28 September 2003

Massive respect to k-punk for some serious, thought provoking and just plain fucking accurate analysis of Dr. Who. Back in my school days I was a full-on fan, until it just became a total embarrassment. I don't think k-punk could even bring himself to mention Sylvestor McCoy, which is understandable. I have my doubts about a new series...I guess I'm probably stuck in a Pertwee-Baker time warp. And just to tie-in with my recent bullshit, The Human League b-side "Tom Baker" is a superb homage to the turn-of-the-80s sound of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

26 September 2003

I don't often buy the music monthlies these days, but couldn't resist the October issue of Mojo, which includes a six-page feature on The Human League by David Buckley. It's a pretty accurate romp through the band's turbulent career. A few quotes in relation to what I and others have been babbling on about recently:
The Sheffield dream of Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, and later ABC and Heaven 17, was nothing less than to destroy rock music. Ian Craig Marsh fondly remembers the enthusiasm and iconoclasm of his youth: "Rather than punk being a beginning -which is what everyone thought - it quickly developed into the end of rock. There wasn't going to be anymore progression. It seemed that rock was just going to pick and mix from what had gone before. We really wanted to destroy rock'n'roll as a popular form, and to replace it".

As if to back up my claim that all the pre-'90 visionaries were 'up north':
They tended to be warmly received in Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and unsurprisingly, Sheffield, but indifferently elsewhere.

Martyn Ware on the radikal methodology of "Travelogue":
"Pumping the synths through massive distortion and overloading the desk. How prescient is that? The ethos of what we were doing was to kind of 'future-proof' it all. We were envisaging people playing this music in 10 or 20 years time". Mission accomplished, Martyn....

Concerning my previous comments on "Love & Dancing":
..a project that would arguably be the most influential product of their career. Producer Martin Rushent had journeyed round America in search of the latest dance sounds, and came back with an idea to pare "Dare!" down to it's basic grooves and release a remix album. Released in 1982, "Love & Dancing", by the Barry White-homaging League Unlimited Orchestra, was the first British pop remix album to reach the Top 5.

Major news for League and B.E.F. fans:
"Me and Phil get along fine now" says Martyn Ware. "I was thinking about asking him to do some writing together. Seriously. Because I was so impressed with hearing the early albums again, and I just had this idea that we could do what we used to do: me and Ian write some backing tracks and just give it to Phil. I think it would be exciting, wouldn't it?"

There's also a few comments concerning the new "Northern Electronic" CD that Diego and I have been going on about. Apparently Phil Oakey actually collaborated on "Rock 'n' Roll Is Dead" (did you know that, Diego?).
Sheffield emigre Jim Fry, who played with World Of Twist and co-fronts Earl Brutus, has a theory on how the Sheffield sound began:
"The Kraftwerk gig at Sheffield University in 1976 started it. After that the raincoat brigade all went out and bought Korg MS-20's and started experimenting with hair, make-up and kung-fu slippers - the 'Synth Puffs' as Mark E. Smith called them, even though they were usually quite hard."
Interesting view, although the Cabs were using synths and experimenting with their image as early as 1974. And wasn't it Richard H. Kirk who first introduced Martyn Ware to Kraftwerk's music, when he played "Trans Europe Express" at a party? The genesis of modern muzik began in Chris Watson's attic, official!

25 September 2003

Got a nice e-mail from Diego. He blogs in Spanish, but has a few more comments concerning Sheffield and that curious 'Northern Electronic' CD I was going on about recently:
"Since I did extensive research about the names involved, I can tell you there are more familiar
people involved in the record. Prinz Bambi, who covers Vega's "Goodbye Darling", is in fact the very Steve Claydon from Add N To (X) -who has reportedly split. Dean Honer is the man behind Dog Ruff as well as I Monster. In fact, the same names are involved in most of the tracks, certainly in the Sheffield-tracks -remember All Seeing I?... all its members appear in "Northern Electronic" under one guise or another."

So this isn't truly the new wave of Sheffield youth reclaiming it's late '70s' heritage? Damn, it's all a big skam! Diego continues:
"Now, I think right now the future is Sheffield 1979-1982. Those bands around Sheffield by then created a time-bomb genre that's just as fresh now than it was then. "
Strong words, sir. I can only hope that you're right. If I might also add that I would hope such a revival will also find room in it's heart for those two perennially marginalised figures of Scottish futurism, Thomas Leer & Robert Rental. These guys used the possibilities of cheap electronics not necessarily for futuristic, alienating or even ironic aims , rather as a suitable environment to explore some dark inner feelings. Check Rental's "Paralysis" for some face-meltingly raw self-expression....the Skip Spence of futurism if I may be so bold.

"But then again, most people in Spain who are into British music would take Manchester as THE PLACE..."
I'm not saying anything, merely ensuring that this statement is made available to the general English-speaking world...

22 September 2003

Blissblog:"as far as i know the first stuff that has a real London dance identity is all those DJ records from 87 onwards like s'express, coldcut, bomb the bass, MARRS and also perhaps the renegade soundwave stuff, maybe meat beat too. "

Now, here is where I start giving out props to the London massive. Very exciting time in my life, yes indeedy. The Renegade Soundwave reference in particular is absolutely spot on, for my money. Only recently I've started listening to 'Soundclash' and 'In Dub' once more. I think I first heard their single 'Kray Twins' on Peel (or was it Janice Long?) back in 1987(?) and was immediately transfixed: jaw hit the floor, revelatory experience etc etc. Although I wasn't aware at that point where this music had originated, I instinctively felt that it was of British origin - the first home-grown Hip Hop of note, perhaps. It made me feel like I- a non-musician - could make music too. And here I am, making music still. Thanks guys. But why did Gary Asquith insist on singing in that Amerikanized drawl? Surely an East-end accent would've been more suited to his lyrical themes? Perhaps it was just too inconceivable to use a British accent in hip hop at that time. Now, of course, Audio Bullys can do their best Terry Hall impressions over a garage riddim, no sweat. But they lack that romanticised vision of inner city gangsta life that RSW portrayed so poetically. Musically, 'In Dub' in particular still sounds very credible. Trip Hop? Sampladelica? 'In Dub' virtually wrote the manual for such genres and found room for some pile-driving bass-heavy dancefloor stompers too. I had the pleasure of catching them live here in Bristol around the time of the 'Howyoudoin' album. Unfortunately I was very pissed and think my constant demands for old-skool classics like 'Kray Twins' and 'Cocaine Sex' was starting to grate on Gary's nerves after awhile. I believe he tried to shut me up by asking the rest of the audience to give a round of applause to the "overenthusiastic punter down the front".

Coming back to Peel, did anyone else out there spend their nights-in during the late-80's with finger on the tape recorder's pause button, patiently waiting for Peely to play some new Hip Hop or House tunes? You'd have to listen to five or six tedious indie-guitar efforts and maybe some world music obscurity, then bingo! Some beats at last! I made quite a few cool tape comps in this way, shame most of them seem to have disappeared over the years. I never bothered noting the track info, so usually had no idea who or what I was listening to, but who cares? I was young and had no concern for future historical documentation. Certain tracks still stick in my mind as particularly note-worthy, including one by a Hip hop crew called (judging by the lyrics) the Dominating Three MCs, called (possibly) "Kickin' It Loud". It's one of the best examples I ever heard of that particular strain of minimalist hip hop that had absolutely no tune or conventional instrumentation whatsoever. Over a skeletal drum machine pattern you just hear these eerie slabs of found-sound and of course some devilishly violent scratching. It's what musique concrete was invented for. And then there was a brutal slice of 808-driven House called "Bang The Box" which by today's standards would probably be viewed as moronic, but christ it sounded like REVOLUTION at the time. And what about that Marley Marl track that was maliciously "dedicated to the white DJs"? Fucking hell it rocked! I really need to start doing some serious research into the world of late '80s Hip Hop 'n' House obscurities....

21 September 2003

Just spotted a review of "Sheath" over at DJ Martian, which sort of backs-up my own opinions of this wonderful album. I'm being spoilt this year. All my 'hardy perennial' faves are putting out product: LFO, Kraftwerk, Aphex, Cabs/R H Kirk and a new Martin Rev album imminent that is, by all accounts, a mind-scrambler.
Thanks to Mr Greivousangel for bigging-up the Gutterbreakz vibe. I did mention Mark Brydon/Moloko in my Sheffield list, though obviously not in the way you would've liked. Sorry 'bout that, but I think you probably noticed that list wasn't compiled with an entirely straight face. Anyone with an interest in all things Sheffield would do well to procure a copy of the video documentary "Made In Sheffield - The Origin of the Sheffield Sound" which features interviews with, among others, Chris Watson (ex-Cabs), Martyn Ware & Ian Craig Marsh, Phil Oakey and a bunch of other ruddy-faced Yorkshiremen who even I haven't heard of.

"It's a reminder of when pop really mattered"
FYI: Gutterbreakz are available for DJing duties at weddings, funerals, baptisms, exorcisms, house parties etc etc. We accept no cash payment. Bar-tabs and free gifts gratefully accepted. The last time was at my mate Dave's wedding, where we were most happy to accept Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" box set in recompense. Our associate, Mr Rice, will occasionally provide a half-hour sublime Roots Reggae set during the interval.
I was wondering when a blogger would make reference to Boards of Canada and tonight I see two mentions. I'm actually a late-comer to BOC. I finally got curious when Warp re-issued 'Twoism' last year and I've been gradually buying-up the slim back catalogue since (in chronological order, natch). I haven't got the latest album yet...I'm holding back, like when you try to prolong an orgasm. BOC's music just swamps me in a deep, devastating reverie of conflicting moods, half-remembered dreams, joy, sadness, envy, love, alternate realities...ahhh why bother trying to describe it. Others have done that far more successfully. It works on a level that my primitive discourse is unable to accurately pinpoint or describe. The first time I heard them, it was like coming home. Like knowing that you'd found that elusive thing you didn't even know you were looking for. BOC just fucking slay me, man....

19 September 2003


My copy of LFO's new album "Sheath" arrived through my letterbox this morning, a whole three days before the official release date, proving that it sometimes pays to pre-order! This is the limited edition CD version in a clear case with clear 'sheath' slip-case and a few stencils (t-shirt and spray paint not included!). Unfortunately I'm suffering with a headcold so had to take a couple of pain killers before cranking it up. Good job I did, 'cause this would have definitely given me the mother of all headaches otherwise. Tracks like 'Mum-man' generate the sort of abrasive rhythmic intensity not heard since Aphex Twin's "73 Yips". Actually I'd say that in general this album evokes the spirit of cutting-edge Techno circa '92-'93; that time when things were getting a bit more texturally interesting but before it got too regimented and/or coffee-table muzak. The opening track "Blown" is drenched in reverb and ghostly, indistinct synth-wash, conjuring a sense of dark, alien environments that Aphex was so good at producing back in those days. Indeed, rather than an update of "Frequencies", it seems to my ears that Mark is exploring the possibilities suggested by Aphex's early '90s material, before he discovered drill'n'bass and all that. The lineage from "Surfing On Sine Waves", "Analogue Bubblebath 3" etc is what I'm getting at. Given the fleeting, catch-it-before-it's-gone nature of technology-driven music, I think it's totally valid for Mark to revisit this period. There's plenty of others out there going back to old skool rave and hardcore for inspiration because, clearly, there is more to say. Likewise, Mark's fascination with pure electronic sounds, bass distortion, ethereal, reverb-swamped sustained melodies and farty analogue synth emissions proves that minimal techno-puritanism need not be abandoned as some passing fad. "Sleepy Chicken", with it's clammy, hissing percussion, almost jazzy bassline, sweeping vistas of synthetic strings and queer martian burbling noises sounds like Martin Denny's exotic moods retooled to soundtrack some unimaginable interstellar scenario. But at the same time, there's a direct, unfussy temperament behind all this. Most tracks stay under the 5 minute mark, and the whole album is a concise 45 minutes. It's one of those albums I'd happily play to anyone and not give a damn what they think of it, 'cause I know it's unquestionably great. I believe in 'Sheath'. Bow down and worship, muthafukkaz....
More London-bashing:"We're asked to only consider the time-span 1990 till the present. I'm firmly of the opinion that the 50s/60s/70s/80s are still firmly on the horizon."

Excellent point sir, and well made. You look back prior to 1990 and London looks increasingly like a bloated sack of shit, doesn't it?
I don't know much UK music of note in the '50's, but in the '60's it was all coming from Up North, surely? The only London-based activity of interest came from Joe Meek (who was from Gloucestershire originally) and the UFO club Psych scene, spearheaded by the Floyd (from Cambridge) and Soft Machine (from Canterbury). Being under the age of 50, I've never been able to take the Stones seriously. The Who and The Kinks yes I'll concede.
The '70s? erm...well there was the initial rush of punk, but all the real innovation was going on Up North. Or in Dusseldorf. Or Kingston. Oh, okay there was Danny Miller kickstarting Mute Records granted. And Rough Trade had their hearts in the right place, I'm sure.
The '80s? Well. I personally was listening to the Cabs, New Order and The Fall. No Londoners there. Although I will concede to liking B.A.D. for a while.
And playing at the Camden Falcon was one of the biggest let-downs of my life. What a dump.
Okay, here's a dozen reasons why Sheffield is the Uk's musical capitol....

1) CABARET VOLTAIRE - in independent electronica terms, they invented the wheel. Brought Warholesque multi-media events to the punk masses. A little later, they introduced 'blackness' into the UK's somewhat anemic electrofuturist grooves. At some point in the early '80s, blew this writer's teenage mind to hell.

2) THE HUMAN LEAGUE - invented the purely electronic pop group. Reinvented the dub album for mass appeal ('Love & Dancing'). Provided the music for the scoreboards on Ski Sunday.

3) HEAVEN 17/B.E.F. - invented The Human League. Reinvented Tina Turner and pioneered hi-tech Soul music. Made a record my mum liked ('This Is Mine') and a record my wife likes ('Come Live With Me'), which is no mean feat.

4) ABC - invented Trevor Horn (the Buggles don't count) and hi-gloss, efficient dance-pop.

5) CHAKK - Financed Fon Studios, for which we must be eternally grateful. Their first release was on Doublevision, thus proving that they were invented by the Cabs in an attempt to create a boyband hit-machine by proxy.

6) LIVING IN A BOX - demonstrated what Chakk should've been if they'd wanted to have some hits. They knew what was going on (in their own mind). Provided a cautionary tale for future generations.

7) ROBERT GORDON/MARK BRYDON/FON STUDIOS - pioneered Northern bleep 'n' bass. Helped the Cabs sound half-decent during their commercial period. Turned 'Testone' into 'Testfour'. Set the tone for Warp Records. The comeback is loong overdue. To hell with Moloko.

8) WARP RECORDS - invented 'intelligent', album-orientated techno (good or bad thing, depending on your point of view). Discovered LFO. Provided a springboard for all future northern innovators.

9) SHEFFIELD STEEL FOUNDRIES - provided the basic rhythm patterns of modern music

10) DEF LEPPARD - invented the one-armed drummer.

11) CLOCK DVA - struggling now, but I'm confident they must've invented something.

12) PULP - actually, I'm not a big fan, but Pulp were clearly miles better than anything else recorded in the name of Britpop. And Jarvis does a neat Rolf Harris impersonation.

Beat that, London!

17 September 2003

Good to see that I'm not alone in being firmly "anti-London". Still, I'm waiting for someone else to back-up my "Sheffield = Music Mecca" claim. Of course, I would love to make the case that my home town Bristol was the prime mover in all things cultural, but that simply isn't the case. The main problem is that Bristolian artists are far too cool to even admit that there is a scene here. Everytime we come close to taking over the planet (like around '94-'95 with the Portishead/Tricky double-whammy) it all grinds to a halt, as the artists concerned suddenly find that their hipper-than-thou, cult-phenomenon status is in danger of being flattened by the oncoming headlights of worldwide success and fame. In Portishead's case, the sudden huge interest in 'Dummy' could have sent them into the upper stratosphere. But instead they backed away in confusion and embarrassment. Beat-meister Geoff Barrow then retreated to the studio and forced his colleagues to endure a grueling 3 years away from the limelight, as his perfectionism and paranoia raged into almost Brian-Wilson-circa-'Smile' proportions. By the time the follow-up 'Portishead' arrived, the world had stopped listening. Which is a shame, as it was a much better album imho. As for Tricky, christ, words fail me. The man betrayed his talent as thoroughly as Alex Chilton. Sabotaged his own career as ruthlessly as Richard D. James.
Other near-misses would include Smith & Mighty. Riding high on the chart success of their Fresh Four productions, it seemed the world was their oyster in the late-80s. The 'Bristol-sound' was all set to go supernova, so what do they do? Get themselves embroiled in a bad contract that virtually silences them for most of the '90s.
Ronni Size and the Full Cycle crew nearly made Bristol the centre of d'n'b innovation. Not quite sure what happened there. I think we all just got a bit...bored with him and his music. And winning a Mercury prize ain't gonna win you any new friends 'round these parts. That's tantamount to selling out.
The Blue Aeroplanes threatened to spearhead a Bristolian take-over of the indie scene. Yet despite music press adulation, spectacularly failed to consolidate.
The Moonflowers/Pop God label nearly hit the big time with their peculiar brand of psychpop, but then decided to elope to the south of France and were never heard of again.
Who remembers The Seers? They were supposed to be the new Stooges back in about 1988. I didn't like 'em 'cause their roadie used to live in the flat above mine and he was a right fucking prick.
The Pop Group could've been one of the great leaders of the early '80s Brit-funk movement. But internal stuggles put paid to all that. The group disintegrated, leaving us with one-hit-wonders Pigbag and Mark 'zero commercial appeal' Stewart's brilliantly erratic career.
I could go back as far as the Corgi's with this line of thought....
Only Massive Attack have managed to retain something like a consistent career, but are now so established that they no longer represent a 'Bristol-scene'. They've moved on. Outgrown it. They're a separate entity that represents only itself....
Nellie Hooper has carved out a nice career in the producer's chair for Soul 2 Soul, Bjork etc. Perhaps, of all of them, he's the one who has spread that 'Bristol-vibe' most widely, albeit in a very subliminal way.
One final thought: Did anyone actually take Gary Clail seriously?

Incidently:about ten years ago, when Gutterbreakz were known as Neurospasm (trip-hop & jungle pioneers - not that anyone outside our immediate circle of friends would know), my mate Gary handed me a fag packet with a 'phone number on it, saying that his old school friend was looking for people to work with. Of course, I never 'phoned that number. Who's number? Ronni Size's, that's who.

14 September 2003

Ahhh...Electronic Music From The North Of England. I've always had a keen interest in such matters. Sheffield, in particular, is England's premier music city as far as I'm concerned. From the first wave of independently produced electro-noise (Cabs, League) through to the bleep 'n' bass of Warp records, it's been Just Fascinating to see what the Steel City can come up with. Not far behind (just over the Pennines actually) comes Manchester, which brought us New Order and later 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald etc. So of course I was curious to hear "NORTHERN ELECTRONIC", a compilation of material by the new wave of Sheffield & Manchester outfits using "some broken down synthesizers salvaged from the dustbins of The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and New Order".
The opening track by Kings Have Long Arms is called "Rock And Roll Is Dead", though, judging by what I'm hearing on this CD, rock 'n' roll is very much alive, albeit in some new synthesized mutant form. It's what modern rock (and pop) music would sound like if Suicide had taken over the world! Indeed, I'd say that the main precedent for most of this material stems from Vega and Rev's unique vision of electro-boogie (as if to confirm this, Prinz Bambi weighs in with a fairly faithful rendition of Vega's "Goodbye Darling") along with the song-based experiments of the Oakey/Marsh/Ware line-up of the Human league. I think I detect several wanna-be Phil Oakey's here, or maybe that's just the accents. 'Song-based' is the key - there isn't one single instrumental, which surprised me. But whilst the League insisted on pursuing those queer, arty lyrical themes, the new generation like things much more direct. They're not afraid to sing about love and sex, or to gently take the piss.
There's some extremely odd things going on here, like Hiem's 'Chelsea' which sounds like Jarvis Cocker impersonating Arab Strap's Aiden Moffat (with a vague Jilted John vibe) over a minimal, no nonsense electro-pulse backing track that recalls the economy of expression best exemplified by The Normal's 'Warm Leatherette'.
The only name I'm familiar with is Fat Truckers, although close inspection of the credits reveals that Add N To (X) cohort Dean Honer is behind I Monster. The Truckers' "Superbike" kicks off with a keyboard riff straight outta the Martin Rev songbook, whilst "Down In Motion" appears to have been sung in a thick West Country accent (my territory!) suggesting a synth version of The Wurzels or even a particularly obtuse Andy 'XTC' Partridge composition.
If this review sound a bit confused, that's because it is! I still can't make up my mind if this stuff is the biz or just plain daft. I guess over the last couple of decades I've got used to electronica being a bit more hi-brow, or at leastfunky but this ain't club music or chin-stroker music. It's certainly head-scratcher music. Perhaps I should live with it for a few weeks....

11 September 2003


I first heard of them when the video for 'Bassline' was screened on Whistletest (introduced, if memory serves, by the redoubtable Mark Ellen). I liked what I heard....
But what really sold me on the idea was Simon Reynold's review of the 'Music Madness' album in Melody Maker. Amazingly, I still have the cutting (dated 6/12/86), in which Simon fueled my early-80s synthpop obsession by stating that:

"Their greatest influence, though, is European electropop - the scrubbed, spruce, pristine textures and metronomic precision of Kraftwerk and Martin Rushent's Human League. While the brainy British bands of the day dedicate themselves to noisy guitars, it's up to Mantronix (and House Music) (very fucking prescient Simon - Ed) to uphold the spirit of 1981, to cherish the bass sound and electronic percussion of "Sound Of The Crowd" as a lost future of pop".

So there I am, stranded in the mid-80s, listening to 'Dare', John Foxx's 'Metamatic', The Normal's "Warm Leatherette" etc etc, cursing the current pop climate and Simon says something like that - I'm very fucking excited. I had to order the album specially from my local dead-beat record store, but Christ it was worth the wait. I loved that record, yet strangely, any attempt to play it on the Sixth-form common room stereo was met with threats of physical violence from my fellow students. You see, in the little town where I grew up, there were three basic types of teenagers: the U2 and Dire Straits loving casuals, the leftie-pop Weller & Costello heads, and of course the Goths. Believe it or not, people used to stare at me 'cause I was wearing a baseball cap! A few years later, after I'd headed off to the city, the kids started getting into weed and the whole scene changed to hip-hop 'n' ragga. Nice one. I feel vindicated.

But I digress....

Music Madness remains an all-time fave 80's album for me, and led me off into whole new musical directions. The next album 'In Full Effect' was great too, although it lacked much of the clinical Euro influence. Interestingly, Kurtis didn't lose the plot until the departure of MC Tee, who Simon described as having "a refreshingly adolescent voice, almost sweet - words are slurred, there's the tiniest suggestion of a lisp", in comparison to the "megalomaniac viciousness" of the then current crop of Hip-Hop artists. I think Tee's vocal style was absolutely essential to the overall nature of the Mantronix sound. What the hell ever happened to him? Did he split of his own accord, or did Mantronik kick him out to make room for the divas? The fact remains: Mantronik with M.C. Tee is the biznizz. Mantronik without Tee is a bit more hit 'n' miss. Although Tee wasn't actually involved in the music's construction, could it be that Mantronik relied on Tee's ears as a kind of 'taste-filter'? Okay, enough heretical theories...

One final point: I kinda lost interest in Hip-Hop for a while around about '88, '89. The reason? That faggot House music currupted my ass. Thank the Lord!

Yo, Mantronik! Where'd you learn to rock the beatbox like that? Your daddy treat you bad?
NME:everyone's least loved music mag? [that's if your over 20]:
Damn straight. I don't remember NME putting Mantronix, A R Kane, Front 242 and The Young Gods on the cover. Do you? Back in the day, the Maker was the inkey of choice for all discerning groovers. Official!
there was one good issue. So good in fact that I kept it for posterity. Dated 18th January 1992. Cover blurb: DON'T FEAR THE BLEEPER - All you need to know about Techno.
Cover image: Jez Varley and Mark Bell of LFO trashing guitars with evil grins on their smug li'l faces.
Also, inside, I think the first mention of Aphex Twin I ever saw, claiming that "his totally out of control 'Didgeridoo' (sic)...will single-handedly change the face of Techno as we know it". Shermen had his moments....

09 September 2003

Picked up a couple more of those saucy lookin' Soul Jazz compilations last week. First up, "That's My Beat - Kurtis Mantronik Selects Classic Old Skool Hip-Hop, Electro & Disco Cuts". Now, this includes a cut by Japanese synth-poppers Yellow Magic Orchestra called 'Computer Games'. Despite my long term effection for the synthpop genre, and despite them getting name-checked by LFO on 'What Is House', I never got around to checking out anything by YMO, so this is the first thing of theirs I've ever heard. Shame on me. It's a nice li'l number, but what struck me was the opening series of bleep tones, which immediately got my sample-spotting ears to attention. After digging around in my collection I finally worked out where I'd heard them sampled: 'Hooligan 69 (original version)' by The Ragga Twins. Y'now, that is such a cool track - I love those old Shut Up And Dance rave tunes. They're so brutal, so unsophisticated. Just lay down a bunch of sounds from old records (in Hooligan's case YMO and the intro to Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy') chuck a breakbeat under 'em, add scuzzy woofer-shattering sub bass, and then do some freestyle rapping/toasting over the top. Very little studio trickery or any attempt to disguise or mangle the samples. It's zero-pretension-ruffneck-biznizz, and we at Gutterbreakz heartily endorse (and occasionally practice) this working method. Shame it had to end. I hope Marc Cohn is rotting in hell, the fucking spoilsport.

My other purchase was "New York Noise - Dance Music From The New York Underground 1978-1982". It rocks. Big time. My knowledge of No Wave was previously limited to a bit of ESG (although surely Suicide, Blondie and Talking Heads must've all qualified at some point?), so I'm thoroughly enjoying having my ass educated by this tasty selection. Stand out track so far is the hip-hop one by Rammelzee Vs K.Rob. It's like an artrock version of Sugarhill Gang. The Contortions sound like Pere Ubu jamming with Minutemen, which is a GOOD THING. And Glenn Branca's 'Lesson No.1' appears to be on a Steve Reich tip. Not sure if this stuff is better than my Brit-funk faves ACR and 23 Skidoo, but still sounds invigoratingly fresh. It makes me wonder...I mean, I quite like the Strokes, but they're basically a traditional rock 'n' roll group. I don't hear the sort of invention in their music that I hear in this No Wave stuff that's like over 20 years old. Why aren't more forward-thinking NY discopunk outfits like DFA or Liars as massive as the Strokes?

All hooligans just BROCK OUT!

07 September 2003

And Jacobs Optical Stairway is the "great lost artcore album" as far as I'm concerned
Yet again a throwaway line by Mr Reynolds sends me hurtling back through time to revisit a true classic. I don't have much to say about intelligent drum and bass these days, but that's a fucking decent album, no mistake. Simon also tells me that "the track that slays me on Jacob's is 'harsh realities' -- very precocious use of the vocoder there". Funnily enough that's my fave track on the album too, I shit you not. I like the upfront use of the TR-808 drum machine in conjunction with the breakbeats. They collaborate with Juan Atkins on "The Fusion Formula"which starts out like Detroit electro with Juan's destinctive burbling sequencer groove before hurtling down a wormhole into d'n'b deep space. Yum!
But who remembers Dego and Mark Mac's other mid-90s classic long-player "It's Not What You Think It Is!!?!", released under their Tek 9 moniker? Here they slow the breaks right down for a tastfully chilled take on jazz-funk. And you get a bonus disc of earlier 'ardcore classics from 91-95. What more do you want? I sold off my Spring Heel Jack and Goldie albums eons ago, but I'm keepin' these ones!

On the subject of rediscoveries, Beaumont Hannant's "Texturology" has weathered the winds of time extremely well too. Clearly, Beau had SOUL, as evidenced by the impossibly beautiful, emotionally charged melodies and sensitively structured arrangements. Tracks like 'A Summer Spent' and 'Latur' are as life-affirming as ever. I am definately gonna score copies of the 'Tastes & Textures' EPs, if I can find 'em. But what ever happened to Beau? He's one of those guys, like B12 for instance, who just seems to disappear and no one even seems to notice.