Friday, August 27, 2004

Currently listening to John Kong, bringing the heat again on the (semi)regular at Milk, the most noteworthy development in the world of internet for some time. Apparently Google have gone public, but wire services are leading with the John Kong story.

As well as the requisite amazing old disco and that new Sunburst Band everyone's hammering right now, the heat is really brought by his Canadian people, who seem to be the folks doing their best to keep the brukbeat flame alive right now.
Not even a year ago each week saw a handful of nujazz releases I had to own, but until today I don't think I've brought a record you could really describe as broken beat for months, maybe even since the Quantic album. And it's not for want of trying. Too much of it now seems either too polite and nice to leave any lasting impression (much less move a dancefloor), being the sort of thing that makes one wrinkle their nose at both the 'nu' and the 'jazz' in 'nujazz', or, like much of what's coming out on Bitasweet and Goya at present, too sonically heavy at the expense of everything else in the tune. I'm all for heaving basslines and gigantic rushing snares, but not if they're on a record that doesn't appear to have anything to say other than "look how well programmed and fantastically engineered I am."

Having left a pile of records in Tamas' studio while making our mix, he presented me with a CDR titled 'What Your Records Do When You're Not There' before I flew up to Brisbane the other week. On it were the fruits of an hour-odd's trawl through the clickier, glitchier end of one of my record bags - a mix of records he in the main hadn't previously listened to and I in the main had stopped playing. Listening to old Akufen, SCSI-9 and Perlon records reminded me how much I really like that music and how much fun they are to play, and prompted by that and the increasing interest (borderline fever-pitch, at least on blogs) in Michael Mayer and his lot, I went and bought Mayer's Fabric mix. It's great (really great) but what surprised me about it was how much micro-house there isn't. Or maybe how much micro-house has changed in the year or so since I've stopped obsessively keeping up with it. Vocals and melodies on the other hand - a surprising surfiet of. Although as Michaelangelo Matos pointed out (in response to another piece linked to below), it's not surprising if you know Kompakt as while they're subtle, they're also pop. It's a straight up great house mix, although a thousandfold more rewarding than, say the Derrick Carter/Mark Farina live mix on Om.
Listening to Mayer's latest effort on Kompakt, a remix for Supercollider with the most fabulously bulbous kickdrum (almost prompting me to buy the record for that alone), I couldn't avoid being reminded of a claim by (I think it was) Simon Reynolds about the similarities between Mayer and progressive house. A good point.
It's interesting to read folks talk about how subtle he is live (yes, this is Old News, but I don't spend every waking second trying to get up on all this, so it's news to me), and then stand in a record shop and have such bombast demand your attention. That Supercollider mix unfolds in an undoubted 'progressive' manner, its trajectory and climax moving in a way that brings to mind the unpleasantness of something on a label like Platypus - but where progressive house tracks conspire to help their DJ on his grim and unrelenting march towards arms-raised no-shades-of-gray euphoria, this Mayer remix is saved by it's neat subversion of the breakdown you'd expect (the kick slowing, then disappearing, then coming back, only backwards) and some things on it that just sound really cool and different.

Kevin Moonstarr's recent record for SK is epic in all the right ways. Light on for bombast, long on for properly devastating. Devastating. You can imagine Carl Craig smiling bemusedly as another young buck with the right synth and idea about how to make it sound like everything you love and nothing you've heard before out Carl Craig's him. Detroit is a killer house track, maybe the killerest I've heard this year, but interestingly even tho' it's been out a month (ie. forever) I've yet to hear any DJ outside of broken-beat circles play it. Has nujazz/broken beat been written off so outright, or is the gulf between it and, say, tech-house so un-leapable that a record on Jazzanova's label is ignored by every house DJ who thinks they're tougher than that?
Or is everyone really up on Detroit like they should be and I'm not going out enough?

While you're at the SK site, how fckn good does this night look?


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