12 August 2009

'Don't believe the Hyph'

Simon Reynolds doesn’t like Hyph Mngo much.

Should this be a surprise? Well, the url is blissout.blogspot.com . . . isn't there more bliss washing about in Hyph Mngo than in Chainsaw Calligraphy?

Maybe the problem is the still standing in for a video on the YouTube clip that's getting linked to. I mean, check out the visuals on this Wax Doctor clip. Then are those LTJ Bukem sets that always seemed to be orbital shots of some metallic toned planet. Liquid drum’n’bass. Mmm. Liquid . . . like propafol. Plus isn't there a definite Mngo >>> mango >>> Goa >>> trance >>> snooze chain of suggestion going on? [Edit 26 August: for clarity, I'm not suggesting this is intended by JO, but something subconsciously affecting how Simon might hear it.]



Back to the post: the phrase ‘moist’n’milky minimalism’. Is Hyph Mngo really minimalist? Those synths are so saturated and saturating, the snap and kick of the rhythm so thoroughly . . . present. Whether or not the vocal is an enraptured hymning of a certain contemporary philosopher as Dominic Fox wondered ('BADIOU! . . . BADIOU!'), it's still enraptured by/ enamoured of something.

I'm not sure Chainsaw Calligraphy is strickly maximalist either. It’s stripped-down, nuts & bolts. Like (say) The Ramones, it's both maximalist and minimalist, depending on your angle of approach. Compared to close relatives – Talking Heads' uptight jerks and twitches, Patti Smith’s oneiric drifts – The Ramones were chainsaw calligraphers, demented wall-of-sound maximalists. They did end up working with Phil Spector after all. But compared to the prog and glam which preceded them, they were Roundhead iconoclasts, mowing down multinecked virtuosi and art-school peacocks alike. You use chainsaws to cut down trees, tall poppies, and in both 16 Bit and The Ramones there's a vein of purest avant-yob reductionism.

Ultimately, like Grievous Angel, I just don't see the need to choose between 16Bit and JO.* But if I had to, then yes, I would rather dance to Hyph Mngo.

*Just waiting now for this biographical morsel which makes JO the Son of Nuum to break. And the SR interview hopefully.

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