Monday, April 25, 2005

He lost his hardcore

“Realism always poses as maturation. Of course it is acceptable, understandable and inevitable to have silly youthful dreams, but there comes a time when one must put aside such childish things and face reality; and reality is always defined ‘biologically’, in terms of the imperatives of reproductive futurism, and ‘economically’, in terms of the ‘constraints’ of the capitalist anti-market” – K-Punk on a post on Zupancic and the Lacanian theory of sublimation

One 30-something used to work on another magazine in my kapitalist propagation unit (the office). This unfiction about him embodies the dichotomy of the rave experience – whether to use its life-changing potential for personal and/or social revolution or to simply see it as something to dip in and out of as a perfect modern consumer (I’ve done that and now I’m moving on).

For a year or two, he’s been selling off his record collection. When he first sent the Excel files, lovingly prepared with even the cat numbers, it was a perfect distillation of hardcore, jungle and drum & bass circa 1990-2000. All the classics were there – the Belgian shit, We Are E original, all the Terminators, the V stuff, Peshay this, 4 Hero that. I’d salivate just at the thought of this dope on plastic, and along with the odd download from Autonomic or somewhere that has filled many a slow afternoon. The same age as the wax doctor, nevertheless I’ve been a regular purchaser, filling out my hardcore and the gaps between that and 95/96-era jungle (I dropped out of the scene in a solipsistic lack of direction at university). In 20 years’ time I’d rather be a sad dad with a physical reminder of belle epoques to boost fragmented and flagging memory (this will be the new stereotype, replacing that of paternal geeks in attics with train sets). This lad must have been a dj, a face on the scene of whatever region he jumped up in, or at least a very discerning part-time jock.

Never found out though. We have shared geeky knowledge of particular labels or particular riffs, but never juicy vignettes of lost nights in urban warehouses and rural fields. He has meticulously avoided any such comments. With that time-honoured crooked “I’ve been there” smile, I’ll open up to any non-suit, as long as there’s mutual assurance. In other offices, though often for obvious reasons people are wary to disclose their past energy flashes we’ve got down to the nitty-gritty – “oh you used to go to Labyrinth too”/”wow you were into all the Guerilla stuff”, etc. I feel sad that this is a closed chapter for him, particularly when you realise how much energy there is still being generated in hardcore/jungle-derived scenes and sounds the world other (only last week I read D. Rascal saying his favourite music was d&b).

There is evidence that for him the rave years would always have been a meander off the true path of ‘normal’ life. From what little I’ve gleaned, mainly by earwigging, it seems he was privately educated and it seems that that’s how they want kids to get through education (sympathy is lost here). Indeed, the mantra very much excludes any further turning on in favour of the genralised but oft-touted “getting on”; make as much money as possible, only stop when you’re half-dead (which touches on an earlier cull feature that if we are going to be breadheads at least learn about sufficiency rather than excess).

Yet this guy, who has since moved on to work in the ‘financial services industry’ not only looks unhappy, he exudes a profound sense of loss. His excessive self-effacement of his new employers, matching the evasion of his halcyon daze, only served to illustrate an intense disappointment at his unwanted subscription to the programme. I don’t see it as a big case of comedown blues because he is very aware in every respect. There is no chance of him reading this as the blogosphere would also be seen as an immature diversion from the diverse requirements, nay responsibilities, of Life Inc.

As all transcendental materialists know – it doesn’t have to be like that. When I plugged into rave as the acid lines and Detroit strings were giving ways to bleeps and breakbeats, I did so because the scene had potential in it to offer substantive change from society, a flight from Thatcherite self-self-self. No one is asking you to bomb mdma at acid squat parties when you’re 50 but you can take so much from the experience.
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Monday, April 18, 2005

Anal response to C4's 100 greatest albums

Albums that I actually own or have taped
Are You Experienced?
The Joshua Tree
It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Three Feet High & Rising

Albums that I have either borrowed, taped bits of (in an absurdly too-frugal way of saving on tapes), stolen, listened to extensively at mates’ houses or in some other way shared in their communal experience. And for which I still have affection
Pet Sounds
Sergeant Pepper’s
The White Album
Sex Machine
The Velvet Underground
What’s Going On
Led Zeppelin IV
Never Mind the Bollocks
London Calling
The Stone Roses (lost the tape in Newcastle)
Pills, Thrills (how is this better than Squirrel or Bummed?)
Blue Lines
Definitely Maybe
Urban Hymns
The Bends
Moon Safari
A Grand Don’t Come for Free (mate)
Speakerboxx/The Love Below

Albums – probably ‘cult’ or ‘seminal’ – that I know well and should have bought second-hand rather than spending the equivalent on an import 12 for the latest ultra-new ‘sound’
A Love Supreme
Lady Sings the Blues
Forever Changes (Love)
After the Gold Rush
Five Leaves Left
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Trans-Europe Express
Fear of Music
The Queen is Dead
Grace (Jeff Buckley)

Albums that I would like but, to be honest, I make do with the signature tunes from compilations or hear enough anyway on radio or out and about, etc
Let it Bleed
The Doors
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (Aretha)
Exile on Main Street
Blue (Joni Mitchell)
Songs in the Key of Life
Dark Side of the Moon (I like Barrett-era Floyd)
Blood on the Tracks
All Mod Cons
Parallel Lines
Off the Wall
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
Sign o’ the Times
Appetite for Destruction
Automatic for the People
Different Class (Pulp)
Is This it (Strokes)
Elephant (White Stripes)

Albums that I have been familiar with but have little time for these days
One Step Beyond
Brothers in Arms (the one lp my dad owned!)
What’s The Tory?
The Fat of the Land
The Libertines

Albums that have not been, are not and never will be in my world
The Sun Sessions (Elvis)
Songs for Swingin' Lovers!
Dusty in Memphis
Tommy (love Who, loathe rock opera)
Hotel California
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (E. John)
A shite at the Opera (Queen)
Fridge Over Troubled Water
Bat Out Of Smell
Born to Run
Every Picture Smells a Story (Rod Stewart)
Arrival (Abba)
Saturday Night Fever (love disco, hate bee-gees)
Rio (Duran)
Hounds of Love
Graceland (or How I Dragged ‘World’ Music back 20 years)
Like a Prayer
Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Jagged Little Pill
I’ve Been Expecting You (Rabid Williams)
No Angel
Marshall Mathers LP
Play (on adverts – Moby)

Albums that, on later checking, my wife owns which I will now listen to
OK Computer

That should be the century. I could have divided the “never in my world” lot into “averse to” and “proper hatred of” for clarification: Kate Bush, for example, shouldn’t get lumped in with that Elton/Queen/Meatloaf operatic ballsy piss, which can get fucked. In summary it is clear that, the odd curveball aside, I have frequently shown a desire to apply for subscription to the Canon, but either couldn’t be arsed or couldn’t afford to. The desire to share a handshake with its Cult subsidiary was also subverted by the ticking and bleeping of electronic dance music (unrepresented here of course), while perhaps unhealthy obsessions were retained in the output of the British hedonists.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Time to wallow in the MIA

MIA in Miami, by Malik Meer of the NME: “Unlike the doubters in the UK, they don’t give a shit that she’s not ‘road’ (since when was escaping a civil war in Sri Lanka, being the daughter of a freedom fighter and growing up on a racist housing estate not ghetto enough?). Nor do they dismiss her as a Nathan Barley fashion fad because she went to St Martins and was encouraged to work her 505 groovebox by Peaches. Or refuse to play her records on Asian radio ’cos she ain’t ‘Asian’ enough.” (I’ve heard Friction & Nihal play MIA though).
Though I excised the comment on the “meta-bloggers” (that would be too much of a self-reference), I thought this was a nice coda to the recent MIA conversation. Signed to Dre’s label, it seems that the US has no truck with the microworries about MIA’s context; the pop proposition is what counts.

Elsewhere, Maximo Park’s soon-to-be-released lp is pricking up these ears. Yes, it’s on techno revolutionaries Warp, yes, it references the Jam, Dammed, Marr & Morrissey and god knows what else of post-punk, but none of these things matter. What a joy it is to hear something new yet so convincing, delivered with such intent, that worries about its retroness are for once irrelevant. The jittery Geordies seem to be setting themselves against the comfy shoes and easy options of modern consumer society. Get off the sofa and apply some pressure yourselves.

And further evidence that Rock has beaten Dance in the umpteenth round of the pointlessly divisory contest – E-monkey factory Fabric now has nights that cater to fresher sets and settings. This Friday, for example, has Art Brut, Black Wire, Jacques Lu Cont and the Infadels doing live sets in among dj sets from Trash jocks. Didn’t Fridays used to be d&b mania night?

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