Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Lightness Of Funk

In which the confrontational is eschewed in favour of the groove. There’s nothing wrong with power, but it can be tempered and distilled so it’s softened and dampened around the edges. Then it can roll on into infinity. Ricardo Villalobos is often, wrongly as far as I’m concerned, regarded as a purveyor of the long, drawn-out wiggler, but the Romanians he influenced surpassed him a while back. Not in the realms of production but as DJs and selectors. I am being a little unfair however, as I haven’t seen Villalobos for some years, and his sets are rarely seen online these days, but my impression is that he descended into a chasm of self-indulgence a while back. He’s always been a little bit larger–than-life, but not too big that he can’t be called out occasionally.

Mind you, I’m not having ago, just marking time by getting some residual froth off my chest. What it all comes down to is an intrinsic understanding of frequency, especially the bass. When DJing, is it more important to have good taste or to be creative? One of the paradoxes regarding playing vinyl and doing it digitally is, of course, the accusation of not keeping it real when indulging in the latter, as if the sound produced by real records is somehow better and more authentic than the alternatives. I’ve never believed this myself; personal preference being the only real criteria here. However, it still seems that  it’s very easy to sucker people in by advertising a lack of digital engagement as a badge of honour. Listen, I wish I had the patience (and the time I suppose), to learn how to manipulate the appropriate software half as well as the vast majority of those who do. CDJs defeat me also. The various buttons and lights confuse me to the extent that when using them I punch away randomly in the hope that something will stick. Has the ever been a better approach than David Mancuso’s, whose insistence on respecting the length of each composition used to be regarded with absolute reverence/ I’m not sure. I do know how to use a pitch slide though.

The reason I’m writing this is, I suppose, because I have had my equipment mothballed since the beginning of June, and it is yet to be liberated. The fateful flood subsided long ago, but the drying of the kitchen only finished last week, because one major supporting wall was holding out against all odds and giving high humidity readings deep into autumn. In spite of this, I’ve still been accumulating records; records which I have yet to play. My taste is reasonably eclectic, but you can’t like everything. As far as my approach to sets is concerned, I’ll try anything once, but I’ll start slow, peak and come back down wherever I’m playing. Following is a top ten of stuff I’ve picked up recently.

Move Your Butty – Thee J Johanz (Ballyhoo)

Self Replication – Versalife (Trust)

Cassandra Remixes – Donato Dozzy (Claque Musique)

Treatment EP – Cottam (Ferox)

Tidally Locked EP – Ekbox (Cabaret)

Baby Craddock – Pepe Bradock (Atavisme)

Illahertz EP – Illektrolab (Shipwrec)

My House Is Not Your House ll – V/A (Acido)

Noah’s Day – Binh (Perlon)

The Jackal Part 2 – Sleep D (Buttter Sessions)

There have been others and, as well as all this I’ve been listening to a lot of classical. Bach’s cello and piano pieces are genius . . . and I don’t feel a compulsion to collect this stuff. I know nothing about it, I just have a deep appreciation of it and, as has always been the case I can have it permanently playing without being distracted. Radio 3, whatever . . . . now I’m starting to get into it and wanting to know a little bit more. It’s the same with jazz, which has always been a big love; having said that I’m far more into the abstract, spiritual side of it than anything else, a sub genre all its own . . .  Coming full circle with this one as I’m rediscovering loads of stuff I started listening to more than thirty years ago, and getting into what I didn’t. The deeper the better, and the connections are made.

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