k-punk: “If anything is happening somewhere, it must be a centre.

He’s quoting Luka BTW. Well, au contraire. If something is happening, it is not at the cente, it is reaching terminal velocity and is spinning away from the centre

k-punk:If you a priori re-define centre to mean that, well, obviously centres are, necessarily, where it’s at…..”

K-Punk is right. But… it’s as if no-one ibn this discussion has read John Michell’s At The Centre of the World… my god, do you really think they haven’t? Wow! Ahem. Anyway, the whole point is that all cultures, and to a degree all individuals, seek to orient themselves around a local locus. To attempt to impose one on everyone is wrong-headed and somewhat fascistic. But as the builders of omphaloi at, for example, Sancreed, or on the Isle of Man, well understood, there is a case for an associational world-centre.

Which of course is what Simon and Luka are going on about: London as hallucinatory centre. OK. But with the smooth comes the rough: London as overlord.

k-punk: “I love Simon’s ‘pipe dream’ (appropriate name for so steampunk a conception) documentary on the London overground railway system. (When Luka, Oliver and I last met up, Oliver took us to one of those anomalous slightly off-centre zones near Waterloo which was just under an elevated railway track). Following that railway around would be as fascinating an investigation of London’s interstices as Sinclair’s footsore treking around the M25 was an exploration of the capital’s limits.”

Well yes, and I’ve been meaning to follow up this particular shard. I had in fact thought that Simon was channelling the late 8Ts / 9Ts chaonic / qliphthophic weltenschaung where IIRC this was discussed at some length.

Talking less elliptically, I remember working in Rivingston Street (off Old Street) in the early 9Ts and regularly seeing urban explorers pacing the tree-and-shrub-infested walkways of the abandoned railways. Some of the most evocative views of my life were out the back window of that building and over the roofs of Shoreditch and Hackney. Talk about secret London.

One thing that is quite obvious when you do finally move out of London is that these exciting, liminal spaces are under enormous pressure in London and that is why it is so fulfilling to discover one. Wheras, outside of London — and yes I do know that Sheffield is a particularly special case in this regard — these spaces are far more widespread. They seem somehow to breathe more easily.

It is of course interesting to speculate about the relationship between this phenomenon and the northern origin of so much chaos thinking. Especially Leeds… with its natural migration path to Stoke Neewington…

GUTTERBREAKZ: “Okay, here’s a dozen reasons why Sheffield is the Uk’s musical capitol….”

… and whoevercompiles such a list and leaves Moloko off clearly didn;t see their amazing tour-opening show at the octagon and have a long chat with Richard H Kirk there ;-).

Oh, and, Do You Like My Tight Sweater is a work of genius. Seriously.

GUTTERBREAKZ: “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.”

A really, truly, genuinely, GREAT band. People laugh at you for saying this but they did it all — but with so much deadpan Sheffield humour and irony that people thought they really were yuppies. Fucking fools the lot of them. Their version of Lets Stay Together with Tina Turner was wonderful ibn a way their critics will never understand. And their legendary “lost” (as in no-one rated it) third album, How Men Are, is an unrecognised work of genius. The closing track, the best kept secret, is a blinder of electronic emotion.

Heaven 17. Just too good for this world.

GUTTERBREAKZ: “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.”

Me me me!!! I’ll back it up! Well I would, but just check out this page, cogent and entertaining stuff from someone who is, clearly, from the right side of the pennines.

Fuck, why has no-one pointed out this blog before? Blinding stuff. I’m proper made up, Just goes to show that it is worth clicking on Si Reynolds’ list of miscreants at random…

blissblog: “it’s only recently that the pirates have got so specific about this or that particular End. Garage isn’t just an East thing, there’s pirates all over, in the South, the West, the North… “

So when you lived in London, Simon, I presume it was North London?

😉

Cos, this statement is factually incorrect. The south London pirates have ALWAYS made a point of their geographical reach and differentiation. Not just my beloved Upfront FM either. Sure there’s a particular variation on this theme in the grime scene but it’s a well established meme.

And a related point which also impacts the whole London-centricity argument — when I was living in Brixton, it was obvious to me that the natural locus of garage, its omphalos, its holy hill, wasn’t Brixton, wasn’t Hackney, wasn’t Bow — it was, and for all I know still is, Croydon. I used to go on pilgrimages to Croydon record shops when I was doing business down there and the vibe was so strong. The number of garage raves in Croydon was unbelievable. You could see all the kids driving down there to go to the “proper” garage’n’r’n’b nights. You had DJ South Central, whose name was adapted from LA/Compton, but translated to, you guessed it, Croydon.

And before you dismiss this as just another Suburban Base story, I’d like to emphasise that from my point of view the lost area from Brixton through Streatham to Croydon was the heart and soul of the scene, and it was always very 2 Step oriented. This might be a different current from the Hackney / Bow one, and maybe there’s more of a north-south dividide in garage than we thought.

blissblog: “Amen–they wouldn’t let it die!”

Funnily enough I’m just finishing off a new ragga jungle track I’m doing with a Bounty Killer accappella, loads of layered breaks (like that producer Reynolds quoted on blissblog), and a dirty great big bass (like remarc was talking about). And of course, I’m sticking some Amens in there at key points, and the impact it has on focusing the rhythm is extraordinary. They seem to mesh with whatever they’re put with that’s in time. Now, two things spring to mind.

One, I’m using the standard 170bpm-ish break we all know and love. But, on a machine that’s currently dead and being resuscitated, I have an MP3 of the original Amen break, which is of course at funk tempo. So — who sped up the break to what we know? Have lots of people done their own versions (I’d be a bit surprised if that’s the case cos the Amens we hear are pretty uniform in their sound — I think the artefacts in the signal caused by the original sampling and timestretching process sound common in all the versions I’ve heard. But I could be completely wrong. Maybe sampling up and timestretching your very own copy of Amen, ideally from a copy of the original vinly, is a rite of passage in the drum’n’bass producer community. Or maybe what we’re hearing is the sonic signature of Akai and Emu samplers, two variations on a bit-mangling theme; talk about music of the machines. Then again, maybe the jungle Amen is a sample of a hiphop record that itself sampled the original vinyl… I’d really like to know what the deal is here.

Second, who’s getting royalties for this break? Has it become de-facto public domain or is someone making a mint out of D’n’B producers? Can you take out a subscription — 12 months of Amen-sampling for $99 a month?

And is the drummer getting any dough from all these people using his playing?

blissblog: “Funky Drummer was a culmination of this rhythm, and of the breakbeat. The song seems to be improvised on the spot to fill space on a record or use up studio time, little more than that beat, when James counts down the band to sit out that break, and drummer Clyde Stubblefield just keeps on doing his thang, only more so, little knowing that future generations of samplists were waiting in the wings of history. “

This is a bloke called Alan Murphy doing stuff on blissout. All comprehensible of course but I am left reflecting that the funky drummer break is IMO less interesting than the rest of the track, which hangs in space, endlessly cycling, an ourobouros of rhythm, perfect, meditative, a funk hymn to life itself. By no means is it a filler.