July 30, 2008

. . .

  

Posted by dean at 11:37 PM

July 29, 2008

Zalbe, Page 243.

The first thought made him happy. The second was so big it made him feel like crying.

Posted by dean at 02:24 AM

July 24, 2008

Ex-Change.

Boy: 'I want to go out. Something romantic.'

Girl: 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre.'

Boy: 'I said romantic.'

Girl: 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre II.'

Posted by dean at 02:17 AM

July 23, 2008

Zalbe, Page 153.

The cabbie dropped his flag. And at five minutes past two on a sunny late afternoon, they pulled up at the gate. John Cheltzman took half a dozen steps up the drive toward the brooding brick pile and fainted away. He had rheumatic fever. He was dead two years later.

Posted by dean at 12:16 AM

July 07, 2008

Young : Life.

Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip @ Koko

We're in London. At some place called Koko.

It has a bunch of orange lights, a couple of balconies, these boxes on the wall for la-di-dah people, and it's not very much at all like a gorilla in a zoo.

On the stage, a bald guy comes out and he starts talking about getting old. He's all, 'Blink and you're thirty-five.' And everyone's depressed.

He leaves and two shouting men come out who jump up and down a lot, and then it's these other guys' turn, and it's all this stuff with pianos and big violins you have to hold on the ground and it's like that music Dumbo hears when he sees pink elephants. Next!

Hello, Dan Le Sac -- you look like a cake!

Hello, Scroobius Pip -- you look homeless!

They start doing air-trumpets and one of them taps the side of his head. Scroobius is sarcastic and uses long words, and in front of all this computer music, he puts on a bad-guy military hat and bores people with told-you-so's, and the whole time I think of a kid funk-robot with a beard programmed to make fun of people.

But the one that goes, 'Just a band. Just a band'. It's good. And that one at the end, about a night-club. Spazz!

I wish I liked the rest more. But I can't.

It's as if they want to keep you away from them, like when your dog's about to puke.

Posted by dean at 11:50 PM

. . .

Durrr @ The End

After the show, we go to this other place called Durrr.

I know, Durrr!

I read in a magazine that this whole thing's by the same people who did this old club called Trash. It said Trash was really popular.

It's small here, but nice because it's like a party! People wear lots of colors and their hair is funny. They look like jerks, but it's fun! We're all dancing. I don't see anyone kissing. I ask the man behind the desk what music this is and he says 'new wave' and 'dance punk' and 'indie electro,' but I don't know what any of it means so he writes it down for me: New Order, Talking Heads, M.I.A., The Automatic, LCD Soundsystem, Soft Cell, Róisín Murphy, and Hercules & Love Affair.

Smoke comes out and there are lasers. I can't stop playing with them.

Good? No Durrr!

Posted by dean at 10:43 PM

Teenage : Life.

The Players @ A.K.A. Bar

The Players is this laid-back place with leather sofas, paintings of lipstick, PEOPLE IN SUITS, and the most expensive drinks in the world, and IT REALLY SUCKS. I mean, they don't card or anything and a Tom Cruise movie plays on the wall, but then all the girls start drinking WINE and these people who look like YOUR DAD want to kick your ass, swearing in cell-phones. I know. TOTAL AMERICAN PSYCHO.

I'm here for hours. And then, OUT OF NOWHERE, it all starts to be OKAY. People are taking off their ties and moving about. The music gets LOUDER and FASTER, which is some house shit, but more funky and noisy with old keyboards having sex with the vocals, like A RETARDED JAMES BROWN ON ACID.

I feel sorry for this one guy. He's not old or anything and shows up dressed in plaid. But I totally see him talking to a girl, and I think it's because it's late and everyone's relaxed now, laughing like REAL PEOPLE, and, you know, it's not the worst thing in the world.

We meet an Australian and dance like Midnight Oil.

Later, HE PUNCHES ME IN THE GENITALS.

Posted by dean at 09:23 PM

Quarter : Life.

Swerve @ The End

We're back at The End, where Durr was before, but it's hard to recognize what with the serious everything.

This is Fabio's night, a weekly realm staked out by one of the biggest and longest-running names in drum 'n' bass, where he keeps the genre's fire lit, a decade on, against the odds.

While the sounds don't feel new here, for the most part, and it's still male, very much a boy's club, the emphasis, whether or not it means anything, is on the low and livid rather than the liquid and funk, somehow avoiding both the late '90s Roni Size jazz-fusion that ruined everything and the insulated, dancefloor-hating aggression that's fought back ever since.

In the dark, samples of 'Grindhouse' and tossbacks to classic Omni Trio and Orbital stew in acid-synths and a new 21st century anarcho-primitivism, which all gets a cheered-on instant rewind. Huge heaps of record scratches and filthy poly-rhythms also pile on swirls of mass bass, like the sound of old, before it all went wrong -- marinating deep-down breakbeats in Bertolt Brecht and Terry Gilliam films -- when every junglist knew when to break your skull and when to do the heal, putting you on the cultural tightrope with them, laughing at death, hands together.

These are old ideas, 'an insane spectacle of collective homicide,' but likable as hell. In the middle of the night, something comes on that sounds like a mallet on a manhole as it chops and churns the staples of modern drum 'n' bass until the bits come off in one short, sweet, single-minded, and claustrophobic new potential for a sound in never-ending identity-crisis.

Under the lights, bubbles of pixy-stix youth bounce like all this was somehow just invented, and a boy gropes himself on a couch. And they might have, as much as one is convinced to deny it, a point.

Posted by dean at 08:41 PM

Mid : Life.

James @ Shepherds Bush Empire

This is James.

This is a band, formed in Manchester in 1980. Who vanished seven years ago. After thirteen albums and thirty singles. After a life of colorful, grand anthems and pop experiments.

This is a band who toured, on either side of the bill, with New Order, Happy Mondays, The Fall, Orange Juice, The Cure, Neil Young, Inspiral Carpets, P.i.L., Radiohead, Verve, David Bowie, and The Stone Roses. Who have had their songs lifted by Modest Mouse, U2, Natalie Imbruglia, Erasure, and, a few months ago, The Courteneers. Who've influenced more bands than they've admitted.

This is a band who filled stadiums while never being popular. A band hated by critics. By the public. But admired, loved, by outcasts.

James have returned. As everyone does. But it's different.

These seven people, it's the best line-up they've ever had. There's a new album. Hey Ma. And it's somehow, impossibly, fantastic.

The band are here, dressed crisp with shirts and ties. Tim Booth, out front, stares at us all, and a simple wall of bulbs and lanterns bomb the audience with blues, which change over the course of the night, to oranges and reds, like a new day.

If James are known for 'Sit Down' here, and for 'Laid' in the States, they use neither. 'Born Of Frustration,' from 1992, kicks off, and we're taken back to places loud and warm and held at the heart. 'She's A Star,' 'Johnny Yen,' 'Waltzing Along,' and 'Ring The Bells,' all released over the years, get the greeting of friends. Of loved ones. Coming home.

But it's also about the new album, a Top 10 celebratory comeback, dedicated to Tony Wilson, which they play nearly all of tonight.

The chiming Mancunian guitars and bright, white-light synths of songs like 'I Wanna Go Home' and 'Waterfall,' inspired by the real Twin Peaks, build into explosions of strobes and sound, and, along with the manic 'Whiteboy' -- 'Too old for Hamlet,' we sing with them, 'too young for Lear' -- and the burned-out 'Of Monsters And Heroes And Men,' the songs are met with pride and pleasure, already with an early-adopter familiarity. And it's impossible not to want to hear it all over again.

'Hey Ma,' the lead single, cracks the place. With black words of horror and a chorus as big as a house, it's everything a James song should be -- the intimate, the underblown, wrapped in a subversive, joyous, populist, universal lifelong chant. 'Boys in body bags,' we holler along. As anti-celebration. Getting away with it.

These are massive pop songs, and they're fueled by experiments and unguarded, often embarrassing, emotion. These melodies. They feel like they've always been here.

'Sometimes,' from the band's high watermark, is the end. It starts slow and quiet. Without all the sound. Then we're launched, in the air, full-speed. We're not sure how it happened.

This is why we're here, why we've come so far.

This is music made by those forever out-of-fashion. Outsiders of outsiders. Preposterously brilliant.

When the song fades off, we all take over, and every single one of us sings the song back to them, without music, lights up, unprompted. For ages and ages. Just ages.

Everyone is standing. A sea of hands. Uncool. All smiles.

Beautiful.

The band leave and we take the song with us, out the doors, and people are singing on the stairs and in the streets and on the trains, out in the world. It's free.

It is ours.

It is James.

Posted by dean at 07:00 PM

. . .

Shoosh @ Video Visions Bar

North London. Garage, grime, and dubstep in a '70s basement Mexican cafeteria. Miles from the Tube.

Still reeling.

A DJ is on, Dexplicit, behind a simple-simon color-ball and a rope-light, slaughtering future-shocked garage.

Britain's grime scene has suffered, its fractured MC-dominated hip-hop sound lost without its tension, and it's hard to tell if it's because of boredom, its always-the-bridesmaid failure to bash through the mainstream, or both. But this is something else.

Before grime, which was hard and masculine, there was U.K. garage and 2-step, which were loose and feminine. Tonight, there's the sound of the emergent bassline movement, which is hermaphrodite, except mutated by a mixture of intents.

We dance to mad house beats, dropped in a ditch, kept steaming. But there's also ragga, hip-hop, rave, drum 'n' bass, and dubstep. All at once.

Now full-on, high-speed, Dexplicit daylights Wiley, Wideboys, T2, and Benga & Coki with female vocals and hard effects. American R&B and pop choruses -- Mary J. Blige, Ace Of Bass, Prodigy, and The Clash -- scatter along seizures of sub-bass, like U.K. garage from an evil parallel world that never happened.

This is the English underground, which began with acid house and continues through dubstep, not as a continuum but as a single sound, a single idea, built from the bodies of the last few black movements in British music.

Apocalyptically loud. About five people there.

Amazing.

Posted by dean at 06:11 PM

Old : Life.

Fabric Live @ Fabric

It's been a long week, a lifetime.

We're tired. Shattered.

We have to get up early the next day, so we do the only logical thing in the world -- go out to the biggest club in London until the sun lurches up.

'Unless you're on pills, you'll be angry,' someone warned us.

There are about twenty different DJs, three rooms, hostile security, racists in line, and mobs of whatever would now be the equivalent of ruffians or scoundrels.

We're only angry because he's right.

This isn't a rave, this huge and corporate thing.

I see signs for V.I.P. memberships and CD compilations, and there's an ugly tension in the whole club, like a fight's about to kick off.

It's confusing, too, with the rooms stacked like a colon, separated by stairs and misleading arrows.

Cripes.

This never would've happened in the fields.

Bad vibes creep out of a couple of rooms, but we stop in the other one, where Trojan Sound System, a traditional reggae collective, do what they can.

One of the MCs stops at one point and says, 'Lights up. Let's get a look at you all up there.' To which another, who is blind and carries a cane, says, 'Oh yes. The balcony. Sorry, I still can't see you.'

We've dragged ourselves here, though, for Skream.

If dubstep is today's half-jumped, slow-motion, Caribbean-influenced, futurist innerspace bass music and a soundtrack for a life of watching your friends die, in the middle of it all is Skream.

He's here and starts a set that sends this horrible place heaving.

Indie-single remixes cross-fade into Skream's own productions.

Low-frequencies bash dead little things in the body.

It's immense.

The kids are mad for it. While a couple of dreadful girls dance like cocaine-addicted models in front of a mirror, and the rank crowd spills over the stage, the set shuts down with the sound's big hits, which have been everywhere this week.

But they're dented in and different and Skream teases them out, which lets more people than Morocco leap into the air like lunatics.

It's a celebration, but we're not sure of what.

It's not of youth, of hope. Just of age.

An end-point.

Dubstep feels like an old idea winding down -- rave's last rallying call, its last moments of cultural life.

I'm exhausted.

I want to shout at them all.

It's wonderful, but a wake.

There's nothing left.

The music's done.

We're done.

Time for home.

Posted by dean at 05:52 PM

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