05 September 2008

middling, generally

and speaking of the 9Ts...yember when i was all "big ups Big Beat inna ComeBack style, 2dubble-Oh-7"..? oh what, you nope? well hrm anyway looks like i was pretty much right on the $$$£££, if you consider that the biggest-deal electronica song of '07 (hands down), Justice's "D.A.N.C.E.", was (apparently, we now learn) executive produced (um, whatever that means), by Damien Harris, a.k.a. Midfield General, a.k.a. the head of Skint Records, locus of most Big Beat activity (discounting ChemBros and Prodigy) in the mid-late 9Tz, a.k.a. best mate to mr. Norman Cook... (not to mention the fact that there was a biggest-deal electronica in '07 - when's the last time that happened? i don't know, and it probably wasn't 1998, but i know what song it was that year...)

and now, same year as this sudden Bristol/trip-hop revival, as Thom Jurek pointed out (and he probably wasn't the first, but i no longer read anything except for all music guide) - except that really all it means is the new P-head album, since i guess the Massive won't be out 'til next year, the Big Beat revvvl gets confirmed with some old-true-school legitimacy, via a new album, General Disarray, the first since 2000, by Midfield General himself. [TBH, I never listened to MG before, although I knew the name from some Fatboy Slim mixes and whatnot. the AMG reviews of his 2000 debut and especially of his installment of the on the floor at the boutique mix series - the lo-fi allstars version of which was very formative for me - read like apologia in defense of big beat, whose reputation is still, i think, fairly tarnished:

"one realizes that Midfield's On the Floor... effort is what the big beat scene was truly about in the first place: a belief to stop thinking long enough to scatter usual classifications into the four winds. Well, just as long as it all still makes you dance."

makes me wanna hear 'em too - too bad (and crazy) that generalisation isn't available used cheap...even if it wasn't ever released domestically.]

...and what better confirmation could you ask for than a lead single [video here] explicitly glorifying the genre's most obnoxious (secondary) trait, mixed by soulwax (who aren't actually all that nu-big-beaty, but i got them confused with simian for a second) and with instrumental contributions from xavier d. rosnay (aka 1/2 of justice)?? [...and also vox by the gal from modular's bumblebeez, thereby singlesongedly linking MidGen to three of the major forces in '00s Electro-Blog-House-Tronica...incidentally the epic liner thank yous also include just about everybody else that could be included in that category, especially all those Parisian people that I haven't been too impressed with yet.]

amazingly, "Disco Sirens" isn't actually all that obnoxious, thanks largely to XDR (now there's an alias)'s tasty drum and bass work, which handily happens to blatantly rip off Daft Punk's "Around the World" ripping off (vaguely, not really so much) "Good Times"/"Rapper's Delight." because blatant rip-offing is just a part of what Big Beat is all about. see also the second half of "Bass Mechanic" ripping Nitro Deluxe's "Let's Get Brutal" riff, to excellent fun effect. Otherwise, General Disarray suffers to some extent from a common (latter-day) Big Beat problem, too many guest vocalists that don't contribute anything and end up being distracting and all over the place. especially annoying are the lengthy spoken stories on "Teddy Bear" and "Seed Distribution" - one saccharine and one unintelligible, and both becoming the whole pointless focus of their respective tracks. "On The Road" is with "robots in disguise," who I guess are some kind of disco-punk chicksinger band, at least that's just what this track sounds like, and it's not good.

The ones I like most are the instrumentals or near-instrumentals ("Dennis and My Sister" has some phone messages and Dutch football commentary it, which is just silly), which are the ones that remind me most of Simian Mobile Disco. Especially "137 Piano." "Love Thyself" is really good (and Fatboyish, but not in an obnoxious Beat-y way), and has a sermon over it. Also very nice is "Loving Laughter," which has a languorous female soul sample ("I'd like to get it on with you yeah baby"...sticks in yr head) and a laid-back floaty feel. kind of like Balearic, I guess.

speaking of which, I am finally starting to come around to "Nu-Balearic" music, or whatever it is, as music (not as a genre classification, though i suppose it is useful since it's what we've got) - "cosmic disco" may be better (or at least "cosmic" something), but I'm less interested in thinking about it as disco, per se. I like it qua ambient music, not qua dance music. (and I'm not sure I'm ready for non-danceable disco.) I suppose I've already been writing about it, via my reviews of Air France (though they're possibly too eclectic and idiosyncratic to count, I'd say) and the final third of the Milky Disco comp [i.e. the milky (not disco) part.]

but specifically, I'm really really enjoying this album by Hatchback, Colors of the Sun, which showed up unexpected. they're billing it, I guess, as "Californian Cosmic Krautrock Disco," which is pretty silly but sounds about right - the disco is mitigated by the rest of it. it sounds super Californian. and super simple, but somehow just perfect. apparently the dude is a retro/modernist design freak (just looked at his mice pace, and listen to the songs while your at it), and it kinda shows. i mean, sounds. whatever. I also seem to be enjoying the Quiet Village album. I love ambient music!

meanwhile, Johan Agebjörn (mr. sally shapiro producer guy) has put out an honest-to-good ambient album, on what may or may not be a new age label, which may or may not be an okay thing, which is way more ambient than his milky disco inclusion (not even close) or the lovely "sleep through the storm" instrmntl that closed out disco romance. and my man Lindstrøm, Mr. Cosmic himself, has also been getting toatally epic in a quite enjoyable, but it's not really balearic is it? not sure. to be honest i've been a bit more focused on his labelmates... diskJokke (awesome name, awesome capitalization scheme, awesome piano intro, and the rest is pretty good tooo) and Dom Leone (that's gonna have to wait 'til next time though...)

up next/soon: AMG review round-up of Labrador jawns among others; the frustrated swedemux ("simple syrup"), Step Up 2: The Streets review w/ DVD extras; also, new PB+J? new ex-Hefner dude? new Zoot Woman? and...[[[don't get too excited now[[[NEW MARIT (shhhh) LARSEN ((((!!!!!))))????]]]]]]. and maybe something about the Knife. and hopefully some dj gigs/mixes.

so can i be a music blogger now? is the caps thing bothering you? i can work on that...

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