Saturday, March 28, 2009

Shutter music


Ever since we started Keysound Recordings, I’ve strived to make the label art and music part of a whole. So when it came to illustrating Starkey’s “Gutter Music” 12”, the first release on the label not from London, I wanted something that both tied into the track and to Starkey’s home town, Philadelphia.

On the wonder that is Flickr, I found this shot by Richard B Kohn, a US-based photographer and I reached out to him. As Starkey’s “Gutter Music” 12” finally appears in shops, this is the story behind the striking images you see on the vinyl.

Blackdown: Can you tell me a bit about yourself as a photographer, when did you start?

Richard B Kohn: “As a person, I have been one who wanted to observe the world, especially the interaction of people in public settings as opposed let's say to sitting on a beach or exploring the ruins of Manchu Pichu. A natural extension is the photographic medium. At first the image becomes a souvenir, then refinements, technology, brings you to a level of sophistication as your technique matures in parallel to life experience.

I would now define my images as photo journalism concentrating on photo realism. Very few are genre based. My subject matter most often are urban street images, most involving live subjects interacting within their own comfort zone, really, I'm an observer of events. My concentration has been people at the margins of society, so many images reflect everyday situations within this strata.

The introduction of the digital image (over a decade now) significantly exploded the output possible for street photography. As long as I'm able and have the time, resources I will continue to wonder what interesting interaction I will have around the next corner.”

B: Can you tell me a bit about this day's shoot...

RBK: “The two images illustrated on the Starkey 12" were taken in Kensington, Philadelphia , just North of downtown. Since the late 1970's the neighborhood has deteriorated into a working class ghetto when many industrial factories closed, leave unskilled laborers without means of support.

I chose to shoot the abandoned stolen car, 2001, to illustrate the surrounding structures with the usually bonus of the scattered but colorful toys all surrounded by some fresh snow.

I came across the boy, 2007, while observing a Puerto Rican Independence day parade. As an African American, he was just watching on the sidewalk. I was attracted to his self-assured cockiness, clothing, as good subject, the cheap fast food establishment, even the litter gave this image the urban ghetto id.”

B: How did you come to find yourself in this part of Philadelphia?

RBK: “I actually found this part of Philadelphia by accident, when I was trying to drive to the city center on business. I became intrigued by the urban-ism, the overhead rail line, -the El-, the mix of people in the street - white, black, Hispanic - the overall dynamics and access to various characters, said, 'Shoot Me.'

Interestingly the neighborhood with its famous row houses, store front, old factory building's was on an economic comeback recently. The brick building behind the car in my photo now is a loft condo. The new realities of recent events might have slowed this comeback.

If you are interested in seeing Kensington illustrated during it's most depressed time, I recommend Eugene Richards's ‘Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue’.”

B: What did you enjoy and not enjoy about shooting there? What was it like?

RBK: “What do I enjoy, well, life. In most of American, the automobile rules, suburban shopping malls are everywhere. This atmosphere prevents casual interaction. The streets of NYC , a world capital are vibrant, Philly's main streets still have some of that urban edginess, but there is danger as well, drug dealings, shootings, prostitution, robberies...all the urban ills. One of my better shots highlights a well-known gruesome murder that made headlines nationwide a few years ago.”

B: That shot is particularly striking. What have you been focusing on recently?

RBK: “I am lately meeting photographers from the East Coast that image UE or Urban Exploration. Most concentrate on structural ruins of the last century, such as hospitals, power stations, foundries, hospitals. I use these as props when I encounter subjects to shoot. Some fashion photography uses such locations as well.”

“I have had feedback from a number of sources on my images including the NY Times, various UK sources including the Belfast media. I have documented the lives of street children in Moscow. This same group was featured in a prize winning, Oscar nominated short documentary, The Children of Leningradsky, 2004. I just got feedback from video images from my subjects from 2 different Belfast shoots from 5 years ago. I may want to revisit the subject and do a yesterday and today follow-up. Photography does have it's rewards.

· Richard B Kohn has lots more amazing images of Philadelphia on Flickr. He also has images on Picturepush. Starkey’s Gutter Music ft Durrty Goodz is out now on Keysound Recordings.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rinse March, WhyNot and FWD

Rinse FM

Rinse FM this Thurs 11pm. You know what to do/get on the floor/do the do...

Then after that we're playing Why?Not on Saturday 28th @ Scala. On Sunday April 5th we're at the Roots of El-B launch party @ FWD>> alongside Kode9.

Dusk and I are kinda treating these two club sets as part of a whole and have been planning a strictly rollage set for FWD>>. The thinking is to play all the stuff from 2009 that comes from or is inspired by Ghost circa 2000.

As a consequence the Why?Not set should be built around the other elements of our usual set, namely grime, wonk and stripped back halfstep.

Dusk + Blackdown Rinse FM March 09

DOWNLOAD the set here

Shout to all the forum crew repping during the show...

Wiley "Ice Rink (Dizzee Rascal vocal)" (Eskibeat)
Wiley "Ice Rink (Kano vocal)" (Eskibeat)
More Fire Crew ft Dizzee Rasal "Still the Same" (Go! Beat)
Wookie "Battle (MJ Cole remix)" (Soul 2 Soul)
Bump & Flex "Long Time Coming" (Heat)

Durrty Goodz "Mr Street" (Ultrasound)
Starkey "Miracles (Jamie Vex'd remix)" (unreleased)
Zomby "Eskiwinter" (unreleased)
Ms Brat "Wheel ft Dizzee Rascal" (unreleased)
Gemmy "Rainbow Road" (unreleased)
Lava Unit ft Ms Brat, Badness, D.E.Velopment "What U Got Our Poket" (unreleased)
Noaipre "Hombre Bueno Pierde" (unreleased)
Ms Beats and Silkie "Purple Love" (unreleased Deep Medi)

Zomby "I Want You" (unreleased)
Tempa T "Next Hype (Starkey remix)" (unreleased No Hats No Hoods)
Vibzin "Digital Funk" (unreleased)
Trim "Titans ft Wiley" (Soulfood)
Desto "Disappearing Reappearing Ink" (unreleased)
Joker & Ginz "Re Up" (unreleased)
Blackdown "Beta" (unreleased)

Sbtrkt "Rekorder" (unreleased)
MRK1 "Magnetic Device" (unreleased Earwax)
Peverelist "Untitled" (unreleased)
VVV "Notice Luv" (unreleased)
Grievious Angel "Flu Virus (version)" (unreleased)
Kryptic Minds "Badman (aka Loefah v DMZ)" (unreleased)
Kryptic Minds "Dissolved" (unreleased)
Sbtrkt "Step in Shadows" (unreleased)
Kulture "Yes We Can" (unreleased)

Geiom "Eyl Booty" (unreleased)
Rapid "Report to the Dancefloor (Donae'o remix)" (unreleased)
Martyn "Electric Purring" (unreleased)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rinse:08 Alexander Nut

Rinse:08 Alexander Nut

Nothing stings like a sucker punch. Swung from out of nowhere it connects and leaves you reeling, wondering what the hell hit you? Well mix CD Rinse:08 sees Alexander nut you fair and square between the eyeballs. And guess what: you never even saw it coming. I barely even saw it coming, and I’ve DJed after the man twice (at The End).

But Rinse:08 left me on the canvas seeing stars. It’s a heavyweight, first round KO.

I go deeper into what’s exceptional about this mix on the CD’s sleevenotes, but stepping back I think one reason is a simple factor as “selection.” Alexander has an ear for quality, much of which is unfamiliar yet grabs instantly. Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, Morgan “Spacek” Zarate, Roots Manuva and Eric Lau all connect on a hip hop level. Then there’s Joker, Rustie, Zomby and Pinch woven seamlessly together. Dancehall and r&b go into the blend too, but Bullion steals the show.

And yes, I know, no one likes the term “w*nky” right now, not the artists concerned especially since Simon Reynolds’ K-clanger, but in many way this mix is the perfect encapsulation of what I saw when I first well-meaningly used the term: a seam of common innovation running through disparate multiple scenes: dubstep, grime, broken beat, hip hop and r&b.

In an era of access to unprecedented volumes of data, musical or otherwise, people complain the joy of discovery is being lost, that there are no more surprises anymore. Well all I’m saying is when you wake up with a purple bruise between your eyes don’t come to me looking all surprised. You’ve just been Nutted.

· Download Alexander Nut's Rinse shows from their blog. He headlines his CD launch party this Sunday at FWD>> with support from Mark Pritchard/Harmonic 313, Joker and Youngsta. If that lineup doesn’t somehow interest you, you’re on the wrong blog. Move along, move along, nothing for you to see here...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

On the Origin of Scenes

Figure 1: Status quo

The musical scene is large and well established

scene: status quo

Figure 2: Outbreak

Frustrated with the status quo, musicians migrate from the core

this could be any established genre

scene: outbreak

Figure 3: Shared values

Some of the musicians find common ground and create a new camp

this is the "what do u call it" moment, where the rate of change and posibilities are the greatest

scene: shared values

Figure 4 & 5: Growth and influx

The new scene attracts an influx and grows

this is funky right now, dubstep three years ago, grime five years ago

scene: growth and influx

Figure 6: Becoming the status quo

The scene becomes the status quo

And frankly, who wants to be Status Quo... only joking. ;)

scene: becoming the status quo

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Roots of El-B

Ammunition and Blackdown present... The Roots of El-B

1. Ghost "The Club"
2. Ghost "2000"
3. El-B "Express"
4. El-B "Show A Little Love feat. Simba & Juiceman"
5. Ghost "Lyrical Tempo"
6. El-B "Digital feat. Juiceman"
7. El-B "Buck n Bury (Original Mix) feat. Juiceman"
8. Zed Bias "Time Out (El-B Remix)"
9. Zed Bias "Neighbourhood (El-B Remix)"
10. Brasstooth "Celebrate Life (El-B Remix)"
11. El-B "Serious feat. Rolla"
12. El-B "Cuba"
13. El-B "Cruiser"
14. El-B "Amazon"
15. El-B "Among The Stars"

Nine years since it all began in Streatham, the king of new dark swing drops his longplayer. Tracklist and sleevenotes by me, design by Stu, hard graft by Soulja. Unfinished business duly finished.