Following on from Lady Dub making Pitchfork’s records of the year (courtesy of Blackdown – thank you! and thank you even more for the album!) I am delighted to find that FACT Magazine have made one of my new tunes one of their top 10 tracks of the week.
GRIEVOUS ANGEL ‘DARKNESS’ (UNRELEASED)
One of dubstep’s most diverse producers expands his palette further, cutting up Sheila Chandra’s vocals from the recent Imagined Village album. As rude as folk gets? — Tom Lea”
This is one of the new “folk” dubstep tunes I’ve been working on which premiered on Blackdown’s show last week – some of you have heard me whittering on about this new direction. I’ve been listening to a lot of folk recently, little of it is terribly pure, but there’s something about a really good vocal folk tune that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and bring tears of joy to my eyes. My relationship with folk is fairly shallow, but it does go back a loooong way. (One day I will tell you the story of when I played the Stonehenge festival with a very rough and ready folk band. We walked ten miles to the stones, and ran ten miles back pursued by police helicopters! But that’s a story for another day, and probably best re-told, and exaggerated, over a beer, face to face…) And in the last couple of months, I’ve become aware that there is a deep connection between folk music and UK Garage. (Yes, I know you’re probably sniggering at this point, but you’re not the one who’s just had his tune bigged up by FACT magazine, so hear me out! 🙂 ) For, it seems to me that good folk music and good garage both share a sense of rollage, a sense which is obvious with UKG, but which to me is also prevalent in the drop of folk music… the way the rhythm hangs in the air, “the one” being dropped or ellided with the same grace as in very fine garage. To me, there was a sense that the two genres needed to come together, and blow me down if it wasn’t a piece of piss to do. The first version of the tune came together literally in half an hour – the edit of the original, the beat, the sawtooth bassline, all of it – which is much more quickly than most tunes happen. Frankly, it was almost spooky. The damn thing nearly wrote itself. The sample, BTW, comes from an agreeably impure source – an album called The Imagined Village, which is a hybrid record put together by the guys behind Afro Celt Soundsystem (with a big hand from Billy Bragg, it seems) where they marry some serious traditional English folk musicians (Martin Carthy etc.) with some dance people (well, the afro celt soundsystem drummers, who are Indian, and bloody good), some rock people (Weller! jesus…), some left field people (Tuung) and, on one track Benjamin Zephaniah. So – some deeply untrendy names in there, and its on real world, so the usual caveats apply. But there’s some truly amazing music on there (though it gets a bit fiddle-de-dee towards the end), and it’s all traditional folk songs that have been re-arranged, sometimes to stunning effect. It’s the sort of thing I would normally steer well clear of, but I saw some of their performances from the Cambridge Folk Festival on the TV and, well, it totally fucking rocked! The combination of folk voices with big electronic subs and heavy drums and tablas was really exciting and the crowd were clearly going mental. And straight away I thought, “This could be dubstep…” Then, when I bought the CD, some of the tracks jumped out as being ripe for a garage makeover – in particular a version of the old folk tune “The Welcome Sailor”, which had some extremely elevated acoustic backing alongside vocals from Sheila Chandra, the classical Indian singer, whose voice suits these kinds of tunes down to the ground. Making it work was pretty easy and I for one love the result (and I know at least one or two other people like it too) – I think it’s the best thing I’ve done since Lady Dub to be honest. So go to the page and check the link for tunage. It’s very unlikely to come out, and I’m taking it down on the 23rd, so fill your boots. I’ve got my eye on one or two other folk things, but when they’ll happen I don’t know – there’s quite a long to do list at the moment!