Thursday, December 25, 2008

Compiling with Myself

And lo! the Three Wise Men in my head ascended Mount Reason and said, "come, grab some me-time on the chosen one's day and talk about the holy mixtape". So I did, because I can't watch the telly and stuff my face ALL day. the latest end-of-year compilation (didn't know this was an annual series!) is almost done, and ready for distribution in its clear plastic sleeve and diligent listings. The willing who will want to hear it remain few. How many shall i 'press up'? Five, six or seven?

With the attic set-up now down to one deck actual mixing was scarce, making this less of a compiling exercise (the time-honoured's DJ 'journey') and more one very time-consuming exercise in cut-up, splicing bits from here and there, waiting for the programme to do the pasting of the latest wedge of soundwaves. The 'creativity' comes not in any live performance but in the idea-gathering, the preparation, what you think works well as consonant sources and what surprises and excites as opposites come together to make new combinations. Indeed, the best actual mixing came from secondary edits covering up initial errors as the new set-up has created a gap of a couple of yards from the deck to the computer.

The generic phased approach is still there, along with the faith in 'beats' with grime, rap and dubstep (Kano ft Skepta, MF Doom and Digital Mystikz, Martyn and Zomby) at the start and some jungle/hardcore nearer the end; as well as electronic/digital house and techno (Motor, Glass Candy). Note also the clumsy conflation of Brazilian and Arabesque mores in a middle section that starts off light and turns 'moody/'edgy'/'dark'.

Also present are the comeback tunes, those that burned bright for whatever reason years ago that flicker back, re-awakening the senses. Peshay's Vocal Tune is the generic bridge throughout. My introduction to this was when Photek was guesting on Gilles Peterson's shows in 95 or 96 and played some of the lighter tunes of the emerged jungle-breakbeat sound, the tunes that are often dismissed now as they're too noodly, too 'drum and bass' not jungle, but for me had some of the key tunes of the era. Hendrix Experience's Fire, however, is pure tribute to Mitch Mitchell's passing.

As well as a lack of emphasis on the new - with new meaning the last year or so - the main theme is that i wanted to sound it like a radioshow, with the jingles and comic passages but minus the chat of previous efforts. Being a radio jock is of course another dream, another indulgence while i live the double life as a corporate editor. Anyway, the ego was well served in the making (as and the frustration of the festive sofa slump worked through in this reviewing), and let's hope the joy of giving will be too.
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Football, music, life - not in that order

In the last few days, music concerns have become all too real; my wife’s music company has gone into administration. If you know the industry you’ll know who these independent marketers and distributors are. It’s left a lot of people her included without a livelihood as the festive season approaches, not to mention left a lot of labels in debt with far less access to music buyers (yes, they still exist). The company had been running out of options for months due to the whole business being strangled for credit, including the likes of E-UK, Woolworth’s distribution arm that supplies all the mainstream outlets like Asda. This is just the start of the whole industry’s shake-up, remove the layers, have fewer companies getting the stuff to the market, an environment that has to become more competitive if it wants to avoid all bands going down the route of distributing their own material but getting more money from the live circuit.

It’s all change for me too. I finished my job on an online industry website on Friday and am now heading to some old-school laying out and subbing on a financial title everyone has heard of when you get those ‘who do you work for’ questions. Partly due to the ridiculous three-month notice policy of the old place, I am taking up a new job when resources (ie, people) are never going to be more scrutinised and then justified as they will be now. That makes the whole first few months a challenge, but I am feeling particularly straight-headed at the moment and it’s in those moments I tell myself I’m ‘up for it’.

Lastly, I joined in some Guardian Comment is Free democratising ‘debate’ last week, then immediately felt tainted by the experience. It was in reaction to a shameless piece of exaggeration by Guardian football writer Daniel Taylor about City fans still singing the Munich song (yes, it did happen at the derby last week but not on any large scale or with any frequency except in the ears and eyes of a writer with an agenda). You rush to get your perspective in – myself as one of the 47,300 there or the millions of others from the armchair. Then you realise this is just school playground, tit-for-tat ‘he did it first’ bullshit; Blues listing their grievances, Reds likewise, Liverpool fans chipping in with their angles, blah-blah-blah. Just middle-class footy fans having their say, any ‘conflict resolution’ impossible as this stuff can’t be banned. That same free speech that means a football fan can sing all manner of unspeakable shit about against the person the same as him in the other side of the pen.

That’s where football is this day – a nihilistic reciprocation of catcalls where the fans seem more concerned about their image in the eyes of the other team. That’s why 90% of United’s chants in the derby were about City – wind us up, not big themselves up. And this isn’t just a local pride thing. Typical example in yesterday’s game – Villa 1-0, they sing ‘Who are ya?’; Everton equalise, they sing ‘Who are ya?’ Villa back in front, they sing ‘Who are ya?’; last-gasp Toffee leveller, they sing ‘Who are ya?’; shock horror Villa still get a winner, they sing ‘Who are ya?’. Truly there is no glory in this tedious reflecting back onto the similar other.
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