Thursday, May 25, 2006

YOYOYOYOYO... Spank Rock London is go.

Tuesday night at the wretched Barfly saw chaotic scenes not witnessed there since, oh, last weekend. Really, though, the fuss and crush brought to mind previous musical paradigm shimmys like the celebrated first appearance of The Strokes in the same venue. Now, I'm not expecting the NME to totally reconfigure their editorial as a consequence but it wouldn't come as a surprise if "YoYoYoYoYo" got picked up by a major and given a marketing hammering over the coming months.

Would-be hip hop fans have been crying out for something fun, something that isn't simply about the crack hustle and Spank Rock certainly deliver on this without falling into the high-minded traps set by self-righteous backpackers. But there's far more to them. Musically, they understand that hip-hop has always thrived from appropriation (what is sampling if it isn't a form of appropriation?) Live, they combine the hip hop gig with the DJ set, performing for a stretch and DJing for a while, then following with another burst of performance. At the Barfly things were a little different, its hardly a nightclub after all. But, still MC Naeem Juwan saw fit to hang around the stage hyping his DJ after the show, sitting on speakers, bringing girls onto the stage. It's not radical but its an important point: the democracy of clubland as opposed to the rockist focus on the star performer as is usual in hip hop.

He's is a star, of course. Effortlessly charismatic and, whilst its been noted that he's hardly giving Big L a run for his money on the mic, Juwan has one of those voices that mean so much in hip hop.

Finally, it shouldn't come as a surprise if the rock kids are drawn to this. It's everything that rock'n'roll is supposed to be: sexual magnetism, music that starts a party, music that upsets your parents, music that might get your girl in trouble. Compare this with the life-sapping dreariness of The Longcut, who TUNETOURIST also witnessed recently, with their heads down focus on worthy, epic guitar noise and harmonically challenged singer (shouter?) and ask yourself which one really embodies the spirit of rock'n'roll?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Records in a bag from Pure Groove, London

Pure Groove is a pretty unique little record shop that reflects the upheavals of the UK music scene in the last five or six years perfectly in its somewhat zig-zagged evolution.

Firstly, its very much a local shop, sited near the tangle of bad planning and automotive chaos that blights the confluence of Holloway, Highgate and Archway. Just off the Holloway Road - south of Archway tube station - it's impossible to park outside without getting a ticket and hardly a casual stroll from Soho for the afternoon shopper. It shouldn't work. But it does.

The shop started out selling House music and made its name as a local 2-step outpost whilst its sister label, original home of The Streets - Locked On, was in the ascendant. Label historians will note that 679 Recordings, the label that now releases The Streets along with all manner of exciting fare from Secret Machines to DFA 1979 and The Futureheads, has its roots here. In fact, Pure Groove operates the publishing arm of 679 as well as its own label Marquis Cha Cha, the latter currently proving one of the most on-target sources for new UK talent.

Here are a few tunes recently fished from their shelves:

Shy Child - Technicrats (Good & Evil)

Released on producer Paul Epworth's Good & Evil imprint, Shy Child do synth and drums - no guitar - and bash out the kind of No Wave noise that ruled their hometown of New York in the 80s. "Technicrats" is their best dancefloor release to date with a fantastic squelching synth bass attack released dead on the 1 minute mark to wreak havoc. Here's their website

The Horrors - Jack The Ripper (Loog)

A cover of a song by Screaming Lord Sutch, apparently. The Horrors have built up a committed fanbase with the requisite trawl of London holes and this Garage-Surf announcement isn't likely to do that any harm. On former NME writer James Oldham's Loog label.

Good Books - Walk With Me (Transgressive)

A weird one, this. "Walk With Me" sounds like Portishead at the outset and then turns into a Rapture track before your very ears. Admittedly, that makes it sound truly awful, and in honesty this track is definitely teetering on the edge of a fairly preposterous place but it works really quite nicely in practice. Even features a singalong chorus.

Larrikin Love - Ed Would (Infectious)

A lot of fun, clearly, if you're a pissed-up 15-year-old in the Holloway Road area and Larrikin Love happen to be playing Nambucca. In truth, they rehash all of the most throwaway elements of The Libertines - cockneyisms and knees-up jauntiness - and, to date, exhibit none of their more endearing ear for romance and lyricism. It's still early days though.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Records in a bag from Hard Wax, Berlin

After a slightly dry period last month the shelves of Berlin's famous techno shrine, Hard Wax, are once again brimming with detailed, clinical audio goodness. Winners this month come from the mysterious Pom Pom with another of their black label industrial offerings, a fine release from the Trapez label and a minimal meets Basic Channel dub-fest courtesy of Rome's S.M.B.P.

Here you have it:

B2 - Pom Pom (Pom Pom 24)

Anyone who's followed the steady flow of these releases from the utterly inscrutable Berlin-based Pom Pom will be aware that they're long past their twentieth release and still going strong. (Amusing techno fact: it wasn't until number 15 that these all-black records featured so much as a catalogue number). The latest is a simple, stripped-down techno track that uses bleep, echo, machine noise and spectral, suggested melodies to make its point. Sound familiar? Well, if it's more along Sleeparchive lines that you're looking for, check this next one:

Kuvio 3 - Philus (Sahko)

If you're new to the Sahko label, prepare to hear much more over the coming months in the Technosphere as this Finnish imprint is Sleeparchive's favourite and the place that he's quick to point visitors to his website at. This sounds like it's been scrubbed with Flash until the hypnotic, bleeping melodies have become so sleek that they bounce off each other. It's a reissue and, believe it or not, most of the Sahko stuff was happening around '93 - this one is in fact from '98 - only begging the question of why it took the minimalist aesthetic until now to catch up. Amazing.

To Here - Shane Berry (Trapez)

Bit of a monster this one, frankly. A great big, growling builder of a tune that washes around you like a subtle but treacherous current. A tantalisingly clipped vocal snippet is introduced around the 7 minute mark (when most tracks are finishing) that really gets its hooks in and the treble sounds get beautifully mashed up as the track grows. One to hear out.

Matt John - "Urban Wind" (Perlon)

More from the ubiquitous Matt John on Perlon - if you're in Berlin over the weekend just take a look at the line-up at Berghain this weekend - this finds his Villalobos-y minimal palate trying out some more adventurous sounds. Any track that dares to use as its break the sound of a bunch of Grandfather clocks going on the war path, has to be worth a punt.

Damien Schwarz - Uno Track (Mupa)

From Spain's Mupa, this is taken by the Hard Wax crew to be further evidence of the influence of Sleeparchive and, in turn, his forebears, the Finnish Sahko label. If 'bleeps' constitute the primary quality we're expecting from them, then so be it. Does that make early Warp Records the precursor of Sahko??

S.M.B.P. - "Stars Falling" (City Morb)

On the Rome-based City Morb label, this does more than tip its hat to Maurizio and Basic Channel. In fact, it takes their dub template and creates nicely glitching comtemporary House sounds from the parts lying scattered about the studio.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Records in a bag from Reckless, Chicago...

I wonder if Reckless Records gets a mention on any of the unheard tracks Sufjan Stevens is set to release from last year's masterful "Illinois"? It should.

This month we've really come good with a bumper crop from the shop. First up is "Center Cities" by I Am Robot + Proud, perfect electronica for Indie types with blissfully vivid keyboard melodies dripped onto simple beats to create summery, naive melodies. "The Ruling Class" finds Jeff Tweedy, Jim O'Rourke and Glen Kotche's Loose Fur project in territory much more familiar to the average Wilco fan than their last, more experimental outing on Domino. In fact it's effectively a Wilco song, so no complaints here.

Also picked up Willie Nelson's "You Don't Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker, the choice cut from which is the standard, "Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me". Willie gives it a lovely lilting flow set off by the fiddle and peddle steel guitar.

Glissandro 70 on Constellation Records provide a hypnotic Post-Rock entry with "Something", an all too short 2.45 of circular rhythmic repetition that layers-up to beautiful effect.

Waterloo To Anywhere

Alexis Petridis right on the money with regard to Carl Barat's remarkable show of dignity in the face of his former bandmate's insistence on behaving like a "ninny", as he puts it. It's hard not to root for Dirty Pretty Things, in the circumstances.

Quite right as well to rubbish the idea that Doherty was the principle creative force behind The Libertines - it's a pleasure to hear the swagger and gin-stagger of that marvelous Django Reinhardt-plays-skiffle guitar again, recognisable anywhere. Thinking back to it, some of The Libertines finest moments - "Death On The Stairs", "7 Deadly Sins", "The Delaney" and "I Get Along", of course - could be called Barat songs, if that weren't simply stooping to the same glory hunting that pulled the pair apart in the first place.

Anyway, this is a lot more rewarding than Babyshambles with the highs delivered by "Deadwood", "Doctors & Dealers", Bang Bang...", "The Gentry Cove" and "B.U.R.M.A." The latter shows a good dose of old fashioned romance in this record as well, proving that Barat, at least, loves somebody other than himself. It's released next week.