[Tri Angle 32]
Lackluster, infuriating? Or just disposable and instantly dismissible? Is this the contemporary conundrum? Caught between the ADD and mindless craving for “more” of the social media generation/addicts and the online “like” hype and bluster of the progenitors themselves. Why even bother to release albums anymore? I’m genuinely lost for words with this particular one even after multiple listens. I wanted to like it. I follow and, more importantly, support his output by purchasing the material. I like what I perceive he is sonically stretching for. I’ve listened to this stone cold sober; after a few beers; blind drunk, but it irritates and annoys me in all states.
The simple fact of the matter is there are no bones or balls to any of it. It feels obtuse and willfully obscure. What he may think is discipline and tech skill can just as easily be dismissed as pretension, even arrogance. “Snow Leopard” my arse! (I’ve tracked one in the Karakoram my friend and only ever saw its footprints, much less imagined a shitty racket like this as a soundtrack to their elusive beauty). Any of these tracks would bring a dance floor to a rapid standstill and see punters heading to the bar or for a smoke. Nothing wrong with that. So then as a listening album where’s the focus? It stutters and farts and crashes and jackhammers away, coated with the usual soft synth pads, washes and cod sci-fi FX/design, disappointingly veering into the weakest and most tired of breakcore undynamics. Only by the end of the 7th track “Pandemic” do we get any sense of slamming groove or focus evolving. And “Burnerz” finally gets into gear (for all of 3 mins or so) in a kind of vintage Italian Broken Beat stylee (think SNS, Anibaldi, ADC and their ilk). But by then so what? There’s a limit to the interest one can hold to repetitive “deconstruction”.
This should by rights be the last statement Rabit makes in this area, but after his even more useless and wretchedly awful 12” with Dedekind Cut on Ninja Tune I fear the man really has disappeared up his own proverbial.
I had a History teacher at school who used to score through whole paragraphs of our teenage scribblings with a red pen and capital letter “WAFFLE!”. Funny I should think of this and in my cantankerous middle age fully appreciate this now, but there we have it. Waffle indeed.
In contrast to Rabit’s fart-in-the-wind of an album this just seems to get better on repeat listening and feels like a well researched, deeply knowledgeable journey through past and current genres.
I have to call him out though. His biggest, most shameful faux-pas is kicking off the whole thing with an utterly by-the-book old-school breakbeat ragga re-fit(shit). Absolute derivative nonsense. By this stage I think we all have to agree there’s nothing more to say or update on the matter. My advice: avoid, delete or fast forward. It’s a better listen without.
Skirting the edges of Deep House, Techno, and Bass, the rest of the material proves a masterfully tech exploration of route finding. There’s no pointless probing or faffing around on the arrangements. They choose their line and go for it, taking in their influences without fuss and with almost casual confidence.
“Gravity” is long slow builder; a subby, banger that kills it on the breakdown with a re-polished, wobbly, reese and vintage doomcore claps. [Read more →]
Disco Documentary Full of Funk
Re-issue of the insanely rare Ghanaian disco record from the wonderfully named Nana Love. I have wanted a copy of this record for years but the high price and normally battered condition always stopped me from acquiring one. Imagine my delight when BBE dropped the re-release on super loud double vinyl. What you get is some of the most mental afro-funk disco workouts in history with Nana dropping her amazingly twisted vocal gymnastics over the top. With a touch of James Brown and Grace Jones in her voice she screams exultations of desire over the hypnotic disco funk. Check the amazing 12 minutes of “I’m in love” with Nana in full flow whilst Moog and horns counterpoint her deranged delivery. If you only buy one Afro Funk disco record this year, make it Nana Love!!
Let that shit breathe
L.I.E.S. have released an amazing amount of vinyl over the past couple of years and have a seemingly endless supply of raw and downright deep and dirty techno to impart to the world. It can be easy to be overwhelmed with their prodigious output but dig in and you’ll find some absolute killer tunes that you need to take a listen to at the right time to understand. This EP from M/R has some pitched down rhythms that at the right point of the night will devastate any dance floor. Sometimes Techno is better slowed down. In the space you can dance heavier. ‘Coconut Jar’ is a killer 106bpm sleaze funk groove for the right moment.
Hyperspace Sound Lab
Essential reissue of rare first vinyl outing from Drexciya’s James Stinson. Some raw Miami bass style rapping on two of the cuts, and the production is noticeably less refined as befits an early release from a producer learning his craft. [Read more →]
Remixology: Tracing The Dub Diaspora,
Reaktion Books, 2014
Apart from the ubiquitous Bob Marley, reggae and its variants were under-represented on bookshelves a decade ago. These days there seems to be a book being published every couple of months. Dub in general and King Tubby specifically have been relatively well catered for by Michael Veal’s heroically detailed Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae (Wesleyan University Press, 2007) and dub’s post-punk variants are examined well in Dub In Babylon (Equinox Publishing, 2010 – reviewed in Datacide 12).
Sullivan’s book begins with the now well-known story of the accidental invention of dub as a mistake in the studio, and its successful implementation as a way for Jamaican soundsystems to keep ahead of their rivals. But after the first few chapters he spreads his net gratifyingly wide to look at how the studio techniques of Lee Perry, King Tubby, Scientist et al (and other JA soundsystem techniques) spread like a virus across the globe. Whilst doing this, he doesn’t shy away from the fact that the music is a product of struggle, that the diaspora is a by-product of colonialism. Nor does he overdo it – the focus is always primarily on the music and the people who make it.
The first stop is London, where Jah Shaka, Lloyd Coxsone and Fatman are given their due as influential soundsystems of the late 70s and 80s. Sullivan recycles the usual sources here (Lloyd Bradley, that NME Soundsystem Splashdown article that I put on uncarved.org) but has also done some great interviews himself, notably with Mad Professor, deejay U Brown and Dennis Bovell. This method is continued throughout the book, with the author’s interviews generally adding new and thought provoking information rather than retreading old ground. The ‘(post-) punky reggae party’ of groups like Killing Joke, The Pop Group and On-U Sound rounds off this section (and is a good read, but obviously not as detailed as Partridge’s Dub In Babylon). [Read more →]
Splitting In Two: Mad Pride & Punk Rock Oblivion
Robert Dellar’s new book is part autobiography, part social history and in places morphs into fiction. It covers both Dellar’s own life via punk rock and the dehumanisation of those deemed clinically insane by the powers that be. While in academia the idea that madness might be the only sane response to capitalist society is often discussed in terms of Deleuze and Guattari’s anti-Oedipal theories, Dellar has a more hands on and activist approach to ‘bad craziness’. At the turn of this millennium, Dellar helped found the Mad Pride movement to fight against the stigmatisation of those labelled as having mental health problems.
Most of Splitting In Two consists of straight-forward accounts of Dellar’s life and his thirty odd years of involvement in the fight for the rights of psychiatric survivors. When the book occasionally blooms into what is obviously fiction, I take this to be Dellar’s way of illustrating how easy it is for anyone to go off their rocker in the sick and insane capitalist society that blights all our lives. The writing is never academic and it is much closer to a punk rock fanzine in tone than the post-modern abstractions of ‘anti-psychiatrists’. There are also quite a few pictures to break up the text. The title of the book and every chapter title is more or less a punk rock song, and the acts thus cited but not named are Alternative TV, The Damned, Sham 69, Annie Anxiety, The Flamin’ Groovies, The Adverts, The Raincoats, Johnny Moped, The Sex Pistols, The Lurkers, The Flies, Zounds, Public Image and The Saints. The musicians Dellar actually writes about because he has a personal involvement with them are generally lesser known but include The Apostles, The Astronauts and Alternative TV (and I’ll stop there although I haven’t got beyond bands whose names begin with ‘a’).
[Read more →]
G.P.O. V G.P-O
(Primary Information, 2013)
Reprint of a dossier originally published in the mid 1970s. The title is an abbreviation of ‘General Post Office vs Genesis P-Orridge’ – the book concerns a legal case resulting from some of Gen’s mail art being seized by the sinister Post Office Investigation Division in 1975 (i.e. towards the end of Coum Transmissions and just before Throbbing Gristle).
I first read about this in Stewart Home’s Assault On Culture back in the late eighties, but had never seen a copy until now. The format is all reproductions of documentation, with minimal commentary or editorial. The reader must therefore piece together the story from Gen’s written statements to the Post Office and courts, reproductions of the offending postcards (one of which famously featured a photo of bare arse superimposed on an image of Buckingham Palace), media coverage and other correspondence. This is very effective and one does get a sense of how stressful and frustrating it must have been for an impoverished Genesis to be prosecuted for something so ludicrous.
There are interesting guest appearances in the form of letters to and from William Burroughs and Pauline Smith (of the rather stupidly named ‘Adolf Hitler Fan Club’ mail art project) alongside a cast of lawyers and art word dignitaries who are solicited for support. As the trial approaches a lot of fundamental questions are raised – what is the difference between art and pornography? What is indecent? And some more straightforward ones about the nature of mail art and Gen’s method/intent.
Genesis was eventually found guilty of violating the 1953 Post Office Act. The back cover of the book is an advert in which he offers some of the offending (and now infamous due to press coverage) mail art for sale to cover the costs of the fine.