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.

7 Comments:

Blogger kek-w said...

Nice post, paul...

3:52 PM

 
Blogger paul autonomic said...

thanks kek :)

6:00 PM

 
Blogger d16 said...

i love your review!

10:32 AM

 
Blogger kek-w said...

Paul - gotta ask: is there a dubstep 'scene' starting to build where you are, or anywhere in Canada (Toronto?)...

2:59 PM

 
Blogger paul autonomic said...

Actually yeah, it's just starting to pick up. Toronto seems like might be the place where it really hits. We'll see. They've always been *very* keen on jungle there. There are two people putting on a monthly now - one a junglist the other a 2stepper. They've actually got Kode 9 lined up for May and maybe more over the summer. There's a weekly there that palys dub and dubstep and maybe jungle. London, Ontario has a monthly now and I think Montreal. Plus Kuma has been doing things in Vancouver including bring Kode 9 out. It's really interesting because last year all anyone wanted to hear about was grime but it didn't translate that well. Now there's a lot of interest in dubstep. So we'll see what happens.

Have you been following it much?

10:00 PM

 
Blogger paul autonomic said...

^^ I mean, I've seen you mention in on your blog (which I check often, btw. just never comment for some reason) but I just wondered if you were going gaga for it like nick and paul.meme and me.

10:02 PM

 
Blogger kek-w said...

Yeah, I've been there since the early DMZ/Hyperdub/Hot Flush stuff (but not back into the end-of-Garage days; I really don't know much about that era; have only just recently started digging back into it...), so, yeah, been checking it for a coupla years-ish. I do like it, being an old 70s dub-head... the first few things I heard, I wasn't sure if it was instrumental Grime I was hearing or Breakz or Dubstep or what as everything seemed to overlap and leak into each other...and noone, apart from full-on scene-sters knew what was what.

I live in a very rural area in a pretty small town away from any clubs or pirate radio. No one even knew what Grime was when I started going on about it in the pub, let alone Dubstep. A coupla other guys (old Dub fans) are now into it too...I live about 45 miles south of Bristol (wh/ now gets regular visits from the London D/steppers), but I don't drive, have two kids and my wife works night-shifts most w/ends so I've had to miss a lot of good sessions in Bristol. Made the Placticman/Pinch one last autumn, which was really good fun. I'm gagging to see DMZ tho'....

My big passion at the moment is US/Finnish Psych/'free-folk'/outsider music and the Cube in Bristol has plugged into that network, so if I get a nite out in Bristol I tend to save it for some really obscure act who's never played the UK before (and prob. never will again) rather than one of the semi-regular d/step sessions...

Even tho' I really like Dubstep I don't tend to write about it much, because Nick Gutta covers it pretty well locally, so I'd just be tracking what he writes, plus there's scenesters like Blackdown and Kode9 who are also excellent writers, so I think my thoughts on the topic are fairly superfluous...I tend to write more about weirdo psych/folk/etc....

Still, Tom at Rooted Records in Bristol calls me 'The South Somerset Dubstep Massif' (wh/ pretty much sums it up!), as I check in there as regularly as I can and leave w/ a few armfuls of twelves (don't tend to write about them much on the blog, but have been reviewing dubstep for some UK mags...)

4:00 PM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home