'Everyone dances to his own personal boomboom'

Inner Space Breakdown / Genocide Organ & Slack DJs

Rubber Does It Better detail blow up, c (A)RTomens 2015
In that kind of mood recently, you know, that kind of mood...the kind that's ready for some rough 'n' tumble...raw edges, frayed brain cells, spiky nerves...all that. So what better soundtrack than Genocide Organ's Archive V (Tesco Organisation) and Vanish in particular. I don't know if Genocide Organ have an agenda and part of me doesn't want to know because I suspect it doesn't revolve around peace and love to all people. What the hell; it's a noise and I'm in the right mood for it... 

Likewise, Slack DJs and their GlassHouse Mountains EP (The Trilogy Tapes), which is rough around the edges as well as in the center, wobbling around the perimeters of  genres like Techno (?) but never falling in, preferring instead to spit in the stagnant genre pool, producing almost Steve Reichian minimalisms at times but ultimately staggering around in it's own loopy loop, which is pretty much what my mind's doing. Actually, a track such as Hoops is a mirror of my inner space zone, being strident, off-kilter, blunt and almost broken...

Georges Simenon / Nothingness And The Social Network

'He was […] numb, mentally and physically, and there were long periods during which everything became confused, both his thoughts and his feelings.
   In this way he got through the night. There was another day. Then another night. In the end, time disappeared, the hours faded away, there was nothing and there was everything, a void peopled with expectation and figures which were now grey, now coloured.' - Georges Simenon, The Widower

Bagged four more Simenons today in my usual buy-on-sight-if-they're-not-Maigret fashion. I've nothing against the Maigret series but prefer the romans durs or 'hard novels' (hard to resist in my case). He was notoriously prolific, thus demanding that fans are prolific readers from the catch-up modern perspective, which explains why I've several yet to be read on the shelves along with these. The brilliance of Georges Simenon is such that the books amount to small volumes of security against the 'nothing to read' scenario. Mind you, 'nothing to read' is seldom a reality for second-hand buyers. In truth, there's always an unread novel knocking about but we have to be in the right mood for the genre, don't we? We grab those bargains always with one (mind's) eye on the future time for reading in a frankly imaginary life lasting twice as long as the one we'll have.

The quote from The Widower should be enough to whet your appetite. I can't wait to read it. The lines encapsulate what could be called 'existential dread' or, put another way, the angst of everyday life, better than a thousand philosophy books. So, having neither the time nor inclination to read Sartre's non-fiction, I'll stick with Simenon.

Coincidentally, the passage also relates to thoughts I've had recently; not about the 'nothingness' of life, so much, but 'the void peopled with expectation and figures' that is the social network and the internet as a whole. I mentioned 'crashing' the other day to a Facebook friend (American, therefore never-to-be-met, therefore a somewhat tragic relationship which, in my current state of mind, served only to heighten this sense of detachment-whilst-joined to people in the global digital village).

Our desire to communicate (isn't that partly the point?) is one thing, but the 'crash' I talked of was creative. All creators go through phases of almost crashing, I suspect; of wanting to give up because either the motivation or inspiration tank is empty. They go hand-in-hand, of course, although I'm not sure which leads which.

These days, as creators tied to the internet, we're also bound to the social side of the whole thing. Like me, many depend on it for feedback and encouragement. If you happen to be a visual artist it could be your only gallery since gallery-owners don't support us, only hire space (don't start me on that one).

I despise Twitter, for instance, despite its potential for gaining an audience via links etc. A few months in this domain soon teach you that most of your Followers are totally self-obsessed, following in the hope that you'll buy whatever they're selling. So what promises real interaction only proves to highlight the existence of a disinterested mass who don't give a shit what you're making. Ho-hum. The few with whom you do actually interact may just about be enough to make up for the hundreds with whom you have nothing in common and only followed back out of politeness.

Much has been said about selfishness and The Network and I'm sure you've noticed for yourself. Unfortunately for those of us who make things, it's twinned with expectations (hopes) that are rarely fulfilled. Still, we carry on because the alternative really is a void. Avoid contact all together. Another person I know via The Network recently expressed his gratitude (via Twitter) for a comment I left on his blog about a piece of music he'd made. We bloggers know that comments can be a rare occurrence (unless you blog as a popular commentator or, perhaps, a fashionista or, even, someone with a terminal disease...but imagine being terminally ill, blogging about it daily and still only getting three visitors-a-day. On the one hand, it may still be therapeutic, but on the other, if it were me, I think I'd kill myself and be done with it). It was obviously a surprise to him that anyone should comment. I knew, even as I was doing so, that to comment would be an exceptional act. That would be funny if it didn't illustrate the unresponsive nature of most surfers.

Anyway, it's a wide, wide world, Robin. Get over it. Thanks, I will. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, just a little sorry for the state of humanity this 'mirror' sometimes reveals. I forget, it's less of a mirror than a sponge that can soak up everything, even your will to keep pouring yourself into it. Thankfully, literature offers relief from what sometimes feels like the 'nothingness' of everything. I look forward to enjoying the suffering of fictitious characters from the pen of a master, Georges Simenon.

I Can Drink More'n You Can

...I'm not bragging. That's the title of this piece. A section below...(I might be able to drink more tea than you, though)...................................

Full picture over on the art site

Shit and Shine - Everybody's A Fuckin Expert (Editions Mego)

True. Everyone's a fuckin' expert now that the hierarchical dominance of 'expertise' has been demolished by this tool for the democratic projectile vomiting of opinion - ha! Me? I'm nobody. You don't need my opinion of this album. Do you? No. But...

...since you're here...

...I read about it in The Wire, yes, that organ of expertise pertaining to obscurities in sound/art/text for those of the highest brows (perhaps raised, quizzically, at the sight of so many names with which they're unfamiliar, yet trusting the experts with regards to the importance/worthiness of those names). So I read about Everybody's A Fuckin Expert, went to the Editions Mego Bandcamp site, played the only available-for-preview track and actually paid for the album. Shocking. But why not? It's Friday and I felt like going crazy by spending £5.03p. That's how enthusiastic/optimistic I was. Was it worth it?

Of course, otherwise I wouldn't be giving you my expert opinion. I'm an expert on using the coffee machine in the kitchen, that's all. Even then I don't clean it as regularly as I should. Still, I made myself a good mug of the stuff half an hour ago and combined with the beats a bastard bass noise emanating from the speakers courtesy of Shit and Shine it's creating a grand effect - a kind of high, a low end high, like a low rider bumping my brain up and down the boulevard of broken beats.

Working On My Fitness is perfect for pumping my pecs. Not that you'd hear it in a gym. Not that I'd be seen dead in one. BOING-BOM-BOM! (C)hip-hop with more bounce to the ounce than your average bling beat shit, for sure. There's a track called Ass, which I like to imagine being played at a fitness work-out session inducing epilepsy in the class, complete with exploding eyeballs and busted buttocks. Stockwell's rhythm is the type that would get your head nodding off if you heard it 'live'. I imagine. I can only imagine Shit And Shine 'live' because I'd never go. They'd scare me. And make me yearn for the peace of my bed and a book. Meanwhile, with the window wide open on this Summer's afternoon I'm treating the street to it. Mr & Mrs People need to hear it. I know. I'm an expert.

JG Ballard Crash Crash Rip Tear

JG Ballardian rip tear paperback back of...Crash...

Fascinating Climax c 2015

Death Disco

Everything's over...the novel, cinema, Art, now clubbing....can nothing resist the corroding effect of time? So carry on enjoying old stuff; the kids seem to be, according to the listings I look at once in a while: House, Deep House, Tech House, Soulful House, Funky House - no wonder I'm housebound. And I've no intention of having my slippers surgically removed any time soon.

According to Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers stats the number of UK clubs has fallen by almost half, from 3,144 10 years ago to 1,733 now. Tragic, isn't it? The poor young things who do still go clubbing probably don't realise they're attending museums rather than forward-thinking, cutting-edge, underground dance nights. Teenagers today might only just be discovering House but that's not what's going to keep the scene alive, obviously. These nights aren't even billed as 'revivals', thus creating the illusion that they're offering a new thing. 

What Serious Rock types used to mock about club music is the very thing (well, one of the things) that kept clubbing alive, vibrant and evolving for years. It moved in tandem with technology, for instance, according to drum machine, synth and sampler gear made available. It thrived on music not made for eternity, for examination via headphones and preservation by Rock Classic archivists. Which doesn't stop people commenting on YouTube clips about the 'classic all-time proper music' qualities of a Disco tune. Like Punk, the ultimate in supposedly disposable culture bombing, Dance music adoration by fans assures it immortality.

Then there was the sartorial style, that equally fast-moving, fine art of getting The Look. Haircuts, trouser-widths, shoe styles, shirt collars, fabrics...we shed them all like old skins (even old skins shed them too). Mods, Skinheads, Suedeheads, Smoothies, Soul Boys & Girls, Casuals; all dressed for the club, the parade ground for peacocks, the place to show off your style and, if you had them, your moves.

In the Guardian article that brought this situation to my attention Sam Wolfson talks of 'outsider communities'.  But the Insiders took over long ago, when clubbing went super-sized, forcing the in-crowd (the music-loving, stylish, passionate dancers so crucial to underground UK street culture) out. Naturally. What clubber worth her/his salt would be seen dead amongst a load of idiots out of their tiny minds on a static music scene? 

Besides, there has to be an evolution in music, the motor of the scene. Even Grime got gentrified with a Proms night. Yes! A 'Grime symphony' at the bloody Proms! I must be getting old because that strikes me as absurd, not thrilling, not an amazing achievement or mark of success. But then, the alternate mindset of artists is one of humble acceptance into the hallowed hall of Classical music, as if storming the palace of The Establishment. And the fans in attendance couldn't believe they were in such a posh place, I'm sure.

Yes, clubbing and Dance music has come a long way, from smoky basements to acceptance by the ultimate in Establishment venues. In tandem with underground dives where you first heard that killer tune there have always been big dance venues, of course, but the interesting/new/exciting stuff was elsewhere, surfacing only to chart if it had commercial potential. Whilst not everything I danced to in the 70s was 'underground' music, neither was it branded for mass market consumption and sold as an essential accessory to mainstream Youth Culture. When Disco broke, that was another matter. 

Home entertainment and gastropubs are cited as possible nails in the coffin of clubs. Telly and food didn't keep us indoors although, admittedly, we didn't have the complete season of Breaking Bad to get through and eating out was only for special occasions. Besides, neither supplied what clubbing did - that sensation, excitement, hunger for the night beat, the clothes, the new tunes, new styles, attitude, underground pleasures, posing, footwork (the old kind) etc. 

An 'old man' reflects, typically, about how his scene(s) were better. Of course. I've even seen Ravers mentioned in relation to the current crisis, as in 'old ravers claiming they had it best' - well, surprise, surprise, some of us know that clubbing started before then. We know that dancing to the sound of black America started before Saturday Night Fever too. 

Lucy Mangan also writes in The Guardian about the club-closing stats. Tongue-in-cheek (?) she celebrates. Perhaps she's not being ironic, who can tell, these days? 'The first true triumph of nerd culture' she calls it. She has a point. I mentioned serious Rock-types earlier and their modern counterparts would be the nerds of today; the geeky middle-class ones who cannot and never really wanted to dance. 'The closing down of an entire genre of gathering sites that a certain type of teenager was traditionally dragged unwillingly to every Friday and Saturday night, in a desperate, futile attempt to become part of the cool', she continues. Exactly, the types she's thinking of are the ones that killed clubbing as a real street force. They wanted it so bad, that 'cool', but never had it and only thought they were supposed to get it because the media told them so. 'It almost makes me want to dance. Almost', she concludes. The revenge of the middle-class no-longer-young journalist! At last, via the national outlet she studied so hard to work for (no time, even if she felt inclined, to go clubbing) the nerdy journo can revel in the death of a scene that challenged her ability to dance - ha-ha!

Perhaps it's not so funny. I'm actually sad to see the death of clubbing. As you may have gathered, it's meant a lot to me; a prole who, for most of my life, like others of my class, regularly found something special in night life...not just girls but, yes, 'the groove', the style, the friendships, the many scenes. Can it really be dragging to a close? Here's hoping new music happens that starts something. I say that in a fit of optimistic hope. Sometimes you have to admit that all things have their golden age. I'm glad I went clubbing when it was in rude health. 

Here's a tune that moved us once upon a time...

Meet My New Friend, Robot 6N7

Funny little fellah, ain't he? I made him this morning because I was feeling lonely...so I went to work in the lab. 6N7 isn't much of a name, so I call him 'Les Monk' ('Monk' for short) because I programmed him to play piano and he sounds like a cross between Thelonious Monk and Les Dawson. Although he appears harmless I also programmed him to fire lethal rays (from his eyes) at anyone who pisses me off. Sod Asimov's laws of robotics...

Karlheinz Stockhausen/Stuckhausen Bargain Vinyl Finds

Ah, don't you hate it when record-buyers brag about finding super rare albums at a bargain price - the bastards! That never happens to me, until yesterday. I've spent decades getting my fingers grubby in second-hand shops, enduring the sight of so much crap in the hope of finding something good, but no. OK, a long time ago, before Jazz vinyl became sought after once the Jazz Revival started you could pick up original albums at good prices. Other than that, over the years sellers have become more knowing - damn the internet! How dare charity shops get more money for rare records thus depriving me of a bargain!

So yesterday I was in Crouch End's Oxfam, checking the books first, as usual, then finally the Classical racks for 20th century avant-garde stuff that never materialises when...hold on...Stockhausen? A pound? And another! And another! AND ANOTHER! I nearly passed out. Upon pulling out the inner sleeves to check the condition I realised they were all ex-library records complete with stamp cards. This is the record of withdrawals from Stoke Newington District Library for Prozession. Not much demand over nearly five years, as you can see...what a surprise....

...these library cards add even more pleasure to the finds, for me, a historical record, the kind you rarely see. I try to imagine the types that would have opted for Stockhausen. The dates on the percussion album go right back to 1971...perhaps some hippies borrowed it...or tweedy intellectuals...the only types I can think of who might be interested in Stockhausen back then. Nowadays his name is dropped more often; the old barriers of high culture and elite inaccessibility having been smashed by the internet. In theory. No, let's not be negative. It's obvious that those who would never have heard him in the 70s or even 80s...proles like me, perhaps, can now enjoy the democratic easy access online sound world possibilities. Remembering, of course, that you can lead a horse to water etc.

I love the back sleeve to opus 70 with photos of some electronic gear...

...I also love the crackles and pops of the vinyl (yes, that old record junky fix!), which is not to say I wouldn't have preferred them all to be in VG condition. But having checked the first and seen the library stamps I knew they'd all be well-worn. Such is the way of borrowers; no need to respect the vinyl. I've managed to scrape off a few bits that obstruct the needle in its progress through the grooves. There haven't been many so far. Well, would you like to hear some Stuckhausen? Of course you would. Here's the sticking point on Prozession...

That was fun, wasn't it? TTFN

Art / Applause For Jeremy Corbyn / Monolake's Dystopia

The Commuters' Rebellion (detail). Full picture here


Berkeley Situationist poster by WM Weege, circa 1967
'Whatever the niceness and the current warm glow, Corbyn will be a leader of the hard left, for the hard left, and espousing both general politics and specific positions that the public just are not going to accept in many of the seats that Labour is going to have to win to get back in power'. - Alastair Campbell

Well, that's enough to win my vote - but I applaud Jeremy Corbyn from outside the auditorium, or more appropriately, the town halls where he has been whipping up support here in North London; and only metaphorically-speaking, since I've no intention of attending one of his meetings. I applaud from afar, as an observer of the political circus. 

Anyone actively supporting Corbyn has also given up on mainstream politics, although perhaps they don't realise it. He has as much chance of winning a general election as Tony Benn did. He has attracted thousands of young folk to the Labour party, apparently. No wonder. Youth should be optimistic and idealistic even if the third characteristic is naivety. Before I slowly turned into the cynical middle-aged wretch writing this (ha-ha!) I voted Labour enthusiastically in the early 80s, when Michael Foot was leader - that's how naive-but-enthusiastic I was. He got Labour its lowest share of the vote at a general election since 1918 and the fewest parliamentary seats it had had at any time since before 1945. The difference being that his election to leadership wasn't (presumably) the big shock that a Corbyn rule would be today.

Labour was different then. It lost whilst standing on solid (electorally shaky) moral ground, which gradually shifted until it a decade later Tony Blair convinced that party that everyone wanted to be...what? Nice, middle-class-minded conservative citizens? You know what happened; the rise of middle Labour and the careerist politicians. Look, we're all middle now, aren't we? All we want is to own a home, elbow our way to the trough of individualist capitalism and sod notions of the 'collective good' and other Lefty ideals. Oh, we're concerned about the NHS, education and bills but...

Sorry, but mainstream politics is fucked (except in Scotland, perhaps). There, I said it. I'm not alone in saying it. All the new Labour Corbynites say it and want to change it. I wish them luck. I'd love to see what affect he has on the party. The Tory press and politicians are probably willing him to win. So am I and if he does, I shall continue applauding from the outside.

Dystopia: A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, or simply anti-utopia) is an imaginary community or society that is undesirable or frightening.

Such as one envisioned by Tories, Liberals and middle-England should Corbyn win an election...ha-ha. But this is just an excuse to post a track from Monolake's new EP, DEC. As I've written before about Robert Henke productions, by resolutely refusing to change much about his sound, he only reaffirms that it ain't broke and is better than a great deal of Techno around today...

Abstract: untitled

This is a section. Full picture on the art site here

[Xpylon] Comp / The Vendetta Tapes - John Baker / Rave Again? No, Bay B Kane

This compilation is for a good cause, Mind (mental health charity) so cough up, not for that reason alone, but for a damned good selection featuring Contak (Replekz) by Dolly Dolly & Gloria Gloucestershire (a fave, a dream team!), Secret Broadcast (Live & Unscheduled 22/08/09) by Time Attendant, IX Tab. Farmer Glitch and Kemper Norton are also involved. Get it here.

Unless your a sound cue fanatic (do they exist?) you might find the amount on this 36-track comp off-putting but the proper tunes make it worthwhile. Jazzy Radiophonic moods abound for those of us who like to listen whilst wearing the cardy and slippers - mmm, groovy - and some of the cues are atmospheric. The CD has sold out but a digital version is available here.  Baker did some fine work for Dr Who too, but one of his best pieces, also featured here, is this...

Expect a micro Rave revival any time now with the upcoming continuation of Shane Meadows' This Is England moving on to 1990, by which time the best of Rave was over, of course, and I know 'cause I was dancing in a field in 1973, actually, so there. Except it wasn't called Rave, it was called an Open Air Disco - ha-ha! And we did snakebite, not Es. And far from being loved-up, all the boys wanted to beat each other up, which is why Elton John made Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting), a piece of social commentary, it was, not just a stupid Pop record. Meanwhile, Bay B Kane returned in 2011 with an album, Brick Jungle, which featured an Elton John connection in the shape of a track called Yellow Brick Rhodes; funny that. He's back again now with the reissue of The Return Of Bay B Kane, so he returned in 1992 and is returning again. Returnmania, not retromania, although, as I hinted, there's sure to be a Rave revival one day (soon). I prefer what happened a few years later, like this Dark gem featuring Simon & Art in hyperdub drive - yeeeahh (available here)

Art & Thieves & Liars & Disco

How Long Has It Been Since You Really Tasted Good (full picture here)


An On-U Sound mood came over me at Work and Gary Clail's Two Thieves & A Liar is what I thought of - still sounds magnificent after 26 (!) years and, yes, it's still relevant, isn't it? Where's Gary now? Love the discernible West Country accent, keeping it real. Back then On-U occupied a lot of our time, a funny kind of 'revolution' in bass with Sherwood at the controls, crusty crunching sound systems...anarchic dancehall style...

...dunno why but I went to Candi Staton's Young Hearts Run Free next...I've written about it before so I won't say much here other than it's a key record in my musical autobiography mainly because it always reminds me, precisely, of standing at an open air disco in 1976 with a girl I would later date...written by a man, David Crawford, funnily enough...

...then this, a mighty tune...yes, Sylvester's You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)...wow, hadn't listened to it in ages...Patrick Cowley's production...proto-Techno - yes, but the feel...play it loud! Play it from the rooftops! I noticed for the first time the gospel-syle vocals towards the end; no surprise as I found out it was originally intended as a mid-tempo gospel tune until Cowley worked his magic...love that funky little organ lick mixed back in here and, of course, the shimmering synth like shivers up and down your spine and the rush moments...yes! To anyone who says they don't like Disco, I say shut the fuck up...

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