Digital newsprint

Just had a heads-up from the wonderful Kid Kameleon that both his brilliant ShockOut mix and my moderately good Abstract 2step mix have both featured in a rather good round-up of online mixes over at Pitchfork. You can see the review here.

What blows me away is not that he’s the first mix reviewed — it is as I’ve said many times a fantastic, landmark mix — but that my modest effort is number two.

Big grins all round up here.

Eighties Dancehall in Excelsis: The “Lyric Maker (from England and Jamaica)” Mix

At last, it’s here:

Lyric Maker (from England and Jamaica)

Now in Zipped format. Right-click, save file as, and decompress.

This mix came about after spending a couple of years staying at John’s house for a couple of nights a week, spending most evenings listening to his completely amazing collection of roots, dub, dancehall and digidub. I’ll remember these nights for the rest of my life because I was able not just to take refuge from working life away from my family, but was able to spend night after night listening to what is as far as I’m concerned THE GREATEST MUSIC EVER MADE. A natural evolution of these blissful nights was to start putting together mixes of some of the best bits of his collection. He supplied the sounds and a lot of the mixing, I supplied the editing and effects. The first result of this collaboration was this mix – recorded onto tape and dumped into my Mac for tarting up. The idea was, firstly, to showcase the difference between organic, warm, rocking JA dancehall and the somewhat different strain of British fast chat, and secondly, to completely blow away any listener even vaguely familiar with the musical frameworks and conventions of reggae.

Here’s the line up to whet your appetite…

1. Thriller U – Sweetest Sound (Digital B 1989)
Fade Away / Peanie Peanie Rhythm
This is a KILLER soundsystem tune. “When the first dub hit the turntable it like thunder.”

2. Chuck Turner – Run Around Girl (Live & Love)
3. Cultural Roots – Running Back To Me (Live & Love)
4. Version (Live & Love)
Unknown Rhythm
And now the thunder. Vast sinuous bass (occasionally massively overdriven) and swinging digital beats underpin achingly melancholic songs of love lost. Live and Love info:

5. Admiral Tibet – Leave People’s Business Alone (Techniques)
6. Cutty Ranks – Gunman Lyrics (Techniques)
Tings n Time rhythm

Two classic examples of cyclic, infinitely funky JA dancehall in all their devastating glory. Tibet floods us with emotion while Cutty Ranks strafes anyone still standing with salvoes of monotone fast chat.

There’s some nice edits and effects in this bit.

7. Lui Lepke – Can’t Take Me Landlord (Joe Gibbs)
8. Gregory Isaacs – Storm (Penthouse 2002)
9. Warrior King – Education (Penthouse 2002)
10. Yellowman – Gregory Free (white label)
Storm Rhythm
Lepke winds the pace down a bit, adding a delicious narrative over a cavernous groove, which Isaacs reassembles into a clockwork-driven melodic pulse. Warrior King adds horn-driven weight and hand-raising refrains before Yellowman lowers the tone of proceedings considerably while broadcasting a message of support to the imprisoned Gregory Issacs.

Just one rhythm delivers a seemingly endless succession of different dynamics and flavours, attesting to Jamaica’s incredible inventiveness.

11. Gregory Isaacs – Raving Tonight (Virgin 1978)
And now the respite. This is just an absolutely glorious tune and makes a great reply to Yellowman. Gregory supplies a vocal that simply aches with feeling. Why the chorus isn’t on a million hardcore records I don’t know – maybe it is? Tell us if you know!

12. Cu Oonuh Version(Techniques)
13. Melting Pot Version (Techniques)
14. Dilinger – Melting Pot (Techniques)
15. Johnny Ringo – Dedicated to Jah (Fashion 1985)
16. Asher Senator – Senator No Skin Up (Fashion 1985)
17. Reggie Stepper – Cu Oonoh (Techniques)
Stalag Rhythm

We kick off with a couple of dubs of what must still be the most popular rhythm in reggae. These have been cut up a lot to bring you the maximum laidback grooves. Dillinger takes us even deeper into the alternate universe of funk that is Stalag, and Johnny Ringo Responds. “Now students, compare and contrast the JA style with that of their British counterparts….” The UK sound is more stipped down, slightly more clinical but soaked in vibe. Asher Senator, one of the fast chat originators, deploys his laidback flow to fine effect, before Reggie Stepper slays it: this tune just rocks . The horizontal funk of the original gets hyped right up with digi-bashment syndrums.

18. Top Cat – Push Up Your Lighter (9 Lives)
You’ll know this cos it’s been sampled to fuck, but this is high velocity dancehall at its finest. And it’s rock’n’roll! Just listen to those Duane Eddy riffs ricochet through the mix.

19. Peter Bouncer & The Offbeat Posse – Huff ‘n’ Puff (Y&D 1989)
But if JA was delivering house’s peak time energy with Top Cat, the UK was as ever speeding it up, stripping it down to hammer out ardkore’s blueprint – and being from 1989 it’s a direct antecedent. It’s a pounding 140bpm+ monster, with the vocal and dub versions spliced together.

20. Johnny Ringo – New Yorker (Fashion 1985)
21. Asher Senator – To Whom Respect is Due (Fashion 1985)
Unknown Rhythm
Winding it RIGHT back down to the beginning of the story, Johnny Ringo relates the differences between UK and US reggae cultures over a supertight backing. Asher bigs up of Danny LaRue.

22. Johnny Ringo – Nice and Easy (Fashion 1985)
23. Asher Senator – Asher in Court (Fashion 1985)
The Fashion crew loved to differentiate their productions from their Jamaican peers with stiffer, more weirdly syncopated rhythms that sound a lot like some current Grime rhythms.
Johnny Ringo bio:

Asher in Court is probably THE signature Asher Senator tune. He spins a fantastic yarn about sharing a joint with the judge and turns the groove around completely.

24. Michigan & Smiley – Nice Up The Dance (Studio One/Soul Jazz)
25. Tippa Irie – All the Time the Lyric a Rhyme (UK Bubblers 1984)
Real Rock Rhythm

A solid gold classic. Michigan and Smiley’s iteration of Real Rock is an ecstatic, bouncy, rolling, JA dancehall apocalypse. In Brit hands it condenses into a series of hard, minimal pulses with Tippa Irie’s unbelievably intense monotone fast chat. It’s just amazing. Plus it includes the best fast chat line ever: “Well me and Mrs Irie well you know that we’re related”. Superb.

26. Papa Levi – Big ‘n’ Broad (Island 1984)
Papa Levi picks up the groove and pushes it up a gear. His delivery isn’t quite as sharp as Tippa’s but it still drops bombs and the rhythm’s devastating.

Intense siren action on this one.

27. Tippa Irie – Lyric Maker (UK Bubblers 1985)
Throw Me Corn rhythm
The rest of tunes in the mix are good, but this… this is something else. Lyric Maker is the signature tune of the mix, the place where it all comes together. Because it’s here that Brit dancehall showed how it could take reggae into places that the JA heartland couldn’t quite imagine, a universe of mechanoid dub beats and electronic pop noise. Obviously Tippa’s delivery is the apotheosis of fast chat brilliance, endlessly riding peaks of intensity without ever falling in on itself. This is one of the greatest records ever made.

28. Sleng Teng intro (Who’s Gonna Make the Dance Ram Dub) (Fashion 1985)
29. Andrew Paul – Who’s Gonna Make the Dance Ram (Fashion 1985)
30. Version (Who’s Gonna Make the Dance Ram Dub) (Fashion 1985)
31. Peter King – Step on the Gas (Fashion 1985)
32. Version (Fashion 1985)
Sleng Teng Rhythm

Sleng Teng is one of the ultimate JA rhythms but the two UK versions here are easily superior in my book. “Who Makes the Dance Ram” was a huge hit in the UK and I think it crossed over in Jamaica as well. Plus, it’s a monstrous acid house stormer and for my money shows just how much eighties dancehall created acid’s blueprint. We close with acid dub heaviosity from Peter King, the originator of the fast-chat sound. It’s yet another tune that reflects the automotive obsessions of the Fashion stable, and it’s a great car crash story. “Step on the gas, KICK down the accelerator…”

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Lyric Maker (from England and Jamaica): John Eden and present a JA vs UK Soundclash.

I’ve closed comments boxes because of the spam problem. If you like this mix, PLEASE email me and / or John and let us know!

New Grime mix from DJL

A few Grime mixes I’ve heard have a been a bit opaque, the testosterone obscuring the emotion that’s possible in the music. So I’ve been looking for a Grime mix that works as a complete, flowing entity, that showcases the genre’s ability to carry a tune as well as grinding out beats. And I think I’ve found it. DJL, a guy on the excellent Dissensus, was kind enough to send me his new Brave New World CD, and it’s terrific. There’s a few on there that I know and to the seasoned afficianado I would presume that quite a lot of it is familiar –but if true, it doesn’t matter. For this is a great, rocking, flowing mix, impeccably blended live (there’s a couple of glitches late on but nothing to mar your pleasure) and it’s the best Grime showcase I know of.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to give you, DJL’s Brave New World:

Mixed live by DJL
1. Wot Do U Call It? – Wiley
2. Hype Hype – SLK feat. Flirta D, Van Damage, Wunda & Envy
3. Charge – Static
4. R-HA VIP – DJ Charmzy
5. Almighty Father – Sunship feat. Warrior Queen
6. Paid In Full – F1
7. The Lowdown – Wiley feat. Trim
8. Unorthadox Daughter – No Lay
9. Pull Up Dat – DJ Mondie feat. Ribz, Napper, Flirta D & Shizzle
10. Straight Remix – DJ Mondie
11. I Like It – Commander B feat. Tubby T
12. Creeper – Danny Weed
13. Down Remix – Martin Larner vs Teebone
14. Kamikaze – Jon E Cash
15. Ch-Ching – Lady Sovereign
16. Sense – Macabre Unit
17. Catz – Low Deep
18. Skank (Dr Venom Dark Mix) – Agent X & Kele Le Roc
19. Forward Riddim – Lethal B
20. Str8 Flush – Low Deep
21. Get Me – Bruza


Strange hotels in Victoria

Recently I have while working in London had the opportunity to sample some of the scuzziest hotels in Victoria. Pick of the bunch has to be one particularly seamy example I stayed in when caught billet-less last December. It had to be the smallest room in the world, comprising a tiny bed crammed up against the window, which was easily within reaching distance of the cupboard-style door. The left hand two-feet of space were occupied by one of those all-in one toilet-and-shower units which had somehow been shoehorned into less space than my funky sixties plastic hat-stand takes up. I swear that the whole shebang would have fitted into half the area of John’s spare room, in which I normally stay when in London. I literally laughed out loud half the time I was in there, it was so comically tiny. I managed to get that room for just thirty quid – a mere 200% more than it could reasonably be worth given current incomes – and I was grateful for it.

There seems to be a common pattern to this sort of “hotel” room. Large Georgian-style houses have their rooms subdivided – a process that must have occurred in the fities if not before, judging by the carefully-installed cornicing (the curved-edge details that occupy the join between wall and ceiling). The rooms assume an L-shape, with the doorway taking one corner, while a large rectangle of space is taken up by the afore-mentioned all-in-one toilet and shower unit. These beasts are a masterpiece of anti-ergonomics; every possible concession to human requirements being sacrificed on the altar of craming the requisite number of features into as small a space as possible. The narrow hard toilet is so positioned that one’s knees poke through the doorway, while the shower is a circular curtain with a faucet above, dispensing occasionally hot but typically luke-warm water from a standard tap accessorised with a scarcely-functioning droplet creator. This has the advantage of ensuring that unnecessary tardiness while bathing is discouraged. This sort of bathroom is almost indistinguishable from those installed in most Barratt homes, and easily confers on them that dissolution of the soul which is those house’s mission.

Tonight’s room – John’s partner is poorly and I wish neither to intrude nor risk infection – is a veritable palace in comparison with some previous examples of the genus. It’s slightly larger for a start, with less of a sense of the walls looming in on you. And while the bath “room” is still a plastic carbuncle whose primary virtue is that it can be hosed down by a below-minimum-wage cleaning woman in less time than it takes me to evacuate my bowels, it can at least be entered without significant anatomical distortion, and it is possible to actually stand in front of the mirror without stooping too much (though I wouldn’t fancy John “Beanpole” Eden’s chances of shaving properly in there).

However, the room lacks both a closet and a bedside lamp, so I’m stuck with the main light, which is one of those circular phosphorescent jobs. In terms of “mood-lighting” it reminds me rather too much of a late-night office, which is a bit much even for a workaholic like me come eleven. (Today was a long one – left home at 7.15, didn’t get to Felixstowe til 2.00, back to Victoria at 7.00, so that’s nigh on a twelve hour day including nine hours on trains, so I could do without the David Brent-inspired atmosphere right now,) Pretty soon I’m going to switch off the main light and listen to some Kid Chamaeleon off the laptop by the light of the screen, and hope I don’t fall asleep.

It doesn’t half make me grateful for the hospitality of John and his family. Not only do you get a decent amount of space but you get to listen to the greatest music ever made while talking to some of the most interesting people on the planet.

Hotel rooms do have one useful feature, In just the same way that hotel rooms are a great venue for really good sex – the sense of being out of regular time and space and of being able to indulge whims – make them rather good places to conduct magic. This contravenes all kinds of occult guidelines, about power of place and building up ones relationship with a particular environment and infusing it with cues which trigger changed consciousness – but it might follow some rules too. All that stuff about creating a clear space which one can mentally and spiritually occupy and mould is somewhat enhanced by the “tabula rasa” of a vacant hotel room which is emptied and cleaned almost every day. The results have to happen within you and in the world rather than being bound up in the space. But more discussion of this must wait for another day, in another hotel room.

Mixes to check

I recently bigged up Kid Chameleon’s Absolutely Shocking mix as one of the best of 2004, and so it is – so much so I want to reiterate those sentiments here. It’s an absolutely amazing mix of jungle, dancehall, grime and hip hop which is composed with seemingly infinite care. A large number of in-mix mashups appear to have been constructed, principally through the agency of playing old reggae records over the top of old jungle tunes, which is obviously something to be encouraged. Here it’s done with expertise and flair, so much so it rivals Coldcut’s Journeys By DJ Mix for best DJ mix ever. Yes it’s that good – for that set is my favourite ever. Standout moments abound, but any mix featuring both Nuh Ease Up by Shy FX and MC Det, Harold Faltermeyer’s Axel F, and Nena’s 99 Red Balloons, alongside perhaps the finest mix of the Red Alert rhythm yet devised, has to be a winner.
What’s really good about this mix is the sheer variety on offer You’ve got loads of great jungle, mixed into some old gospelly blues, into ragga, into electro-y stuff, and on and on, and it’s really engaging and fun to listen to, there’s a real pop sensibility at work throughout.

I wasn’t too sure about the accompanying Even More Shocking mix at first, finding it a bit atonal and opaque, but in fact it’s almost as good. It has more dubstep and squelchy garage for one thing, but it also features a quite magnificent mash-up of Shaggy’s Boombastic over, I think, Rage Against the Machine and some jungle track. It also has a quite brilliant re-working of Tom Waits’ Clap Hands over, um, something else… the sleeve-notes, while seemingly comprehensive, are a bit hard to understand.

You should also point your P2P clients towards the Pasmando mix which was recently posted on the mix of the day site. I’ve no idea who Pasmando is but this is just a very satisfying selection of classic but lesser known ragga jungle. Yes, I know, mouth-watering isn’t it? Filler is rare and it’s got a new-to-me mix of Tom & Jerry’s Maximum Booty Style (which have only in its Maximum Style incarnation, and then only on CD) – this is an absolute fave old skool tune. (Recordings of Tom & Jerry stuff are very welcome here cos I missed ‘em first time round.) Bounce people, bounce.

Finally MashIt’s DJC_JunglitBashment mix pretty much does what it says on the tin. It’s arguably not quite as inspired as the Pasmando mix but it’s still excellent. In fact it’s mind-blowing when it gets going.

MP3 DJ mixes are just the business, I love ‘em, they’re the ideal, consumable way to track great music. The new one John Eden one is nearly ready and should be released any day now.

Review of the year, 2004

Band of the year: Scissor Sisters. It’s all about TUNES!

Record of the year: anything on the Pepper Seed rhythm

Mix of the year: the Soundmurderer Live in NYC mix, or Bailey’s Old Skool sessions on OneXtra, or the Kid Chamaeleon one

Album of the year:
MJ Cole — Back to Mine: didn’t come out in 04 but it’s what we’ve been listening to (and dancing to) more than anything else
Lila Downs — Una Sangre: amazing Mexican folk singer with extraordinary emotional range

Surprise of the Year:
Goldie Looking Chain. A good joke well told. No, they don’t irritate me.

Tech of the year:Pioneer DV-575 DVD player, absolutely as good as it’s cracked up to be, flawless reproduction, makes Oceans 11 and the West Wing totally enjoyable. Tough choice between this and the G5 plus OSX plus LCD screen combo, which has been a dream to play with. I’m looking forward to SX3 too. But I’m still looking for decent speakers — good for reggae and surround sound, but child-friendly and TV-safe.

Highlights of 20041. You can’t beat a new baby — and Malachy’s begun to smile, and let me stop him crying sometimes, so things are definitely improving. No more for us though!
2. Getting played on the radio, reviewed in the Wire, and getting emails from cool and / or famous people bigging up my music
3. Seeing John loads (and working with him on a forthcoming mix which you’re going to love!)
4. Not working for a good portion of the year and spemding loads of time with my family but still making enough to get by, and having a LOT of fun when I am working
5. Being involved in the Dust label — Sheffield techno at its finest. It’s so close now, first release — from the Black Dog! — in January.
6. Hearing THE BEST DANCEHALL RECORDS EVER MADE while staying at John’s house. Night after night. For months.
7. Not buying any records, at all

Lowlights of 2004
1. Failing to enjoy as much as I should the experience of not working — cos when the work happens, it’s all-consuming
2. Still addicted to nicotine
3. Being away from home, night after night, for months
4. Not buying any records, at all

Blogging is dead. Long live the blog.

Interesting to see the backwards looking pronouncements coming through. Matt talking about the Resonance retrospective on blogging. As Eden said to me the other night, the crucial literature of the early nineties is found in TWANBOC / Woebot, K-Punk and Heronbone. But I think the centre of gravity has moved away from blogging and back to forums. There are too many good blogs to keep up with, and people are going back into communities where there’s enough audience to feed off, and where the networking and inter-communication thing can work better. Dissensus is the obvious example and very good it is too. In fact the limitation of Dissensus is that it’s just a forum, when most of the members are experienced bloggers; a new kind of forum might be needed to better exploit the assembled talents.

But this isn’t the end of blogging; it’s just a natural dialectical process. Blogging will reassert itself when people balance the long-threads + chit chat of forums with the chunky personal statements only a blog can do. There are too many blog entries and not enough that are really substantive.

Funnily enough I think the blogs that are leading the way here are the ones that got it right in the first place; they are expert in set pieces, while also specialising in the personal and the ephemeral that fall between the cracks of forums.

If this is for real I’m well made up…

From an email I got today:

Sent: 28 September 2004 02:28


I’d just like to say, regardless of this email, that Tippa Irie is one of the all-time greats and playing about with his and Daddy Colonel’s lyrics was fantastic fun.

Entirely coincidentally…

Here’s a new version, slightly cleaner and groovier version of the main mix of “Tippa and Colonel Again”.

And here is “Tippa and Colonel Again — 1985 vs 2005 Dub Mix”, a rather tasty high tek mix. If the original is a fat loping growler, this is a much spacier cut with slo-mo junglizms all over it. I like it even more than the original.