Archive for the ‘d**step’ Category.

February updates

1. SPATIAL INTERVIEWED BY JOHN EDEN

An interview I did with Hackney-based producer Spatial is now published exclusively and for the first time at The Liminal.

This piece was originally intended for issue 5 of Woofah, but has been fully updated. (It’s the last outstanding thing I wrote for Woofah, which makes me a bit smiley and a bit weepy!). Spatial is an interesting guy and is well worth checking.

2. MORE TURBULENT TIMES ACTION

Turbulent_Times_9

Idwal Fisher did a lovely review of my Turbulent Times fanzine, along with other publications.

The zine now has its own page if people are interested in ordering it or knowing about distributors etc.

I have properly started work on the new issue but can’t say when it will be out!

3. AND FINALLY, SOME ADVERTS:

radical hackney

TRIPWIRE_AD

 

oc160213overhill

 

3rd Official Trailer for A Noisy Delivery, by Pete Cann from GX Jupitter-Larsen on Vimeo.

Ekoplekz – Intrusive Incidentalz Vol 1

Ekoplekz – Intrusive Incidentalz Vol 1 (Punch Drunk LP and digital)

More vinyl promo goodness from the Ekoplekz camp puts a big stupid grin on my face. The many moods of Ekoplekz are becoming slightly more apparent over time. This is much more aggy, more urgent than the Live at Dubloaded LP I reviewed last month. (And the standard disclaimer still applies – I am biased. Pro-Ekoplekz.) The tracks are shorter, generally denser, and less spacey. The lo-fi improvised electronic signatures remain.

Punch Drunk’s press blurb says that Nick’s “retro futurism” is tempered with a “post-dubstep sensibility” which makes me cringe a bit and I think is oversimplifying things (although I fully understand that is what a one-sheeter is supposed to do). Intrusive Incidentalz is less about influences and homages and more about intersecting paths in a maze. Bits that recall vintage Throbbing Gristle to an old fart like me will conjur up something completely different to a teenager just falling under the spell of dubstep or (and you can scoff all you like, but they are out there – I meet their parents!).

One of Richard H Kirk’s best contributions to the Synth Britannia documentary was saying that Cabaret Voltaire were trying to soundtrack the extreme political climate and paranoia of the era they were working in. For Kirk, the Brixton riots were inspirational – finally someone was kicking back. Only the most ardent anarchist would say that the recent riots were inspirational in the same way, but they are a good indicator of where things are headed – of the desperation (and desperate opportunism) the UK is soaked with right now.

Making tracks for the dancefloor is an entirely honourable pursuit in these circumstances and will provide that flash of release during hard times for lots of people. But for me, the wonky pummeling of “Clodsteps” or the woozy splinters of “Psionik Trance”  are a more apt soundtrack for September 2011. The sonic continuities with previous eras mesh with the political and social continuities – but so do the variations and innovations. Things are not exactly the same this time around, it’s different – we’re still working through what those differences are and what they mean.

Or perhaps I’m projecting? Nick seems much more down to earth and well balanced than me. Maybe he’s just so well rounded that he’s gone to the trouble of making an album that sounds like how I feel when I have to walk down those grey corridors with a nagging hangover, again. Sometimes I find this album hard to listen to, sometimes I find it hard to write about. Sometimes I sit at my desk, blinking along with the striplights and look forward to submerging myself in it all.

“Intrusive Incidentalz vol 1″ is out now on Punch Drunk. Order vinyl direct from the label and get a free digital copy.

Great cover again by my man 2nd Fade

Ekoplekz plays Cafe Oto in October in collaboration with Bass Clef as Eko-Clef

Ekoplekz interview at Sonic Router

Datacide issue 11

Fanzine of the week #3

With 64 pages, this is the biggest issue of Datacide yet!

It also includes a contribution from me. No time for an extensive review, but all of the material here is well up to the usual high standard.

FEATURES

Christoph Fringeli – “Hedonism and Revolution: The Barricade and the Dancefloor”

Stewart Home – “Dope smuggling, LSD manufacture, organized crime & the law in 1960s London”

John Eden – “Shaking the Foundations: Reggae soundsystem meets ‘Big Ben British values’ downtown”

Alexis Wolton – “Tortugan tower blocks? Pirate signals from the margins”

Neil Transpontine – “Dancing before the police come”

Christoph Fringeli – “From Subculture to Hegemony: Transversal Strategies of the New Right in Neofolk and Industrial”

Nemeton – “From Conspiracy Theories to Attempted Assassinations: The American Radical Right and the Rise of the Tea Party Movement”

R. C. – “How to start with the subject. Notes on Burroughs and the ‘combination of all forms of struggle’”

Matthew Fuller and Steve Goodman – “Beat Blasted Planet. An interview with Steve Goodman on ‘Sonic Warfare’”

Terra Audio – “Free Parties”

Gorki Plubakter – “This is the end… the official ending”

FICTION

“Sonic Fictions” by Riccardo Balli
“Digital Disease” by Dan Hekate
“Infra-Noir. 23 Untitled Poems” by Howard Slater
“Office Work” by Matthew Fuller

PLUS

Record Reviews
The Lives and TImes of Bloor Schleppy
Charts

ORDERING

Available now for EUR 4.00 incl. postage – order now by sending this amount via paypal to praxis(at)c8.com, or send EUR 10 for 3 issues (note that currently only issues 5, 7 and 10 are still available, but you can also pre-order future issues.

Also from the Praxis Webshop.

The Superstonic Cult of Don Letts

To the ICA last night, for the UK premiere of the Superstonic Sound documentary.

This was billed variously as a film about Don Letts, or perhaps a film about UK bass culture featuring Don Letts and his role in it:

“a documentary, which fuses his life story with that of the history of bass culture in Britain. From Kingston to London, New York to Rio, bass has had a resounding impact on musicians and music lovers alike. It is a meeting point for people from different cultures, backgrounds and races and continues to inspire innovation and change. Following 3 generations of DJ in the Letts family, Superstonic Sound charts the impact of Jamaican bass and how it changed British music and society forever.”

The film is actually an hour long advert for the Letts “brand”. Which is fine if you like Don Letts, I guess. For me the best parts were from Don’s film archive shot in Kingston JA and Brixton in the 1970s. I would have loved to simply watch all that, alongside the footage he apparently has of Prince Far I and others.

Unfortunately last night’s event seemed to suggest that anything involving Don Letts has to end up being about Don Letts more than anything else. Quite a lot of the film is taken up with Don wandering around London with his son reminiscing on his life, or sitting in his studio being interviewed for radio programmes (which seemed a lot more interesting than the film we were watching).

Both Don and his son Jet come across as OK people who have had interesting lives and made worthwhile contributions to culture. The difficulty is that Don is a self-confessed hustler who seems to be perpetually focussed on promoting himself so he can blag the next deal. And fair enough – there are a lot of people like that and it’s not like as a black guy in the seventies he was going to make a good go of being a civil servant or a bank manager.

The problems with this narcissism are twofold.

Firstly it means that the actual “history of bass culture in Britain” doesn’t get told properly.

The film was all too brief about Don’s father playing his soundsystem in a church basement after the Sunday service in the 1950s. Things then move predictably on to punk and the Roxy (skipping over rudeboys and skinheads dancing to ska in the sixties). The eighties are represented by Big Audio Dynamite and Don going to New York to discover hip hop (“black punk rock”). The nineties don’t get a look in, so no rave or jungle or garage. The story skips directly to dubstep, presumably because Don digs it and his son is a producer and club promoter.

My esteemed colleague Jamrock pressed Don on his opinion of Grime during the Q&A and after the show. Basically he’s not into it and didn’t feel that it fitted into the tradition he was talking about because it’s all bling and designer labels and not about chanting down babylon. I think, for me, the way that grime is produced and distributed and functions as an autonomous expression of urban working class culture is political in itself – regardless of lyrical content.

Whilst there are many things I’m not keen on in grime culture, it is undeniable that it’s a lot closer to being “black punk rock” than a lot of the music in the film. It is certainly a lot less palatable than dubstep to many people and has been subject to even more interference from the police than the Sex Pistols and the Clash ever were.

Plus it simply isn’t true that grime is all about bling – it was initially a reaction to the champagne and designer clothes of UK garage.

Furthermore grime reflects the politics of the world it is created in. Which are generally crap. It may be that the economic and social conditions of this decade mean that politics and people’s relationship to it become a bit more interesting, which might mean more interesting subcultures develop. It is a bit wrongheaded to say that dubstep is acceptable in this context, but grime isn’t.

Unfortunately a potentially interesting discussion of these issues was curtailed by the second problem with the cult of Don – that people buy into it. The backwards and forwards between my friend and the star of the show was interrupted by another audience member who wanted to have her say. Which is fair enough, except all she seemed to want to do was big herself up and tell Don how amazing he is.

Many of the other “questions” were of a similar caliber, although there were some interesting tangents where younger audience members raised the issue of generally feeling helpless, having too much information and not having black and white issues to kick out against. Which makes me wonder if the whole event was framed around a nostalgia for the simpler times of the seventies.

Don got his fire back when talking about trying to acquire stock footage of black culture for his documentary films and being charged thousands of pounds for a few seconds of footage of someone like Sun Ra, which Ra’s estate won’t see any of. “Who owns the culture?” is a crucial question to be asking.

But so is “Who decides what’s in the culture and what isn’t?”

There is a film to be made which covers “the history of bass culture in Britain” which shows that  “From Kingston to London, New York to Rio, bass has had a resounding impact on musicians and music lovers alike. It is a meeting point for people from different cultures, backgrounds and races and continues to inspire innovation and change.”

Unfortunately, enjoyable as it was – and raising as many questions as it did, Superstonic Sound is not that film.

Minds Locked Together…

…is a short film by photographer Shaun Bloodworth.

It was commissioned by Mary Ann Hobbs for Sonar, and has a soundtrack by my man Grievous Angel.

All three protagonists live in Sheffield as do the various clubs featured. It’s good – some nice energetic positive vibes.

Click the link to have a look.

Dusk & Blackdown: Margins Music Live

To the Albany in New Cross, via the brand spanking new train line which joins the previously isolated South East and North East parts of London.

The journey allowed me some time to ruminate on the mixed feelings I had about the event. “Margins Music” was a bold album, linking up the psychogeography of London with its various sonics. Blackdown and Dusk gave great interview in Woofah issue 3 and Mr Blackdown himself shared a bill with Georgina Cook and I at last year’s Creative Edge event at UCL.

Oh yeah and they got my best mate to remix their album.

But but but… doing a live show based on their album? Really? Once again full marks for ambition, but horrendous memories floated through my brain at the thought of it. Not least being munted at one of the mid 90s Tribal Gathering festivals and stumbling into the Metalheadz tent as they launched into a piss poor “Jazz Odyssey” with much backslapping from Goldie about taking it to the next level with “real musicians”.

The Albany was far from full when we reached. Mr HistoryIsMadeAtNight and I caught up with Melissa Bradshaw at the bar. Blackdown paced about, impossible to miss because of his height (one of the few people I have to look up to in conversation, ha ha!).

And then, without much fanfare, it kicked off. Dusk and Blackdown took to laptops, another geezer fiddled with the backing film, two ladies on vocals up front, a female percussionist and I think a female keyboard player, but I couldn’t quite what she was doing from my vantage point. An encouragingly multiracial and non-blokey line up, I felt.

Full marks so far – they’d not gone for anything insane like string quartets or jazz saxophonists. It sounded tight, Farrah and Japjit’s presence at the front was an all too welcome deviation from the usual problems of “bloke playing with laptop” which make performances resemble offices.

The sparseness of the audience and the laid back nature of the first half of the show made it hard to really get sucked in, but the visuals helped – lots of gritty footage of London, mashed up with Bollywood films and some neat on-the-fly video scratching and distorting. Despite that, there were still moments when I longed for the venue to transform itself into a big tent at a festival… I felt a bit stiff standing there, pint in hand, shuffling about.

That said it was an impressive debut, I certainly didn’t notice any fuck ups. The set increased in intensity throughout and there were some ace bits of percussion soloing. Vocals were faultless and occasionally had the hairs on my arms standing on end. Volume-wise it was still alright for talking to the man next to me, but that also meant there weren’t any rib-rattling b-lines.

Farrah and Japjit departed after a while and were replaced by… Trim. Woah.

Margins Music features Trim and Durrty Goodz, arguably the two most accomplished grime MCs in terms of abstract vocal impact. Trim specialises in woozy poetics that take a few plays to suss out – but always grab your attention.

This was hardly his usual territory though. It’s not like he’s even a regular fixture at the rare grime raves in London. The only other time I’ve seen him was at Dirty Canvas in 2007. But the Albany was all arty and not exactly banging and… people weren’t exactly waving their hands in the air bawling for a reload. He did great though, sliding out some top abstract bars (and, uh, some slightly more base ones!). He even improvised some lines about kicking back and enjoying a beer when he spotted me and Mr H.I.M.A.N. doing precisely that.

Then Farrah and Japjit rejoined the group as they raised the roof for the final track – credits rolling on the screen behind them.

We showed our appreciation. As Blackdown himself says, it worked.

Dates in Brighton, Manchester and elsewhere follow. My man Grievous Angel is doing a set at the Manc show. Check this out if you have an open mind and want something a little way different…

EDIT: History Is Made At Night review now up also.

SUBDUB// Exodus DMZ 4th Birthday

spent last weekend in Leeds, mainly to check out Sub Dub at the West Indian Centre.

Main room is dubstep played through Iration Steppas soundsystem. 2nd room a little more eclectic, and thus where I spent most of my time.

Top bash with Kode9, Heatwave and Mr Grievous Angel turning in some especially excellent sets. Nice crowd also – great to hook up with Matt B again and meet a bunch of other people for the first time.

Frustrated to find that Woofah contributor Ashes57 was also there taking snaps, but we didn’t manage meet!

SUBDUB// Exodus DMZ 4th Birthday – a set on Flickr.

KEEP PLASTIC PEOPLE ALIVE Petition

KEEP PLASTIC PEOPLE ALIVE Petition.

If you have ever been there, you will want to sign this.

my week in boxes

Our fearsome Security Kitty patrols Woofah HQ

I’ve been neglecting the blog recently, but updates have been appearing regularly in the sidebar cos of my new twitter feed. Apologies to all the people who’ve left comments here, especially NagHammadiEye, for my lack of responses…

My suspicion is that short updates and links will appear there from now on and bigger pieces will be blogged. I have mixed feelings about this but it seems like the easiest option with not much time available…

So the new issue of Woofah is being warmly received. All contributor copies have been mailed out now and tonight I will tackle the backlog of orders. London shops will get copies after work tomorrow.

As many of you will know, Woofah was conceived on the dancefloor of BASH – the reggae/grime/dubstep club run by The Bug and Loefah at Plastic People. Plastic People is an awesome venue probably best known for its regular FWD nights – FWD is to dubstep what Metalheadz at the Blue Note was to drum ‘n’ bass I suppose.

Plastic People’s soundsystem and its selection of promotions has made it legendary. I first went there for some nights run by the Manasseh crew which included Sugar Minott and the late Junior Delgado toasting over records selected by folks like Dave Hendley and Manasseh themselves. It was an incredible experience being literally feet away from some reggae legends with the full weight of PP’s soundsystem.

The club is now under threat as its licencing regime is challenged by the Metropolitan Police and reviewed by Hackney Council.

More news on that soon (and the campaign to keep it open), but it should go without saying that I would be gutted if it closed.

As History Is Made At Night has pointed out, this has to be seen in the context of the wider gentrification of the south of Hackney – the City moving slowly north.

WOOFAH #4 OUT NOW!

woofahmag.com

I can barely believe I’m saying it but the new issue is here and ready to get out to you all!

Believe me it’s worth the wait – up to a massive 92 pages this time and some incredible content that I am completely amazed we managed to secure. And it’s still the same price!

In the shops next week, but you can order direct NOW:

woofah magazine » Buy.

(copies to contributors and allies will be mailed out early next week, or can be got from me in person)