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