Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Society And The Spectacle

As we stand on the threshold of another year, spare a thought for those going out tonight. I've just seen on the BBC News that house parties are where it's at. That is staying at home, having some mates around, or just family, eating, drinking and making merry. Has it ever been the reliable option to go out on New Year's Eve though? The last time I remember doing it was for the millennium celebrations when I was over in Paris. We spent the few hours leading up to midnight at a friends, eating, drinking and making merry, then we walked the short distance to Montparnasse, which afforded us a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower and its firework display, after which we took a cab across town to Bastille and went to a few parties in lofts and studios. OK, not exactly clubs, and no money changed hands . . .so maybe we didn't go out after all. Having thought about it for a little more I'm left wondering if I've ever been out on New Year's Eve. . .

. . .but that's only if "going out" means going clubbing, which is something I haven't done for a couple of years. I haven't shut the door on it but I wonder what's in it for me. One person who shows no sign of throwing in the towel is my aborted November interviewee Harvey, who plans to play Tokyo tonight. He also makes some very obvious, but simultaneously informative, points about the relationship between DJing and performance. This put me in mind of something A Guy Called Gerald said when I interviewed him back in 2008 (it's about halfway down the chat). I've never been to a club expecting to do anything else but socialise, tap off, drink, take drugs and listen to good music (order not important); which is just as well because, for the most part, you're lucky if you're allowed all of those nowadays. It depends where you're from of course. In the UK, despite our creativity and appetite for new experiences, there's always been too much of an authoritarian feel to clubbing. The licensing laws played a big part in this, and continue to wherever they can get a foothold. I suppose the entertainment element for men, at least, revolved around trainspotting to a certain extent, and watching the DJs fingers deftly flex, extend and retract. Not my idea of a good night out, but I can't say I've never done it. It always amazed me how much time certain individuals had for the hangers-on and deck parasites that would crowd them out. The last time I saw Mark Farina he was dignity personified, (this was a while back, and he could have changed I suppose), showing the records off and even fitting in a few words between his silky smooth transitions. I remember that I bumped into him the day before I saw him, in Black Market Soho. He didn't know me from Adam but he introduced me to his wife and took time out to chat as if I was an old friend.

Generally though, clubbers are treated as badly, if not worse than football fans for the most part. Not content with wanting to them pay through the nose for the privilege of buying massively overpriced beverages, they are shunted, cattle-like through the night on a conveyor belt of doom that could make that of the early Ford assembly plants seem appealing. As has already been touched on, I write this from a UK perspective, where the institutionalisation of doing such things has been locked in accordance with the law and the Daily Mail school of moralising for so long that most people wouldn't know a good time if it skull-fucked them. Going out these days isn't what it used to be. You're not treated like a proper adult in a lot of places, and monitored by security who aspire to the sergeant's role in "Full Metal Jacket", without the delivery. I'm hoping for a return to the rave in the next few years. As we enter uncertain political and economic times the brand might drop its guard and the corporate nature of what going out has largely become will hopefully evaporate and then, as Bill Hicks said:

"The world is like a ride at an amusement park. It goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, "Hey - don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride..." But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. Jesus - murdered; Martin Luther King - murdered; Malcolm X - murdered; Gandhi - murdered; John Lennon - murdered; Reagan... wounded. But it doesn't matter because: It's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Couple To End The Year With . . .

. . .but I'll still try and post some original pirate material tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are links to RA reviews of 'Your Sun' and 'Tropical Cruize.'

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December Chart

Step Aside - Life & Death (Visionquest)

Endless Feeling - Gavin Herlihy (Culprit)

Remote Locations EP - Pointbender (530 Techno)

Too Far (Dettmann's Definitions) - Morphosis (Delsin)

Balsam Peruvian EP - Gathaspar (Thema)

On & On - Raiders Of The Lost Arp (Curle)

Shadows - Floating Points (Eglo)

Fachwerk EP - V/A (Fachwerk)

Kompaction Project - V/A (Monocline)

Kurama - Lawrence (Pampa)

It's the end of the year and the time when a lot of good stuff gets slept on due to end-of-year lists being compiled. I could have listed another ten at least, but that would have been greedy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

End Of Year Caveat

Top Tracks (incl. Remixes)

Wolfram feat Haddaway
A Thing Called Love (Legowelt remix)
Permanent Vacation
Deepak Sharma & Dieter Krause
Hidden Recordings
A Sagittariun
The circle Stops Somewhere
Elastic Dreams
Benoit & Sergio
Julio Bashmore
Battle For Middle You
Benoit & Sergio
Let Me Count The Ways
Spectral Sound
Alex Jones
Romania Pika
I Am Apathy I Am Submission
Radical Majik
Boardroom Music
Space Dimension Controller
The Pathway To Tiraquon 6

Top Compilations/Mixes

Marcel Dettmann
Music Man
DJ Kicks
Rinse 16
Marcel Fengler
Berghain 05
Ostgut Ton
Seth Troxler
The Lab 03
Pearson Sound/Ramadanman
FabricLive 56
FabricLive 57
Panorama Bar 03
Ostgut Ton
Soul Clap
Social Experiment 002
No. 19

Top Artist Albums

Planetary Assault Systems
The Messenger
Ostgut Ton
Tommy Four Seven
Wordplay For Working Bees
Stroboscopic Artefacts
The TEAC Life
Glass Swords
Roman Flugel
Fatty Folders
Maceo Plex
Life Index
Crosstown Rebels
Nicolas Jaar
Space Is Only Noise
Circus Company
Yours And Mine
Ostgut Ton
What We Have Learned
Routes Not Roots
When In Doubt

Top Labels

Stroboscopic Artefacts
Permanent Vacation
Electric Sheep
Modern Love

My caveat here is that when compiling these lists I didn't always order them accordingly. I always find the "Top Tracks" list especially difficult to compile. I should have added Omar S's 'Here's Your Trance, Now Dance' but everybody else seemed to so what the hell. Labels, well you can only play the hand you're dealt and, although I listen to as wide a range of stuff as possible, like the tracks list you can't do them all. I can see why Crosstown Rebels won this year, it's getting to the point now when if you stick around for long enough it'll happen like a Nobel Prize or an Oscar but for me at least they put out quite a few average releases which I remember far more than the good stuff. Electric Sheep is an interesting and varied label which, with it's Black Sheep Trax offshoot has a great range and will hopefully turn a few years in the year ahead. Hotflush and Stroboscopic Artefacts were probably my top two here though.

The "Compilations/Mixes" list is totally occupied by mixes. I listen to more mixes than anything else, preferring to have my music in situ. The mix cd had a bit of a boom year, with some sturdy contributions, the best of which I think I included. I will go with Dettmann as my top for this year, Prosumer was excellent as well, as were Pearson Sound and Jackmaster. Finally the albums. There was some great techno released this year, as is the case most years, but Morphosis stood out, his individuality and twists being ultimately more appealing than the grit and dirt of Tommy Four Seven, Planetary Assault Systems and Lucy. Rustie's 'Glass Swords' was a crystallisation of every bling-laden, steroid-enhanced wall-to-wall sensurround experience I've ever had, or am likely to. Crosstown Rebels make their only appearance in my chart with Maceo Plex's excellent 'Life Index', but this album heralded another wave of copyists and fit so snugly against Hot natured that the impression it made on release diminished progressively as the year wore on.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Captain's Log Star Date Crotch Scratching

Check the Youtube comments.

It's been a strange month. My cosy routine of finishing work, bringing the grubs back home from school, playing music through my laptop and reviewing it simultaneously has been put out of joint a little due to the fact that I have recently purchased a new desktop. Now I write from the bedroom, upstairs so it's difficult to keep an eye on the kids. The arrangement is cosier and more conducive to concentration. I should be able to get shitloads more done in the future, but it's proving to be a difficult transition. I'm finding it difficult to shut myself away from the rest of the family, not because I don't want to work, but because I'm a creature of habit who likes to have everything done by a certain time in order to relax. I also often feel at odds with the world I'm trying to cover. I haven't been out clubbing for a while, nor do I really want to. I haven't played out in a log time either. Life has taken over and sometimes it's difficult to summon up the motivation to get things back on track.

So, as far as the blog's concerned, a scanner is the next big thing. I mentioned a few weeks back that I would be filling its pages with classic articles from times gone by. Test Pressing is a blog that has done this very well and I intend to follow in its footsteps. I went back up to the old country a couple of weeks ago and brought some magazines back home that had been living out their lonely existence as a time capsule. Post-Christmas I shall begin the long, but rewarding task of searching for interesting seminal interviews and putting them back in the spotlight through this blog.

So form my position on life's bridge I can see that I've already done a lot of things and there's no real need for self-justification in the context of clubbing. A Friend of mine went to the recent Classic party last bonfire night at Hackney Downs Studios. It didn't get going until 2am, he was there early and wanted to leave early. This is a person who's done more than their fair share and still has a healthy appetite for the music even though he's advancing into middle age. Anyway, Rob Mello was good, Luke Solomon played like he was pissed, and Derrick Carter was too hard. One persons viewpoint. Everybody else could have been having the time of their lives. However, this is as qualified an opinion as one could hope to have and it wasn't good. Let me add though that this character has recently become a father and is flush with the joys of parenthood. A big factor. Like everyone will eventually realise though, a crossroads is reached and sometimes the realisation that the clubbing experience is one that relies on the many being exploited by the few can be a little difficult to square with the notion of the supposed togetherness that is cashed in on. It's not like this everywhere of course. Just another aspect symptomatic of rip-off Britain paired with the overriding attitude of puritanism and containment.

I digress as usual, just posting for the sake of it and trying to justify my position as a writer by production. I must post some more music-related stuff up instead of insane ramblings. So, with that in mind I will, this week. On another tip, wasn't the Prince documentary on BBC4 last week a let-down? Problem is it'll always be like that unless he gives permission to make one, and collaborates as well. Even then it might still be shite because it's difficult to see him letting himself go to any real extent. What's interesting me at the moment is the housier and techier stuff that dubstep has been giving rise to this past year, and where it's all going to end up. The misogynist v dance music debate started by The Queitus, after they opportunistically picked up on a couple of throwaway tweets from Scuba and writer Kristan J. Caryl was entertaining too. It was very interesting that it was Ben UFO who brought it to the attention of a wider audience. Before this all blew up I was browsing Facebook and I came across some photos showing a Red Bull Music Academy gig he DJed at in The London Eye. It seemed to be full of spotty males and no one else, so I, innocently I thought, commented "Where are all the chicks?" Mr UFO didn't waste much time in repyling, saying, rather hurtfully I thought, something along the line of " . . .no one's used a word like that since the early eighties . . ." Well Ben, maybe I should have known better, because I was probably the age you are now at that time and I can tell you that no one used it then either. My response was to then ask "Where are all the birds then" thinking he might be more familiar with my cockney palare. I could tell from this second comment that our bridges had been well and truly burnt and I was probably nothing more than a more reactionary Jeremy Clarkson in his eyes. Little did I realise the bombshell he would unleash.

Thursday, December 01, 2011