Monday, August 09, 2004

Weekend distractions for stimuli dependents

After a nice evening in Green Park I rushed back for a TV show, god knows when the last time I did that was. At a mere 20 minutes long, 4play’s Grime Doc was still able to give me the most ever exposure I’ve ever had to the new post-garage sound. Unlike Mark K-Punk and other bloggers who seem familiar with the sound, my knowledge had been neutered by a combination of i) my own balking at another much-touted “new” sound ii) reluctance to attempt to befriend another set of DJ flash harries in a shop iii) inability to find a pirate playing it (like Reynolds said recently on his Return to UK entry it seems that the illegal airwaves are all trad garage, dancehall and hip-hop). What I know about it is mostly derived from youth rag rwd, and the general noise on the web.

Straightaway we were presented with another bunch of immaculately stoned uth, who like everyone from Hendrix and Perry onwards are using weed’s hydroponics to push a sound further. It was good to put names to faces of some of those practitioners, who were careful to point out that Grime/eski is generally not considered the darkstep/sublow of Tempa/Horsepower, etc, who use more traditional garage time signatures to complement their empty moody tones. As it’s still a shadow to me, I’m only going to make general comments: it’s an MC-led thing; the sound is virtually at r&b’s stunted pace; it doesn’t sound too different to So Solid-era garridge in its use of ridiculously attenuated technoid loops; wasn’t one of the Dizzee hits just a rehashing of the old UTFO/Roxanne beat?; and it’s more than possible the scene’s halcyon days sonically and culturally, of Wiley and co selling thousands of tunes from his car boot then blazing the rave down Bow way, have already been and gone. All in all it’s another genre within a genre, and probably not able to make that great leap forward like jungle. I know nothing about it being a scene where every rave ends up with black kids kicking the shit out of each other, which seems to be what magazines like Vice UK want to portray. No doubt if you’re 18 and on it those raves’d be the place to be.

What’s promising is the raw talent of the rappers, and this may well lead to the emergence of more Dizzeees, or a credible Skinner (ie, insightful lyrics but without the crappy conversational cadence, making a truer representation of the urban culture rather than sentimentalising it). Before the sound gets tarted up for the overground, there has also been an inevitable redefinition process of what constitutes ‘grime’/ the general sound – ie, anything from the more edgy UK hip-hop to Bug-type digi-dancehall. Both The End’s Grime nights (poster sporting suitably flexible definition) and the Rephlex CD of the same name extended the boundaries of the term too far for some. To me, the recent M.I.A single Sunshowers (cheap at HMV) seems innately grimey.

Sunday allowed for more inclusive park activity masquerading as a communal event – at least grime is not even pretending to be a thing of unity. My doris and I cycled down to meet a few people at Regents Park for the second day of Fruitstock – ‘a free festival for nice people’ laid on by smoothie drink makers Innocent (plugged just as the festival was, and the Grime prog, in the Saturday Guardian, of course). With just two stages (one for djs, one for live acts) losing out to the myriad food and drinks stalls dotted round the circumference, here the emphasis for the middle class multiculturals seemed to be feeling pleased that they were at an event, shunning the music for slothy prostration in baking heat. Yet there were significant pockets at each stage as the day wore on. Hed Kandi’s happy disco-house numbers were particularly popular.

I also detected an amazing number of sneers at the cyclists – should have rode mine round and trod on all the self-satisfied fuckers’ toes. Hardly a festival or an event then, at least the money earned went to inner-city kids charity Chicks.

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