Thursday, November 23, 2006

Islam now so demonised...

...the former Cat Stevens now has to trade on his first name only. And sales, we are assured, are flying with that terror suffix excised.
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Monday, November 20, 2006

Alone, not in Kyoto, but Cardiff

And not in a hifalutin Grand Hyatt, but the botched monstrosity of the Holiday Inn off the River Taff, near the Millennium Stadium. A big Friday night violated my brain and body, unused as they are to hedonism after near-enough five straight weeks of fatherhood. I was left to stew while the jocks went to play golf as part of the ‘stag’ do. Overcast and freezing, Cardiff outside felt like I did inside. I wondered round too panicky to deal with the consumer process that might help me get what I needed to eat, and eventually retired to my room, shaky and self-pitying. Cue SkySports and its constant reruns and comprehensive coverage. Those guys are such a complete package.

So Saturday didn’t go so well. Then I remembered that I put a few recent Teutons of fun on a minidisc recently (“what!” where’s your iSPod? This is YOUR space”). First up were tracks of the recent MyMy album. Beguiling stuff this, they’ll go for isolated riffs that disturb the way they have been put in the mix, the occasional vox reminds you just about that they’re human. Present are the funky synth riffs and digital squirts, which tell you that superficially they’re part of Germany’s current Kompakt-led dance reich, but they don’t sound right – as though it’s intended for anywhere other than the floor. What is the point of this jittery undance?

Another Playhouse act Isolee, specifically tracks from the Hermelin ep, briefly worked like aural paracetamol. It’s not just musicality that separates them but also Rajko Muller’s phasing. Passages of different instrumentation come and go, with Isolee it’s a given something interesting that isn’t just sheer repetition is around the corner. His productions incorporate a certain queasy jouissance and that’s a rare quality to have. MyMy do queasy but when it’s such a dehumanised sound it’s not meant to sound nice. Like many modern Germanix, “11th hour’ has a riff that recalls the earlier palovian impulses of Innocent, All-Together-Now Rave but in this context just sounds odd. Ghosts in the nightclub? No, because then they do bumpy exalted house on Pelourinho and I have a rush of pleasure. Clearly, what both Playhouse acts do is retool the basic machines of dance music to key into the longer view of European bourgeois sophistication.

So maybe high-class sonic installations were called for, but my head still pounded from yesterday as I flopped from chair to bed. Not even Matthew Johnson’s Detroit classicism could provide anything more than cold, transitory comfort. It is not always what it is. What it is is ineffective. Eventually the evening came and I went downstairs to play Lad again, forcibly and through gritted teeth at first. The thought took me back to years gone by, when I saw myself as a freelance friend for hire, able to assume any role or persona. The warmth I radiate to the assembled crowd – how genuine is it? Now I realise that it doesn’t matter whether you think this is artifice or not.

By 4am Sunday morning, things got cold again. The ‘back to my room’ party was halted on the insistence of my room-mate, who shortly after was out cold snoring away while I was wired, the alcoholic offsets I took earlier having begun to activate, looking for stimuli. I picked up the MD again and the MyMy tunes worked better, delivering a chilly high (yes it’s possible, like a rational revelation) in a darkplace lit only by the Milllenium’s distant lights. They worked on a fevered brain craving diversion, but the jury is still out on whether this is dancefloor music.

Several hours later I’m still not placido on domingo, but I finally reach Victoria for my train home to SE London. I board, but the theorising is thoroughly debunked anew, when I overhear two young Kentish scrotes talk about Catford as ‘Coonford’, pepper their inanity with other foul malapropisms and scowl at any non-white who walks past. These may be the same guys who scrawled “Kent boy hates Muslims” on the same service; whoever they are they make me feel sick and partly that feeling is because, in this mental state like any else, I am powerless to take them to task.

A chilly reminder that it’s reality and not representation or narcotic rewiring that delivers the coldest jolt of all.
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