Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Shit where you eat

Revealing, if not terrifying, post by Carl over at The Impostume. Interesting because I have seen this kind of political behavior already happening in Belgium and The Netherlands. The bottom-line is of course (and how this makes you sad!) that the formerly oppressed all too frequently join the ranks of the oppressors when they themselves are no longer oppressed. This way a situation becomes apparent in which something like 'being oppressed to the second degree' becomes reality. The Jamaican guy with whom Carl and his mate had a talk is most probably still being treated in a racist way fairly often. For some people he will always remain an Other. Now this Other reaches a mindset with which he, in turn, behaves in a racist way towards other Others.

Still, there should be no doubt that this kind of political behavior is entirely new. In the past immigrants migrated to what they perceived as a kind of Promised Land. They wanted jobs, they wanted to assimilate themselves culturally (naturally not in an absolute way, but relatively: one always retains at the very least a nucleus of the culture from which one springs). Now, we have a immigrant population who no longer view western culture as something to strive for (with, sadly, always one exception: when there is money to be made). Frequently they even view it as evil, something to reject and oppose.

And so you get the kind of situations like the one Carl describes, where those who used to be strangers treat others like undesirables. And then some people dare talk about globalisation and multiculture and all the good things those will bring us. Where, in fact, it would seem that for the greater part our (western) bad habits have been globalised.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just started reading the new Gibson, Spook Country. It is like stumbling upon an old friend. I promised myself I would savour it, rather than speed through it, but I fear I will have finished it well before the weekend.

I still find it remarkable how this guy has eyes and ears for all things futuristic. Even more remarkable is the fact that, while his last two novels have the present as a setting, you do not for a moment have the feeling that he is no longer writing science fiction. A bit like Ballard, but at the same time, worlds apart. Ballard writes about the dystopia inside all of us, while Gibson will always be writing about what is to come, but really already here. I know that sounds like a paradox, but this is a paradoxical age and Gibson catches the simulacrum of the era like no other. The dictum "The future is now" seems invented especially for reading Gibson.

A bonus, for me personally as a Belgian, is that the (ambiguous) man in the background in Pattern Recognition as well as in Spook Country is the Belgian advertising guru Hubertus Bigend. I cannot possibly imagine a Belgian with a name like that, but somehow he fits the profile nonetheless. I could not begin to fathom how Gibson manages to grasp the essence of what it is to be Belgian, but he does.

It is always a challenge to find the right music to go along with the reading of a Gibson. At the moment the latest Dopplereffekt releases and the most sinister parts of the Drexciya discography suit me just fine, with Tangerine Dream's Zeit and Atem as perfect replacements, should the reading turn nocturnal.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Vinyl We Trust

Cobblestone Jazz - DMT
Cobblestone Jazz - Put the Lime in da Coconut
Joel Mull - Begun the End Has (Mathew Jonson Tiger Remix)

If previous years were infested with absolutely killing Mathew Jonson tunes then 2007 is turning into a grand cru year for Cobblestone Jazz. It helps of course when said Jonson is one of the three Jazzers. The single-sided 'DMT' is probably the darkest minimal tune to hit the decks in 2007. Rightout creepy with those muffled voice samples but well worth your money.

Regular 12" 'Put the Lime in the Coconut' combines the best of Jonson's wobbly techno rhythms (think 'Put Your Booty Shorts On') and the trio's jazz-inclined melodies. Don't care too much for the flip, though.

Jonson's Mull remix has been out for some time now but it is surely his best remix ever and one of the best dance tracks of the year. A cosmic delight from beginning to end.

Kelley Polar - Chrysanthemum EP
Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music
Osunlade - Elements Beyond

House is in a state of resurrection after years of slowly bleeding to death. But it is striking how most good house records have taken in a lot of techno influence. Kelley Polar strikes again with a beautiful three-tracker that, apart from the electro foundation, is rife with Age of Aquarius-style disco choirs and achingly beautiful melodies all around. Stunning as usual.

Henrik Schwarz's newest is, I humbly dare to state, without a shadow of a doubt his best yet. A tad more techno than house in a pumped up Basic Channel way and proving that Schwarz is one of the best producers in dance music right now.

The new Osunlade (on Strictly Rhythm of all labels) was a mighty surprise after years of Afro-tinged noodling from the man. There are at least five masterpieces on his new longplayer. This guy understands house (i.e. he knows that techno and house are an eternal twin) and that kind of understanding is growing rarer with the year. Amaze yourself and take a listen.

UR - Electronic Warfare 2.0
UR - Ma Ya Ya

Apart from some mid-nineties posing by Alec Empire Mad Mike's Underground Resistance remains the one and only truly political project in the whole of techno. The second episode of Electronic Warfare, as ever, makes no concessions at all, be it on the sonic or on the ideological side. Knife-sharp analog terror beats go hand in hand with soulful - albeit noisy - Red Planet-style techno. With lyrical snippets like "I'm gonna kill my radio station before it kills me" and "I am / U R / We will / Re-sist" it would be all too easy to point out the militant naivity. But only those who do not realize that every revolution requires an honest dose of naivité would come up with that kind of judgement. Essential as ever and comes with a nifty 7-inch sporting a raucous bonus track and an a capella of standout track 'Kill My Radiostation'. Judge or be judged!

'Ma Ya Ya' is from a few years ago but I only managed to lay my hands on it a few weeks ago. The combination of funky electrobeats, afro chants and accordion is just pure genius. Underground Resistance forever!!!

Q Lazarus / The The - Dark & Lovely 6

More tasty edits from Pilooski, here assisted by Krikor, who comes up with a heartbreaking electro edit of the Q Lazarus track, once part of the original Silence of the Lambs soundtrack. Pilooski himself beefs up The The's 'Giant', a track that was waiting to be reintroduced to the new dance generation.

Marc Ashken - Skream Remixes EP
Skream - Box of Dub
Andy Stott - Fear of Heights EP
Mala - Lean Forward

Dubstep's zenith is far from reached when someone like Skream (a genius that youngster) keeps providing the dope. The two remixes for Marc Ashken, originally minimal techno, are among his darkest tracks ever and they are oozing bass like snails ooze slime. The sample that rightly decries "R&B shit" is an added bonus.

The 12-inch drawn from the Box of Dub compilation on Soul Jazz sees him in straight-out dub mode. One might have doubts when there is only one extra track on this two-tracker, but 'Pass the Red Line' is one of the dubbiest tracks to ever emerge from the movement and certainly essential.

Andy Stott is the guy who cannot choose between techno and dubstep and it should come as no surprise then that the sublime Fear of Heights refrains from crossing the divide and insteads bridges both styles. Melancholic like Detroit techno and meditative like the best of Deep Chord, with, of course, deeeeeep bass.

The new DMZ comes courtesy of Mala who returns to murky dub waters after the techno cross-over of 'Left Leg Out'. 'Lean Forward' is the more dancefloor orientated track with a skanking climax after the Haile Selassie invoking break, while the slower 'Lean' reminds of Loefah's classic 'Mud' . Another topper indeed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

After what seems like ages (indeed, internet moves at the speed of light compared with non-e life) I am relieved to be back online. Not too burdened though by the e-pause. Gave me some time to catch up on my reading. Rediscovered Nietzsche after way too long a time and have voraciously reread Jenseits von Gut und Böse, Der Antichrist and Der Fröliche Wissenschaft. Am raving about Badiou, who is rapidly becoming the in-house thinker over at Fire in the Mind's. Almost bought L'Être et l'Événement, but settled for Le Siècle, which I think is just what we all need. Am thoroughly enjoying myself with Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, kind of a light version of Gravity's Rainbow (which must then be the next to-read). Have finally managed to obtain a nicely paid dayjob enabling me again to go raiding the vinyl shops once a week (reviews to follow). All things come to those who wait. Anyway, writing should restart from this weekend on.