Like the Krease EP, essentially slowed down drum & bass. It has all the trappings of ‘dark’, has all the right ingredients and is certainly tech crafted, but ultimately it feels so self-conscious and self-regulated it almost sounds tired and by the book. Just makes me want to go and listen to the Moving Fusion, Ram Recs et al. back catalogue again. One for the bag no doubt, but a prisoner of its own devices.
Jay Krease from Dead Noise System. Sounding very like a cleaned up, slowed down and paint stripped, minimal techstep tune (with nods, surely, to “Shadow Boxing”?) old school, timestretched, raaaaasta vox shenanigans and a ridiculously low rolling sub. This one doesn’t really go anywhere – just a moody, hoods up, foot shuffle, head nodder while toking hard on your reefer in the dark corner. Quality restraint though, with “hold the line” discipline.
Ok, ok, ok. Last one I promise, before I come back to reality.
If one tune epitomises the sheer intensity, unstoppable momentum and ‘avin it abandon of that period for me, it surely has to be Spiral Tribe’s “Do Et” off their seminal first ‘Breach The Peace’ EP. This is before they became synonymous with their more incessant, bubbling 4/4 French ‘Tek’ sound and when sonically there was still ‘ardcore dropping in their sets (possibly their most vital and exciting period…for me anyway). When I found my copy of the EP in Rough Trade W11, I remember being both totally gobsmacked and feverishly excited (but also with a creep of disappointment) that something of their energy had materialised in physical recorded form and cover artwork. It felt like contraband from the netherworld but also as if the vaults had been split wide open.
Regardless, this tune stands as the most joyful, hilarious (and inadvertently poetic) ode to Free Parties/Rave ever! Over to you MC Scallywag.
“If you’re a raver and can’t score an E…you must be buzzing on Acid!”
All that graffiti reminiscing got me all misty eyed about other characters from back in the day and while I don’t in any way want to turn this into a retro archiving sesh (…too many quality sites already doing that job on a far more impressive scale!) I couldn’t resist another follow up. And this segues nicely out of Fume.
The first proper rave nights I went to were the Tonka Sound System nights at the Zap in Brighton (circa 1991?) Harvey & Choci… what a line up! Can never forget the decks set up right in the middle of the dance floor below the stage, Choci with his shirt off, girls massaging him mid-set, everyone down to the last wo/man totally off their nut. Sweat, Vicks, Amyl and uninhibited dancing. Wildly eclectic sets right across the spectrum (and if you were lucky an after party on the beach down at Shoreham or wherever). And God’s honest truth, I cannot remember a single tune from those days, except (for some bizarre reason) Naz aka Naz’s “Organised Crime” !?! – the Godfather trumpet intro. “Just when I thought I was out…They pulled me back in.” I remember Choci dropping that at the peak of collective euphoria and the whole place going OFF!!!
Whatever happened to old Choci I started thinking?? He had a pretty wild run, from his Choci-Roc graffiti days in NYC, the first British writer to get up on the trains, to his DJ/producing/studio and record shops in Soho. The first record shops where I made weekly trips to and started buying and collecting vinyl obsessively from in fact (and where I discovered many an early Industrial Strength/Magnetic North/Drop Bass Network/Praxis hard techno gem and their like). Heady days. He went all Acid later and my visits tailed off but it was definitely a seed of my musical turn on and tune in.
I’d forgotten, or probably didn’t even register at the time, that one of his first tunes (if not the first?) was Mark One “Hoovers and Spraycans” from 1991 – featuring a pneumatic drill sample no less (Nomex would have been proud!) in a ’91 stylee – 4/4 kicks AND old school breakbeats. Solid ‘ardcore tune. Anyway, from what I can tell he’s back at the walls and spraycans now with the Team Robbo crew (who had that old school v new school spat with Banksy), some mention of him going into carpentry and not involved in music anymore theses days.
Stoked to be the proud owner of one of these first official prints, still available here, from one of the kings of the London graffiti scene (although it feels like something of an oxymoron to have actually paid for a ‘print’, to have it framed and now have it hanging on my wall. All a bit art gallery and coming in from the cold? But that’s my problem for forking out the money like the middle class twat I am, not his).
Anyone living in London in the early 90s could surely not have missed his name and tag even if only filtered peripherally. He was simply part of the landscape, literally everywhere and absolutely destroyed the underground, particularly the Hammersmith & City line!
No two ways about it, Fume and his crew were seriously hardcore and lived and breathed paint well into the late 90s. There still doesn’t seem to be too much out there on him – to his credit! but I dug up this archived Bomb Alert Magazine interview with 2Kold that gives a snapshot of the kind of lifestyle they were all leading and it all sounds pretty full on and out there ‘on the perimeter’. Amped and angry and totally dedicated to their results. “It’s no use painting the odd wall with pretty colours. You’ve got to smash every depot. It’s a war and no-one can control us”. Seems there was a lot of quite violent rivalry and hate later on which makes it all sound even murkier. See the 1997 Big Issue feature.
This got me reminiscing about that certain period of London sub/culture. Fuck, there was a lot of hardcore business going on then! from the graffiti, the music, the raves, Spiral Tribe, right through to Damien Hirst’s shark & Marc Quinn’s ‘Self’ in the hi-art world, you name it. John Peel & Andy Kershaw on the airwaves. And still no www! – Pre-Starbucks, pre-Pret a (fuckin’) Manger, pre-Sainsbury’s Local virus, pre-fixies (except Buffalo Bill maybe heh?), pre-Flat (fuckin’) Whites, smokey boozers, Mutoid Waste squat still down Portobello Road (props to Tom Vogue’s exhaustive ‘Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate: A West London Psychogeography Report’ for making my mind run back in that particular hood).
My internal tape rewind is unspooling now like one of Krapp’s Last Tapes! But that’s why I bought the print and have it on my wall – every time I sit on the sofa with a cup of tea and look at it I think of all of the above and more. Dem days.
Footwork/Juke producer and former DJ Rashad collaborator comes correct with this monster Grime/Bass banger.
I heard ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ on a recent Mumdance/Rinse FM show and while it’s a totally polished, bolt-action DJ tool (with an almost vintage Slimzee/Youngstar/P-Jam bounce) to rinse out at peak slot witching hour, ‘Where do you go at Night?’ is the heavyweight capo di tutti capi. A superb rumbling avalanche of doom bass, all paranoid reverse loops and cavernous claps, taking it into a different arena altogether. Guaranteed to be a huge tune over sound systems.
Big ups too for keeping business faultlessly short and sweet. No padding or bull.
Speaking of shattering and bleak. Just been checking John Matrix’s catalogue and feeling a lot of his tunes. If you’ve had enough of all the reggae/rasta shenanigans clogging up the bassbins this will definitely blow away the cobwebs and bring back your headbanger’s neck ache.
This is very tightly wound, aggressive, amphetamine fuelled, grinding teeth business. On the 140bpm mark but with thuggish trap vibes and hints of gnarly d’n’b filtering. Sounding like a wine snob here…Cha! If that’s beginning to sound too much like Brostep, fear not, it’s on another level. (Inadvertent nods perhaps, especially on ‘Yactus’, to the criminally sidelined Search & Destroy/Toasty breakstep crew circa 2004?). ‘Telekinetic’ is the smasher here for me.
‘Lambs to the Slaughter’ dropped on Copenhagen based dubstep label Cue Line Records last September. It reminded me a little of Dylan‘s in your face Freak/Outbreak output when he was cranking them out at a rate and stirring up trouble in d&b circles (a decade ago now, can you believe!?). I could do without the recurring voice/movie sample snippets to be honest and my own opinion is that all his tunes would be colder and heavier for their omission but hey, whatever. His choice. Tunes is tunes, not economic crisis. Where ‘LttS’ succeeds is in creating a far more frenetic momentum than its 140bpm pulse would normally dictate. Locking into pile driving 4/4 sections it thrashes around the room like a bunch of aggressive straight edge kids at a Black Flag gig, almost hinting at brittle, run-it-red breakcore dynamics in places. Definitely for the squat rave DJs.
My personal favourite though is one of his older tunes ‘Depth Gauge’ off the Head Off EP (again on Cue Line). Once you get past the trite Hip-hop MC/poet schooling, it drops into a sparse, clanking, cavernous, A.I. driven slice of heavy industry manufacturing, thick oiled pistons and synched, hissing stampers beating and shaping the form down the length of the line. No deviation or human interference in the process (except that f**king idiot MC sample ruining it).
Sometimes it’s great to be out of the loop (and aren’t we all by degrees most of the time anyway?). You suddenly find there’s a ton of material out there making waves or bubbling away that you can have a full-on blow out on. Case in point, I’d barely only recently just discovered Michael Faber (The Book of Strange New Things, Under The Skin etc.) before my old pal I-S added to my ‘To Read’ pile and passed on a copy of Tim Maughan’s Paintwork during my last trip to NYC. The lesson: I should try and read more print!
Even if you don’t normally read Sci-Fi, you need to read this! It’s very on point thematically, streetwise but not at all ‘cyberpunk’ (as it was inevitably labelled), and like Jeff Noon’s recurring settings in a not too distant future Manchester, finally tuned to the under currents and forces at play in his Bristol. Nothing he predicts or describes seems preposterous or outlandish but feels firmly developed from careful mulling over of contemporary shifts. Conversely by comparison, I must admit I struggled with William Gibson’s latest ‘The Peripheral’. The anorexic, fast jump-cut chapters, the ‘stub’ time travel proposition, the bored dialogue of the detached characters – I didn’t really understand what the hell was going on until about a third of the way in!? Paintwork is far less alienating, accessibly near-future, short and sweet and most importantly leaves you wanting more.
As you can read from the various interviews out there already (see below), there’s particular exploration of not only ‘authenticity’, (which should resonate with any creative individual) but also as Maughan himself says, “male pride, and the role of young men in urban society; how they struggle with having significance and standing out and making their mark on things”. Needless to say, these are keenly relevant and ever present (but rarely spoken about, often skirted around) tensions within music/genre tribes…
Struggling to find out who is dissing his art with stunningly on-point and beautiful two-dimensional paint-overs, one of my favourite exchanges sees the 3D street artist protagonist 3Cube face off with an arch rival at a virtual rave:
“…You stuck up a painfully fucking clichéd toy, and someone came by and saw it for exactly what it was, and reckoned they could do a whole lot better. That sound ‘bout right to you, ‘Cube?”
“Yeah. Clichéd. Played out. You wanna know the truth? Yeah, I am getting back into 2D. 3D is dead. Augmented is over. It’s just fucking background noise. It’s just fucking TV and Twitter and all… this – ” He waves a dismissive shadowy hand at the rave behind them. “It’s all this shit. Disposable, infinitely fucking copyable digital noise. Mass-produced and instantly forgotten. 3D is over.”
The scene ends with this wonderfully precient and utterly believable snapshot, as paired down and hopeless as a death bed haiku.
“The music stops. The sound waves disappear. The crowd vanishes, leaving just a group of ketamine-heads in one corner and a handful of dancers, shuffling in puddles of piss and vomit to a beat only they can hear. Everything is gone, and instantly forgotten.”
Shattering, bleak stuff. Looking forward to his first full length novel.
Imperica interview discussing the short film of Paintwork