So my Apple records arrived from Uptown this morning. I bought “Mr Bean,” which is credited to Mr Bean rather than Apple, and the Siegaliser EP. “Mr Bean” is great, but for me its the other slab of vinyl that’s really turning my head. The beats are fuller, less lurching somehow but still as wildly inventive and obsessively detailed. All the tracks across the two EPs are built around similar grimey violin riffs, but the subtle changes keep things interesting. He’s absoutely the most distinctive producer in the scene, and perhaps any scene. I can’t help but feel that people are going to enviously ask “You’ve got “Siegaliser,” on vinyl?!” in five years, while I smugly nod and answer “yeah, I was there.”
Funky House. The words make you recoil don’t they? They long reminded me of the empty music played in the upmarket George Street watering holes that I so revile. However, London has a long history of pulling amazing music from the unlikeliest of situations, and the Capital’s latest target is Funky House, or just plain old Funky, as it is being called.
The stir first seemed to start a few years a go, when suddenly every grime MC was shouting about The Cure and the Cause, a vocal house track by Irish producers Fish Go Deep. It was billed as one of the tracks of the summer, and I really liked it; I thought it slinky and subtle pop at its best. However, investigations into the scene didn’t turn up too many other tracks I was into, until last year when I got into Apple. His poly-rhythmic, half house and half grime tracks set me hunting again, but the things I heard on Marcus Nasty’s shows at the end of last year still failed to excite.
So, prophecies of a new ‘nuum mutation seemed like they were destined to come to nothing, only some other people were apparently much more far sighted than me. I now can’t stop listening to this stuff. A new wave of producers has moved in, turning out grimey house reductions with skittering Caribbean beats at around 130bpm. The music at the moment seems like it has started moving in loads of different directions, with each producer carving out a little niche for themself. Here’s a little run down of things I’ve been enjoying recently.
This is a good starting point, he’s definitely on the grimier side of the divide but the set is pretty varied. The MCs on this are good – they know how to ride the house without cluttering it up, and have a rather infectious enthusiasm. “We don’t talk about a knife, we don’t talk about a gun, we’re just here to have fun.”
An excellent selection of the more interesting side of Funky from a DJ I’d not heard of before.
Individual producers –
One of the most interesting, his beats are amazing. He’s got another page at this location with slightly weirder stuff on it.
His “Tell me” is a big girly vocal anthem but I love its paranoid vibes.
He used to dj grime, made tunes as Wizzbit and has been involved with Rinse FM from day 1. Now he’s making house, sometimes alongside ZInc, the d n b producer who also invented breaky garage with “138 trek.” Stuff like “Yellow Tail” sounds like a more robust Innervisions.
“In the air” is another pretty good vocal tune, while “Hypnotic” is a wonky minimal influenced thing.
“Tribal Zone” is a rolling, weirded out house tune.
I assume that must be the name of the singer on that 12″, I don’t know who the producer is, but I like the schizo nature of the song. A diva doing it differently.
The scene is fairly embryonic at the moment, and admittedly there is a lot of dross out there still, but if you wade through it you can find a few real gems, and it seems like the bigger tunes are the ones hinting at interesting developments. For further reading, I’d suggest checking out Blackdown’s blog, especially this piece, and Tim Finney’s piece on Funky over at Idolator.
So, blogging calls again! After a hiatus due to being insanely busy, and honestly not having much interest in this blog, I’ve decided to start again. There are a few reasons to start again I suppose. One is that I’m simply rather dispirited by the state of blogging at the moment. You either seem to read endlessly limp think pieces, or stare at endless lists of 12″s for download. I’m not going to restrict myself here to one format of posting, but what I will do is try to keep everything as concise as possible.
The final push came this morning, when I discovered that Paul had tagged me for some sort of blogging chain letter thing – I felt honoured, as Paul really does stand up there with some of the best bloggers from the old days, and is responsible for providing me with a great amount of education about the areas between dubstep and techno.
So here’s that aforementioned chain letter –
‘List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to’.
1. Martyn – Vancouver
This sounds like a dubstep version of something you’d find on Oslo Records, what with its deeply druggy vocal snippets, keys and shimmering percussion. Hear it on his myspace. Natural Selection is also excellent, and in a similar vein.
2. Bessie Jones – Sheep, Sheep, Don’t You Know the Road
I love the whole collection that this song is on: it’s a collection of Gospel songs from the South Georgia Sea Islands, about which I can find very little on the internet. Barely contained Caribbean rhythms brush up against classic Gosepl harmonies in a joyous exhortation of God.
3. Adam Marshall – Kokane
This was released around the end of last year, but I still love its Berghain heaviness, albeit done in a totally originally way. The descending bass chords are post-industrial punishment, but the Chicago indebted rhythm keeps things funky. I like the epic descending synths a bit less than the first half perhaps, but overall a very good track indeed. Hear it on the New Kanada myspace. It’s listed under Night Sailing, the name of the EP.
4. Arvo Part – Spiegel Im Spiegel
This moved me to tears the other night. Part has always been one of my favourite composers but this is just sublime – the simple repeating piano and the pianissimo violin rubbing against each other. You keep waiting for the bass chord on the piano, and Part keeps dropping it in completely unexpected places. Does me in every time.
5. Untold – Yukon
Untold is one of the weirdest dubstep producers out there. Texturally, dubstep could perhaps be accused of playing it a little bit safe in 2008, but not Untold. Boiling sounds are laced with old school snippets and attached to a ridiculous 2 step beat on Yukon. Hear it at his myspace.
6. Johnny D – If You Could Read My Mind
This is post-minimal in action. Released on this Deep Vibes EP, the whole thing is a joyous mass of insanely intricate percussion, mewing synths and obscured vocals. This man really has staked a big claim on producer of 2008 already, just because everything he does is so damn original. This is house,but you won’t hear much of anything here that could of been done in ’88. Minimal in mindset only, this posseses enough melody and thump to keep almost any dance-floor happy.
6. The Dirty Projectors Live Show
So not a song exactly, but this live show has made a huge impression on me. It is startling to see such virtuosity so up close and personal. This isn’t just needless noodling however, there’s a twisted sense of melody and a huge amount of originality there to back it up. Highly, highly recommended.
7. Tobias Freund’s RA Podcast
Again, not a song, but I was listening to this podcast the other day and enjoying it immensely. It also made me pine for a time when things were a little less delineated within electronic music, but I won’t get bogged down in endless envy for the past as so many others seem to be doing at the minute.
So there we have it! This is who I’ll tag for the next round:
Expect more content soon.