Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Crowd pleasing

Wedding DJ time again last weekend. Or more precisely wedding dj while the main hires want a break. So once again not an opportunity to squeeze Isolee and Squarepusher into a set where Jeff Beck and Come on Eileen are expected, but at least it does allow for a condensed mix concentrating on just classics; the all killer no filler axiom. It’s just how you link them.

The early bouts were funky soul as generically requested: Trent D’Arby’s Dance Little Sister (personal favourite of the Face-era ego); Otis’ take on Satisfaction; Respect. They were followed up with a few relatively offbeat ones, such as Kinks’ You Really Got Me. The linking together is actually irrelevant, I soon realise: a wedding dancefloor is full of all-dayer-inebriates who crave instant pleasure, seeing the dj playing the role of a Magic FM dj. Just play me the hits and leave any authoring of one’s musical programme well alone. Accordingly the djs’ mixer was your basic two channels with no low, mid and top range knobs to twiddle.

Of course the dj as the star does have some currency even in this basic stick-‘em-on role. You’re God like Danny Rampling @ Shoom until something fucks with the pattern of three minutes of fun, then change. I found this out to my cost when Le Freak wouldn’t play, dirty record and needle stalling the system. Howls and derision when a minute ago I was the pied piper. I panicked for a moment then grabbed Van Helden’s You Don’t Know Me and we were back on the train. It messed the generic path up a little. But soon I was spinning to some delight my mandatory plays for these type of parties – Human League’s Keep Feeling Fascination, the Love and Dancing Dare remix album does genuinely never leave my bag (best money ever spent in Reckless); Madonna’s Get Into the Groove; Inner City’s Big Fun; Chaka Khan’s Feel for You. 80s synthetic joy.

So this was very much like doing the birthday parties at hired basement venues – bit of funk, but of electronic, bit of an acknowledged classic in an easy-going recognitive stew. Certainly Mark and Zoe, who were last seen raving their faces off after the McClintock screening, set up the room in the most dj-centric way I’ve ever seen for a wedding. Pity I couldn’t deliver them Green Velvet’s La La Land, but I found out late the do was only vinyl.

The most unusual non-Wedding Parties Anything tunes from me were Bizarre Inc’s Playing With Knives, especially for Zoe. It’s one that regularly comes out while I am mixing at home – still love the Quadrant Park mx’s clinical techno ferocity in the build-up, and few tunes beat the Italo piano breakdown and subsequent sweeps for exhilaration. If the rumours are true that it is a favoured track for Klaxons-neo-ravers then its second life is well deserved (no matter how many times it was appropriated before then). I kept up the vibe with another tune that wasn’t hardcore from the hardcore era with Crystal Waters' Gypsy Woman, though the mix was minging.

Gripes were only a few from the main DJs, one for turning up the basic mixer too loud so distorting the sound. But after about an hour or so my job was done and I didn’t feel the urge to get the ladrock out as a back-up. The girls were ruling this rural Cambridgeshire floor, although I’d also missed the opportunity, after Armand, to push on with late-90s funky house. I stood down on Mary J’s Family Affair, without so much as an inclination to play the near-obligatory Blue Monday.

The two standouts from the tag team’s set thereafter were Strings of Life and Definition of Sound’s Wear Your Love Like Heaven. Nice to hear the latter’s, again early 90s, full of beans, wide-eyed hip-pop with generous use of Donovan sample, while I can’t even guess how many second lives Derrick May’s sonic evangelism has gone through. I often wonder why this very Detroit strings-and-piano number (a big, big hit on its first re-release with the original quavers) remains so popular with the mainstream house set, who usually favour less of an aching with their emotional placebo. But there’s something so timeless in those great rushes and multiple heart tuggings that it can come round and round again and keep instilling so much hope and joy. And still fit in well with the rudimentary imperatives (just look at the song titles) of the others.
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

McClintock to build ideas bank with Editors

Self-styled ‘ecosexual’ party leader Jeremy McClintock today announced a pioneering brain swap scheme with leading indie rock band Editors, where each party can download the other's big ideas from a massive server in the countryside.

"I shit ideas, and I know the Editors too," says McClintock. "So it makes sense not to waste them on lesser schemes."

The deal, which comes hot on the heels of having Chris Martin play soccer for the Maasai, was brokered by urban facilitation foundation DUFF, Bono-led venture capital fund Elevation Partners and 1FM’s Jo Whiley.

Close friends of Editors admitted they had been impressed by McClintock’s immersion in issues as diverse as wasting water and the homeless of East London. A meeting at the Summer Sappfest in Dorset was thought to have sealed the bond.

It is not known where the vast bank of servers big enough to store all their grandiose proposals will be stored.

Says Jeremy: “These guys tackle the serious business of capitalist realism head on. Singer Tom Smith looks like a stockbroker, and he sings like one too, but they know there are real issues out there.”

“I have yet to see or hear a more profound treatment of the 1972 Israeli hostage crisis at the German Olympics than their ‘Munich’. Corporate indie is their baton to run with.

Says Tom Smith of the Editors: “We all know about trying and trying until the public give in and buy your stuff. We're convinced Jeremy and his agenda will eventually storm parliament, even if it’s partly with our ideas.

“It’s a pity we didn’t get to him in time to stop his cock plan.”

McClintock has already put his distinctive stamp on the Editors’ output, teaming up with south London producer The Djekyll to ‘refix’ Eds smash An End Has a Start.

Adds the Right Path Party leader: “We met the guy through our grime golf project in Southwark and Lewisham boroughs, and he barely needed any persuading to get involved.” Click to hear it.
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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Durrty Goodz: Vanguard of the Youngaz

Journalists will use data to suit their preference of showing it’s either ‘just as bad as it ever was’ or we’re in the midst of an uncontrollable crimewave. No doubt it has been a bad summer on the streets: in the last couple of weeks the Stockwell shooting of the Tulse Hill lad who went to visit his cousin and the Wood Green spraying of a party spring to mind; the 11-year-old caught in the Croxteth crossfire left me feeling sick (as did the mawkish poem from his dad later); last night a lad in Newham was repeatedly stabbed and left for dead. The teenagers have taken over, and they haven’t got a clue what they’re doing, but have firearm or knive will use; people are willing themselves to be bad like never before.

Unlike the experts in the mainstream media I wouldn’t dare suggest solutions to tackle the wave of violence, but one thing I do know that the young other movement of which we fear is probably the first one in modern popular history to lack a major musical component. That’s partly due to the police shutting down the growth of the indigenous grime scene (how much trouble there ever was now pales into comparison with the vibe on those streets), but also because this movement’s ‘threat’ is the most real. No-one is being beaten up for their choice of music or their clothes, or indeed race (it’s curiously unracist in this regard). Some of the youngers have pretensions to being mcs and producers – they’ll get something up on YouTube or the other sites, and might even make Channel-U. But it just seems like lifestyle accessory, not something to die for. If you’re a screwface like me there’s gonna be trouble. These are vaingloriously nihilist times on the fringes of the centre of London town.

Into this void dropped Durrty Goodz’s amazing nine-track ep, Axiom, which has taken grime to higher places and could inspire beyond it. Ever since So Solid I have dipped in to grime at most, surfing the surface when things have hinted at breaking out, or has been there sufficient noise round it to prick up my ears. In truth I perhaps have always had the suspicion that outside the main East London players too many of the beats were whack, too many spits too lame and been too turned off by the ‘just repping’ glorification that has been allowed to creep in, dissolving with it the sonic possibilities of the DIY phase so that people can ride over an r&g beat and get on Channel U, to join the spectacle.

Goodz, who made his mark back in the early days but got derailed by his own problem with ‘hataz’, seeing his half-brother put away for that revenge, is flying on this showcase CD, and he has own reason to go way, way beyond the sordid material. Blackdown's dead right to come with the hip-hop correlation. This is not hip hop per se but it should be enjoyed as a classic hip-hop lp, where there are so many ideas on every track that you just have to listen to the end and try to take as much in as possible – this is the anti disposable download. And besides, how many of your favourite hip-hop lps conform to hip-hop stereotype? None of them. The ep does rely on the slow, stripped bass and rhythm (pre-recycled funk loops) of mid-to-late 80s brutalist hip-hop, though of course the former is much thicker, there to make you feel sick as well as funky.

Goodz is an amazing rapper (not mc), hardly ever repeating themes across the nine tracks, only ever resorting to g-talk when expressing other voices, and rapping in line with the beat. He doesn’t use the beats as templates just to ride over, on every track he interacts and engages with the music – in fact it’s probably a lot more syncretic between him and the producers. Durrty’s agility gives the music places to go. He can also do Streets-style comedy. Favourites-wise I am divided between the anthemic Take Back the Scene, riding Coki’s Tortured to fine effect, at one stage he speeds up to the point of missing a beat only to bring the flow back down perfectly for the chorus. And Boi Dem, another dead slow riddim which has as its riff some kind of twisted harmonica noise which is all blocks of sound, no music, which I can just picture people vibing off at raves. It’s a smokers anthem, but although weed like other drugs are discussed from many different angles, Goodz never comes out as an explicit endorser – let’s not let the drukqs rule our lives. Give Me The Music starts out in synthetic rave heaven, with faux-overwrought rap confessional, then a beat drops that the Neptunes have tried to deliver all their careers.

Boi Dem speeds up to some sort of elusive, sidewinding breakbeat shuffle later on, paying homage and subtlely twisting the breakbeat continuum that has suffered recently from a lack of innovation, lately. In fact Axiom largely prospers on just computer-driven beats and bass – he is eschewing the default resort to musicality of some of the other grimers that have emerged. In that sense, it doesn’t compromise his audience, and in the spirit of Boi Dem and the colossal bass of Take Back/Tortured there is ravey mentality; Durrty, though, is taking you out of your mind rather than out of your head.

Could it be that the harsh derangement of the younger generation has fed on the narcotic and social abandon of the generation before it? You can’t have it this indulgent, this overstimulated, and be this apathetic to political mores, without having it rub off. The world has changed so there is no point expecting people to behave by old paradigms of respect, decency, standards, when clearly they have little relevance in a world where you can’t get away from massive privilege although it looks away from you and never talks, where stars are indulged right up and into their addiction (by the same people who don’t meet your gaze). Goodz’s Axiom EP, and the forthcoming album, shows how an intense approach to your art takes you out of worldly hustle, and this is so strong that others might follow his lead. He is challenging the black and white niggaz not to have attitude. This needs to be at raves, in cars, in people’s consciousness. Shell out the £6 and shock out to this and the guns, shotting and fatuous respect will just pale. It makes me feel 18 again, and it might make the 18s and co feel like their age too, rather than the little big men of their films and computer games and music channels.
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