Wednesday, June 15, 2005

List critique

Mash-up maniac Richard X has nominated his 20 top hardcore records in Fact, the product-peddling freebie rag (which has some good grime and dubstep coverage by Woebot and Steve Goodman). For those who haven’t got a copy, they are:
Genaside II Narramine
Satin Storm Out of My Head
Bodysnatch Euphony aka Just for You London
Rufige Cru Terminator
Dance Conspiracy Dub War
Edge One Compnded
Neuromancer Pennywise
DJ Excel Just When You Thought It Was Safe
The House Crew Euphoria (Nino’s Dream)
Acen Trip 2 The Moon part II
XLR-8 Dub Plate/Batchelor Rock
Doc Scott The NHS vol 2 (Disco rmx) ep
Dlivin Why?
Foul Play Finest Illusion (illegal mix)
2 Bad Mice Bombscare
DJ Solo Dark Age
Phuture Assassins Future Sound
Sacred Do It Together
Tic Tac Toe Emphemerol
Origination Breakdown

The 2 Bad Mice, Foul Play, Genaside and Rufige Cru are all stone-cold classics of anthemic innovation. What’s also clear is that he’s let his nostalgia run away with him on a few selections, nominating tracks that highlight the sped-up euphoria of the times, and that he’s limited his 20 almost exclusively to 92 business. The X sees hardcore rather narrowly in terms of a particular London sound from that year, but I reckon the definition is too narrow. Hardcore was lingua franca as a term and a recognised style from early 1991 at least, and for that reason I think you have to include the more ‘ravey’ Belgian-style stuff in the genre. Also, hardcore was as much an orbital thing (illegal dos attempting to keep the original rave spirit alive with the new sound and big events in sport centres); there must have been as many home counties crew at Labyrinth as London posse. Will they be talking about the latest hardcore (beyond-generic hoover riffs and four beat bounce with any breakbeat mixed low to maintain the stomp momentum) in such revered tones?

With this in mind, here’s a few more candidates, completely subjective of course, inspired by a look through my own plates.
Nookie Love Is EP (the piano break before the beat – proper dynamics)
M17 Rockin Down The House (feel good reggae breakbeat with Adonis? sample)
Beltram Energy Flash (was still played everywhere in 92)
Blame Music Takes You (screechy nonsense with innovative breakbeat)
Bug Khan & The Plastic Jam Made In Two Minutes (piano line to die for)
Lennie D’Ice We Are E (devastatingly effective riff and Lennie’s mantra)
Future Sound of London Papua New Guinea (too progressive? possibly)
The Scientist The Exorcist (showing the way to go in 1990)

I found neither the right context or the time to play any of those here. Turn to Meeja Hoors for the overall review....
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Friday, June 03, 2005

Mark Stewart & The Maffia return

I wasn’t next to K-Punk-IT but the incident described here does not surprise me at all. We were a bit further back, wreathed in everybody else’s resin fug, being asked for pills. For many the main attraction of ATP’s Easy to Swallow night would have been the long-awaited return of Stewart & The Maffia . But the event was a pledge of sonic diversity so many had different top draws. I walked in to a set of Mac-driven destructive readout by two chartered accountants of noise, probably Hecker and his mate. Not unenticing, but after one repeated botched hell-loop too many in 20 minutes I thought it best to go find someone I knew.
After heightening expectation by taking a time to came on, the six-foot-three savant sprang on to the stage, riffs reverberating and Leblanc beats pounding. Can’t beat that comparatively slow, suffocating sound, but for me it’s disappointing that the lyrics mostly couldn’t be distinguished from the overall toxic brew. After all, this is a man with a better diagnosis than most of Britain’s ills, and some of the crowd here could do with some education alongside their entertainment. Yet the chatter increased, as did the disjunction between perfomers and audience. “The Maffia inferno can only ignite if the pain, the anger, the disappointment, the anxiety Stewart channels are there in the crowd to be fanned and fuelled.”
Not surprisingly the song to prick up most ears was the most modern-sounding one about four songs in from the end, the Maffia updating the on u sound with some post-rave hoover riffs and riddims, but still allowing enough space for Stewart’s vocal lines. Sensing overall disappointment at the night, he wearily introduced the last set of songs.

D’Aphex was up next, and the majority got back on the passification programme. It is not a little ironic to think that in this context Dicky James’ distorted glitchcore was the norm to satisfy. Those populist drill and bass workouts! (don’t get me wrong, I think the twin has done more than anybody else in alternative techno in pushing the sounds and pushing it to large numbers of people). Not seeking to equate the expensive ticket with value for money, I was off home. Somebody let me know what the “satisfy me. Now!” crowd made of Whitehouse?!

It’s depressing that, topping themselves up with prescriptions for fun, so many are just out for the hedonic experience. There are many alternative subcultures (the crowd in the most part actually just looked like a bogstandard mixmag club clientele): some nihilists were here to plot the junction of the two vectors of abject noise and drug use; others to check Stewart; still more for a rave-up. I’ve not been to one of the ATP weekenders but no doubt their expanded time and space makes the juxtaposition of different acts a lot more of an attractive proposition.

Bruce's addendum: ATP E2S was a partial success. Failed to capture the enthusiasm or atmosphere of ATP weekenders. It seems that Aphex may not have even played. Someone - possibly the Murder Boys - played rather bland, mid-tempo techno that completely failed to ignite. Actually, it's not unthinkable this was Richard D James being shocking, but Andy seemed certain he hadn't shown up. Then Whitehouse came on for 15 minutes and even managed to draw the odd can thrown from the crowd. As usual the two of them looked like they were having a great old time, angrily berating us inaudibly about something or other over the usual squall (itself rather smooth and soothing after the grating glitches of Hecker), but most of the crowd seemed indifferent/bemused. Then whoever took the final slot (murder boys again?) played more interesting and danceable electro.



Stewart & The Maffia
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