Apr 23, 2006

Northern Mystikz

paul.meme on:
dead flesh propelled by a wholly artificial electricity
a Mystikal experience in Sheffield last night...

Paul says: For what Digital Mystikz share with both the Abyssinians and Shaka is that to go see them play is to experience spiritual healing. In my opinion, the Mystikz and Shaka in particular are not just fucking around when they drop relentlessly hard, pounding, one-note bass skankers; it’s not just some metallic testosterone work-out; they’re deliberately putting you in a different spiritual place. It’s like there is SOMETHING LIVING IN THE MUSIC, something really good and strong and powerful.

Dubstep is doing something very special right now and I don’t know how long the beauty of the current scene will last – two years? Three? Forever? – but if you have any opportunity at all to go and experience it, you should seize it.

I did. And it was one of the most profound(ly inspiring, physical, emotional) musical experiences I've ever had. I'll be coming back for more as soon as possible. And, from the sounds of it, May's Kode 9 show in TO could just be the first in a series of big events put together by the sub:trac crew. These are exciting times and I haven't cared this much about music for over a decade. Catch it while you can.

If you haven't already heard Paul's 'Dubstep Sufferah' mix you should track it down. (Write up here. Audio at Barefiles - make sure to read his commentary before listening) Like me, Paul spends weeks finely editing his tracks and meshing them together using Ableton Live. The difference is that his decades of immersion in UK sound system culture contribute a dubwise sensibility to his mix that I could only hope to approximate.

Spring Forward >>

And (quite belatedly) if you didn't catch my recent mix for Riddim.ca's first birthday (which I had to take down after doing 50GB in five days!) you can now grab it at Barefiles thanks to Deapoh. The write up is still up at Gutterbreakz.

Nick: Funnily enough, the mix begins with Shackleton's "Naked", a track that Paul had actually cut on dubplate. The fact that he then fed this eminently mixable platter into a digital multitrack has a strangely perverse logic about it.

That's it right there, dematerialisation of the dubplate...

Autonomic Computing

Shackleton - Naked (dubplate / Skull Disco)
Headhunter - New Dawn (cd-r)
Wedge - Overfiend (cd-r)
Loefah - Root (DMZ)
Headhunter - Hidden Agenda (cd-r)
Distance - Taipan (Boka)
Loefah - The Goat Stare (DMZ)
Distance - Fallen (Boka)
Scuba - Timba (Scuba/crack bong chop)
Distance - Empire (Hotflush/spectral mash)
Chunky Bizzle - Tools Too Big (white/edit)
Appleblim - Cheat I (Skull Disco)
Loefah & Skream - 28 Grams (Tectonic/edit)
Skream - Request Line (Tempa)
Request Line Outro Refux
Shackleton - Stalker (Mordant)
Hidden Agenda - Fish Eggs (Reinforced)
Digital Mystikz - Neverland (DMZ)
Burial - South London Borroughs (Hyperdub)
Kode 9 + Benny Ill - Fat Larry's Skank (Tempa)
Coki - Mood Dub (DMZ/edit)
Appleblim - Girder (Skull Disco/edit)
Macabre Unit - Tensor Jam (Terrorhythm)
Dizzee - Go (white/edit)
Skream - I (Tempa/dubsetter edit)
Distance - Saints and Sinners (Boka)
Loefah - Truly Dread (Tempa)
Jason Mundo - I Stand Rasta (cd-r/edit)
Kode 9 + Space Ape - Kingstown (Hyperdub)
Distance - Dark Crystal (Boka/edit)
Shackleton - Blood On My Hands (cd-r/edit / Skull Disco)

Apr 16, 2006

Interblog Burial

Very interesting post by K-Punk on the soon-come Burial album on Hyperdub. This is my response. Dissensus is the comment box...

EDIT: More thoughts on Burial and kind words on my post from k-punk.

k-punk: I actually, genuinely can't believe how good this album is... I'm having trouble listening to anything else, and every time I do listen to it, I find something new in it.

This is what I've been experiencing with the Breezeblock set, sometimes listening on repeat for a couple of hours at a time. I'm mesmerised by it - like it doesn't matter if I hear anything else. I certainly don't feel like I should bother making music anymore because everything I might have wanted to do is here. That sounds hyperbolic, but I've only felt this way maybe once or twice before with an album. The last one was the first Boards of Canada album for a lot of the reasons mentioned in the Ghost Box discussion. On MHTRTC there's a lilt in second track where time seems to split in two. That's what I keep feeling when I hear the wordless vocal in 'Forgive' (? - 3:00 into the BB set). Gravity and Weightlessness.

But this sensibility in Burial is closer to early jungle's contradictory pull/propulsion - the gravity of the bass + breaks that operate as hauntological shards and futurhythmachine at the same time. As a hauntological music I see a major difference between Burial on one hand, and BOC and Ghost Box on the other. With the latter the emphasis in on nostalgia, even if it's a cold, impersonal one at times. The uncertainty hinges on a potential past felt in a blur of media and childhood memories that could have been had or later inferred. Whereas Burial's nostalgia drives into the future. It reminds me of a car purposefully moving through a cold wet city night while a passenger stares, heart-in-throat, out the back window, remembering places and people as they pass. There's a sense of the future being a necessity in Burial (and ghostly parallel futures just as much) whereas BOC and GB are cocoon-like.

Other thoughts: The link to EVP is right on. In Burial's music there's a sense of immersion in a density of signal and of searching for meaningful threads. I've also just realised that, for me, sonically, it's vividly reminiscent of growing up in Winnipeg near the train yards, and hearing their horns and screeches wafting for miles through the thick summer air. So, there we go, back to childhood.

But one thing that I've been thinking about for the last while is the value of this idea of a hardcore continuum. Even tracing a continuous line between actual developments in British dance musics over the last two decades is difficult enough. I'd say there are multiple, intersecting lines of flight and that those get so tangled up from time to time that radically mutated threads end up spinning out. But then consider the lost and parallel threads that Burial illustrates. Feminine pressure, for example, can be seen as a tendency that periodically coincides with these threads but is repeatedly ejected from the main streams for the same reasons. I know the 'nuum is easy shorthand for the major developments in British dance music, but I think it also hides too much of the chaos and the politics.

I think Mark and Burial himself are absolutely right that his tracks bring an uncommon emotional depth and texture to dubstep when it has, in some quarters, become overly concerned with sonic purity ("austerity') and reproducing some of the dead-end, inhuman elements of techstep. But to characterise dubstep on the whole in that way is too broad. Digital Mystikz, Skull Disco, Kode 9 and Distance come to mind immediately as examples of dubstep artists trying quite successfully to avoid dirge and the amputation of emotion. Personally, I think the splits are going to start happening soon, the way they did in DnB, but with somewhat different results.

Finally, Mark's comment on dubstep deploying dub-as-positive-entity is also interesting. I wonder if this is part of the reason for John Eden (according to his posts about it) not having much interest in the music. But I think dubstep is an exercise in subtraction-in-process of a different sort. Instead of literally dubbing out a vocal or instrument, it's dubbing the formal elements of 2step/early-dubstep itself. Halfstep (which will, admittedly, run itself into the ground if it becomes the ideal) is probably the most pronounced example of this. The missing percussive elements are still experienced but as a known absence, and they're often gestured at in the science of the bass.