Amen to Zombie: January 15th, 2010

In a world where experimental electronic music exponentially splinters into a multitude of rogue genres that slowly shuffle the globe from demilitarized dance floors to sleeper cell bedroom studios and back, a team of disparate scientists tracks this solanum-like pandemic while desperately trying to interpret cryptic field recordings of Samhain’s past, not one day at a time, but from Amen to Zombie
Future sound for future time.  I can’t tell you how excited I am for it to be 2010.  I’m sure it happens at the beginning of every new century, but this new year,  what with it’s abundance of ones and zeros somehow feels more futuristic that 1010.  The underground press has been all aglow with praise and admiration of underground bass music in 2009, calling it a watershed year.  Let’s hope 2010 is alight with interesting sounds that we’ll choose to call music.
A couple of things before we get to the goods: It occurred to me the other day — what with underground electronic music exploding with the cross-pollination of genres, tempos, and sounds — it seems to me that it’s also about to be crushed by the weight of it’s own desire to coin new terms for these newly built beats.  Last year saw the rise of UK Funky and Purple as sub genres of dubstep, which itself is a subgenre of UK Garage, which itself… you see where I’m going.
For those prone to shorthand, think of UK Funky as stripping down and updated-ing House music.  Purple is like if the Dazz Band were from Detriot, not Cleveland, and sang exclusively through vocoders.  The interesting thing about Purple is that it does have this very rough early 80’s synth funk feel to it, but the epicenter of all things Purple is Bristol in the UK.  Which is what I mean when I saw that the weight will crush us.  When you say some thing is Purple, you really mean that it’s a super specific splinter of dubstep that’s usually built in Bristol.  Something close to an artist or band defining their sound so well that they’re synonymous with it.  But in this case, it doesn’t quite work, because people like Joker and Gemmy are working with the broken pieces of whole genres, and not the sound of their instruments.
There’s a funny scene in an old documentary called Talking Headz which interviewed various producers and Blue Note scenesters about the impending take over of dnb and Metalheadz.  The scene is with Ed Rush, from Ed and Op fame and Ben, his real name, is talking about various producers and their distinctive sound/way of production.  He says something like, “I could listen to a beat and say, that’s Carl!”  referring to Dillinja, and I think he was trying to get at something like, this music which you think is noise or, if you’re a little better educated, sounds like just a mash-up of earlier genres has it’s distinctions and it’s luminaries that not only define their sound, but carve out the rules for the genre as well.  It was also precious to see Ben say “Carl”  and not to refer to him as “Dillinja”  or say that the “Dillinja sound” is what is immediately recognizable .  That’s the one thing I’ve always liked about dnb: it is a sub-genre, and it does have its rules and conventions, but there is still more room for experimentation than in other genres.  Those other genres would likely split off into other areas and boxes as a record shop, but anything remotely dnb always goes in that bin at the shop.  Not sure if that’s just cause shop owners are lazy when it comes to dnb, or that the other genres have better PR.  So now on to the

Notable Releases

Blocks & EscherHeartshaped / All In Good Time
A common trend that is a sort of oxymoron in dnb is the b-side.  A traditional b-side being the not quite sure tune for a band or a spot to put something that didn’t pass muster for the album.  Both sides could be b-sides depending on who you ask, or they could be both a-sides due to the similarity of the tunes.  Nevertheless, a new twist on the trend is to stick something dubsteppy on the b-side of some well known dnb labels.  Here we have Blocks & Escher on Horizons Music.  I have a love/hate relationship with Horizons Music.  They have their own website, plus.  The Yearning and Nectarines + Penicillin classic tracks.   They usually think they have to spoon feed a normal dnb track to you so that you’ll go for the spaced out a/b side.  Not the case here.  Both sides well spaced out and riding that line between dnb and dubstep.
Blu SonixLuv Me (Logistics rmx) / Moving the Transit
Maybe I’m just getting old or my ears are getting worse, no big bass, no tricky snare work, just simple syncopation, and summer time vibes with nondescript female utterances.  If you need a little piece of summer in your ears.
BogeymanPick It Lick It Roll It Flick It / Guess Wot, Snot
I hate Grid recordings, and Twisted Individual.  Same tired jump-up bullshit for years.  Seriously tired sounds, like your dufus little brother who likes to watch Family Guy for the poop jokes, and laughs hysterically at every one of them.  But this release will I think shed some light on the general hazy culture of underground bass music.  It’s in the dnb section, but it’s a dubstep 12″ It’s listed as being on Grid recordings, but it’s a sub-label called Guinea Pig Records.  The a-side is some carpetbagging drivel.  But the b-side is worth it if you’ve got 10 extra bucks. Prolly $4.50 in the discount bin by now.  Good orchestral samples and a vocal of some high society broad going “You’re disgusting.”
Boycee’s Beats Vol. 3Bossy / I Wonder
I like Only Fools and Horses and that air horn sound.  It’s a nice little jazzy roller on the b-side as well. You plonker!
There’s two Bong Ra releases on this page also.  Not necessarily recommended listening, but worth a spin if you want to be out of your comfort zone.  Style surfing edits and tongue firmly in cheek, Bong Ra is just something that you’ll have to make up your own mind about.  I always imagine that Bong Ra is Mum Ra’s older brother who never left home and still lives in the attic of the Black Pyramid.  He pulls this massive tube then blasts out of the top of the Pyramid and is all crazy talking like a rave-stoner-Jamaican-mummy “GRwaWOWwoaawa!  Check out me new ‘ardcore beatz!”  It tickles me everytime.
So it goes.