Monday, August 19, 2019

Time to throw Down EP - Dawl (Craigie Knowes)

Title: Time to Throw Down EP
Artist: Dawl
Label: Craigie Knowes
Cat Number: CKNOWEP19
Genre: Modern Realisation of Rave Cross-Pollination

1: Let’s Go
2: Drop It
3: Heavyweight
4: Overdub

Everything you need and more. The pervasive Dawl debuts on Craigie Knowes with four high octane post rave tunes which stretch break beats to new limits and add a glossy sheen to the proceedings. This type of purloining reminds me of ‘The Fifth Element’, which shamelessly cherry picked so much from contemporary space sci-fi it was beyond a joke. There is one important difference though: ‘The Fifth Element’ is derivative crap, while ‘Time to Throw Down’ breaks new ground with its uninhibited glance across the trenches of acidic cross-pollination. The production is tighter than a pair of Peter Sagan’s shorts which results in a fullness of sound and the feeling that you’re riding on the crest of the hardcore continuum.

Everybody In The Place

Not late to this at all, but only back from holiday last night so embedded for posterity now. Most of you who take the time to look at this blog will have probably already seen this masterwork. It's appeal lies in its simplicity. The clarity with which Dellar joins the dots between club culture and social upheaval is effortless, and the format is original and inspiring.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Plastic Entertainment - Alfie (Outer Zone)

Title: Plastic Entertainment
Artist: Alfie
Label: Outer Zone
Cat Number: OUZ03
Genre: Techno

A1: Coasting
A2: Jaded Dream
B1: Return to Planet E
B2: The Escapist

An alias of The Burrell Connection; Alfie releases on La Cheetah Club’s in house label and manages to create a temporal autonomous zone within which a heady, dense concoction of incantatory electronica resides. This is a smashing EP, full of variety and depth. There are so many tones and textures overlaid within each track that it feels futile to go into detail on each. So I’ll summarise by saying that this is one of the best releases I’ve heard all year. From the dense, otherworldy vibes of ‘Coasting’, to the break beat casbar ambience of ‘The Escapist’, interrupted by the bottom heavy urgent electro of ‘Jaded Dreams’ and ‘Return to Planet E’ (s) fleet-footed solar sleight of hand, this is bang on the money. 

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Permanently On The Cusp

I want to write something about not going out anymore. This is something I have done before, and probably will again. It’s not a comment on being an old fart and having made a conscious decision not to engage, rather something which I suppose has been fallen into with the option of climbing out at any time. What could make this happen is a reconfigurement of the clubbing experience to suit me. I would imagine we are all after something to suit our individual needs, while being realistic enough to acknowledge that individually we are not both the centre of the universe and simultaneously having to search for sonic solace to suit ourselves. Clubs reinvent themselves all the time, but are often culturally constricted depending on where they are located. As well as this, the DJ is a person who while being derided for not being a proper musician and consequently often much lower on the evolutionary scale, works his/her arse off, doesn’t lead a normal life, is constantly on show and judged, all of which can lead to depression and low self-esteem. The pressure to be perfect and to constantly rock parties is immense. Promoters can be shifty being on the breadline is a lot closer than a lot of people realize. 

Money talks and with it artistic dilution often follows. So it may seem contradictory that while I acknowledge the fact that everyone has to earn a decent wage and not be burdened by the wolf at the door, I feel it beyond me to pay what I regard as over the odds to go to clubs and festivals. Without wanting to sound like an old arse, but knowing that I do, it really was “better in my day” as far as these devil’s dumplings of entertainment are concerned. Even though I would love to go again, I couldn’t pay the price for most festival tickets knowing that the same amount of money would pay for an all-inclusive city break in the European location of my choice. There are a few exceptions, but maybe for next year now: Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival in Sete, and Andy Weatherall’s Covenanza in Carcassonne. Both pricey, inasmuch as you have to get to the south of France for each, but much less stressful to prepare for: no ear to the phone for intractable amounts of time only to be told you haven’t got a ticket, no feeding numerous corporate interests, etc . . . Once there I would expect the level of intensity to be bespoke and the level of intimacy high for the occasion. This fits in nicely with the Weatherall and Sean Johnston helmed ‘A Love From Outer Space’ whose ethos is:

“The tempo of the tracks played never exceeds 122bpm, to create “An oasis of slowness in a world of increasing velocity”.

The Worldwide Festival is a bit less leftfield than this, but any event whose partners are culturally connected to the area where the festival takes place, as well as jazz, and who don’t seem to be opportunistic are fine by me. Like Covenanza the festival is divided between live music and DJ sets and covers a wide range of bases, and like Covenanza the setting is everything. In each case the locality is actively promoted, through food, drink and other cultural characteristics: Mr. Weatherall has an interest in the history of the Cathars and if you’re there for the weekend, a trip to see the ruins of their forts shouldn’t be missed.

I’m all for getting as far away from an experience that treats you like cattle as possible. Is this getting old? Probably; of course you never feel you’re being exploited too much when you’re younger, in spite of being herded around in uncomfortable spaces with barely room to breath. I’m also a big fan of daytime clubbing: why does this always have to happen at night? It’s easy to say that in The UK we don’t have the climate for it, but I’m not really on about being outdoors. Anywhere will do within reason; it doesn’t even have to be all about dancing. Listening bars are wonderful. I remember going to Amsterdam in the early eighties and being struck by the emphasis on music in the coffeshops. Most, if not all of those I visited had turntables, (not a pair of Technics mind, rather a normal belt drive with accompanying rack hi-fi system), accompanying a large stack of vinyl and cassettes. The last thing you wanted to do was dance in these establishments; getting baked being the modus operandi. It made an impression though, and is one of those sonic snapshots I carry with me to this day, endlessly hypothesizing regarding what might have been, and maybe could still be. I’ve never been one of those people who says that my DJing career got off the ground when I was barely into double figures courtesy of playing Man Parrish by accident when I was 9. There’s no need to talk about it at all, it’s simply another layer of life.  A slab of sound that is pervasive, all day every day. I play music every day at home, but not always in the way I want to. It’s mostly on the computer on itunes;  that much maligned piece of software which has never been an issue for me. I have a pair of 1210s, as well as a NAD pre and power amp, Yamaha cassette player and radio. All of these components have been with me for more than the last twenty years. Well cared for, they are my most prized possessions, yet I don’t use them as much as I should. I think that this is out of a sense of care and love. I don’t want to run them into the ground. I’d be lost without them and I want them around forever. Once I’m back from holiday I will finally invest in some CDJs, try to get rid of quite a bit of vinyl and concentrate on being more bespoke. I’m in awe of the technically proficient and plan to be the same.

And finally, how difficult is it to get rid of records? I have a few I’d like to see the back of, and am looking to start selling on Discogs once I get back from my holiday, but the hassle of doing this, coupled with the likely trickle, rather than torrent, of stuff from my house, makes me want to cut my losses and give them all away. I have a lot of good stuff and am not looking for amazing prices, a little bit of pocket money would be nice. I’m also regularly hearing about what a pain in the arse some of the customers can be. This seems to be a thing with Discogs; maybe it’s manifest nerdiness in the form of fastidiousness. The Chinese rebuilt most of Shanghai quicker than my procrastinating over this.