Tuesday, March 26, 2013

RIP Scott Hardkiss

Listen to this mindblowing Hardkiss remix (suppressed by Elton and/or record company) of 'Rocket Man', which I heard before just once, utterly unprepared yet totally primed (shall we say) during Scott's set at the Even Furthur rave in 1996...  sets me adrift on memorE bliss it does

Thursday, March 21, 2013

reminder: Paris March 23-28 - Faber Social, London April 2

From Saturday I'm in Paris for events around Bring the Noise (out now on Au Diable Vauvert) and then on Tuesday April 2 I'll be at the Faber Social, London reading from the new updated Energy Flash (out in June from Faber)


Saturday  March 23 - Booksigning --16h-18h  - Paris Book Fair (Salon du Livre) - Paris Expo. Porte de Versailles -Au Diable Vauvert stand (S65)
Sunday March 24 - Booksigning --14h-16h - Paris book fair - Au Diable Vauvert stand (S65)

Wednesday March 27  - Live discussion with SR + bookseller + journalist / booksigning
19h-21h - Le Thé des écrivains  store    --16 rue des minimes 75003 Paris

Thursday March 28 - Booksigning - 13h-14h - PublicisDrugstore - Les Champs-Elysées - 75008 Paris

Tuesday April 2nd, 7 pm: Faber Social and Rough Trade Shops Present Vinyl 
The Social,   5 Little Portland Street, London W1   - Tickets £6 in advance / £8 on the door

A night of discussion and entertainment themed around Vinyl, featuring Peter Paphides, Travis Elborough, Jude Rogers, Spencer Hickman, James Fearnley, and SR, plus band Workin' Man Noise Unit. I will be reading from the new expanded/updated edition of Energy Flash, which Faber is putting out in June.       More information

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Buttoned Up is part of Penguin's Tube-inspired series of pocket-portable paperbacks, Penguin Lines,  commemorating the 150th birthday of the London Underground. This appropriately smart looking volume, which was conceived and designed by Gert Jonkers & Jop van Bennekom of Fantastic Man magazine, explores "the peculiarity of buttoning up one's shirt, especially in east London".   You can imagine my surprise at being asked to contribute to a book about clothing. I elected to write about "music, masochism and the strict style of mod men". That's their blurb - I'd have probably gone with "violence" rather than masochism. Bits on Performance and on casuals ended up on the cutting room floor, but for the better, leaving a cleaner and sharper line from The Eyes to Hatcham Social via Josef K and The Chords.

Not about clothes, strictly speaking, but style and glamour related: I contributed an essay to Glam: The Performance of Style, the book that accompanies the exhibition currently showing at the Tate Liverpool which looks at the intersection between glam rock and the visual arts. "The Rift of Retro: 1962? Or Twenty Years On?" examines glam's relationship with nostalgia, revivalism, pastiche, etc.  Cutting room floor discardia include Alvin Stardust, Roy Wood, and Pinups / These Foolish Things,  but then I do tend to write at twice the length requested. Judging by the pictures in the catalogue, the exhibition looks really fantastic... I'm frustrated that I won't be able to take a detour to Liverpool on what has ended up a typically hectic homecoming visit.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Woebot calls it a day / Ekoplekz keeps on keeping on

 Woebot winds it up with a compact final statement: the Woebiotic EP.  
With this vinyl 4-tracker, Woebot completes a circle, or a near-circle. No guitar; barely any voice (it appears on one track, heavily masked by vocoder, such that it's barely detectable as voice). No songs or lyrics. Instead, four electronic instrumentals, mostly made using analogue synth
But it's not a complete return to Automat and East Central One, because there's little in the way of  "appropriative collage" going on here (if there are any samples here, they don't announce themselves as samples).  Woebiotic is basically an IDM record. This is the Woebot who's the world's #1 Black Dog fanatic. This is the Matthew Ingram who penned a surprising appreciation of Autechre in a recent issue of The Wire.   
The first side, featuring "Nothing Is Happening" and "Blogger," faintly recalls early Mike Paradinas or the Analord series (it's a very un-digital record, in fact). But it also vaguely brings to mind BEF's Music for Stowaways and the early Human League (those hissing hi-hat sounds, like sculpted bursts of pink noise).  Better still is the second side, containing "Rain" (which could be a great lost track by LFO or  XON) and "Tolls", with its etched-out-of-ice bell-tones and piercing threnodic tingles.
As the titles indicate, the mood overall is pensive and somewhat glum. Appropriate for a valedictory release, maybe, but probably there's more going on that. On the EP's paper insert, the song titles come with explanatory / evocative descriptions:  "Nothing is Happening" ("deflated rave opus"), "Blogger" ("diaristic alpine dirge"), "Rain" ("english monsoon season") and "Tolls" ("for thee").  This is electronic music for withdrawn inward contemplation, not gregarious getting-down. 

Matt himself says the EP is based around the notion of  "the electronic home studio as a kind of neural network...  McLuhan-ish ideas about how nerve signals are electronic... I'm fascinated with the way in which analog synthesis works by mimicking the way that the vocal folds work."

The e-communique announcing Woebiotic a few week ago closed with the open-ended "what's next? not nothing", while the EP insert's own farewell line is "Onwards into the music!", hinting that while there will be no more releases he might may well be making things not for public consumption.  I half-hope Matt "does a Woebot", i.e. goes back on his own vow and restarts the project, like he did several times with all those blogs of his. But maybe it really is time to move on.
(You can buy Woebiotic here.) 

It's strange when blogger pals end up joining the company of your favourite musicians. I mean, just because they know a lot about music and have strong opinions about it, it doesn't mean they're capable of generating stuff that's any cop. 

Been thinking about this recently not just because of Woebot's end-of-the-journey EP but because of Nick Edwards (formerly known as the blogger Gutterbreakz, now increasingly well-known as the musician Ekoplekz) and who shows absolutely no sign at all of stopping. Over the last two or three years he's churned out a torrent of music, pretty much all of it really superb.

Just readily to hand I've got something like 11 separate works by Nick - LPs, EPs, collaborative albums--plus a bunch of guest mixes done for sites like Pontone (mostly featuring his own music). Somewhere tucked away amongst all my stuff there's an early CD-R and a cassette (attic tapes, really, rather than the Oeuvre Proper)But there's a heap more limited-edition tape things he's done for micro-labels that I've not got, plus composite identity projects like Ekoclef(Go on, have a boggle at his discography). And there's more coming, constantly -- a new record from his Ensemble Skalectrik identity, Trainwrekz, is due out via Editions Mego at the end of April  

Compared with the shifts and leaps Woebot went through, what's striking about Nick's work is how fixated it is -- it's one big, heaving, writhing, gnarly body of "changing same". Yet I don't get tired of it. I've actually tried to listen all the stuff I had in one go, made a folder of it and clicked "play all". I ran out of day before I finished it. But I never got bored with it. It's more-ish, this sound.

Also striking is the recognisability of the musical voice: this is his sound, the furrow that he ploughs obsessively. His private zone is a triangular hinterland at the borders of which lie genres that exert a gravitational pull on him but together serve to cancel each other, so that he stays within a sort of no man's land. Which is actually One Man's Land. 

     One side of the triangle is, loosely, industrial (although actually it's quite specific: early Cabaret Voltaire (I say "loosely industrial" because I never really thought of the Cabs as "industrial").   


Another side: the outer fringe of hauntology (hence the alliance, or rather merger, with Mordant Music as eMMplekz for the awesome IZOD Days) . Although really any affinity with H-ology is mostly through  shared love of Radiophonia and obscure DIY Anglotronica (see "Dick Mills Blues"). 

And then the third side: dubstep's own moody-atmospheric fringe, Shackleton and so forth.

(I suppose there might also be a third-and-a-half side to this triangle: enough pure hard techno in his DNA to converge with Perc Trax)

Yet another characteristic of Nick's thing is that unlike so much of the stuff coming out of the Zones these days, it doesn't really require conceptual propping up.  It bypasses intellectualisation, works on a basic visceral level of "this shit sounds great". In that sense--as the flexing, extension, and perpetuation of a musical voice, it's as pure and direct as a group like AC/DC.  You listen and you can hear the satisfaction it's giving him to make these sounds, which appear to involve the physical manipulation of favorite machines much more than the digital moving-around of sound objects on a screen. 
Nick also, it must be noted, finally, has a great way with a title e.g. Mildew Riddims, "Working Men's Dub", "Terror / Danger"


Sunday, March 17, 2013


In the last week of March I’ll be in Paris for the publication of Bring the Noise by Au Diable Vauvert, and will be appearing at the Paris Book Fair and doing events at two bookstores.

Then the week after that I'll be appearing at the Faber Social in London (April 2), participating in a night of talk and entertainment themed around Vinyl. I’ll be reading from the new updated/expanded edition of Energy Flash that Faber is publishing in June. 


Saturday  March 23
16h-18h  - Paris Book Fair (Salon du Livre) - Paris Expo. Porte de Versailles
Au Diable Vauvert stand (S65)

Sunday March 24
14h-16h - Paris book fair - Au Diable Vauvert stand

Wednesday March 27
19h-21h - Le Thé des écrivains  store
16 rue des minimes 75003 Paris
Live discussion between me, the bookseller and a journalist (details TK)
+ book signing

Thursday  March 28
PublicisDrugstore - Les Champs-Elysées - 75008 Paris


Tuesday April 2nd, 7 pm: Faber Social and Rough Trade Shops Present Vinyl
The Social, 5 Little Portland Street, London W1
Tickets £6 in advance / £8 on the door

"Pete Paphides (BBC 6 Music's Vinyl Revival) will spin some records and host some chat; Travis Elborough will take us on a trip through 60 years of recording history reading from his book The Long-Player Goodbye; a panel of industry experts including Jude Rogers and Spencer Hickman will wax lyrical about the life and love of vinyl; Simon Reynolds will be zipping in from LA to read from his new update of Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture; The Pogues founding member and accordion player James Fearnley will read from his story of the band’s life Here Comes Everybody and Workin' Man Noise Unit will play a live set of tinnitus-inducing tantrum rock. "    More information

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013



20 years of "Mack Daddy Goldie"..                               

Well, 21, but who's counting...

(Whatever happened to DJ Freebase?) (Who was DJ Freebase?) (Is this him in the pic here?)

These should have gone into the anthology too...

Not as "important" / epochal as "Terminator" or "Angel" or the "Timeless" song-suite but that EP is my favorite of the G's work, his most concentrated slab of perfection. Just a notch ahead of this 4-tracker.

I've got Darkrider EP on vinyl, but before I found the vinyl I had it for years as a CD-single. Yes, for a while there, Reinforced put out CD-singles. (As did Moving Shadow, Shut Up and Dance, Suburban Base...)

But this The Alchemist anthology does not begin at the beginning. Before Darkrider, there was this:

Only just noticed the baked goods thematic on both sides of this debut 12 for Reinforced. Not that he's really talking biscuits or muffins of course...

Wasn't there something even before this?

                                      No, it turns out to be an Icelandic producer.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Here's my piece on David Bowie for The New York Times.

Cutting room disjecta:

... "stars like Greek gods, cruel and controlling," Bowie's original idea for the video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)"...

... at the start of the video, Bowie, looking and sounding like a doddery old gent, enters a grocery store and catches sight of a celebrity gossip magazine called Pantheon... 

... David Bowie Is, the intransitive title of the V & A exhibition, signifies “how wondrous it is to live in a world that contains this polymath genius” but also “fill in the blank space”. His career has seen that emptiness filled, then erased, then filled again, over and over and over...