Movement Concrete

D-Bridge & Skeptical – Move Way (2013)

This is my pledge: you will always be able to count on this blog to update you on exciting new developments in dance music about two years after the fact. Marooned on planet rap, the light from brightly burning dance choons reaches me long after the stars have faded from clubland.

Actually, what keyed me into this tune last night was (and this will be a recurrent theme on here, I’m sure) getting stoned and thereby drifting into a sort of imaginative proximity with my Drum N Bass days long past. I’ve not followed D’N’B for a good four or five years now, and never bothered much with the Instra:Mental/D-Bridge stuff that sprouted from the genres union with dubstep (a two-way osmosis which left dubstep undoubtedly the poorer, polluted with buzz-saw basslines on the one side and dull neurofunk stiffness on the other), and in that period a lot of ideas about why I distanced myself from the genre have collected like dust around my ears and brain. So it’s nice to be able to hear – under the influence of weed and, perhaps, a growing boredom with more ”nuumy” genres – qualities in the music that made me love it.

D-Bridge – Without Answers (2013)

It helps to remember buying vinyl, trying to pull off mixes (DNB is a genre infatuated with dramatic dynamic shifts – which is why in the middle of nearly every tune there’s 16 or 32 bars of harmonic cooling down before the sub-bass thunder rumbles and it starts raining a-Men), and – naturally – dancing, usually while off my chops on pills, in clubs like Stealth in Nottingham. I think there’s a sniffy attitude, particularly in the online musical circles I now move in, towards DNB because of the conventionality of its rhythms (2-step rules over all, and tunes like “Move Way” – with it’s ‘half-step’ beat, are aimed at attacking this hegenomy) and structures. Especially compared to its direct forebear, jungle, DNB sounds quite stiff. At 170bpm, boom-CLAP, boom-CLAP gives no room for swing and shuffle ala. House.

However, to remember that DNB is DANCE music is to cast your ears more kindly upon that metronomic snare. It’s a convention, the crowd all know it is coming and will (more or less) be sustained. It defines the pulse of the dancefloor. Even in its ”shallower” forms (DJ Hazard et al.) it is immersive music; you are carried along by the force of the tempo, and by the weight of the sounds (unless, of course, you aren’t), and whipped up into a frenzy, or at least into an out-of-body (because completely OF the body) state.

Taxman – You’re Dead (2005)

The quality of sounds is very important in modern Drum N Bass, which is another reason its so criticised, I think – its not VITAL its TASTEFUL. Well, so goes the cliche. I wonder, though, if this is simply replacing one cognoscenti’s disdain for raw energy with another’s disdain for beauty? Now, “Move Way” is not really beautiful at all; I think it would be derided by many (including un-stoned me) as being boring, stiff, humourless. What it is, is IMPRESSIVE. It’s titanic, in the sense that Loefah’s productions (clearly influential on D-Bridge & Skeptical, hence the reverb-saturated Jamaican monologue that presages the spartan drop) are titanic. It’s stripped back to its sinews and these are titanium-tough. Rhythmically it fixes you to the spot, it rivets you into place. You will move, it insists, but not from this dancefloor.

Always we must fight our instinct to dismiss by categorisation (by LANGUAGE, you might say). The qualities of this tune are completely different from the tune below, but both have made their own place to be judged in and have to be judged within that place.

DJ Pantha – Sweet Shop (2012)

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I’m the Flip in the Flop

Gunplay – Tell ‘Em Daddy (2015)

One of the things I most pride myself on having achieved as a writer is giving Gunplay’s ”Bogota Rich: The Prequel” its most hyperbolic review, it’s most wide-eyed and drooly-mouthed tribute. Excuse me while I quote myself:

“So much I wanna say, only got one pair of lungs”, Gunplay raps at one point on Bogota Rich. Well, whatever you make of what he says, you’ve really got to hand it to his lungs. Another line that perhaps comes closer to the essence of Gunplay’s Tyson-esque talent: “I beat up the beat, never let it breathe!”. There are plenty of rappers who are nicer people than Gunplay, more edifying and politically conscious, more verbally dexterous – but us Gunplay fans all know who’s wearing the black shorts. Ear lobe in mouth, tattoo on face, opponents being given mouth-to-mouth in the opposite corner: love him or loathe him, the champ is here.”

FACT Magazine review of ‘Bogota Rich: The Prequel”

Since then I’ve sort of lost interest in Gunplay, but this new song, the first single off his debut album ”Living Legend”, which apparently drops in May, has rekindled my platonic love for the Swastika rocking maniac. You’d be hard pressed to find a rapper alive with a more authoritative delivery than Don Logan, and his lyrics are clever without being clever-bollocks. The beat also goes hard like Alan Partridge’s bag of cement.

Some good rap tunes, apropos of NADA.

G-Unit – All About The Drug Money (2015)

This is the type of music 2015 Mobb Deep should be making. Piano. Bass drum booming. Perfect fodder for QB killa music. I posted this on my tumblr already but now it’s got a video so why not?

Roc Marciano – Pop (2010)

I usually prefer Marciano in laid-back gangster mode but this tune can’t be described as owt but FIYAH.

To Commemorate Gaffling A Blu Ray Rip of ‘Interstellar’ Off KAT

Kuedo – Seeing The Edges (2011)

The flange noises here, which sound like opening air-locks (or perhaps just like laughing gas being fired up), remind me of those used on ANOTHER futurist anthem designed to inspire Blade Runner reveries in the sensitive.

The Dream feat. Kanye West – Walking On The Moon (2009)

There was a lot of debate at the time of ‘Severent”s release about whether it was futuristic or retrograde but leaving all that aside it’s definitely held up spectacularly; perhaps there’s something timeless about this sci-fi sound, or perhaps it’s that it’s timely. The future is now. You lot can have your swimming with dolphins, dumping ice-buckets over your heads and helping the helpless. MY ambition for 2015 is to get hyper-lean and stroll around central London on a summer evening, in blue-tinged Ray Bans, staring up at the towering office buildings and listening to Kuedo. For now, I’m going to replicate the effect I’m hoping for by turning the volume down on this video of a Tokyo night drive and turning the Kuedo up in my headphones.

Slave To The Wave

French Montana – Playing In The Wind (2014)

Say what you like about French Montana (and I have): he’s not lyrical, he’s not French, his head is a glorified towel-stand, etcetera, but he’s currently acting as a bridging point between dusty old New York rap and the auto-tune blues-hop produced by Atlanta artists in recent years; or should that be a life-line? Auto-tune can make a rapper sound like a melancholy robot (C3POhdear/Robo-sob/Suicyborg) and it can make them sound like a robot with learning difficulties, and French Montana (and his mate/duplicate Chinx Drugz) definitely falls into the latter category. But that seems to be part of his whole steez – the loveable mook, obviously not as stupid as he makes out to be and thoroughly enjoying pretending to be a complete Wall-y.

Fabolous feat. French Montana – Ball Drop (2015)

Vado feat. Chinx Drugz – Told Ya (2015)

French likes being ridiculous and larger than life, which is exactly what New York rappers have been failing to do for a hot minute (post Dipset?). Witness the video for ‘Ball Drop’, which isn’t about when Hitler’s voice first broke, in which French parades around jocularly in an oversized mink coat, while Fabolous tries to approach Montana’s swag-levels by occasionally borrowing the coat and otherwise wearing a New Era cap with a stupid pointless bobble on top. This sort of reminds me of when you see a politician pretending to enjoy a performance by N-Dubz at the Royal Galas in order to look less cold and reptilian. When young (now banged up) New Yorker Bobby Schmurda embraced southern/midwest styles last year, it felt less contrived, less awkward, less dusty. (Actually, ‘Wipe The Case Away’ was more Max-B/French Montana-ish than anything like Future or Rich Homie Quan.)

Bobby Schmurda – Wipe The Case Away (2014)

Re: Montana x Autotune, here’s Johnny Cinco sounding not unlike Montana when rapping on a weiiiiiird auto-goon-tune which I’m not even sure is good or not but is certainly haunting.

Johnny Cinco – Crew X 2 (2015)

Boy Better Know should have renamed themselves London City Are U Dumb Ensemble

Motor City Drum Ensemble – Send A Prayer Pt. 2 (2013)

I’m a big fan of MCDE. In promotional shots he looks a bit like a member of the ”Only Lovers Left Alive” cast, and perhaps this explains how a Dale Winton’s-teeth-white German bloke is able to make records which glow with a black soulfulness from the 70s. All musicians who sample, and perhaps all musicians, are benign cultural vampires of sorts. Or should that be conductors? Or preachers? If my record deck hadn’t died sometime in around 2011 I probably would have bought this EP, which also includes this, much darker and bleepier, track:

Motor City Drum Ensemble – The Stranger (2013)

It’s All Gone A Bit Pete Properly

Kingpin Cartel – Ghetto (2007)

If I ever get around to producing music properlyproperly, ideally it will sound a bit like this. The chords, I mean. Those euphoric-melacholic square waves, flanged to sound jet-like and air-borne, that sound like a come-up and come-down simultaneously. One of these days when I’ve really got nothing better to do I’ll document a short history of these chords in rave music. Maybe I can pitch it to Adam ‘Rogues Foam’ Harper and get him to do the scientific analysis, while I preen, beautifully and uselessly, amongst the CGI molecules like Jennifer Aniston in her advertising anchoring prime. Anyway, this is taken from Bicep’s Essential MIx which I’ve been listening to this week, and which you should listen to this week.

‘Ghetto’ smack-face-obviously (or very slightly, depending on if you’re me or not) resembles Alan Braxe and Fred Falke’s classic track ‘Intro’; the same textural counterpoise of wistful, airy tunefulness with weighty, funky slap-bass. Makes you dance, makes you smile, makes you cry.

Alan Braxe & Fred Falke – Intro (2001)