Thursday, April 27, 2006

Electronica Obscurities #3
Oren Ambarchi - "Suspension"

Just picked this up yesterday (on "wax", natch).

Oren Ambarchi is quite the player on the Australian experimental music scene but he's probably best known for his work with Sunn0))). The press release for his recent Southern Lord release noted that Ambarchi's solo work sound rather like that band minus the distortion. And it's true: drones you can feel in your ribcage; ponderous repetition; crackling static.

The distortion isn't the only thing missing here, though. Whereas Sunn0))) are founded on a basis of very Metal schtick, "Suspension" is a masterclass in formalist abstraction. I often have a problem with music that goes out of its way to avoid dealing with fixed meanings. You have to come up with something pretty ravishing for it to succeed on a purely sonic level. Pleased to say "Suspension" passes this test with flying colours (and is way better than I remember it being from when I first heard it, a few years back).

By the same token, Trim's "Fire Hydrant" is a grime track that I have no problem enjoying a merely musical level,l without worrying about what it means in either the micro or the macro sense. Turns out that this track is the B-side of Trim's (only?) single "Boogieman". Anyone know where I can pick up a copy of the "Boogieman" 12"?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Grime Time Again.
Interesting comments from
luca lucarini on the grime issue. I think the pivotal part is this...

"i feel in terms of recorded material things are on the up, but qualities that made the music exciting to me initially (radio, watching videos of eskimo dance) aren't there anymore. you're hard pressed to find any radio sets as good as deja vu roll deep b2b nasty c. 2002. and the raves are dead (live in london BTW)."

...but I would say that because it kind of fits in with my theory. It seems like grime is becoming more interesting to music nerds (like me) and less interesting to people who have a real cultural connection to grime (like Luca). So, is it okay to like grime better now if the only thing you care about is the quality of the music? And can the quality of the music really be assessed outside the parameters of its proper cultural context? Should we listen to this stuff as MUSIC generally or as GRIME per se?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Birdies Is (or Electronica Obscurities #2).
Well, spring is well-and-truly sprung in Vancouver and
all of Saelan's friends on Live Journal are posting pictures of cherry blossom. (Oddly, the cherry blossom at my house had come and gone by the time the good weather arrived).

Yesterday was spent listening to vinyl, hanging with
The Sneefler and playing Sega Master System "Gauntlet". Among the Wax-As-I-Call-It was "Pop" by Gas. Great album and way ahead of the electronical game in it's use of nature photography on the cover.

Watching the newly-green trees swaying in the spring breeze, I was struck by how well these images represented the music: by using repetition and processing, "natural" (i.e. conventionally musical) sounds are subjected to a close scrutiny that reveals their essentially abstract nature.

Doesn't that guy run Kompakt now?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mix CDs
Of course, I've been making mix tapes and CDs for as long as I can remember. Over the last couple of years, I've been trying to compile a CDs-worth of new(ish) songs I like for each season. I don't always get around to it (lots of 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog to play) but when I do, I usually make a bunch of copies to send/give to friends.

My latest mix-tape innovation has been to make TWO (count 'em) CDRs - the seasonal one of new tracks plus one of classics from a particular genre. The first double whammy has recently arrived in the form of "Sam's Mix CD for Spring 2006" and "Audio Classics Volume 1" (essentially a collection of late-'90s glitch music). Anyone who wants a copy of one or both of these CDs should send me a request via email (including your mailing address, if I don't already have it). Here are the track listings for both CDs...

Spring 2006
The Fall - "Pacifying Joint" (I always start with The Fall.)

Trim - "Fire Hydrant"
Wiley - "Pies"

Ween - "Gabriel"

Ariel Pink - "Jules Lost His Jewels"

Le Volume Courbe - "Sitting in Your Head"
Greg Davis - "Air"
Paavoharju - "Valo Tihkuu Kaiken Lapi"

Noriko Tujiko - "Vinyl Words"
Coil - "Tatooed Man"

Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto - "Moon"
Biosphere - "Altostratus"

The Orb - "Falkenbruk"

Mountains - "Mountains" (extract)

Scott Walker - "Hand Me Ups" (Yes, I have "The Drift".)

Can't - "New Secret"

Audio Classics

farmersmanual - "Explorer's_We" (track 15)

Fennesz - "Caecilia"

Oval - "Do While" (extract)

Vladislav Delay - "Anima" (extract)

Basic Channel - "Mutism"

Alva Noto - "Prototypes" (track 6)

General Magic - "Temko"

Pita - "Get Out" (track 3)

Ekkehard Ehlers - "Plays Cornelius Cardew" (side A)

Stephan Mathieu - "Fur Hans"

Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers - "Rose"

Fennesz - "Codeine"

farmersmanual - "Explorers_We" (track 50)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Razor X Productions.
This is what's doing in for me right now. It's a collaboration between UK post-rock veteran Kevin Martin (God, Techno Animal, The Bug...), digi-dub producer The Rootsman and a whole schwack of stellar reggae/dancehall vocalists (Daddy Freddy, Wayne Lonesome...)

As you might expect from K Mart, this is an intensely intense recording featuring (among other things): crunching raggatronic riddims; huge blasts of digital noise; horrifically time-stretched vocalizations; oppressively compressed dubwise mixes. Somehow,among all this chaos, Razor X leave enough empty space to make the whole thing not just bearable but extremely compelling. Although every song here has a literally awesome initial impact, it's when you start to listen in to the mix that things really start taking off.

Apparently, Kevin Martin is planning to do something with the Ghostface of Grime himself -TRIM. I can't wait to hear what they throw up.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Grime 2.
Simon just had a baby so he's not really able to start heated debates in other people's comments boxes right now. However, he did offer this gem via email.

"getting into grime in 2006 is a bit like ...(getting) into jungle in was really worth getting into (around) 93/94/95, ...and it was definitively on the downward slide by (98)."

And let's not forget that there are a bunch of people in Vancouver who still think that drum'n'bass is the most cutting edge thing imaginable.

"i wouldn't say grime was on the downward slide necessarily but it's not getting better, i would say on the contrary it's stalled -- sonically and in terms of its subject matter/personae... definitely peaked in 2004 i think. but i'm one of your 'emergent scenes/genres are the real deal' type persons."

But I really think that Grime has started to develop MUSICALLY just quite recently. And, as such, it still is an emergent genre, in a sense. It's emergence into genre solidification and musical identity may have happened around 94 but it seems to me that the music is going through a different stage right now. The recent stuff I've heard has shown definite signs of a move towards self-conscious musical progression. When this solidifies it will probably result in some pretty awful music but, while it's still in its becoming stage, some pretty compelling stuff is being produced. It's often a bad thing when sub-genres of electronic dance music decide to become more "musical" and/or "sophisticated" but I think grime could stand to be a little less basic. If this has happened at all, the change is slight. But a slight change is just enough, in this case.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lest We Forget
More about Prog-Grime soon but, in the meantime, I feel compelled to remind you about this...

The Alibi Room seems to be putting on some pretty interesting shows at the moment. I urge you to support these events - not least because I'm doing one this Sunday. Here are the details...

Outlet presents

Peter Hannon

Sunday April 16th
The Alibi Room
157 Alexander (at Main)

Doors 9pm
connect_icut on 10.15pm (note new time!)
Finished by midnight