26 May 2010

written in the dark

and then and then and then and then

24 May 2010

ideas i'm never going to use, 1

There was a rumour a while ago that Technics were about to cease production of the 1200 and 1210 - a rumour that seemed all too plausible at the time, even if it was subsequently proved false.

It reminded me of an idea I had years ago, and might as well admit to myself that I'm never going to carry out.

The idea was: produce two records in a gatefold sleeve, the content of which was to be designed to be played simultaneously on two turntables through a mixer.

The tones, the tempos, all would be based on the ratios inherent to the technology: the ratios of 33'/3 to 45 rpm, the facility for pitching playback speed up or down 8%. The listener would have four sides of music, giving the following combinations: side A with side C or D, and side B with C or D. Within those permutations would lie and endless field of adjustments that could be made according to the listeners whim by using different start points, different speeds, etc. Everything about the two discs' content would be made with the possibilities created by identity / contrast in mind.

I never quite worked out the question of difference vs doubling. ie, with two records, each having two sides, should sides A and C be sonically identical, enabling all the strange phasing effects that arise from minute variations of speed? Or should the doubling be limited to patches on each side? Or should side A, B, C, and D all be completely different? What about using locked grooves?

I also never resolved the major difficulty: that it would only have appealed (or at least been readily available as an experience) to those with two decks and a mixer... so essentially amateur/hobbyist/would-be/poseur DJs upwards. If anyone wants to actually do this, please send me a copy when it's done.

20 May 2010

hiphop in the cold world

This isn't so much a post as a home for a comment that kept getting swallowed by the form over at Poetix, where Dominic posted Cannibal Ox's 'Iron Galaxy', noting the 'cold world' sample.

Imagining a hiphop appendix to Cold World, you would have to start with the GZA. And there are innumerable references to ice as diamonds in the millennial burst of bling. But those, like Raekwon's 'Glaciers of Ice' and 'Ice Water', have nothing to do with the cold world as Dom discusses it. MOP are getting there. The first Company Flow album is Can Ox's obvious precursor, both produced by El-P, both radiating toxic coldness, sensibilities profoundly disturbed, not just out of tune, but at war with, mainstream normativity. The first two Mobb Deep albums have a brutalized sociopathic chill to them. I can sort of imagine Ulrike Meinhof nodding her head to them, despite the get-money mindset. And more recently (ish), two Clipse tracks have especially cold veins. Ride Around Shining:

...there's a highly synaesthetic (to me) overlap between the coin-scraped-over-piano-innards sample, 'ice' in the lyrics and the affectless chill of the delivery. It's about a certain joy, a certain exultation in success, but it articulates that pleasure through a sonic lip-curl: no fanfares, no choruses, no excess, just that refrigerated skeletal production. And equally, Mr Me Too I think screams materialist anhedonia and disenchantment:

17 May 2010

The hauntological footballer

Just found the time to digest Radon Brainstorm's 3000-word-plus cri de coeur on the subject of Joe Cole. One to add to BDR in the limited category of music-football crossover blogger. RB might not thank me for this, but you could argue that Joe Cole represents a kind of footballing hauntological: as a prodigy who's never been reckoned to have fulfilled his potential (lost futures!) but also in that the quality of his talent takes the average viewer back to their childhood. That is, his talent is the kind first recognized and most valued by the collective wisdom of the school playground: the sleight of foot, the jink that looks like an optical illusion. So to continue in this specialized path of dribbling and close control is unconsciously perceived by pundits/coaches to be a refusal to grow up, to mature into a cover-and-tackle drone (even when this might represent a neutering of talent and a weakening of the collective).

01 May 2010

riffs, hooks, loops

I wasn't going to get involved in this riff-off going on between Carl, Simon, Matt, Seb et al. The general 70s hairiness of its first few rounds was interesting though. I was trying to decide whether this was because of some kind of implicit set of rules which could never be spoken aloud or even acknowledged, like Mornington Crescent or something. If so, I propose that Rule 2 for this and any future outbreaks of Riff Swap should be that anyone using one of Led Zeppelin's is automatically disqualified.

Sticking to the hairy and pre-punk, I would nominate Creedence Clearwater Revival. I think Suzie Q is a pretty pure example of the form, simply because of the way the first three notes set up and demand the subsequent pay-off of the notes which follow. Born on the Bayou is just gloriously economical, the riff stripped down to these three notes hanging in a laconic lip-curl over the rest of the sound.


Carl mentions hiphop here in the context of rap-rock crossovers. I'd been thinking about hiphop during an earlier round, because isn't it the case that hiphop, at least while sampling ruled the roost, was deeply implicated in the Riff economy? What else is a classic loop than the recognition, cutting and pasting of, a riff (on guitars or otherwise). I know this is stretching the term, a lot, but it's probably worth admitting that really the Riff is essentially just the Hook, renamed for the rockist palate. Acknowledging the close relationship between the Riff and hiphop fits with Matt's developing project on Dissensus and Cybore (in which he is becoming the Northrop Frye of music writing), as it allows hiphop to slot happily into the Rock genus. [I've got more to say about Matt's set of master genres when I get the time.]

Note also that hiphop is capable of maximizing the latent Riff potential in the flute, which, as noted in Simon's bit on Kraftwerk's Ruckzuck for The Wire's Riffs feature, is not easily Riffed upon.

You'd expect some flute within the backpack tendency, it does tend to connote mellow/jazzy/tasteful/yawn etc:

But you also find it at harsher grades:

Souls of Mischief (from 0:23)


Pace Won

Big L

And there's a whole strain of hiphop flute which is just pure filth.


Dre & Knocturnal

DJ Quik & Kurupt

P0rn flute! What's going on here? Something like the pimp logic of deploying 'effeminate' signifiers as an assertion of super alpha maledom perhaps.