Wednesday, 29 October 2008
When "nu-rave" or "new rave" hit two years back it wasn't so much an homage to rave as it was an attempt to cash in on a forgotten scene by using its still glowing corpse to ignite yet another fad to attract the media. It worked, but the stars - Klaxons, New Young Pony Club, Shitdisco, the Sunshine Underground - were as rave as Hot Chip, M.I.A. and CSS, all of whom were lumped in to help the NME sell more copies.
Enigmatic UK producer Zomby makes rave music, but not exclusively. He's a chameleon with ADD, often cramming everything from rave, grime, crunk and dubstep to garage, jackin' house, Nintendo and bassline into whatever space he can, and without compromising the songs as a whole. Next month will see him release a new EP for Hyperdub, home to Burial and Kode9.
But his full-length, Where Were U In '92? (out on Werk Records), is indeed a faithful tribute to the music that inspired air sirens as an instrument, fluorescent colours as fashionable, warehouse busts as headline news, glowsticks as the most annoying accessory ever, E as the one and only party drug, and furry pants as the biggest no-no that ever crossed someone's mind.
As its title suggests, it's all about revisiting a time and feeling a certain moment again. When he recently spoke to Pitchfork, he summed up his intentions, saying, "I'm not looking to bring something back. It's more just my vibe I carry through the music. It's the vibe that's gone now. It's totally gone now but I remember it. That's the thing that inspires me. I write from that place." Where Were U In '92? is as much a true rave record as it is a tribute. Oftentimes, it feels as original as the fuckin' Prodigy's "Outta Space" or Altern-8's "Activ 8," mainly because he simply has the skills to make tunes on par with them. He utilizes 303s, 808s, 909s, air sirens, oscillating bass, whiplash break beats, sped-up vocals, soulful divas, they're all in there!
By Cam Lindsay
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
After completing a thoroughly uninspiring music technology course in Leeds, a despondent Luke Blair returned to North London with some big decisions to make. Instead, he avoided them and immersed himself in a world of daytime TV, late-night beat-making, and 24-hour existential dread. Inspired by obsessions with artists such as Can, Madlib, Theo Parrish and Autechre, thus Lukid was born, spending many a lonely night hunched over his midi keyboard, layering up wonky beats and squeezing out woozy chords. In 2007 Lukid released his astonishing debut album ‘Onandon’, made up of the kind of Rubik's Cube compositions that twist in a broad spectrum of elements to manipulate hip-hop founded electronics from dust-encrusted loops, lazer-tag beats and sea-sick rhythms, built with equal parts Cologne minimalist machine-click techno and the low swing of Detroit’s latter-day mix of cross-pollinated hip-hop, soul and house. Lukid’s mature, complex and intricately plotted instrumentals unfold with slow-burning textured detail, sometimes recalling the gravelly disposition of early DJ Shadow, yet it’s his grace, sample dexterity and excess of panache that pitch this artist oceans away from the weary blunted brigade. When a producer is able to deliver an epic widescreen vision while at the same time maintaining his “A” game, that should be cause for celebration, and Lukid has been rightly feted on boards and blogs ever since the release of ‘Onandon’. And now to ‘Foma’, a second story which introduces a darker insight into his crumbling environs, a haunting tale of deep south conversations with a Studio One foundation. In a world where artists’ influences can appear paradoxical or sometimes completely unrelated, Lukid hammers the sounds of his together into a single sheet of incredibly intriguing electronic music. You won’t already need to be in love with the languorous beat constructions of Madlib, Dabrye, Flying Lotus, Samiyam and their like to find yourself gently but emphatically knocked flat back by ‘Foma’, before being comprehensively stretched into a series of new sensual shapes.
Foma will be released 3rd November 2008
Monday, 13 October 2008
There we were last week, minding our own collective business, when an mp3 promo dropped through the (online, so not really an actual) door from Werk Discs. And of all people, it was by Zomby - he of ‘Spliff Dub’ and ‘Liquid Dancehall’ fame - with a full-length album called Where Were U In 92? And the best news? It’s excellent.
As you might suspect from the title, Where Were U is a throw-back to early nineties hardcore, fully-mixed with rave stabs, air-horns, ‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’ and 'The Bouncer' references and bound together by Bizarre Inc-revering piano lines. It’s also the first album we’ve heard since Gang Gang Dance’s Saint Dymphna where the office is in a collective state of WOW over it. Well, those of us who’re in anyway - we’re planning the conversion of the others as you read this…
Where Were U In 92? is out on Werk Discs on October 24. Watch out for the full FACT review nearer the time.
“Where were you in ’92?” demands Zomby, as he throws us full-tilt through his system-rinsing debut LP, an awesome revival of early 90s hardcore with a modern, tweaked-out twist. Already renowned in the dubstep scene, nobody familiar with his previous releases could have predicted this album; an arena-sized sweaty rush of air horns and helium vocal samples, relentless piano stabs and dark rolling basslines, all created on vintage technology. Yet amongst the classic snare breaks and re-pitched chords, Zomby still manages to easily cram in enough atmospheric dubstep, jackin’ house and even pimped out UK niche to bring this rave fully up to date. Dig out your NASA bomber jacket, get that bleached blonde undercut you’ve been putting off for so long and check your pupils - Zomby’s telling you what happened back in the day and where he’s taking it now...
Where Were U In '92
Out On Werk October 23rd 2008
The Month In: Grime / Dubstep
Zomby first appeared on dubstep's radar in 2005 with ragga bouncer "Spliff Dub", though in fairness he'd been raving and DJing for many years before. Also from that era, "Memories" evoked imagery of raves long since gone, yet it was the 12"s on Hyperdub and Ramp in 2008 that signalled he'd found a few "X's" and located himself somewhere fresh and new.
Take for example his explanation of how he built recent track "Aquafre5h": It gives you a glimpse into his mindstate and the sounds he's chasing. "I sampled some Pharrell bits'n'bobs and a Mario NES game I sampled and processed so all elements of the song are correct...I've been working with a custom palette of sound for a while now. I suppose these songs are the result of that and great skunk."
However it was created, Zomby's music has found fans in many of the current sonic pioneers of new directions, like Jamie Vex'd, Starkey, Darkstar, and even Burial. Yet Zomby's sound is most impressive when its effect on regular listeners is observed. While other producers can generate impact or momentum, Zomby dubs tend to induce a unique mix of shock or confusion; a stunned sense of "what the…?" Recent beats "Gloop", "Parrot Stew", and "Aquafre5h" feature mutating bottom ends, unstable and chaotic bass bubbles that seem to emit gasses like some primordial soup. And while Zomby's sound regularly travels into other moods, these mutating aquabass tracks are by themselves alone good enough to warrant acclaim.
"Garage is my wife. I cheated on her a couple of times but wholly regret it," he explains in interview. "Darker garage was more the sound I was planning to work with but grime was also a massive part of the jigsaw for me. Eski and dubstep really went hand in hand for me. I didn't see any difference in the style only the sounds used so I got really interested in transposing styles. Like negative imprints of other peoples beats that would be called on genre or style and then having sounds transposed would lift it into another…"
Other massive influences on the Zomby sound are rave, hip hop/crunk, house and kuduro and in this he's found kinship with acts like Darkstar, Rustie or Joker. But despite moving in similar orbits, Zomby still remains alone, isolated on his own trajectory, spending nights in on the 'net consuming music old and new on YouTube, mentally recyling it through a skunk filter and rebuilding it, wrongly but oh so right.
"It's not so much a new direction," he says of his sound, "it's just about writing real songs or tracks that are justified in more than one sense. Nothing novelty or formed for its own sake is really doing it anymore. Every element has to be looked at and analyzed and really it's a state of minimizing to move forward, when you've worked out how to refine what you do you can turn the taps on as such. I think that's what's started to come through now."
In interview, Zomby bares more than a few traits in common with Burial. Both are fiercely passionate about their own music, hark back to the spirit of rave for inspiration and produce fragile, unpolished but startlingly original music. It's little surprise then that Zomby declares himself Burial's number one fan, while his new side project, a throwback-to-'91 rave album on Werk is sure to appeal to fans of Burial's influences.
Judging by interviews, so much of Burial's inspiration is the bittersweet memories of raves now long since extinct, and as Zomby expounds his passion for the era, all his influences-- hip-hop, garage, dubstep, jungle, rave, kuduro, grime-- seem to coalesce into one coherent whole, now facilitated by the vast visibility of music on the 'net and bathed in the fading afterglow of hardcore. Perhaps every "what-the?" moment he creates in new listeners' brains is just a by-product of his own urge to forever re-create that first rave-rush again in his own.
"I get those rushes now man," he explains. "The songs I like make my hairs stand on end. That's when I know the song is a winner. For me there's not gonna be enough time in my life to devour all the music I want so the real rush I'm searching for I'm probably never gonna find. Eskimo was a rush. Crunk's been a bit of a rush. For me its forward ahead at full speed really. I'm not looking to bring something back. It's more just my vibe I carry through the music. It's the vibe that's gone now. It's totally gone now but I remember it. That's the thing that inspires me. I write from that place."
Its been threatening to come for a while now, but Werk are proud to announce and confirm that after a 4 year hiatus, Darren J. Cunningham otherwise known as Actress will be releasing the much anticipated long play "Hazyville" as part of the Werk Autum/Winter 2008 collection.
The album will be presented in the month of October in all good independent music store and features a selection of tracks written from 2002 to 2008.