Thursday, February 17, 2011

unfinished With-Commentary version of Feeling/Really Feeling from late 2010

All the proof I ever needed for the nu-IDM/nuum-IDM contention is contained in the name "Mount Kimbie".

Extra proof: the music is now sufficiently non-referential and de-streets-ified for Morley to get behind it.

(Stuff too tethered to the social wouldn't allow him to write in the edge-of-abstraction way he likes, see).

Still, seeing as I did like quite a bit of IDM (back when it was called electronic listening music) I find this good intricate stuff to listen to on your computer.

These sounds that "Like a G6" and the other songs here are built out of have been with us for 20, 30 years now. Hence my analogy with ZZ Top taking the blues and snazzing up it into gritless, sequencer-slick modernity. Far East Movement rock that 808 like Robert Cray rocked a 1958 Stratocaster. It will always sound good but it doesn't resonate like it did in its own time.

Interesting discussion recently at Dissensus (starting around about this page ) on whether funky had passed its peak. I couldn't help wondering what that peak had been and whether anyone had actually noticed. Consider the facts with a cold clear eye: this is the first continuum genre not to have made any impression on the U.K. charts. The first major nuum-phase not to spawn any overseas transplant scenes (any play that funky tracks have received will have been through dubstep deejays having a dabble). Drum'n'bass and dubstep went internatty big style; 2-step and even grime had small but fervent followings in major cities in non-U.K. territories, with DJs and MCs brought over to perform, with compilations and domestic releases of albums, and strong critical interest. I understand there are barely any funky releases domestically in the U.K.

For sure, the conditions are different now in some ways, with the economics of putting out vinyl. But equally the conditions are different now in ways that ought to serve a hot new sound well, in terms of the potential dissemination across the globe via the web. If a sound has something going for it, it will spread like wildfire. Locality no longer holds things back. But parochialism does, and with funky the just-4-U--London fine-tuning of appeal to a specific demographic's tastes, once so potent a cultural engine, seems to have become self-defeating. The desire for something-to-call-our-own has resulted in determinedly niche-appeal mutant of tracky house that makes occasional half-assed gestures towards pop and songfulness and Big Voices... a sound that keeps being tugged back to that nuum zone-of-preference (rough-hewn jagged beats + MCs) only to veer away again for fear of becoming grime Mark 2...

As a natives-only mutation of faceless housy bollocks with odd-angled beats, though, it's pretty exciting. Heard on a proper CD rather than a pirate-set-turned-into-low-grade-MP3, and played over a proper stereo rather than through the computer, these beats really bang. Owing to the fact that there's no Anglophiles transplanted funky scene in either NYC or LA (cities full of trend-chasing Anglophiles) I can only imagine how powerful they sound in a club.

Amazing to see all these bloggers becoming musicians-with-profile.

Discussed, at considerable length, here.

Classic example of Reviewer's Lag, a/k/a pent-up love releasing itself on the record that isn't quite in the same league as the earlier one that forged the bond. Good, though.

Demdike Stare, it has to be said, lean to the hauntological side of things. Just a bit. How hauntological are Demdike Stare? As hauntological as a dog-eared and yellowing 1971 paperback of The Owl Service protruding out of the pocket of Jim Jupp's corduroy trousers. As hauntological as a frosty winter evening spent round Baron Mordant's gaff watching faded VHS recordings of The Stone Tape and The Changes while sipping on a steaming mug of Bovril.

Truth to tell, Demdike Stare are ruddy hauntological. They couldn't really be more hauntological if they assembled their records following the guidelines in a booklet issued by the British Hauntological Council. Demdike Stare are hauntological by day. Hauntological by night. Hauntological at work. Hauntological at play.

Demdike Stare are hauntological and I claim my ten shillings in the old money.

No, but seriously, the way Demdike tick all the boxes--Wickerman/crate-digging/soundtracks/sampling/paganAlbion/library/Radiophonics/"we look back in order to go forward"/"lost futures"--is so thorough, it verges on the conscientious... I mean, if they didn't intentionally set out to occupy the thin strip of land between Belbury Poly and Shackleton then ... it's pretty fucking freaky how they've ended up exactly in that small spot

Their music has this spooky effect on young journalists, it casts this spell that makes them uncontrollably go on about the process of "unearthing old recordings and reanimating them in new shapes" carrying with it "an intrinsically arcane power; by passing the phantoms trapped in these records through a modern lens, Whittaker and Canty resurrect and re-contextualise the ghosts of the past".

I mean to say... it all sounds... a bit... hauntological, don't you think?

"Don't pigeonhole us...", "moving between genres", "we don't believe in categories", yeah yeah yeah ... . but you've pigeonholed yourselves. You've walked right up to the pigeonhole and squeezed your whole bodies right inside it, with barely a toe poking out.

But for all that I find their records perfectly pleasant listening--after all, they certainly do push all the right buttons!

After last year's triumphs, a low profile year for the haunty man dem, even as they've been fairly busy. And this tidy lot is just the first batch of H-ological matter in this run-down, hang on for the best bits.

The clanking nu-techno on this terrific compilation reminded me a little of the kind of stuff that Herbert pulled together on his great Let's All Make Mistakes mix-CD for Tresor a decade ago. As it turns out there's a Herbert-like aspect to the project: environmental sounds and ambiences from the club Berghain during its non-open hours were recorded and provided to the artists to weave into their productions anyway they wished, which may account for the vibe-y quality of these ascetic but atmospheric tracks.

There is something symptomatically recursive about dance culture in the new millennium: the way that all these figures you'd half-forgotten are popping up again, careers reactivated... Zed Bias... Horsepower Productions... And here' s Terror with his debut album, every bit as brilliant as you'd expect, yet in another sense suffering in some obscure way for being four or five late. Except that's to think with the old, no-longer-applies temporality, the one that described a world where you could actually discern a Way Forward (and which accordingly meant that major talents got jettisoned along the way ). Who's next for a comeback? Dem 2, I hope. Or New Horizons.

It's got Robert Wyatt singing on it. Ergo

Archival rave. All good stuff but the diva bliss-gas of "The Sound of Eden" is truly sublime.

Funny how it all fizzled out for Die Antwoord, they didn't seize their interweb moment quickly enough. This sounds inevitably flat after the event but what still compels is the musicality, the harsh, grating vocal timbre and the slick quick flows braiding with an effect redolent of Eminem at his most fluently obnoxious.

(Postscript: re. the end of year polls, thought it was REALLY CHICKENSHIT of all the journos and bloggers who really made a big fuss about Die Antwoord earlier in the year but then didn't mention them in their End of Years polls. You know who you are.)

Overloaded, dazzling guitars, golden hordes, probing, indolently marauding basslines.... There's late Can in here, and a sort of woozy, On The Corner via War & Cymande swamp-funk, but I'm also getting, and I'm fairly certain it's a coincidence, a whiff of baggy off this.... the side of the baggy that came out Happy Mondays when they got late-Can-y, or Stone Roses's "Fool Gold" and even more "Something's Burning" the great if indulgent flipside to the disappointing "One Love". And then maybe even moments on Cope's Peggy Suicide, when he copped a bit of a baggy feel under the wah-wah geetar.

Few bands have devalued their brand like Faust, that unstaunchable seep of albums through the 90s and 00s, such that the idea of listening to a Faust record (even the 70s divine tetralogy) seemed tedious beyond belief. but for some reason I listened to this--i think someone of reliable opinion had opined that it was surprisingly bloody good--and fuck me if it's not surprisingly bloody good. stupendously good, Faust in their blasting rock-out mode like nothing since the second side of Faust IV, that patch of Stooges-meets-Groundhogs kosmik blues-punk but actually benefiting from modern production in terms of immensity and attack. If this is their last blast, then assuredly they did go out in heroic style.

His best yet I think.

Suburban Tours is Hypnagogic Pop indeedy. The whole concept to do with American suburbia and its odd relationship with nature. I got into it when we were in New York in the months before moving to LA and it's almost as if subconsciously preparing for the move to Southern California. There's moments where it sounds like Dif Juz meets the soundtrack to Gregory's Girl with a bit of Rush's "Subdivisions" in there as well. Some really great playing underneath the gtr FX/reverb smog. Rangers man Joe Knight said something in the Wire to the effect that he was going for a "numb, glazed, vacant" vibe--that's not an exact quote--and I would say he has succeeded amply. But there is definitely emotion in there, kinda suppressed or felt through heavy sedation. My favourite of the year, I think.

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