and thanks for putting me on to so much music I’d have never heard otherwise.

LINKS: Last post (Droid intro) / Next post (JEPM: Eden + Meme) / Audio link (Blogariddims 50 mp3)

Musical Astronauts

This piece is actually a much condensed version of something I’d been putting together for Rayna Modifyer’s Process podcast series. The idea there was a Sun Ra-laden sonic fiction adventure, inspired in part by paul.meme’s Fusion Dub Blogariddims mix, but pulling together bits of futuristic disco (think Instant Funk’s ‘Dark Vader’), moog funk, and very early hip-hop, with grainy documentary parts layered in. Unfortunately, that fell apart. But the pieces gave me this.

What it is: Last winter, I finally got the chance to methodically read through just about every Afrofuturist text I’ve ever been able to track down, from manifestos and fiction to academic work. It was dark and we were being buried under more snow than the city had seen in forty years. Winter is the best time to hibernate on an alternate plane and one result was a new obsession with Sun Ra, whose records I began devouring with help from Ian down at Sounds Unlikely, and Graham Lock’s book Blutopia. Ra’s project is Alter Destiny, and he finds it between an Egyptian (not Israelite) past and a galactic future: the dawn of the Space Race. But before he was an aviator, Ra was strictly avian, named for a falcon-headed God, his space chants reworking celestially-themed Baptist sermons with Egyptian bird imagery. By the late-1950s, though, Ra had found that B-movie science fiction offered better vehicles for space travel, and so his bird-gods receded into the background.

This little mix stays with the birds. In the beginning it’s drums and forest singing together, then the calls detach into dub space and circuitry. Into the future, the beat comes back as a robot and so goes the bird. But then that fades into an unforeseen alter destiny in the shape of an urban samurai whose best friends are an obsolete communications technology.

Tracklist:

Sun Ra – The Magic Sun (Phil Niblock, 1966)
Spring Morning, 31 Birdsongs (Peter Kilham, 1963)
Ruanda: Tambours Royaux (Infor Congo, ?)
X Clan – Earth Bound (4th & B’way, 1990)
Sun Ra – Voice of Space (Saturn, 1963)
Ed Rush – Bludclot Artattack Remix, Lick II (No U-Turn, 1994)
Field Recording
Funkadelic – Get Off your Ass and Jam (Westbound, 1975)
Fab 5 Freddy – Cuckoo Clocking (Wildstyle, 1982)
Ghost Dog (Jim Jarmusch/RZA, 1999)

Terminus:

0- Droid Intro blog post
1- Autonomic (6:01)
2- JEPM (eden + meme) (8:41)
2.1- JEPM (eden + meme)
3- Matt B (6:33)
4- Rambler (7:09)
5- Wayne (7:00)
6- Droid (7:44)
7- Gutta (6:02)
8- Heatwave (6:04)
9- Hal (8.01)
10- Flack (6:15)
11– Slug/Droid outro blog post

Margins Music

August 24th, 2008

I’m behind on a lot of things right now thanks to a bad case of RSI, but I’ve been meaning to post about this.  Dusk and Blackdown’s album Margins Music has finally been released and, along with it, a stunningly produced video.  It’s not a music video in the usual sense – it cuts together multiple tracks from the album set to lush but quick-shifting visuals from the streets of London. The cuts caught me by surprise at first, but in the end it works because this five minute clip is like a condensed version of Margins Music itself: a set of looping trajectories and rough juxtapositions that make up Dusk and Blackdown’s personal geography of the city.

I was lucky enough to get a preview of the album in the spring and it’s been a rotation all summer.  By no means is it the quintessential dubstep that some might have expected from the pair. Dusk and Blackdown took a chance when they decided to base an album largely on their shared love of grime and desi beats. But it works well thanks to solid, creative production work and some of the year’s best vocals, provided by Farrah, Teji, Durrty Goodz and Trim.

I’ve got a hefty interview with Dusk and Blackdown forthcoming in the long-awaited third issue of Woofah (and I think there’s a review from Gutta), with a ‘director’s cut’ likely to follow sometime later at Riddim.ca.  In the meantime though, Melissa Bradshaw’s done an excellent two-parter with Blackdown, Dusk and Farrah over at Decks in the City.

* * *

Last note – things haven’t been totally quiet the last couple of months.  With help from Siah Alan and Tim Finney, I’ve tentatively revived Riddim.ca to cover rumblings in the fast-mutating UK House/Funky scene which I’ve been quietly obsessing over more and more since the last winter.  I haven’t wanted to add to the hype machine by gushing about it here but, like I said a while back, it’s an exciting ‘wot do u call it?’ moment right now and I’m not sure we’ll even quite grasp it until it’s nearly past.

First up, an interview with Roska.  Check back for more in the coming weeks.

To the ground

July 6th, 2008

Reading: JG Ballard High Rise
Listening to: Theo Parrish First Floor

Iain Sinclair in the LRB on the razing of East London for the 2012 Olympics:

The scam of scams was always the Olympics: Berlin in 1936 to Beijing in 2008. Engines of regeneration. Orgies of lachrymose nationalism. War by other means. Warrior-athletes watched, from behind dark glasses, by men in suits and uniforms. The pharmaceutical frontline. Rogue Californian chemists running their eye-popping, vein-clustered, vest-stripping robots against degendered state laboratory freaks. Bearded ladies and teenage girls who never have periods. Medals returned by disgraced drug cheats to be passed on to others who weren’t caught, that time. The Millennium Dome fiasco was a low-rent rehearsal. The holy grail for blue-sky thinkers was the sport-transcends-politics Olympiad, the five-hooped golden handcuffs, the smoke rings behind which deals could be done for casinos and malls: with corporate sponsorship, flag-waving and infinitely elastic budgets (any challenge an act of naysaying treason).

the blue gate

‘Never believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us.’ One of those caveats from A Thousand Plateaus that people forget when they get too wrapped up in their rhizomes and nomads.  Derive without a map.  According this post over at Vimothy’s House of War that’s where the Israeli IDF found itself after after shelving Sun Tzu for Deleuze, Guattari and Debord ahead of its 2006 invasion of Lebanon.  Apparently there was something to the Frieze article from that year which claimed that smoothing was the IDF’s new strategy for overcoming complicating striations like the walls between people’s homes.  Doors and streets are obsolete, just smash and move – up, down, sideways – invisible from the outside.  Now, Vimothy links to an analysis of the 2006 disaster published in The Journal of Strategic Studies which claims that Israel’s fatal blundering had something to do with commanders getting so wrapped up in post-structuralist theory that they forgot how formulate straightforward commands and objectives.

Missionaries Moving

June 26th, 2008

So many people doing cool things right now…

Gutta’s Bleepfiend label kicks off with 10 attic recordings, circa 1993-95, from No. 1 Astronaut, aka, Bob Bharma, “slightly better known today as one half of ‘space loop’ composers Data 70.”  Artwork by Woofah contributor Doppleganger and it’s completely free.  »»  Paul ‘Grievous Angel/777/Shards and Fragments’ Meme’s debut full-length CD has landed at Boomkat after many months of preparation.  I’ve had this on a CD-r for a while (‘Move Down Low’ was in that Mutantextures mix I did in the winter) and I’m digging Paul’s ‘Ragga Techno’ thing.  Looking forward to the reaction and to the non-album 12″ ‘Lady Dub’ which has to be one of my favourite dubstep tracks in the last year.  Too bad I lost my 320.  »»  My Fellow Americans – Dan ‘Lower End Spasm‘ Hancox and Tom Humberstone’s blog about touring through the US during the Democratic primaries – has turned into a book of Dan’s writing and Tom’s original art.   Independently published and available online at Vented Spleen.  »»  Finally, it looks like Woofah #3 is nearing completion and the contents are just redonkulous. Watch for my Dusk and Blackdown interview.

Also recently launched is Grimetapes.com.  For years, some of us have been pining for early grime adopters like Luka and Silverdollar to digitize their stacks of pirate tapes and put them online.  Dissensus’ slackk has finally set the ball rolling with a dedicated web space and contributions coming from all over.

And, look who’s back: patternloader, sodiumnighlife, and loveecstasycrime.