Monday, June 15, 2009

All Tomorrow's Parties: NS Travels piece

Morning, campers - in the New Statesman

They looked like refugees from an indie war, the duffel-coated huddled masses, sheltering ineffectually behind pin-badge amulets, under sheets of British summer rain.

I went to All Tomorrow's Parties in Butlins Minehead for the NS, and somehow avoided reviewing a single band all weekend. Huzzah.

Purple wow: bonus level

(L-R: Gemmy, Joker, Guido, outside The Bell, Stoke's Croft)

The other day I went to Bristol to meet the new purple wave, Guido, Gemmy and Joker, for a piece that ran in Friday's Guardian:

Bristol fashion: the rise of purple

This was quickly picked up by The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones, who mentions that all the dubstep DJs he's met in the US have been women. 'Maybe it's different in England,' he suggets - it is Sasha. It is. I'll post a paragraph of the original piece that had to be cut for space, just because I think the Joker-Roni Size connection will interest some people:
It’s a school night in a cosy pub beer garden in Bristol, and three grown adults are humming different Sonic the Hedgehog and Street Fighter theme tunes at each other and downing cranberry sambucas. It’s not a scenario that screams out ‘the future of British dance music’, and the students and local misfits drinking in The Bell pay them no mind. No-one notices when the retro computer game eulogies mutate into slightly more candid clues: one of them, Joker, is on his way to Roni Size’s house after the pub: “Roni asked for a remix from me. I think maybe he expected to hear BRRRRRRRRRR, the generic dubstep wobble-bass sound, so he was kind of surprised by what he heard. But he gets it... he gets it.”
And here are a few bonus bits we didn't have space for in the purple text-box, a few tunes I arbitrarily decided would help to 'explain purple':
Gemmy – Sonic The Hedgehog theme remixes
Blackstreet – ‘Don’t Leave Me’
Nate Dogg – ‘G Funk’
Skream – ‘Midnight Request Line’
Mr Fusion – ‘On Da Block’

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The great cultural entropy: as prophesised by Bis

Are we reaching a deceleratory endpoint, in terms of cultural productivity? Are we 'running on empty'? Mark Fisher/K-Punk thinks we are - in the New Statesman a few weeks back he followed up Alex Williams' thought-provoking blog post with the same gloomily menopausal dismissal of contemporary dance music we heard at the nuum debate. (On which subject: I wrote a Buffoon Empiricist Manifesto on Lower End Spasm, putting the apparently controversial case that dancing is preferable to RSI.)

While jokingly mooting a riot grrl-Europop-grime club night on Dissensus, I was reminded of 'Eurodisco' by Bis, and looked it up on YouTube. Well I'll be damned if the Scottish trio haven't accounted for so many aspects of the hardcore continuum debate, years ahead of time. In a minimal, looped lyric - it is disco, after all - they deal with genre taxonomy and the 'wot do you call it' moment ("a style is named and it's dead"), and quite succinctly account for the idea of post-modern cultural entropy ("there is no latest trend / the party's at its end / i thought music was dead") and the terrible persistence of information in the web 2.0 era ("i'm just so sick of listening"). It's really quite extraordinary:

Bis - Eurodisco
the party's at its end
a style is named and it's dead
there is no latest trend
the party's at its end
if it's a new beginning, then i don't want to know
if it's not worth pretending, then i don't want to know
i'm just so sick of listening, why should i want to know
i lost my 15 minutes on eurodisco
the music's in my head
i thought music was dead
give me the words i'll sing
but i can't feel a thing...i'm singing
pump it up pump it up pump it up...
just don't stop just don't stop just don't stop...
the party's at its end
a style is named it's dead
there is no latest trend
you're so disco

J'accuse K-Punk: biting your ideas off an 11-year-old Bis single? I'm surprised.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Junior Spesh

Last summer Elijah from the Butterz blog/Rinse FM and I were talking about the lack of imagination in music blogging – oh look, here’s another grime blog which offers embedded YouTube videos and nothing else: great.

So while the whole of the grime scene was on its summer holidays in Napa, I jokingly suggested we use Red Hot Entertainment’s brilliant ‘Junior Spesh’ ode to budget fried chicken shops as a jumping off point to start a blog on the subject. Elijah called my bluff and registered the name , and the Junior Spesh Blog was born. After a flurry of initial activity and a bit of a break, the blog is now back with a vengeance, with a host of contributors from the grime and dubstep scenes – at least half of our writers are leading DJs.

Chicken and chip shops are the pirate radio stations of the culinary world. Their starting point is the mainstream corporate legitimacy of KFC, the chain that has exported a culinary staple of the American south to the whole world – indeed our blog features a review of KFC in Cancun, Mexico, and its peculiar ‘curry sauce’ option. But what we’re really interested in is not KFC but the pirates: HFC, SFC, Dollar Fried Chicken, Alabama Fried Chicken, Kennedy Fried Chicken.

Just like pirate DVD sleeves, mistakes are made in the plagiarism of the original model: so you end up with such abominations as New York Fried Chicken (the very thought would upset southerners a great deal), Chickpizz (which serves pizza too), and New Taxas Fried Chicken (which managed to make up a new American state and spell it wrong too).

The names are silly and the chips are greasy, but in an age of global fast food brands, this pirate fried chicken stands against brand homogeneity and for devious ingenuity – it’s dirty, creative local capitalism at its best.