In the dead heart of the season, time didn't stand still, even though we wish it did, Chronos-on-a-beach style.
We'll weave through the grey.
The 12 Days Of Dankness
Running up to The Big Holiday, Seattle's Lisa Dank put out a dozen new tracks, one per day, and it was only irrationally covered here in a minimal fashion in her home-town. The best of which, though, was "Soul Mating." Dance music for busted-tins. Curls of pop urges.
Seven Seconds Of Fire
Meanwhile, also last month, The Economist valiantly traced the origin, threads, and highlights — including Mantronix's "King Of The Beats," Shy FX's "Original Nuttah," and more — of the juggernaut seven-second 'Amen' break, an under-championed flash in the culture and one of the most irrefutably influential micro-bits of music of the last thirty years.
The jumpiness of these parts of the break becomes urgent. [Simon] Reynolds talks about the 'panic rush' of the break at this tempo, the 'state of emergency' it created among clubbers. [Tom] Skinner draws attention to the way deft producers would emulate drummers' tricks in their manipulation of the break, creating 'ghost notes' — rhythmic shuffles of sound that help the beat swing. Others introduced hyperactive snare rushes or stop-start mini-loops, and deployed the cymbal crash to signify not the beat's conclusion but rather its ongoing pressure.
Guess That Cunt Gettin' Eaten
If the last decade was the sound of M.I.A. eddying out into the sub/super-population, from Madonna, Beyoncé, Santigold, Nicola Roberts, and Christina Agueliera to Skream, Sleigh Bells, Rihanna, Fergie, and Nicki Minaj, the influence still manages to ebb out, this time with America's Azealia Banks.
An earlier collaborator with Major Lazer and the latest unsigned discovery to be hat-tipped by professional scene-chatters, Banks lets herself get caught in the extended momentum with "212" — self-released back in September — thanks to an unlawful buffalo stance of Lil' Kim, "Caught Out There"-era Kelis, Dizzee Rascal's mega-watt grime, and the above endearing amateurism of Lisa Dank, but still over-poweringly pepper-sprayed with the grinning, old-school NYC block-party circus that is Rye Rye.
Which is a platter of references to say "212" is quite a stimulant, absolutely no question, but we fear the unavoidable James Blake-styled (mostly trans-Atlantic) pre-hype, and recent signs of her lapping it up, might prematurely wipe her off the map.
Or as Mike Skinner says, "I feel like Azealia has left me. She was mine."
After Skinner killed off the Streets at a farewell show last October, complete with the entire audience joining him on-stage for a toast, he quickly formed a new project, the D.O.T. with Computer & Blues and ex-the Music vocalist Rob Harvey. Result? Saccharine, so far. At times screeching. And discouragingly underwhelming.
Wiseguy, If You're Nasty
Big Beat veteran DJ Touché , now known as Fake Blood, salvaged some of his personal experimental mixes made up entirely from underground horror films, too.
Instead of doing a mix made up of actual records, I decided to do a 5 minute track, but made up SOLELY of samples taken from the so-called 'Video Nasties' (ie: horror films from the '70s and early '80s, mostly Italian and American, that were banned in the U.K. up til the BBFC reviewed the decisions after James Ferman retired), and a couple of other related movies. Every sound in this mix is from these films — even the drums.
Down With The Trumpets
U.K. hiphop has rarely been more prominent thanks largely to grime's mainstream-modifying staying power, and 2011's most convincing case was Brighton's Rizzle Kicks, a loved-up digital daisy space-age rap partnership that found a fan in Stephen Fry and took the Caribbean-pop baton from the '70s ska-revival, the city's Fatboy Slim, and the most spectacular flash-points of Lily Allen and ran off with it, even while they more or less tended to stay in a lane marked Stereo MCs.
Twenty Records To Celebrate Instead Of Nevermind
Leaving Earth writes:
It's not just a matter of Nevermind being unbelievably overrated as a rock record, or that its 'revolutionary' effect of restoring rock to its gritty authentic essence was such a forced media construct, dreamed up by a poisonous cocktail of record industry and ageing rock journalists who wanted something like Nirvana to happen; the ultimate amalgam of the most lame rock authenticity clichés — garage/punk 'rock out'-energy and scruffy/maladjusted indie songwriting.
Why music that successfully, yet uninventively and predictably, pander to the unchanging taste of this teen demographic, is somehow the sociological signifier — the zeitgeist — of an era, is beyond me, and partly why it's so annoying that old school rock critics manage to sell this ridiculous myth — that they themselves totally believe — to the world.
The thing is: there indeed was, to put it very mildly, some other stuff around at the time. Nevermind came out during the first year of one of the greatest upheavals in music history, and compared to that it was utterly insignificant, musically conservative, uninventive, and regressive.
It's not that I think rave culture (or for that matter hip-hop or metal) was more or less sociologically important than grunge, I don't really care and have nothing invested in whether it was so or not, it's that it came up with such unbelievable riches, such endless innovation and astonishingly new and fresh music, that if you're looking back at 1991 and see Nevermind, you're not just missing out, you're simply missing one of the greatest musical revolutions ever, and that in favour of a triviality that just repeats the past.
And you're definitely missing the zeitgeist.