It was of course the Blissblogger who first coined the term 'Grim(m)' , in reference to the music Rephlex were pushing under the Grime tag last year. In September '04, Simon wrote:
"Grimm, thats what Im going to call the darkdubstep/Croydon t'ing from now onwards. So you have Grime and its taciturn brother Grimm."
I think he's still referring to anything of a Croydon nature as Grimm and I can see his point. Going even further back to August '03 (before the grim/dubstep variant had even been properly defined, to my knowledge) Simon was the first to invoke the spirit of the South London Borough through words, when writing about the first Terrorhythm release:
"It sounds like Croydon looks. The dismal slabs of dead sound and leaden lurch-beats evoke the psychogeography of shopping schemes, office blocks, and deck-access low-rise housing blocks, grey concrete walkways and underpasses with all the lights smashed in. If Croydon really is the new Detroit (doubt it, although it is one of this planets more desolate and Godforsaken places) then Hard Graft is perhaps its Art of Stalking. Or perhaps a sluggish variant of minimal techno--Robert Hood at 16 rpm. Theres definite Plasticman/Plastikman parallels here--I really would like to know if he's heard of Hawtin and if so why pick a name so close? Is this sound what they call deep eightbar? You can imagine an MC trying to ride this, sinking into a grim trance, giving up. (They all hate the MCs anyway, this lot). If sound could scowl..."
Y'see? There's a reason why Simon will always be 'top-dog 'round these parts. Way ahead, as always, despite being all the way over the Atlantic in NYC. I'd actually forgotten that he wrote that piece, but came across it whilst searching for Grimm-referencing posts at his blog. The Detroit angle seems almost too perfect in light of my own recent return to that sound. Sometimes everything makes sense.
This 'Grim Dubs' series from Werkdiscs is all very intriguing. It's another example of the dubstep virus infiltrating the electronica/IDM establishment. Although presented as an anonymous project, I've managed to figure out that Volume 1 is by a duo called Monkey Steak, who formed in New Cross (South London) back in October 2000. There's some links at their site to a few earlier tracks which reveal that they've been dabbling with everything from Hip-Hop, Ragga, Breakcore and 2-Step before hitting on their current sound, which features the sort of twisted basslines and eastern atmospherics that have been emanating from nearby Croydon and associated outposts for the past year or two, but combined with more complex, glitchy programming - "Ruff Ting King" could almost be Mark One collaborating with Squarepusher! Werkdiscs have come up with a refreshingly irreverent press-release manifesto to explain what it's all about:
Grim. Dublame. Wackstep. Different people call it different things, depending on their age, haircut or shoe size. If you listen to the music we love the chances are you probably call it something different from us. Shite. Awful. Unlistenable. It's been the same through the 80s and 90s. We've called it so many different things that the journalists can't even be arsed to listen to it now, let alone pigeon-hole it. This is a good thing - it's music. Mongoloid, multi-mingmong music made by middle-class myrmidons with misshapen genitalia. Music that's great for hoovering to, perhaps while injecting PCP into your pancreas with a cake-icing pipe. It's instrumental dance music that's clearing the dancefloors across Croydon, Wolverhampton and King's Lynn. It's the perfect forum for anemic doombrains with bad haircuts to create music that few people like, then earnestly brag about their revolutionary genius. That's why we here at Werk Records are calling it Grim, to try and dress up another set of releases as a new musical movement, outside the specialist world of ourselves and our sad little circle of friends. And hopefully help us sell a few more records. Some people will say we're just zeitgeist chasing, trend-hopping, jumping on an imaginary genre and greedily trying to fill our boots with the rest of them. To those people, let us say this: we're going to ride that bandwagon all the way into town, whooping and cheering, with our trousers round our ankles and cans of Special Brew clutched to our breasts. Chances are you're already listening to Grim, trapped there in your tin-pot rave-den in suburbia. And by God, if you're still reading this drivel, you might just be the kind of person creams their pants every time someone invents a new genre. Now is the time to change those pants, and the soundtrack is Grim.
THE GRIM DUBS
Monkey Steak, a collaborative project between producers Atki2 and Hanuman, have their first release due out on WerkDiscs on Monday 4th April 2005. The release is Volume One in a guerilla-style series of anonymous 12"s called The Grim Dubs. The record will feature two choice Steak cuts, 'Crowsteppah' and 'Ruff Ting King'. These tracks are on a grime/breakcore/mashup tip - a mixture of pounding breaks and filthy bass, at a strutting garage tempo.
There's a few grains of truth in there - although not truly Grimm, the Grim Dubs may well appeal to that particular band of rootless middleclass suburbanites (people like me, in other words) who are ready for some fresh ingredients in their cosy little IDM stew. It's too early to say whether or not this is a signal that my premonition will come true, but it's certainly an encouraging sign. Volume 2 is out now and, although I'm not sure yet who's behind this latest installment, it's definitely not Monkey Steak, which suggests this could be the start of a genuine movement rather than the fevered imaginings of a couple of chancers. Although I first came across these EPs at Boomkat, it's interesting to note that underground specialists Blackmarket have been stocking them too, suggesting that this is a sound that the True Grimmheadz are taking seriously - in fact it looks like they've sold out of Volume 1 already!