Thursday, 25 February 2010

Does peace and quiet always take priority over loud music?

Well, that depends. If a rig has moved into your front garden and decided to blast several hundred kilowatts of rave then you might have a case, but as recent news stories show (and our from own experience in Scotland, especially Edinburgh) it tends to be the other way around. The slow destruction of night-time venues has invariably come about for a number of reasons, but the phenomenon of housing developers building around long-standing venues adds further fuel to the 'noise abatement' fire.

Is space running out that quickly? When office blocks and flats lay empty, is there ever a 'good' excuse to build next to a venue whose livelihood depends on music and the freedom to play it at volume marginally louder than a mouse fart? You certainly can't blast the tunes at home in case the police come a'knocking, and you can't just set up a rig on open land without vans and dogs soon making an appearance* - is it a travesty to maintain a building specifically designed for the playing and celebration of music?

Take a look at Studio 24 in the East end of Edinburgh - a before shot.

An old converted cinema located next to scrubland, disused buildings, and a graveyard - now check out this handy google map, which shows the developments built literally onto the side of the venue (which, incidentally - or is that deliberately - has been offered fistfuls of cash to sell up for the past 10 years).

And yet, further up the road lies the long-dead Venue, now a glass and laser-show construction, next to even more scrubland. The art of building beside music venues has spread through the planning committees as guaranteed cheap ways to plot out your stretches of monotous housing like a crazed Monopoly player. And then you don't even have to buy them out, just flush 'em out with court orders and sound limiters fixed to mixers.

The deceased Venue

Read the original article this rant was brought to you by, right here:

* Hell, I almost got arrested for having a bbq after some nosy bastards phoned the police claiming we were trying to set fire to the forest 50m away, with a disposable tray and 8 burgers.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Vinyl and digital reviews: Laurent Garnier & Moodymanc

Title: It's Just Muzik
Artist: Laurent Garnier presents Alaska
Label: Crosstown Rebels
Release date: 8th March 2010

Sounds like: Right on target Garnier

High notes: This is certainly not '... Just Muzik', a name which conjures images of symphonies for lifts; the thundering bassline is spine tinglin' stuff, with thick, syrupy chords, an energetic techno beat and vibrations of melody bouncing off panning rattles. It's a dancefloor killer with plenty movement in the drum kicks and a crescendoing wave of simple, yet eloquent sounds. 'Stargazing' is equally good; the tracks are like varying elements of Crispy Bacon updated for 2010, without retreading tired ground. The trance-like quality to the tracks trace the kind of cosmic noises that get Daniele Baldelli hard.

Bum notes: Laurent is not here playing these tracks in my living room, to me, right now.

Exclusive: Laurent Garnier plays a full live set at the Picture House in Edinburgh at Musika on 2nd April. More info to follow.

Title: Mode EP
Artist: Moodymanc
Label: 2020Vision
Release date: 22nd March 2010

Sounds like: Tonal bleep deep house with several tricks up the sleeve

High notes: 'Mode dub' and its delightful bouncy bass line punch away to a syncopation of jazz loopage, and piano chords. Moodymanc's jazz drummer background comes to the fore two and half minutes in, and would kick the shit out your local chair-lounging jazz venue. 'Passout' presents a bass that I could literally feel vibrating my knee caps, just through the application of headphones; this needs to be played through the Sub Club's sonic floor. The latin feel almost points towards a deep house Manu Chao, before 'Crushed' wades in like an industrial machine, grinding you between heavy gears and cogs. Not so much house as something to wake Nitzer Ebb from the grave. It only eases off just in time for another pounding bass kick to pin you back against the wall.

Bum notes: Not heard of any Moodymanc bookings in Scotland - what's up promoters?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Vinyl and digital reviews: Distance & Hard Ton

Title: Menace
Artist: Distance
Label: Chestplate
Release date: 1 March 2010

Sounds like: Heavy metal meets grimy dubstep

High notes: 'Menace' takes a cue from the rumbling bass and guitar of heavy metal and hesitant dubstep beats for a crossover between the brutishness of metal and half steps of dub. Slather on some grimy vibes and you have a loudspeaker menace, which has already made it onto Pinch's Tectonic Plates Volume 2 Mix CD. 'Beyond' is the mellower of the two, with emotive synths to float away on in the club.

Bum notes: If you approach this as a heavy metal fan you'll be sorely disappointed.

Title: Selfish
Artist: Hard Ton
Label: Gigolo Records
Release date: March 2010

Sounds like: Energetic glam disco electro

High notes: Think Fischerspooner with extra glitter, ill-fitting lycra and you have Hard Ton; possibly a way to describe the group's collective weight and current erectile position. With analogue gear and arpeggios to the fore, 'Selfish' indulges old school Chicago claps and evolved Moroder synth stabs, while 'Earthquake' provides a low(er) key breather between the high energy slabs of disco-love.

Bum Notes: Some astounding amount of similarity between 'Selfish' and 'Forever No More' and the latter could do with less of the 'it works' formula.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Vinyl and digital reviews: Jinx in Dub and Felguk ft Sporty-O

Title: Tippa Tap
Artist: Jinx in Dub
Label: Functional
Release date: March / April 2010

Sounds like: Energetic dub/step with breaks, reggae and a salute to early 90s jungle rave.

High notes: 'Tippa Tap' instantly reminds you of 'Hammer Time' rhythms - it's an instant party tune, moving from breaks to dubby reggae, but Ben Lex's remix has potential to do more damage on the dancefloor with the help of half-step and dubstep dashes amongst jungle and early rave-styled synths. Invariably it comes across as a slower paced, reinvented Prodigy for 2010. First Aid takes final remix duties, gearing 'Tippa Tap' towards dancehall, and if it could be defined as such, runs close to dubby dubstep!

Bum Notes: Not hearing more work from Jinx in Dub on this release; roll on the double AA sides!

Title: 2Nite
Artist: Felguk ft Sporty-O
Label: Giant Pussy
Release date: April/May 2010

Sounds like: Rave rises are making a big comeback over 2010!

High notes: A rare single track release here - '2Nite' - shows that Sporty-O continued to have a vocal life in dance music after the Body Snatchers (whom Lo-Quality still has high hopes for!). A growing throb of synth sets the backdrop for jittery electro-house and an all-out party tune with emphasis on the bass line.

Bum notes: Just one track? We live in demanding times!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Vinyl and digital reviews: Rothkamm and [a]pendics.shuffle & Dilo

Title: Alt
Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Label: Baskaru
Release date: Early 2010

Sounds like: A novice playing around with a home studio and keyboard from Cash Converters

High notes: Ok, this is coming out on Baskaru, the experimental music and sound art label, so you could be forgiven for abstract tones, obtuse composition and the rest - if the end product can be appreciated for interesting or moving electronica - but this doesn't happen here. Or at least not for this writer, who remembers telling a teacher that Philip Glass was their inspiration after a rather disastrous composition for Higher Music to cover up the lack of form. This perhaps requires a great deal more chin-stroking from art bods, and less listening from ambient electronic fans.

Bum Notes: The 'Alt' album, but admittedly 'AAA' has some potential outside 'the art world'.

Title: Vaquero
Artist: [a]pendics.shuffle & Dilo (Cascabel Gentz)
Label: Trapez
Release date: 8 Feb 2010

Sounds like: Green Velvet and Jamie Lidell making dubby techno with hooky melodies

High notes: When America and Argentina join forces you get tracks like 'Cowboy Flyers', with trippy, melting voices and an almost erotic kick drum making you relentlessly move to the beat; and the more forceful 'Never Beat' with Lidell-esque vocals over booty-wobbling techno. Across 'No More No Less', hints of tribal cross-rhythms and pscyhedelia mesh with manipulated interviews and a varied use of melody - sometimes difficult to do with techno without sounding too cheesy or too morbid.

Bum Notes: 'No More No Less' is available with digital downloads only, sorry vinyl enthusiasts!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Clash Music Reviews: Vinyl and Digital

I sometimes forget I can post my reviews for other media here, but voila!

Prosper, Zam'x, Hi! Population - Kiss My Neck Ep

... breakin'... into paranormal territory

Commencing with perhaps the first vampire themed electro-house / breaks tune, 'Suck My Neck' by Prosper and Zam'x featuring Miss Peg; it comes across as a B-movie horrortune, but is not as genre-overloaded as Prosper and Hi! Population's 'Strawberry Moon'. 'Chavroo Night' by Prosper and Zam'x steals the EP - perfect for slamming over a film montage of people clubbing and 'getting crazy with it'.

Release date: Feb / March 2010

Gramophonedzie - Why Don't You
Positiva / Virgin Records

... Fails to make a splash

Flashes of Mr Scruff are conjured by this sax-dominated funky house groove, awkwardly giving way to samples of Peggy Lee's jazzy version of 'Why Don't You Do Right' - the Audio Bully's would be proud of Gramophonedzie's mix of the kitsch and modern, but it's not enough to create waves in the wider house community.

Release date: 22 Feb 2010

Psychonauts - Take Control
Gigolo Recordings

... it's all in the remixes

Psy-trance and its related branches are not Gigolo's regular fare, but as part of a re-release they couldn't resist updating this 2003 track for the new decade. The original pscyhedelic and spacey track featuring Sam Lynham has been remastered, but it's the punchier house of Naum Gabo and dubby Pscycatron remixes we're interested in here!

Release date: Feb 2010

Silicone Soul - Hurt People Hurt People
Soma Records

... Capturing their namesake

Taken from their 2009 'Silicone Soul' album, 'Hurt People Hurt People' is a lovely tech-house groove, rubbing in flecks of deep Chicago to accurately capture the sound of one's soul if it were silicone. Bearweasel's remix is a less-forgiving techno take, while Jairo Catelo follows a tribal house path and Master H summons imagery of Fischerspooner and Mortiis going head to head.

Release date: 15 Feb 2010

Joel Alter - Soul Clap EP

... 909 goodness

Put simply, 'Soul Clap' will generate heat on the dancefloor and rekindle passion for old school synth and key stabs, set to clean and determined techno beats. Savas Pascalidis re-edits the track to a Chicago template, sustaining the filters and a 909 clap breakdown, and the flipside's 'Mellan Raderna' alters the pace to a deeper and languid house dub for three well-fitting EP partners.

Release date: 10 Feb 2010