Pearsall's Tunes

This blog is defunct! Check out my new music blog at Sonicrampage.org.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Re-Up Policy

I've just re-upped everything from last week's Wednesday Night Music Extravaganza" post for the benefit of Bassnation from Dissensus. So if you didn't catch any of those before, there they are. If any of you want any of the expired links to be re-upped, just let me know either by leaving a comment in the appropriate post or by emailing me.

Disclaimer for labels and artists and their lawyers: if you want me to take anything down, don't sue me (it's not worth your while), just send me a message and bang goes the link. This is a pretty smally fry operation. Even with the recent uptick in visitors, this blog is only averaging about 40-50 unique visitors a day.

I'm tired, so I'm going to bed early. No tuneage for tonight.

|| RPH || 2:57 AM || (1) comments

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Bits

Why is Lost, tonight, after three weeks of no new episodes, nothing but a collection of clips from earlier in the season? Wtf? This show started ages ago, why is it taking them so long to finish the season. God knows there's been a zillion weeks off. Having said that, if you haven't been watching it, I highly recommend it. It's probably the best new show on tv this year.

Bashy - Star - This is the only grime track off the 'Ur Mum Vol. 1' mixtape, which is mostly a collection of tired hip-hop beats. I don't think it's up to much, personally, but I like this track. Judging by the RWD Forums, though, the kids have been loving it, so who am I?

Chingo Bling - Osama Who Got The Keys To My Hummer? - Ultra-silly rap from Houston's tamale kingpin Chingo Bling. His album is pretty silly and a lot of fun. Comedy/novelty stuff is always a good time.

|| RPH || 1:39 AM || (0) comments

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

T-Dot's Number One


One of my favorite artists in North America right now is Toronto's dancehall/hip-hop don Kardinal Offishall. There aren't many people out there who can flow over both styles so well and with so much style. And yet he isn't really a big star, or at least to the level that he probably deserves. His career has probably suffered a fair amount because most Americans are, not to put too fine a point on it, totally ignorant about our northern neighbors. Toronto is the third biggest city in North America, after Mexico City and New York, and yet most Americans probably think of it as being like Cleveland or Buffalo or somewhere like that. He has also suffered from label shenanigans after his major label, MCA Records, was taken over by Geffen Records in 2003 and his second album was swallowed up in the re-shuffle.

Akon & Kardinal Offishall - Kill Di Dance - This is off Akon's 'Illegal Alien Vol. 1' mixtape, and features Kardinal flowing over the Kopa Riddim, one of the biggest dancehall riddims of the last couple of years. There's also Akon's singing, which is a bit of an acquired taste. I kind of like him in small doses, but this is mostly about Kardinal tearing up the beat. The son of Jamaican immigrants to Toronto, he connects the dots between hip-hop and reggae about as well as anyone else out there in music at the moment.

Vybz Kartel & Kardinal Offishall - Kartel & Kardinal - Here's another dancehall cut, with Kardinal guesting on this tune from Vybz Kartel's 'Up 2 Di Time'. Vybz Kartel is one of Jamaica's finest dancehall mc's, and, although this ain't the best tune on the album, it's still pretty cool.

Kardinal Offishall - Gas - Having upped two dancehall cuts, check out this hip-hop cut from last year's 'Kill Bloodclot Bill Volume 1" mixtape. Nice horns.

Kardinal Offishall - Forward Riddim - And just to show how versatile he is, here's Kardinal getting busy over grime. The Forward Riddim, produced by Dexplicit, was last year's biggest grime anthem. In it's vocal version (with appearances by Lethal B, Flow Dan, Demon, Fumin, Jamakabi, and a whole gang of mc's) it tore it's way to the edge of the UK top 10. Of course, most people reading this probably know that already. This is Kardinal's version and it's fantastic. The dude is spitting some fire on it.

|| RPH || 2:50 AM || (2) comments

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Silver Box


Man, I love the sound of the Roland TB-303. It's one of those things I just don't get sick of. Ever ever ever. Perhaps the most over-used sound in dance music ever, it was originally created to function as a bassline generator for guitarists to play along to. It was, however, terrible for those purposes and mostly ended up on the scrapheap until the 80's Chicago house scene rediscovered it and realized that by messing around with the dials you could create some almost unimaginably (for this was the 80's after all) freaky sounds. What helped this even more was that the 303 riffs sounded absolutely batshit insane on large soundsystems and even more effective if (cough cough) you were a bit, um, refreshed. In the years since the sound of the silver box and its legion of hardware and software clones has become an essential part of the arsenal of dance music production, especially on more the more boggle-eyed rave scenes. Here's some acid tunes, taken from old mixes of mine:

Warmduscher - Hardcore Will Never Die - This is off a mix I did in 2002 called Rampage Audio 2. This is a German hard trance record, and in true German style it is very linear and marching. True, unadulterated rave music. Frenzied 303 action, marching snares, and an absolutely thwomping kickdrum (you should hear this record loud). A classic from Tracid Traxx, a German acid trance label that has, down the years, alternated between releasing amazing stuff and the most godawful pap imaginable (usually by the label owner Kai Tracid, who has released dozens of gigantic cheesefests, and about three good tunes).

A&E Department - And the Rabbit's Name Was - This is off the same mix, but it's the very last track. As you can tell, I tend to up the bpm's by quite a lot over the course of a mix cd! This is north of 160 bpm and is one of the finest records to ever emerge from the London acid techno scene. Acid techno was my thing for a good couple years. It was the true ruling sound of the illegal rave scene. I've been meaning to write a long post about the whole squat party scene, but I haven't had a chance to get round to a friend's house to record a new mix (of old tunes) to accompany it just yet (unfortunately I don't have turntables in New York). Music at squat parties ranged (and ranges) from jungle/drum n' bass to gabba to psychedelic trance and even (sometimes) stuff like dub reggae and punk rock, but the king sound when I was going out on that scene was always stuff like this. Completely manic acid techno/trance. The sort of tunes that anal-retentive techno purists hated with a passion. And this was one of the very mightiest tunes, a classic from Stay Up Forever, the flagship label of this particular slice of the London underground. Legend has it that the Liberator dj's (the guys who ran SUF) sent a copy of this to the Detroit techno legend Derrick Mills who faxed back a response sheet simply saying "please send more".

Lochi - Element - More London acid techno. Not much to say about this beyond the fact that it I really like this sort of thing.

Winnebago Warriors - Trailer Trash & DJ Futureshock - Third Wave - This is off Rampage Teknikal 3, from which I took that Mood II Swing track yesterday. These are two tracks that I decided to join up as I think they work quite nicely together. 'Trailer Trash' is another London acid techno record, but it's a fair amount less frenzied than the other two I posted, while 'Third Wave' was also released in London, but on the tech-house End Recordings label, which usually puts out quite housey stuff. This was comparatively banging for them. It has a great acid line and some nice pads.

As long as we are talking about druggy music, on a separate but similar line, check this madness out. Look at the rictus grin and exploding pupils. Drugs at your 15th birthday party - not a good idea.

24's about to start. See you all tomorrow night.

|| RPH || 1:56 AM || (2) comments

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sunday - Hahse Music

Big day yesterday. Had the Foreign Service exam and killed it! I was terrified as I went in that I was underprepared and I was going to make a total fool of myself, but when it came it was actually pretty easy and I fired through the four sections. Whether I did well enough to get in is another question as I'm not sure where they have the cut off, but at the very least I'm certain I didn't make a fool of myself. Which is nice.

Then, after that, I headed down to Chinatown to meet up with my friend Anthony and some of his friends to check out "The Taste of Chinatown", where loads of Chinese restaurants had set up little tables outside and were selling bits of food for a dollar each. Wandered around for a while, had some great food, then headed home and chilled for a bit before passing out early. Nice day.

So now it's Sunday, so why not some house music? Unfortunately the weather the last couple days has been a bit chilly and a bit grey, unlike the scorching sunshine of earlier this week, but still. A bit of house to lighten up life is always good.

Mood II Swing - All Night Long - This is possibly my favorite house record of all time. A classic bit of mid-90's New York house. Great house music is a kind of alchemy, because the elements of house are so obvious and cliched that individually they are kind of boring, but when they are fused together with love and care the results can be so inspirational. This is a lovely, romantic track, with an insistent bassline, sweeping pads, skippy rhythms, and a nice male vocal. Like I said, those are all pretty banal elements, but the way they work together is so beautiful. This is off a mix cd I did back in late 2003, 'Rampage Teknikal 3', which started with house and ended with techno, so this is actually at +8 so that I could fit it in. This is not unusual in a UK context, because it was in fact stuff like this being pitched up that was originally 'speed garage'. It wasn't until later that people like Ice Cream Productions and TuffJam started making their own 4/4 stuff at a faster pace with larger basslines. Bizarrely enough, tracks like this are the first evolutionary stage of the process/scene that today brings us grime. It's a long road in just ten years.

Basement Jaxx - Undaground - This is a track off of the Atlantic Jaxx compilation that was called, er, Atlantic Jaxx: A Compilation, which collected all the early house stuff that Basement Jaxx released on their own label. In the years since Basement Jaxx have gone poppier and a bit more sonically widescreen (don't get me wrong, I still love their stuff), but this compilation (which, coincidentally, is still available) has lots of straight-up house treats, including a whole bunch of classic Brazilian-tinged tracks like 'Samba Magic', 'Belo Horizonte', and 'Eu Nao'. This is probably the moodiest track on there, but it's really nice. Rainy weather music.

Fast Eddie - Acid Thunder/Yo Yo Get Funky - Now for some old Chicago stuff. This is off the first disc of Layo & Bushwacka's 'All Night Long' mix set, and is a blend of two old Fast Eddie tracks. 'Acid Thunder' is a prime example of the original Chicago acid house sound, and it still sounds quite fresh today. You can play tracks like this in clubs now and they will tear things up. A good year and a half ago, before I moved back to New York, I went to Bugged Out at The End in Covent Garden with my good friend Dan Durnin, and in the middle of Dave Clarke's tearing techno set he dropped the tempo down and started hammering out a selection of early Chicago acid tunes, and the crowd went mad. This music is so simple, yet it works so well, it holds a certain timelessness.

Mr. Fingers - Can You Feel It - This, on the other hand, has aged much more noticeably. Or at least in my opinion (I do love 303's, though). One of the most legendary of the early Chicago house classics, Larry Heard's magnum opus sounds positively primitive from a production standpoint. To put it this way, consider the gossamer glisten of modern electronic music production as being like today's awe-inspiring digital trickery in movie special effects, and stuff like this track as being analogous to the amazing at the time but now somewhat creaking effects of movies like Jaws and Star Wars. Very slow, hypnotic, incredibly ancient, yet still tender and warm.

|| RPH || 3:37 PM || (4) comments

Friday, April 22, 2005

Thursday Night Grime

Stormin feat. Nasty Jack - Fakes - This is off the 'Storm the Streets' mixtape, which is pretty wack in all honesty. Stormin is probably only the fifth or sixth best mc in Nasty Crew (after Kano, Ghetto, Sharky Major and Demon definitely, and probably behind Hyper as well), and his mixtape isn't really up to all that much. This, however, is an absolute killer, best thing on it for me by a mile. An icy Miami Bass style pump overlayed with gangsta lyrics. Simple stuff, but it works really really well.

Mucky Wolfpack - Wolves are Lurking - This is off Aim High Volume 1. Aim High 2 is, imo, the single best grime comp yet, but the first one is really good as well, even if it doesn't quite reach the same heights. This is one of my favorite tracks off it, with the whole of the crew dropping their rhymes over some strings and orchestral stabs. The guy who does the chorus, Discarda, is one of my favorite underrated mc's. He's a young (17/18 I think) short ginger white guy who spends lots of time shouting, but I think he comes up with some quite clever rhymes and he has real presence on tracks. Lots of people think he's terrible, but I've always quite enjoyed him when I've heard him show up on tunes. On radio sets that I've heard of him I've found him a bit much (he has a tendency to get over-excited and start screaming) but on tracks he's good. If Bob Hoskins's cockney gangster in The Long Good Friday had a nephew who mc'ed, it would be Discarda.

Sway - Down Load - This is one for us dirty downloaders, off the Aftershock label's 'Shockin Volume 1' mixtape. I don't actually have it yet, as I worked out a deal with a guy off Dissensus who lives in London for him to bring some stuff over to me (thus saving the postage!), and the Aftershock mix is one of the things I asked for. I should have it this weekend. This I grabbed off the RWD Forum the other day, and it's got the UK hip-hop mc Sway over the top of one of the Aftershock beats. Sway is really really good (his terrible New York dis track 'Fuck New York' over the Ja Rule 'New York' beat notwithstanding). He's going after the downloading crew. Favorite line on this: "keep it on the downlow/I download too/I'm a big hypocrite/I'll download you!"

Now for something special. Here's an mp3 of Roll Deep's DJ Target on Rinse FM on Sunday. For those who don't know, Rinse FM is one of the main London pirate stations, featuring many of the scene's biggest dj's and crews. This show, where Target was filling in for Slimzee (the recent recipient of an Anti-Social Behavior Order for his dedication to the pirate radio cause), features lots of fresh Roll Deep stuff (including the awesome remix of 'Heartbreak Avenue') and tons of quality vocal cuts. It's amazing listening to shows like this. I do think that in years to come, people will look back at this era of London music as a true golden age, one that measures up fully to moments like 91-92 hardcore and 94-95 jungle. London really is on fire at the moment.

DJ Target - Rinse FM April 17th 2005

In other stuff to check, check out Riko's dancehall set from last Friday night in East London, plus if you are interested in some background on all that Houston stuff I've been posting recently, check here for some links to articles on DJ Screw and the Houston hip-hop culture he played such an important role in creating.

|| RPH || 3:03 AM || (0) comments

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Getting It Hilariously Wrong

One last thing before I go to bed. Was searching for something else when I came upon this review of Dizzee Rascal's first album. Check this:

Boy in da Corner fails miserably in the beat department, coming through with production on some second-day-with-the-equipment shit. Sounding like Timbaland with ADD, the drum programming seems done at random. The tracks rarely offer a melodic bassline or hook, relying instead on the unpleasant hums of “Live O” and “Seems 2 Be.” When a melody does show up, it is redundant and sparse, as on “Hold Ya Mouf” and “Jezebel,” wearing out its welcome long before the song ends. The lead single, “Fix Up, Look Sharp,” uses Billy Squier’s extremely played-out “Big Beat” and shamefully yanks his lyrics for the hook. For the most part, the problem with bad production usually stems from bad judgment. Though one may object to tracks like Puff Daddy’s “Come With Me,” an unapologetic rip-off of Led Zeppelin’s “Cashmere,” the beat at least has some semblance of that old boom-bap. Even with its creativity in question, “Come With Me” is well constructed and professional—the antithesis of the production on Boy in da Corner.

Despite a reasonable showing lyrically, Boy is, as a whole, unconventional to a fault. The album practically dares listeners to dislike it and join their parents in the ranks of uncultured music fans. This is not paradigm-shifting musical genius; it is merely unlistenable. For the sake of British hip-hop’s good name, one can only hope his recent rise to American fame will land Dizzee Rascal on some tolerable production in the future.

Wtf.

Yeah, what Dizzee really needs is some of Puffy's beats. Is this the worst album review ever written?

|| RPH || 6:57 AM || (2) comments

Oh Yeah...

Check out David Drake's inaugural podcast for Stylus Magazine for some of the best new rnb (and some words and thoughts too). Well done dude.

|| RPH || 4:30 AM || (2) comments

Wednesday Night Music Extravaganza

Been pretty quiet on the blogging front recently (as I explained before) so now I return like a benevolent god, bringing with me a large quantity of legally grey musical treats.

This post was going to be longer, but Blogger keeps eating parts of the post when I flip between the preview screen and the normal screen. I am not amused. Oh well, more bits tomorrow.

International beat selection:

Cidinho & Doca - Cidade de Deus - This is from a compilation called 'Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats' that came out on an Austrian label last year. I've featured some tracks in this style before, and they're all pretty much the same, which doesn't really detract from the fun. A massive dose of 80's electro flavor, some shouting in Portuguese, and some bongo drums. Simple but effective.

Vybz Kartel & Marlene - Goodas - Vybz Kartel is my favorite Jamaican dancehall mc, and this is him and some chick over the Bionic Ras Riddim, which is one of the most awesome/hilarious things I've ever heard. Having spent years deep in the hard house/nu-nrg scene it is so so so strange to hear hoovers (that's the term for the sound they used for the main riff) used in a black context. The hoover is the ur-rave riff, the soundtrack over the years to millions of pop-pupilled melanin-deficient jaw-grinding sessions when laid over rampant kick drums. Hearing it in a dancehall context is wild and exciting, and they've used it brilliantly. Cool stuff.

Saian Supa Crew - Darkness - The Saian Supa Crew are one of the biggest rap crews in France, and this is my favorite cut off an album called 'KLR' that I picked up in Geneva a couple years ago. They have amazing flow, and they work really well as a crew.

Lil' Black Lion - Pun Pouf Gyal Yuh Stinka - I've put up a fair amount of reggaeton recently, so I'm giving it a pass for tonight. Here, instead, is something from an album I downloaded of French-language dancehall. Not sure whether this is from France itself or from the French West Indies. Nothing particularly special about this I guess, but it's dancehall! In French! Crazy times!

Breakbeaty type stuff:

DJ Ron - Crackman - Classic jungle. For Robert from LoveEcstasyCrime.

Lee Coombs & Meat Katie - 2 Men on a Trip (Lee's Tripped Out Mix) - Nu skool breakz is one of those dance music scenes that exists mostly outside the critical (or shall we say 'Dissensian', heh) continuum. Neither artily ultra-stylish nor agressively lumpen prole, it just keeps on keeping on. This track is off the mix cd that the Plump DJ's did for the Fabric Live mix cd series. It's pretty minimal stuff, with a pretty simple break, some sound effects, and an understated piano vamp for a main riff.

Success & Effect - Roll It Up/Let's Do It (Carl Cox RMX) - Before he became superstar techno dj extraordinaire Carl Cox was a lord of the early 90's hardcore rave scene. This track is classic breakbeat ardkore: frantic breaks, manic stabs. This track is off a compilation I picked up a couple years ago called 'Rave Anthems Vol.1' that was put out by the New York dance label Smile. If you can find it, it's a really good selection of cuts from the original UK rave sound.

On Sunday the New York Times had a story on the Houston rap sound, including the wildly distinctive 'screwed n' chopped' style, where Houston dj's slow down the beats to a sludgy crawl, and chop them up, repeating lyrics and stuttering the beats. Anyways, Marc Bassnation from Dissensus wanted to hear some samples, so here's some screwed n' chopped bits. I've put up the Keith Sweat tune before, but it's so good I've upped it again for those who missed it the first time. That and the Christina Aguilera tune are off a recently released screwed rnb compilation called 'Fuck Action 40'. The Christina Aguilera tune is amazing, it sounds frankly astonishing after OG Ron C has worked his magic on it. The other tune is from an old DJ Screw mix cd called 'As the World Turns Slow'. DJ Screw (read the article!) was the originator of all that Houston business, and this track is a pretty good example of the deep space sound of Houston's street scene. If Cadillac made an interstellar craft, this stuff would be the soundtrack.

Christina Aguilera - Beautiful

Keith Sweat - How Deep Is Your Love?

DJ Screw feat. Guerilla Maab - Grippin' Grain

More stuff tomorrow night.

|| RPH || 4:20 AM || (5) comments

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Saturday Bits

On Wednesday night Dizzee Rascal appeared on Damage Control, a radio show in Houston. He was interviewed by Matt "HoustonSoReal" Sonzala, and freestyled with the local rap crew the Grit Boys over some Dirty South instrumentals and some grimey tunes provided by his tour dj, Wonder (who is a badass producer in his own right). You can check out a write-up of Dizzee's time in Houston as well as some photos from the show, Dizzee's studio work with the Grit Boys and Bun B of UGK and his show on Thursday night at Matt's site here. I've cut out the section of the show where Dizzee and co were on and upped it to Riddim. Check it out:

Dizzee Rascal, DJ Wonder & the Grit Boys on KPFT Houston, 4/13/2005

As ever, here's some more mp3's for the peeps.

For Paul Autonomic:
Dub War - Silencer (Ninj RMX) - Not sure if you've ever heard this, but I got this on a cd single aeons ago. Dub War were a band I liked when I was about 14 and they did some singles with jungle remixes. I have absolutely no idea who Ninj is (never saw his name on any other productions) but this is an amazing Amen tear-out in the classic 95 style that seems to have slipped through history's cracks.

For David25:
Country & Western - Reincarnation - This is an earlyish techno-trance track. Think it's from some point in the early 90's. Lolloping rhythm, some lovely pads, and a twinkly Teutonic melody. This is from a compilation I picked up years ago called Flux Trax II, which is, to this day even, one of the best dance compilations I've ever bought. Hell, check the tracklisting..."Fragile"! "Kinetic"! "My Definition of House Music"! "Plastic Dreams"! *shudders uncontrollably*

For general peepages:
Two Lone Swordsmen - Sticky - This is off the 'Stay Down' album, and I hadn't heard it in ages until last night when I was listening through some electro stuff (being able to sort stuff by genre in iTunes rules to the nth power) when this came on. I'd completely forgotten about this, but this is a totally dope electro tune. Pretty uptempo, yet also kind of spacey and dubby at the same time, with lots of little echoey noises and stiffly robotic percussionisms. Really superb and I can't believe I'd forgotten about it for so long.

Mike Wade - Crowd Control & Evolution - These are two tracks from a mix cd by Charles Siegling of Technasia that I picked up when I was in Tokyo three years ago. Technasia are perhaps my favorite techno producers, and Charles Siegling is one of the best techno dj's in the business (I can up an absolutely jaw-dropping live set if anyone wants it). These two tracks, however, are by Mike Wade and they worked quite well in the mix, imo, so I joined them together and I've upped them for your listening pleasure. 'Crowd Control' is all jittery percussion and spiky sounds, while 'Evolution' is soothing strings and a romping bassline.

|| RPH || 12:00 AM || (7) comments

Friday, April 15, 2005

Semi Hiatus

Sorry I've not been posting much this week. I've been studying for the Foreign Service exam, which is next week. I've got a couple of posts as drafts which will be up this weekend, though.

|| RPH || 3:38 AM || (2) comments

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ruff Sqwad - Guns & Roses Volume One


01. Ruff Sqwad - Introduction
02. Slicks, Tinchy Strider, Dirty Danger & Rapid - When It's On
03. Shifty Rydoz - 1999
04. Dirty Danger, Rapid, Slicks & Shifty Rydoz - Future
05. Slicks, Tinchy Strider, Stamina Boy & Trim - Jampie
06. Slicks, Shifty Rydoz, Dirty Danger & Lightning - Heat
07. Tinchy Strider - Move
08. Slicks - Style Up (Freestyle)
09. Rapid - Wide Awake
10. Tinchy Strider - Stryder's Back (Freestyle)
11. Slicks & Mad Max - Gangster (Freestyle)
12. Wiley - Wild Clipse (Freestyle)
13. Mad Max - Back 2 Basics (Freestyle)
14. Dirty Danger - Dirty
15. Dirty Danger, Slicks, Tinchy Stryder & Shifty Rydoz - Shake Ure Bum
16. Slicks & Fuda Guy - Wake Keeping
17. Slicks, Dirty Danger, Shifty Rydoz & Rapid - Ure Girl's With Me
18. Slicks - Chemistry (Freestyle)
19. Shifty Rydoz, Dirty Danger, Rapid & Slicks - Jennifer
20. Roachee, Tinchy Stryder, X.T.C., Mad Max, Slicks & Rapid - Ice Cream
21. Slicks & Dirty Danger - Cok Aim Shoot (Freestyle)
22. Slicks, Dirty Danger & Tinchy Stryder - Woah!
23. Slicks, Tinchy Strider, Rapid, Dirty Danger & Shifty Rydoz - Guns & Roses

Yeah, I know this has been out for ages. But, well, so what?

Starting out absurdly young (they were all about 14-16 when their first big tunes came out) over the last couple of years Ruff Sqwad have put a constant stream of huge tunes. A full list would take some time, but they've dropped tunes like 'Misty Cold' 'R U Double F', 'Lethal Injection', 'Ur Love Feels' and 'Tings in Boots', amongst others. In that time they have become, in my humble opinion, one of London's finest grime crews. This is their first mixtape. And it's awesome.

Their producers, Dirty Danger and Rapid, have a lot to do with this. They love big sounds, like squawking guitars, massive horn fanfares, thunderous bass and clouds of synth noise, and they draw all these elements together into an ocean deep sonic stew, that is totally fresh and unique. Like Slicks said on 'Practice Hours', when you hear a Ruff Sqwad tune, you know who it is. Their mc's are less universally loved, but I think they are great. Lyrically, the stuff on this mixtape is, I guess, pretty standard (girls, hustling, we are the best, our beats are the best, we're gunmen, etc.) but they've got style and they work well with the music. Plus they have really unique voices, which I guess is down to them being (mostly) from African not West Indian backgrounds, and awe-inspiringly cool names like Tinchy Stryder and Shifty Rydoz. One of the things I like about them as mc's is that they are so serious, so composed. They have a unique style. They don't get hysterical like other crews tend to, they just keep on in an unruffled style, like they know they are on a long mission.

All the highlights on this are their own tunes, and I'll get to those in a minute. The lowlights are all freestyles over American rap beats. I know I have a bug up my ass about this ('bring me my exotic furrin music!') but I don't see the point of including some of the stuff they've included when I think about all the frankly incredible productions in their back catalogue they could have used for fresh freestyles. I mean, when you listen to, say, 'Future' with it's deep sea bass, horn explosions, and tinkling synths n' strings and then flick forward to the freestyle over Black Rob's 'Whoah!' (which is a pretty standard hip-hop beat) there is no comparison between the two. 'Lean Back' was a good beat, and Stryder is a good mc, but does anyone really need to hear it again? When you've made tracks like 'Muskateers' or 'Anna' or 'R U Double F' (none of which appear on here) why bother with stuff like Ludacris's 'Splash Waterfalls'? I know people want to appear versatile, but really, have some faith in your own talents, boys.

Don't get me wrong though, because even these are only relative lowlights. None of the American beats they used are really bad, they're listenable, they're just not on the same level as their own productions. Happily, though, the good moments are far more numerous than the bad ones. Like the whistles, weird kazoo-like noise, collapsing beat, and squealing bass that form the backbone of Dirty Danger's sex tales on 'Dirty'. Or the aforementioned 'Future' which is easily my favorite tune on the whole mixtape. Then there's the Sinogrime of 'Jampie', which features some delicate Chinese-y plinks and plonks, and also features Stamina Boy from Mucky Wolfpack and the godlike Trim from Roll Deep, who turns up and does his deep voiced word-twisting thing. Or the horn explosions and shoutouts to half the neighborhoods in London of the intro. Another favorite is 'Wide Awake' where Rapid lays out his plans for the future over an eerie piano-crusted hip-hop tempo beat. The Grimefather Wiley turns up as well, dropping a freestyle to warn off the haters, as well as allowing Ruff Sqwad to use his 'Morgue' and 'Ice Cream Man' beats.

All in all, this is a really really good mixtape. Obviously I have my reservations about some of the American rap beats they used, but there is a huge amount of good stuff on here. On the basis of this, the album which is (apparently) due sometime later this year should be absolutely huge. Well worth a purchase.

Cross-posted to Riddim.ca

|| RPH || 12:12 AM || (0) comments

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Stereotypical Sunny Day Offering

It being an almost unbearably lovely day, I had an awesome walk this morning. I left home in Astoria at 8am and wandered up 34th Avenue to Northern Boulevard and then cut into Woodside where I walked up Woodside Avenue to Roosevelt Avenue, which I followed up, through Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, to 90th Street. I turned there down Elmhurst Avenue and walked through there (which seemed to be a pleasant and tidy neighborhood), which I walked down until I reached Broadway. I then turned south and walked down to 80th Street, where I cut over and through the side streets until I reached Queens Boulevard. I walked down the side of that vast expanse to 46th Street in Sunnyside where I turned on to Greenpoint Avenue, which I walked all the way down, civilization progressively disappearing around me (the last stretch of Greenpoint Avenue in Queens is spectacularly desolate), until I crossed the bridge into Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I then turned at Manhattan Avenue and then walked down to McCarren Park, where I stopped to chill for a while. Then I got some lunch. Then I took the bus back to Queensboro Plaza, where I got the N train home.

Now, that is quite clearly total gobbledygook for 99% of those of you who are reading, but it was a good walk. I didn't bring any music with me, but when you are on a serious urban walk it has to engage all five senses. Plus you don't want to get run over. If I did though, I would have definitely listened to Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy.

|| RPH || 9:50 PM || (0) comments

The Time is Now, The Wait is Overrrr

Man, I'm up early for a Sunday.

Akala feat. Riko, Ears, Jammer, and Baby Blue - Roll Wid Us (Dexplicit RMX)

I ripped this out of Cooper's recent mix, hence the little bit right at the beginning where he's mixing out of Jammer's remix of Lady Sovereign 'Random'. This is an absolutely huge tune, one of my favorite recent grime tunes. Dexplicit is an awesome producer, he makes some truly militant shit. This one has some crazy strings, a monstrously single-note pounding bass and some military percussion. The mc's are all on form as well. Awesome.

I don't need to say any more. Have a listen.

|| RPH || 12:08 PM || (0) comments

Friday, April 08, 2005

Codeine-ified


This is for my good friend Jon Hollamby (far right), who recently returned to his native Australia. He'll be baffled. Special thanks to David Drake for hooking me up with all this Houston screwed n' chopped stuff. Screwed n' chopped is a Houston specialty, where the dj slows the music down to a syrupy sludginess (they also do all kinds of little dj tricks), giving it a weird, weird, weird texture. This is especially so with singing, which sounds bizarrely emotional and breathy and just straight-up weird. Women sound like Barry White, and men sound like Darth Vader on heroin.

Big Moe - Sippin' Codeine

DJ Screw feat. Pimp Tyte - Thuggin'

Slim Thug, Mike Jones, and Paul Wall - Still Tippin'

Keith Sweat - How Deep Is Your Love?

|| RPH || 2:35 AM || (3) comments

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Glowsticks at the Ready

A while back in my speed of sound post I talked about how the freeform/hardcore sound was partially the result of the happier side of UK hardcore going from good/amazing to god-awful/brain-meltingly bad. Want to hear some examples of what it was like when it was good and fun? Yeah, you do. :)

Billy Bunter - Let It Lift You - Bunter was one of the main dudes in the emergence of trancecore as an alternative sound to the cheeseathons that then dominated the UK hardcore rave scene. His label, Great British Techno, produced many frankly astonishing tracks and was a key figurehead in the fusion of hardtrance with UK hardcore. This track, however (nicked from DJ Luna-C's Breakbeat Old Skool Sessions mix) is from when he was still making happy hardcore. This has all the elements of a classic hardcore track. A happy-go-lucky piano riff, a phantasm of a diva vocal, some chopped-up breaks over a pumping kick, and then some stabby chords. Simple, effective, an anthem. A classic example of the fun that happy hardcore was at its best.

Slipmatt - Breaking Free - Slipmatt (or 'Slippers' as he was often known haha) is one of the godfathers of hardcore. He's been around since the earliest beginnings of the house scene in England (and I'm a bit hazy on it, but I think he might have been involved in the soul-funk scene that preceded the Summer of Love and the Ecstasy Revolution). When the rave scene split between jungle and hardcore, Slipmatt stayed with the happy vibes of hardcore and became a key player in happy hardcore. This track was one of the latest ones that criss-crossed both scenes. It has the heavily-chopped amen break that the junglists were beginning (this was 1993) to take in all sorts of fantastical new directions, but it also has a lovely sweeping pad riff and a cooing wordless female vocal. A ginormous anthem in its time, and if you ever hit an old skool night you're guaranteed to hear it.

Slipmatt - SMD3 - Here's another Slipmatt tune, pretty similar but still total dopeness. Cookie-cutter hardcore: driving bassline, bouncy piano, some silly strings, divagasm, ragga sample, ginormous stabs, chopped-up breaks. Still awesome though.

|| RPH || 5:37 AM || (0) comments

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Digital Mullets

Rudi - Paranoia - Trancecore remix of 'Paranoid' by Black Sabbath. More fun than it sounds.

Diplomat & Trouble - Accursed Delusions - Bezerker fury speed from the Deathchant camp. Industrial rhythmic creakery to start, then the exploding easy chair sound of ardkore's beloved distorted kick. Deathchant releases always feature an astonishing attention to detail, little fills and sound effects that are too numerous to list. The level of microscopic detail that is implanted in tracks like this is remarkable. Unlike most other hardcore producers, the main dudes from Deathchant, Hellfish and Producer, as well as their associates, actually care about rhythm, and clearly spend a lot of time programming the rhythms on their tracks. Even though they rely, as ever, on a madly speedy 4/4 kick they chop the rest of the track up with all sorts of little rhythmic tricks, crazy little edits that appear out of nowhere or sudden drops to hip-hop tempo breakbeats. This track also features a fantastically filthy 303 line, which is why I've upped it.

|| RPH || 4:15 AM || (0) comments

Seethe

Surgery - Cybersurfin - This is taken from Sharkey's mix on Bonkers 5, so right at the start of this mp3 you get the last bit of 'Mind Launch'. As far as I know, this track has never been released, but it's an awesome one. Hustling percussion, twisting 303's, then into the breakdown. The main riff is giant, emotive, block-like. All hard right sonic angles over the seething undergrowth of the track, the acid line and the little arpeggiated riff that twist and move as the main riff marches rigidly forward.

Drumhead - Hygiene - The Finnish sound (big up Teemu Lahtinen!). No messing about with bassless intros, this starts straight off with that bouncy off-beat bass and snapped-on percussion. Little fragments of sound come in, like a hiccuping R2D2, then they are joined by a larger riff that sounds like a parrot squawking through a tracheotomy box. A third element is introduced, an underpinning sound like a rattle in a washing machine as heard through a seashell. Then the break, which introduces a delicate little plinky-plonk melody, a refugee from Europop past, which beeps and boops over a melancholy synth wash. It builds for a bit, then it drops back into the beat, but without the melody, just the harsh sounds, before slowly reintroducing the melodies. In a club this is that moment when the energy shifts upwards, as the melodies swell over the toughness. This is what the Finns do so brilliantly, they layer the tracks so thoroughly and yet so cleanly. It is the final realization of the potential of mid-90's Goa trance, where there were all kinds of layers yet they often worked against each other. The Finnish sound, on the other hand, has multiple layers to unpick and yet everything makes sense in its place, everything is where it should be.

|| RPH || 1:58 AM || (1) comments

Monday, April 04, 2005

Re-Up Requests

If anyone wants me to re-up any of the mp3's from earlier posts, just let me know in the comments for this post and I'll do it tonight and update this post to indicate.

|| RPH || 4:19 PM || (0) comments

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Into the Bleak Night

Apple Juice - Raving Together (mp3) - Synth pads, requisitioned from a 1950's vision of the future, open with a Germanic voice intoning "for one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people are one...raving together". Echoey one-note stab noise (particularly all-encompassing on headphones) and then the boshy kick drum comes in. The bare bones percussion of Eurorave bolt themselves on (melody and texture being the main attraction) preparing for the rolling off-beat bass. One of those dance music cliches I never get sick of, there's just something to that kick-bass-kick-bass pump that awakens something deep inside of me. Maybe it's a phantasm of memory back to the Germanic tribes slaughtering their way through Europe to sack Rome. Or maybe I just like my pleasures simple. Whatever. The layers of melody interwine, the signal note slices through the air, sharp as a blade, a piano line twists in and around the kick like a graceful and sober girl cutting her way through the dancefloor delirium. Above it all is the main arpeggiated riff that emerges from the breakdown not with an explosion, but a shimmer, sparkling like a waterfall on a summer day.

Xavi Escolano - D.a.f.y.k. (mp3) - This one, too, opens with those peculiar synthetically melancholy mid-90's Eurorave strings. Like Robocop on a mountain top trying to remember genuine emotion. Then, well, you know, whomping fast kick, pumping bass and that shrivelled percussion, the frame that contains the layers of sound. Then one of those ridiculous English-language samples that non-English speaking dance music producers (in this case, Spanish) seem to love. 'The eye of the king'? The sort of thing that you hear on a dancefloor and stop for a second, look at your friend and raise an eyebrow. But not for too long, because the 303 line has arrived. Despite being possibly the most overused sound in dance music, for me there is nothing to match it. On a big soundsystem it comes across, all at once, as angular, organic, and mechanical. Dry ice as sound. Psychedelia as a coldly inhuman command to stomp. The main riff is basic, simple, but so sublime. A single, pulsing chord, shadowed by its fractionally later echo, that floats over all else, over the jackhammer rhythm track, around the screaming 303 line, under the cloudy, gaseous presence of the strings. Slowly all the elements subtract themselves from the track, leaving only the rejected drunk's attack on a wall of a kick and the feeblest trace of the melody.

|| RPH || 3:30 AM || (0) comments

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Virus Syndicate - The Work Related Illness


01. Slowdown
02. Major List MC's
03. Clockwork
04. Throwing in the Towel
05. Girls
06. Karma
07. Wasted
08. On the Run
09. Nadine
10. Get Money
11. Taxman

Throughout the continuum of British electronic street music (rave, jungle, UK garage, and now grime) most attention has been focused on London. This is especially true with today's grime scene, where at times it is hard to pull your eyes off what's happening in East London (which is, admittedly, home to Dizzee Rascal, Roll Deep, Nasty Crew, Ruff Sqwad, Newham Generals, Jammek the World, plus about a billion others) to realize that there's a lot going on outside the M25.

One of the places that has its own thing going on is Manchester, the (literally!) grimy, crime-ridden former industrial city in Northern England that has traditionally been the second city of English music. Manchester has a glorious musical history, and today it is home to a variety of new grime crews. For instance, Tony Wilson, the man who started Factory Records, the legendary Hacienda club, and discovered Joy Division and the Happy Mondays, has recently signed a grime crew called Raw-T to his new label. But the main crew in Manchester is Virus Syndicate, and this, their first album, is probably the biggest grime release to come out of Manchester yet, and one of the first proper grime albums period. Released on long-term experimental electronic music specialist Planet Mu label it is, frankly, fucking sweet.

There's a lot that I really like about this album. For one thing, the production is totally on point. Their ace in the hole is their producer, Mark One, who is one of the very best grime/dubstep producers in England at the moment, and on this album he really exceeds himself, weaving together an awesome tapestry of sound. A good example of this is 'Girls', which combines ocean deep bass, jittery percussion, a one-note old skool stab, computer game beeps, and a strange disembodied voice into an amazingly deep and spacey backing for the mc's. Another cool tune is 'Wasted' where the mc's drop their verses about getting drunk and high over a slithering rhythm, bass that wobbles like a 'Big Naturals' video, and a few layers of tinkly melody.

This is one of the things that I really like about this album: it's nothing but grime, and they resisted the temptation to soften things up with any American-style rnb or hip-hop cuts. Maybe this is just me being a bit "give me my exotic music damnit!", but one of the things that I like about grime is that it isn't rap, that it's different, that the music is different, that the mc's flow differently, that it just sounds different (count them differents!) from the rap music that is ever-present in New York. Although I like hip-hop and rnb, I don't think it is all that exciting or interesting, certainly not compared to grime, which is probably the most sonically exciting stuff I've heard in years. It makes me throw my hands up in frustration when I hear grime crews who are otherwise responsible for some of the freshest music around turning their hands to standard hip-hop/rnb stuff that is the same (except for their English accents) as what I can hear if I turn on Hot 97.

I also like their mc's JSD, Nika D, and Goldfinger. Not only do they not bother appropriating American accents/flows, but they keep it strictly Mancunian. Since most of the vocal grime stuff that has been released so far has been from London it's cool to hear the Manchester accent flowing over the beats. They cover the usual topics of grime lyrics (getting messed up, fighting, petty crime, their own awesomeness, women) with an unusual level of style and the odd bit of humor. Lyrically, for me, the standout track is Nadine, a harrowing account of one girl's descent into crack addiction and prostitution.

All in all, this is a very good album. The production is absolutely top notch, and the mc's are excellent as well. I think that the hook-up with Planet Mu is a good idea, because it's quite clear that Paradinas has given them the space to do what they want. Well worth a purchase.

Crossposted to Riddim.ca

|| RPH || 6:46 PM || (2) comments

Friday, April 01, 2005

I Need to be Updating More Often

I'm giving my apartment a comprehensive clean tonight, which is probably a bit overdue, so no long post, just a template bit of quoting someone else's article and then giving you some mp3's (which is what you are here for, right?).

I like reggaeton. Considering that while I am, say, watching tv I often find the sofa vibrating from someone driving by playing it at death star volume, it's a good thing. I live on the third floor as well. As far as bass heavy music goes, it's fun, and it's nice to listen to something and just concentrate on the sound of the voices without having a clue what they are talking about - undoubtedly the lyrics are as foolish and stereotypical as a lot of English-language music, but if you don't know what someone is saying you can pretend that they're talking about serious stuff (maaaan).

Anyways, the quotage (from "Riddims by the Reggaetón" in this week's Village Voice)

"Tego Calderón enters stage right at Madison Square Garden. On cue, the crowd at last October's second annual Megaton concert—the largest reggaetón event in the country—erupts into a frenzy. They're drunk off the deafening riddims pulsating from the venue's enormous speakers. Midway through a medley of hits that secured Tego's position as the king of reggaetón in the U.S., Fat Joe and the Terror Squad join their Afro-Boricua counterpart to perform the year's pervasive "Lean Back" remix. And the sea of almost 20,000 screaming (and some sobbing) fans of all ages and races ripple enormous Puerto Rican, Dominican, Colombian, and Ecuadorian flags in the air. It looks like closing night at the summer Olympics.

Today, the stuff is increasingly invading the U.S. rap and r&b charts, and a whole crop of stars have major releases scheduled for this spring. Last month, S.O.B.'s even kicked off its weekly "Picante Fridays: Latin Rap & Reggaetón Fiesta" at Joe's Pub. Other Megaton top-billers—Zion y Lennox, Trebol Clan, Nicky Jam, Mickey Perfecto, and the genre's next great brown hope, Julio Voltio, who is on Tego's own Jiggiri/White Lion label—blur the lines between hip-hop and reggaetón culture. Like rappers, reggaetón artists are driven by the competition of freestyle battles. And the incorporation of the DJ into sets is becoming the industry norm. "Musically, reggaetón was born in a hip-hop environment, with a little bit of Jamaican dancehall and Puerto Rico's own tropical flavor and ritmo," says Vico C, one of the movement's founding fathers."

Yer mp3's:
Don Omar - Dale don mas duro
Ivy Queen - Matando
Tego Calderon - Bailalo Como Tu Quieras

|| RPH || 5:36 AM || (4) comments