Monday, February 27, 2012

Rinse Feb

Dusk & I were back on Rinse Thurs 22nd 11-1am.

DOWNLOAD the audio.


DVA "Where I Belong"  [forthcoming Hyperdub]
Shox "Aztec" [Hundred2ONE]
Double Helix "LDN VIP" [unreleased]
Desto "Shadow Sole" [Noppa]
86 Baby "Word of Mouth" [unreleased]
Mista Men "Cardiac Arrest" [Green Money]
Presk "Kook" [forthcoming Fourth Wave]
Polar Pair "Days of funky mood" [unreleased]
Walton "Thunder" [unreleased]
Warlock "Space Junk" [Rag and Bone]
Reuben G "Frozen Planet" [unreleased]
Wen "Takin' Over" [unreleased]
Emma "Dream Phone" [Tones]
Mista Men "Daylight Robbery" [Green Money]
Zed Bias & Trigga "Booster" [unreleased]
Neon Jung "Delirium Tremens" [Magic Wire]

Destiny's Child "Say My Name (Palace remix)" [unreleased]
Evian Christ "Fuck It None Of Ya'll Don't Rap" [Triangle free download]
Evian Christ  "Go Girl" [Triangle free download]
Trim & Riko "King of Kings" [unreleased]
Tessela "Darlene, Please" [2nd Drop]
Kanvas "Dragon Fly" [unreleased]
Tessela "D Jane" [Punch Drunk]
Blackwax "Trapped Dub New" [unreleased]
Double Helix "Judgment Day 2012 VIP" [unreleased]
Real "Oak" [XVI Records]
Visionist "Pour water on a witch" [unreleased]
Sublo "Shinigami" [unreleased]
Champion "Crystal Meth" [forthcoming Butterz]
G3P0 "Lupo" [unreleased]
Portico Quartet "City of Glass (LV remix)" [forthcoming]
Sublo "Nocturnal Roadway" [unreleased]
Amen Ra "Taniainnaldn" [unreleased]
Drake "Crew Love (Shlohmo Remix)" [unreleased]
The Weeknd "Gone (Sines Slowed Remix)" [unreleased]

Last month's show is here. All our old Rinse shows are archived here

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gremino showcase mix

So there's a producer we've been playing on our Rinse show called Gremino. I think he's ruff and very underrated.

He seems to totally get the vibe of early '02 Slimzee 8bar grime dubs in way that's really fresh compared to a lot of the over-compressed grime and dubstep about at the moment. We've dropped tracks like "Rupi," "Storm" "Monster" “Accordion Tune (VIP mix)” "Lush Synth" "Ruffness," "Finneskimo" and "Drumbeat" on our show.

Underrated producers always deserve a little bit of the spotlight so here's an exlcusive Gremino production showcase for my blog.

  • DOWNLOAD an exclusive Gremino production showcase

Turns out he's got an EP coming out on Fade to Mind, which weirdly I didn't know this when I commissioned this mix, though I'm really happy for him.

You can also download a bunch of his 8bar tracks for free. Check one here...

You can also buy for a mere $4 four VIPs of some of his best tunes here. Check them here...

The roots of Detroit techno

So chatting to him, post "Unity" it seems Damu's been working on a bunch of new material, some of which is inspired by current techno. When he mentioned this, I instantly thought of the parallels between his colourful sound and the euphoric sweeps of classic techno. So I thought I'd put together a playlist of Detroit classics to share with him to see if he found something he liked.

Once I'd shared it with him, well, I thought I'd share it with you guys too as the idea of someone hearing World 2 World EP or "Desire" for the first time via this blog is really what it's all about for me.

I have a mixed relationship with techno, especially Detroit techno. I began listening to it in about '96. But as I outlined in my Resident Advisor chat with Todd, two factors separated me from daily consumption of it. Firstly was the realisation that I'd mostly been working backwards through techno, not forwards, and so when I'd unearthed all the main gems, it became a law of diminishing returns, literally in some sense, given Jeff Mills and Robert Hood's pioneering of minimal techno.

Secondly I fell in love with London, became massively inspired and influenced by its surroundings, multiculturalism and pirate mindstate and began to find techno as a scene uninspiring culturally as well as musically.

On reflection, when I look back to techno, my feelings coalesce into two camps.

Things I don't miss from techno:

  • The rhythmic stiffness, lack of offbeats, corrupted rhythms
  • The reliance on straight 4x4 kick as the primary driver
  • The purist mentality and how it feels disconnected from multiculturalism
  • Minimalism as an end unto itself

Things I will always love & cherish:

  • The sense of pure, epic synth-driven euphoria (quite distinct from the drug-tainted chemical chords of trance)
  • A love of detailed, mid and upper synthetic melodies
  • An attuned sense of abstract texture, space and detail - esp from Basic Channel (though they're not from Detroit, obv).
  • A spirit of an unbeatable underground movement

The Playlist:

Model 500 "No UFO'S"
Model 500 Night Drive [Time, Space, Transmat]"
69 "Desire"
Carl Craig "At Les (studio version)"
Rhythim Is Rhythim "Strings of Life (Original Mix)"
Derrick May "Icon (Montage Mix)"
Rhythim Is Rhythim "It Is What It Is"
Underground Resistance "Jupiter Jazz"
Galaxy 2 Galaxy (Underground Resistance) "Hi-Tech Jazz"
Galaxy 2 Galaxy (Underground Resistance) "Journey of the dragons"
World 2 World (Underground Resistance) "Amazon"
Red Planet "Star Dancer"
The Martian "Firekeeper"
The Martian "Voice Of Grandmother"
The Martian "Windwalker"
Reese "Just Want Another Chance"
Suburban Knight "Art of Stalking"
Robert Hood "Minimal Nation"
Robert Hood "Detroit: One Circle"
Robert Hood "All day long (b2)"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

RIP the month in grime/dubstep on Pitchfork (2005-12)

It's with sadness that I have to write that my Pitchfork "month in grime/dubstep" column is over. All things come to an end; this one began in 2005 and seven years later finds its end here, 56 columns later. I'd like to thank Scott Plagenhoef, the man who originally commissioned the column and supported it throughout.

Before we get into any light messenger shooting, the column is being retired, I did not choose to stop writing it. I've been invited to pitch to other sections on Pitchfork but my grime/dubstep column doesn't fit into the new editorial strategy. I'll be honest and say this isn't something I really understand but naturally recognise their authority to make this call.

It does however, not come at a completely inconvenient time. While it's boring to winge about these kinds of things, the honest truth is personally I have never been busier and any free time I do have now gets split between preparing for Rinse, producing music, DJing, writing sleevenotes for compilations and most of all, running Keysound. In addition, while I have been determined to plough relentlessly on with the column, the increasing conflict between A&R and journalism in my life has made it tricky in recent months to find an endless stream of new scene pieces to write without risking conflict of interest or going over old ground.

A case in point: Andrew Ryce filed recently a detailed and well written piece for RA on the bass/house intersection, but having had my say on this increasingly all pervasive movement at least twice in the last two years the prospect of having to re-iterate these arguments again and again in another two year's worth of columns (is house boring? if you add dubstep to it is it more or less than the sum of its parts? etc etc) fills me with dread.

In 2012 I'm increasingly looking for ways to counteract the more tepid parts of that spectrum and in the past that would have been by writing and who I chose to cover. Now it's increasingly addressed by who I sign to Keysound, who I try to shine a spotlight on Rinse and how I make music with Dusk. I'm having a lot of fun right now and feel as strong as ever about underground music, just not necessarily by writing about it in the music press.

My blog will remain of course, as an outlet for writing, but the column is over. I felt no remorse when my NME column was cut last year (you didn't know I had an NME column? Exactly...) but this does come with sadness. I've spent days, maybe even weeks of my life on these 56 articles so I spent a little time this week making them accessible here (see below) if people want to find them.

If you took the time to read one in the last seven years and came across someone you'd not noticed, well then bigup: my work here is done.

Pitchfork month in grime & dubstep:


Jan: JME (unpublished)


Sept: Kuedo
July: Trim
June: Roundup: (Eastwood, P Money, Krept, Untold, Kid Smpl, Redhino)
May: The post-dubstep archipelago
March: Teeth
Feb: Falty DL
Jan: Maxwell D


Nov: End of year roundup
Oct: Roundup (various)
Sept: Darkstar
Aug: Circle and dubbage
July: SA house
June: Kode9
Apr: MJ Cole
Mar: Ikonika
Feb: Post dubstep
Jan: Elijah and Skilliam


Nov: End of year roundup
Oct: Zomby & Ghetts
Sept: State of Generation bass
Aug: JME & LD
July: Dot Rotten & Grevious Angel
June: Rude Kid, The Bug and 2562
Apr pt 2 : Wonky
Apr pt 1: Jungle-influence dubstep and Ghetts
Mar: Ruff Sqwad, Cotti, Spyro
Feb: Oneman, Wiley, TRG


Dec: End of year roundup
Nov: Various (Martyn, UK funky, BBK, House Party...)
Oct: Pinch. Peverelist, Burial, Ghetts
Sept: Skepta, LV, Hyperdub
Aug: Durrty Goodz, Skream, Dubwar
Jun: Various
May: Techno dubstep, instrumental grime
Apr: all-grime special
Mar: Joker
Feb: Exclusives and Beezy
Jan: awards and the underground


Nov: End of year roundup
Oct: Plastician, Wonder, Skream, Kode9, Distance
Jul: The art of the rewind
Jun: Zomby, Headhunter, Quest, T.H.E. M.O.V.E.M.E.N.T. and more
May: Burial and Wiley
Apr: After halfstep, the Roots of Dubstep and Newham Generals
Mar: DMZ explodes, Fuck Radio
Jan: Dubstep Warz


Dec: End of year roundup
Nov: Internationalisation of dubstep, Rinse FM
Oct: Yard MCs, DMZ, Subloaded, Distance
Sept: DMZ, grime adopts "Midnight Request Line"
Aug: Rinse FM station party and more
Jul: DMZ post 7/7, Aim High
Jun: Internationalisation of dubstep begins
May: DMZ, Roll Deep

All are archived at Pitchfork here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

96 reasons to rate JME


A few weeks ago a grime MC entered the UK top 50 charts. Five years ago this was pretty much unthinkable but in 2011-2012 it’s hardly news, as in recent times a layer of the grime scene’s a-list have migrated from east London badmen to saccharine sweet chart MCs backed by major labels. The difference here is the MC is the single is grime and the MC did it all by himself.

96Fuckries” is the remarkable new single by JME, remarkable because as an actual grime track it’s not that distinct from previous JME material yet been successful. The track’s title comes from the number of lines he spits and indeed hand writes out on the YouTube metadata. The best line however has to be the first - “Oh please, I couldn't care bout your T&Cs” – amusing because who else in grime would spit about legal terms and conditions? Then again who else would spit about iOS5 or indeed get something into the charts with 96 bars but no chorus?

While much of grime’s lead MCs seem content making commercial tracks with token bolt-on chorus’ sung by irrelevant female session singers, JME’s too strong minded to pander to commercial clich├ęs. The track’s final three lines, 94-96, seem a reference to those lost once-grime stars: “MCs think they're raising the bar/By spitting on 14 genres a day?/Safe. Raising the bar makes it easier for me to score anyway!” And score he did, using the fanbase he’s built up over years of hard slog to take the track into the national charts.

And this is the remarkable thing about “96 Fuckries”: JME has no record label as such and doesn’t have a PR team. “96 Fuckries” was not supported by national radio playlists nor sent out to journalists. Half the DJs in grime didn’t get it, not that their collective weight behind a track could put it in the charts anyway. JME doesn’t really do interviews with blogs or magazines per se. If there’s a PR rule book, JME’s ignoring it.

Though JME’s long since been an independent, free thinker, his hardcore grime credentials are unquestionable: he founded BBK alongside grime legends DJ Maximum, Jammer and his brother Skepta, and was part of Wiley’s Roll Deep and before that Meridian Crew (who had a serious street reputation). He came through the pirate radio scene on stations like Heat FM and Rinse. Yet if grime MCs turned themselves from garage hosts to “artists,” with grime a culture not a sound, then JME has pushed that expansion forward. He also went to university, is a technology “early adopter” and quickly established himself as someone who leads not follows. 

“Not following” is an apt term in the quest to understand “96 Fuckries” success. To date JME has built a 133,000 strong twitter following yet follows no one back, literally not one user. He’s tweeted over 57,000 times. His YouTube channel has 29,000 subscribers and has had over 17,475,000 views, with videos as diverse as records of every time he’s needlessly stopped by the police to BBK launching their own range of Pay As You Go top up credit. So as the “96 Fuckries” release approached he distributed his music on iTunes, dropped a music video and got a series of high profile music acts  (Tiny Tempah, Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris) supported him by RTing the download link.

This is how the social media revolution was meant to be; a meritocratic system that put the tools of distribution in the hand of the people and gave them a level playing field with the established powers that be. Instead the reality was that dominant players just imported their reach, resources and reputation into social media, quickly dwarfing those attempting to work from the bottom up. Stars being “discovered on MySpace” was usually a quaint fabrication for PR purposes by the major label that had funded their development deal. But JME is completely different.

To celebrate its release, JME, his brother Skepta and sister Rinse FM’s Julie, alongside DJ Maximum, Jammer and friends did what any pirate station crew would do in 2012: took to Ustream, to play give-away games (“Snapback”) with their fans, wear silly hats, spit bars and bigup anyone who’d bought “96 Fuckries.”

UPDATE: since I wrote this piece, I bumped into JME's sister, Julie, lost at a train station. This might seem perfectly normal occurance in "blog land" but in a city of 8 million people, it is pretty unlikely. In my day to day life it's pretty unlikely. She didn't know who I was and looked pretty baffled by me randomly knowing who she was and offering to help, but I explained I  was on Rinse, had written her brother's mix CD sleevenotes four years ago and gave her some directions: I hope she got to where she was going safely.

Keysound takeover at Batofar Paris

Keysound takeover at Batofar Paris

L.V. & Josh Idehen (live)
Dusk & Blackdown

March 9th, Batofar Paris

More info here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

LHF "Keepers of the Light" Keysound Recordings

"Keepers of the Light"
[Keysound Recordings]
2/4/12 2xCD and digital.

Video by Skely Tor, a Light Keeper who responded to some intergalactic signals. Shout to all the true Light Keepers.

"EP3: Cities of Technology"
20/2/12 on 12" and digital

"Keepers of the Light" tracklist

No Fixed Abode "Secret Lagoon"
Amen Ra and Double Helix- "Steelz"
Amen Ra "Candy Rain"
No Fixed Abode "Sunset" (Mumbai Slum Edition)
Amen Ra "Essence Investigation"
Double Helix "Supreme Architecture"
Double Helix "LDN"
Double Helix feat Low Density Matter "Rush"
Low Density Matter "Questions"
Low Density Matter "Blue Steel"
Amen Ra "Simple Things"
Amen Ra "Low Maintenance"
No Fixed Abode "Strangelands"
Amen Ra "From Whence We Came"
Amen Ra feat Double Helix "Broken Glass"
No Fixed Abode "Indian Street Slang"
Amen Ra "Fairytales"
Amen Ra "Akashic Visions"
Amen Ra "Hidden Life Force 2"
Double Helix "No Worries"
Double Helix "Bass 2 Dark"
Double Helix "Chamber Of Light"
Double Helix "Inferno"
Double Helix "Deep Life"
Double Helix "Voyages"
Amen Ra "One Toke Wonder"

Sunday, February 05, 2012

As we enta: the wonder of the intro tune

Check check: intro tunes.



As a DJ, I’m obsessed with…

Intro tunes.Why?

Intro tunes have things to say, they say “here we are.”  You’ve begun, arrived and that other DJ, he’s finished now. For the next hour or ideally more, you’re in tune to us.

Intro tunes also say “this is who we are.” Those other tracks, by that other DJ they’re gone now. That was his vibration; this is ours. This is what we’re about, where we’re beginning from and as of now on you’ll begin to see where we’re going to.

Sometimes I wish you could have two intro tunes, but it doesn’t work like that.

Why? Because the second tune’s power is diminished by the first. There can’t be two firsts. That power is what makes intro tunes unique and so magical. And because they’re your first track, it has infinite potential. No crowd will leave after one track… I just can’t imagine how bad it would have to be, so far away from their expectations for a crowd to leave en masse after one tune alone. Yes it might be possible to empty a room with one tune, but it’s… unlikely.

(As an aside Dusk and I have emptied a room with five tracks but not one, but that was because Ghetts, Logan and 34 MCs had just left the stage of his “Freedom of Speech” album launch party all at once and took the crowd (their crews/mates) with them… oh and and technically the bar staff and two lads we’ve since realized were Elijah and Skilliam were still there, but who’s counting.)

So your intro tune is completely free, utterly unbounded by expectation. It is utterly liberated from any of DJing’s confines. And DJing does have basic parameters and confines under which it operates, just like dance music production, and it’s better for it, lest it descend into a chaotic, amorphous mess. The genius then is not how you can remove those confines (“I don’t need to mix! I don’t need decks! I don’t even need music!” “Err, OK mate, now what…?”). It’s who can find a new twist or a unique space within those confines.

Personally, I love a beatless intro.

To play beatless tracks in the middle of a set, well, you either have to be looking to grind things to a halt to segue into another direction (a garage -> jungle switch for example), have mind-melting amounts of influence like Wiley did during the “devil mix” era at Sidewinder or are just looking to be a little contrary. I recall some quote from techno godfather Derrick May saying that a good DJ should be able to take things down to nothing and back up. In any event, if you drop something beatless mid set you’ll need to rebuild all the momentum you’d built prior to that.

But with an intro tune you have no momentum, you’re starting from absolute zero and in some ways beatless intro’s are perfect for that. They’re like a palate cleanser, wiping away the expectations and momentum from the previous DJ and resetting things from which to rebuild.

Some DJs like to come in with an absolute banger; I’ve seen that a lot from dubstep DJs who are singularly focused on hype. The problem is: where do you go from there? If your intro tune is a 10/10, you better have about 9 more 10/10’s in the bag otherwise your set is an anticlimax. It’s that old adage about there being “no loud without quiet,” you can’t get louder than loudest, by definition (time for a “turn it up to 11” Spinal Tap reference? No, thought not…). Actually, thinking about it, those DJs who do intro with bangers, their sets tend to take a different shape. Instead of steadily building up in intensity, which I prefer, or declining in intensity, which seems a little perverse, each track is mellow/hype cycle in itself. 32 bar chilled intro followed by massive dynamic range change, mid-range drop and lots of compressed “loud” sounds… before the next intro comes in… Repeat cycle for an hour.

I also like the ability of beatless intros to express an another emotion other than hypement.  Yes I saw certain critics slewing of the James Blake/emotional end of the dubstep spectrum but really as a DJ what I’m looking to do is generate strong emotional reactions – and that doesn’t just mean “arrrrghfkjskJFKKEK RELOADDATBUMBA!!!!,” though that is fun. I’d also like to create intense warmth/happiness, heartbreak/melancholia and even introspection as well as disorienting and overwhelming urge to dance with every cell in your body. Because of their power and potential, intro tunes are a good place for that kind of emotion.

Intro tunes: as we enta.