Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Evanescence - Scorn

UK POST-ROCK TOP 14 - PART 1



Someone once niftily described Evanescence as Metal Box meets Bernard Hermann. That's way too neat a summation of the panoply of sonic experiences contained within this cd though. Evanescence was an incredible solitary sonic document of what musicians were attempting within these musical spheres at the time. Sure there is deep dub bass and spooky horror motifs but a whole lot more was going on here. While other UK Post-Rock groops like Stereolab, Pram and Laika were influenced by the great fluid Krautrock beats of Neu and Can, Scorn's beats were informed by hip hop. Along with darker ambient vibes they had traces of metal (Mick Harris & Nick Bullen were ex-members of the ferocious metal band Napalm Death), goth, post punk, industrial, techno and drone-ology. The grooves are infectious and even sometimes mellifluous. Getting lost amongst these deep and heavy riddims is all part of the attraction of Evanescence. I recall being rather confounded upon first hearing this LP with all of it's musical juxtapositions and I guess, what I saw as contradictions, but that didn't last long as I kept coming back for more. The occasional vestige of a riff even drifts in now and then. Dread was a major part of original 70s dub reggae and on this recording Scorn certainly captured a unique British gloom. A doomed feel permeates the entire record. Unlike other ambient dub acts of the time this was not good time E-head chill out music. It had mysterious lulls into nightmarish worlds containing all the colours of the dark. Scorn at this stage were like a lethargic cousin to UK's darkside hardcore scene and a precursor to future genres like dub-step and hauntology. On Dreamspace Scorn even give us a bit of Gabba/Gloomcore-esque bass drum girth, which is fucking wicked. Exodus, one of the stand out tracks, was like a forlorn My Bloody Valentine with an ominous didgeridoo instead of an ecstatic flute. The lost generation of original UK post-rock were trying to push things forward and this LP stands as a testament to that vision to this day. It was quite an achievement and I kinda can't understand why a hundred groups didn't take up this blueprint but I guess the future was still up for grabs at the time and bands were forging their own identities, not wanting to be mere Scorn acolytes. The copyists and clones were gathering together over near or in the charts under the banner of New Wave of New Wave and Brit-Pop nowhere near these outer regions.

Scorn's Evanescence is magic from the margins.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

UK Post Rock - The Lost Generation


In keeping with my recent recent posts about MainIce & Techno Animal I thought I'd go into a bit more detail on UK's Lost Generation of Post-Rock. Good ole Professor Reynolds was writing about these groups in the pages of Melody Maker from at least 1991 onwards. There's was an article in the 91 Christmas issue of Melody Maker with no byline that I assume was penned by Simon. It documented the first stirrings of a new (non)scene that included a bunch of disparate musical units committed to taking their music to the limits well away from the commercial alternative business of the time. Cranes were the hot topic with their 91 classic Wings Of Joy but they weren't what was soon to be called post-rock. They were a one off post-goth/industrial band with, and I quote 'a lush Scott Walker/Euro cabaret grandeur.' Anyway AR Kane's (forefathers of UK post-rock) label H.ark get a mention with their roster containing Papa Sprain & Butterfly Child. Kevin Martin's label Pathological rate a mention too with his own great band Techno Animal plus Oxbow (whatever happened to them?). Avant Yanks Cop Shoot Cop and Twin Infinitives era Royal Trux get thrown in the mix as well. But it was future post-rock icons Disco Inferno, Bark Psychosis and Main who were the most celebrated/anticipated in this article as some kind of future saviours of what was still being called Avant-Rock. Two years later in 1993 Avant-Rock remained the main term along with the speculative term Cyborg-Rock, which never really gained any traction. I guess weird non UK bands like Young Gods and The Boredoms would have fitted this category with relative ease. In the UK though more and more groups like Insides, EAR, Moonshake Scorn, Ice, Seefeel were displaying un-rock tendencies in a beyond rock context so this wasn't a term that was to properly fit. Avant-Rock still implied that the genre was still rock at its core despite innovations and modern tendencies. While half of what ended up being called Post-Rock still rocked in some form, the other half was not so rockin. Hence the term Post-Rock making perfect sense.

The thing is this music was already under my skin so by the time Simon Reynolds came up with the term Post-Rock for these bands in an article for Wire magazine's May 1994 issue (reprinted in Bring The Noise pages 186-193) it kind of didn't really matter. I've never really thought about it before but I guess it was named in hindsight as the scene had been going for 3 or 4 years already. As is usually the case with these things a demise was on the way with only a few classics of the genre to be released after 1994. Post-Rock now also included the likes of O'rang, Laika, Flying Saucer AttackPram & Movietone. Parallels were being drawn to other artists on the outer musical limits like Paul Schutze, Jim O'Rourke, Thomas Koner, Aphex Twin, Eddie Prevost, Zoviet France etc. In an article in Melody Maker in July 1994 past artists were retroactively inducted into a post-rock hall of fame lineage from The Velvet Underground to Krautrock legends to Brian Eno to Post-Punk groups like PIL, Cabs and The Pop Group to 80s UK noise/bliss rockers from JAMC, MBV, Spaceman 3, Loop, The Cocteau Twins, AR Kane etc.

Post-Rock was all about samplers, drum machines, studios, effects, sequencers etc., jettisoning the guitar as a riff apparatus and integrating the techniques of dub, 70s Miles Davis, Can, hip-hop, ambient & techno into rock. Guitars were still sometimes used but in more of an unfamiliar and un-rock way. This bunch of groups rarely sounded like one another, they were on the outside, went out into these zones alone and wore that status like a badge. Some were beat-ologists, while others severed beats altogether and space was the place. Anyway that doesn't really sound like Explosions In The Sky does it? This UK shit was the shit! What do I have to add? Dunno really. This was the sound of my bedroom in the early 90s while your more accessable rock/pop stuff (Shoegazers, Breeders, Pavement, Mazzy Star, Portishead etc.) from the era made it into the lounge rooms of the share houses I lived in at the time, Post-Rock was not embraced by all and remained in the ghetto of my bedroom (along with strange septic tanks like Slint, Trumans Water, Thinking Fellers Union 282 etc.). This parallelled how Post-Rock was pretty marginalised in the outside world too apart from Stereolab who were quite the cult band.....I suppose.

I think a top 14 of the original UK Post-Rock is in order. This is when the term made sense, meant something and the music was bloody great.

Hydra-Calm (compilation) - Main [1992]
Eva Luna - Moonshake [1992]
May - Papa Sprain [1992]
Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements - Stereolab [1993]
Iron Lung - Pram [1993]
Under The Skin - Ice [1993]
Quique - Seefeel [1994]
Hex - Bark Psychosis [1994]
Evanescence - Scorn [1994]
DI GO POP - Disco Inferno [1994]
Silver Apples of The Moon - Laika [1994]
Herd Of Instinct - O'rang [1994]
Further - Flying Saucer Attack [1995]
Re-Entry - Techno Animal [1995]


*The top 14 was supposed to have blurb reviews but tiredness has kicked in....maybe later....just one record per artist. These are in chronological order and this list is by no means comprehensive.

**Stereolab, Flying Saucer Attack & Third Eye Foundation all released gems after 1995. I must admit I didn't really follow the next wave of groups from the UK. I'm actually struggling to come up with any of their names beyond Piano Magic, Crescent and Amp.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

On The Hi-Fi (in brief) Part 43


Walberswick - Jon Brooks
Brooks is back just 6 months after Advisory Circle's 2014 classic From Out Here (which I'm still listening to on a weekly basis) with another bewdy. He's keeping up his batting average and getting better with each new release. This starts off in weird electronics mode with Mr Brooks I Presume before settling into synth ambience in excelis.


Songs Of Gold, Incandescent - Dolphins Into The Future/Lieven Martens Moana
Classic themes here from Lievens. This is actually a compilation of rarities from 2010-2014. I mean isn't all his stuff rare. We've got waves, bells, jungle sounds, Pacific Islander choirs, strange electronics, underwater soundtracks, Casio vibraphones, submarine drones and the inevitable scuttling sea creature soundz. Songs Of Gold makes you realise how much sonic territory Dolphins Into The Future have covered over the years without you even realising.


Machines Are Obsolete - Pye Corner Audio/Pathways - Pye Corner Audio & Belbury Poly
(Ghostbox Other Voices Series 05)
A-Side: "Easy listening dystopian sounds. 80s attempts at futuristic soundtracks."*
B-Side: "Future Sailor but not as good like Howard Moon has found the new sound but no he hasn't it's just an old one. It sounds like every single song from 1983!"*

*Special comments from Mrs Space Debris.

Pathways is reminding me of a John Foxx tune I can't quite put my finger on. Chuck in a bit of Kraftwerk and a Giorgio Moroder synth guitar lead break and you've probably got it in a nutshell.


Murder For Hire - Kevin Gates
I was really looking forward to this but there's just way too much screaming dj action on this one. Kevin Gates gets buried beneath all the extraneous racket here. I hope he didn't put any classics on this 7 track datpiff exclusive mixtape because I don't think I can put up with dj holiday for one more second in my life. Why does he have to show up on like every 4th rap mix-tape and why doesn't he shut the fuck up and let Gates do his thang.


Livonia - His Name Is Alive
Who would have thought that this would still sound good 25 years later? My 90s trip has gone back to my 4AD records and sure the 80s was 4AD's decade but they still had some gems in the 90s like their last Cocteau's record, Throwing Muses The Real Ramona, The Breeders Pod, The Pale Saints, Red House Painters and the first 2 LPs from His Name Is Alive. Livonia was their first record and yeah it's really pretentious but fuck it sounded good today. I was expecting to want to turn it off after 30 seconds but I played it twice in a row. This is a strange album. It's sort of outsider folk/loop-ology/random electronics and noise guitars. I wanted to play their 2nd LP Home Is In Your Head which I recall being even better but it's on tape and sadly me house no longer contains a tape deck!


Thursday, 25 June 2015

70s Indonesian Meta music



'Every music and melody I love.'

You can't love music much more than that can ya?

'I love Rolling Stones/I love Led Zeppelin.' 

*Funnily enough after that last post about The Doors I went to bed and put on this album for some reason and this is the first track. So this is Panbers from the fabulous compilation released a few years back (2011) by NowAgain Records called Those Shocking Shaking Days: Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock & Funk 1970-1978. Anyway this is my 3rd perhaps final contribution to Blissblog's Music Music series. Great tune eh?

Meta Music Part 2 - 60s Cali


Mamas & The Papas sing about the 60s Cali scene although weren't they originally from New York? It's really hard to watch John Philips now since he's become a rotten scoundrel in my mind after finding out about the alleged incest he committed to his daughter. I can get past these sort of things usually with the music but I think it's seeing him and the image he projects ie. a sort of innocent non-threatening lame yet money hungry hippie. Hey the rock world is full of scoundrels (cf The Stones, Led Zep, Gary Glitter etc). The thing with someone like Gary Glitter he seemed so mental it wasn't such a stretch what he got up to. Anyway innocence is very questionable in rock innit? It seems the more you project innocence, the more you are hiding how fucked up you are (cf. The Beach Boys, The Cocteau Twins).


The Beach Boys sing about an earlier version of themselves. How LA is that?


Love/Sex as music or is it the other way around?



How fucking good is Carl Wilson's voice! How much do you wanna punch Mike Love in the face though? Better than The Ronettes version, I reckon. No Brian in the clip. The other dude is Bruce Johnston. He wrote some fine Beach Boys songs like Disney Girls, Tears In The Morning etc. In the 70s he ended up collaborating with Elton John a fair bit. He even sang backing vocals on Pink Floyd's The Wall.



Oh...................how could I forget?

'For the Music is your only friend/Dance on fire as it intends/Until the end'

*What a unit! What A performance! Jim's Swagger! Fucking funny too.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Olympic Mess - Helm


HELM - Olympic Mess
I haven't read about Olympic Mess and I can't really recall other people's or even Helm's own ideas about his other records or whether I've read anything about him longer than a sentence. So if this is some kind of of conceptual music that needs theoretical guidelines that is not going to work here. I really enjoyed the Silencer record from a couple of years back, but don't recall what I thought of last year's The Hollow Organ, can't have been too crash hot. I do recall being quite bored by the reissue of his debut LP Impasse from 2008 last year. I thought that was pretty generic. To put it in a nutshell this one is atmospheric loop-ology, the softer side of electronic noise and manipulated enervated drones that roughly traverse similar zones to Tim Hecker. I can't really detect any kind of wake for rave vibes here ala Lee Gamble which I keep thinking will pop up as he's from London. Oh right, it has just clicked, is this some kind of tribute to the scars that the 2012 Olympics have left on his hometown? I know after the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne the Olympic Village became a kind of slum/no go zone after it was turned into public housing.

Anyway it all travels along quite nicely in a kind of rough formal minimalist style with the best parts vaguely reminding me of Labradford and someone I can't quite put my finger on, maybe Philip Glass. Then by about halfway through the thought pops up 'How much more of this stuff do we need in our lives?' I think the answer's in the question. Then by the time we get to Strawberry Chapstick Helm pushes my patience to the limits with some whispering fuckwit prattling on...oh.....I think we're supposed to be intrigued by this. On Silencer Helm had some really good rhythms so I don't know why he hasn't continued down a more beat orientated path. I can't help thinking why don't I just get out my early Main records and listen to those as they were far superior drone-dub-noise-scapes.

*Main: Continuing my recent 90s rediscoveries of arty German electronica and the good end of US post-rock (ie. before the noodling fusionists wankers showed up). Main were part of the first/lost generation of post-rock which was from the UK that also included such favourites as Pram, Seefeel, Disco Inferno, Scorn, Moonshake, Ice, Laika, Bark Psychosis, Techno Animal, Ear and a few more. Main were fantastic for a while, particularly on their first 4 EPs Hydra, Calm, Dry Stone Feed and Firmament. This was a great little run from 1991-1993. I recall feeling really ripped off by Motion Pool their first full length LP though which was only half great. Oh the pre mp3 days of the early 90s when you were young and poor, a cd was a big investment. Man it would get you down if you bought a dud album. That money could have gone towards booze, drugs, tickets or cigarettes. Like Robert Hampson's previous group (before creating Main with another bloke) Loop, some bands suit the EP format much better. Four great EPs is better than most groups manage in their lifetime anyway.


**UK Post-Rock: This was like 100 times better than The US version, 95% of which wasn't even real post-rock anyway. The term somehow got switched and just ended up meaning anything post-Sonic Youth/Stereolab/Tortoise. Godspeed You Black Emperor weren't a post rock band. They were a prog band. Don't get me wrong I like me a little prog and GSYBE started out with a couple of cool records. More on what post-rock really was and the bollocks it became at a date TBC.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Meta music


I guess this is a bit like an Aussie Rock'n'Roll (The Velvets tune) done in an old wave pretending to be new wave style that reminds me of one of those New York cats who was a solo old wave into new wave type dude. Too tired to check the net and figure out who I mean. As I think I've said before New Wave was such good music to have as a preteen. I still love it and the more nooo the better.



Was this nooo wave hard rock for the FM airwaves? Or was it just a pumped up/revamped of version of Glam? Whatever, it was bloody great pop music for the child I was at the time!


Now we're going meta meta. Don't you fucking hate the word meta and its overuse by fucking try hard turds who think life is a bloody University essay? (er...did i just describe myself?) This music here is about other music and I don't mean the words. I mean the sounds (the music & melody) are about the music David Roback and Kendra Smith love ie. The Doors, Glam etc. 

Never seen this video before but by the looks Kendra must have already left the band and that is a young Hope Sandoval at the intro (with Dave) who must have already replaced Smith prior to the name change to Mazzy Star.


I think I mentioned recently that this LP is one of the greatest examples of good record collection rock. Garage Rock, Blues, Psychedelia, Folk, Glam, T-Rex, The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Doors, Jefferson Airplaine are all chucked in to make Happy Nightmare, Baby one of the best LPs of the 80s. One of the few arguments for Retromania (along with Urge Overkill's Saturation, Hoodoo Gurus Stoneage Romeos) because it's one of the best LPs of all time. The glittery laconic tripped out vibe here is extraordinarily sparkling on this record and is pretty much unmatched by anyone including their predecessors or peers, making this rare and a unique case of a band bettering or at least equalling their influences. Bands used to add to and often surpass their influences (cf. Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Church, My Bloody Valentine, Seefeel) thus making them palatable and pretty awesome not mere copyists with the occasional listenable tune (cf. White Stripes, Tame Impala et al.). REM might have been influenced by The Byrds but fuck they didn't really sound like them, did they?


I must be wishing I was stoned, drunk on tequila and relaxing in the hot sun with this LP booming from the Hi-Fi out into someone's backyard. I'd love to be kicking back on a banana lounge, being wasted in the warm early afternoon sun without a care in the world instead of being stressed out, not wanting to go to work tomorrow, freezing my bollocks off as my dog eats my wallet (funnily enough he left the pet insurance card intact and in pristine condition) while barking his head off and that's not the half of it. 

This whole post was meant to be some kind of response to Blissblog's music about music but I got sidetracked and my puppy has driven me mental. I just want to keep listening to Opal but it's too late to get faded er...and I don't do that anymore. It's Sunday night and nearly time for bed. I wish I was 22 again and didn't give a fuck about anything!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Sounding Lines

WHAT'S ON THE HI-FI PART 42


MORITZ VON OSWALD TRIO - Sounding Lines
Always avoided Moritz Von Oswald Trio as I read somewhere that they were like a jazz trio. For some reason the words 'Jazz Trio' make me feel a little bit sick which is funny because I'm not averse to a bit of jazz. I guess jazz trio brings to mind trad sax, scatting, drum solos etc. Not the ultra minimal and restrained voyages into rhythm and occasional faint bits of dissonance that make up Sounding lines. I mean I haven't listened to jazz in a long time (apart from 70s Miles Davis) but I was once really into John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Don Cherry and John's Mrs Alice. MVO Trio only really get about as jazzy as Can ever did. Speaking of Can there is quite a Can-esque feel to many of these trax. Some of Sounding Lines evokes the less furious side of 70s era Miles. The best parts though are when Moritz conjures his own Basic Channel vibes with 90s German stylee dub influenced techno like on the fabulous epic opening tune Sounding Line 1. Sounding Line 4 is classic ambient dub-tech that could have come straight off BCD except it has real drums. Even Hauntology is invoked on Sounding Line 5 (Spectre) with it's dreamy library electronics and slight faux jazz soundz, I didn't even know what it was called when those thoughts crossed my mind until I looked at the track listing and thought 'uh huh! I'm onto something there.' After a bit of library-jazz-funk, a drum machine appears along with some gaseous squelches on Sounding Line 7 and causes a ripple of nostalgia that makes you wanna get out those old Basic Channel tunes. This is an incredibly enjoyable microbic beat odyssey, quite the little surprise then that I'm really glad I checked it out. I didn't think it was gonna be anywhere near as good as it is. I might even go back and check out their other albums.

*Conjures, evokes and invoked all in the same bloody paragraph! Jesus Christ! What's with that?


ROME - Rome
So while we're feeling 90s zones, here's one I gave a spin recently after finding all those 90s German cds due to the Mego reissue of General Magic & Pita's Fridge Trax Plus. Anyway Rome aren't German but American and this came out on Thrill Jockey. During that rummage I came across other er...post-rock from America such as Cul-De-SacDirections In Music, Ui, Jessamine, Labradford, Tortoise, Bowery Electric & Sabalon Glitz. This is the only one to get any airtime so far (can't bring myself to listen to one song wonders Tortoise) and it complements the MVO Trio record perfectly as Rome were also a trio and the most dub influenced US post-rock group. This 1996 release is the only Rome album who came and went in a flash. I have no idea what happened to them after this. Their self-titled cd is quite the underrated little gem though. This is something along the lines of dub applied to US underground noise, making it a one off artifact. The music here is closer to Cabaret Voltaire and PIL's post-punk dub gloom than say US post-rock or German dub-techno though. Even that's not really a fair comparison as Rome were really fucking original and unique. I once read an article on Kevin Martin's dub noise band Ice in Lime Lizard in the early 90s and Rome were more along the lines of what I thought Ice were going to sound like. I can't believe how well this shadowy experimental dub un-rock stands up today. This LP is a terrific ghostly haze. Rome is forgotten but should perhaps be unforgotten. Now I'm wondering if they had any other releases worth checking out...I'm sure they had a 12" that never crossed my path plus a tune on Macro Dub Infection 2, otherwise I think that was it. At least they didn't hang around too long and get boring.

*It turns out Rome is unforgotten as this album was posted on the I Hate The 90s blog a few hours ago which I came across after writing this post while searching for other Rome material. The blog confirms there was just another 12" called Beware The Soul Snatchers where Rome were reduced to a duo plus they had a tune on the compilation In Memoriam Gilles Delueze on Mille Plateaux from 1996, which I never tracked down despite it being highly regarded amongst Wire writers at the time. I would suggest downloading Rome's Rome LP from i-tunes though where it's available but the elusive 12" isn't. Perhaps that shall remain a mystery to me till my dying day.

**Ice: I ended up really loving them. Under The Skin (1993) is one of my favourite records from the 90s and Kevin Martin's duo with Justin K Broadrick, Techno Animal, had a really amazing double cd Re-Entry from 1995.

***Don't get me wrong DJed the one classic song from Tortoise is a top tune. Its just that nothing else they did was ever as good. I mean did we need a lounge version of Slint's Spiderland that was the first Tortoise LP? Millions.... was DJed with a bit of math-rock and 90s electronica filler  chucked in. Then, I dunno, wasn't TNT a muzak version of Steve Reich's Music For 18 MusiciansJohn McEntire from Tortoise did an incredible remix of Stereolab's Les Yper Yper Sound though, which featured on the choice 1996 Virgin compilation Monsters, Robots & Bugmen.

The mysterious Rome 12" eludes me.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

MUD - Groups I'm really starting to get Part 1



Who knew Mud started in the 60s? I thought they must have formed in about 1972 as a bunch of charlatans jumping on the glam bandwagon to make a fast buck. They obviously had deep talent and a love for for music though. This was released in 1967 and didn't bother the charts but it stands the test of time, reminiscent of contemporaneous influences The Bee Gees. I don't know what they did between 67 and 73 but that's a big wait for success innit? I know they released several singles on different labels but with no chart action. For some reason they kept on truckin. Mickie Most saw something in them in 1973 and signed them to his RAK label. Mud finally hit pay dirt with 3 singles from 1973 all Chinnichap productions and compositions. These are the following three videos of which two were top 20 hits and Dynamite reached no 4.



This is fucking fantastic. Mud could have been a serious proposition. I mean I guess they were were with huge record sales by the mid 70s. Lead singer Les Gray was so charismatic. But they kinda had a bit of the class clown about them which wore thin after less than a couple of years. Then again Glam was all about good times and having a laugh was it not? This one carries over a bit of freak beat into glam as well as almost inventing new wave at the same time. One of the coolest tunes ever surely. Talk about atemporal. Absolute classic!



Hypnosis puts me in mind of like a cross between Love and Abba. Who would have thought that would have been a good combo? I'm not even sure if Abba had records out by that stage, anyway who cares this a tuuune and and half.



Classic glam jam right here. Gee the Chinnichap team had a winning formula didn't they?



The Cat Crept In was released in April 1974 and reached number 2 on the UK charts. Les's Elvis-isms start creeping in at this point and would really come to the fore on their Christmas No 1. Lonely This Christmas later that year. Although there was quite a bit of The Big O on that one as well. I guess the use of Lonely in the title was a bit of a giveaway. I can't bring myself to post it though. All those years of waiting to make the big time and by their 7th hit, the aforementioned Christmas single, they'd lost it. They were still reaping in the rewards though weren't they?



This one actually reminds me a little of one my old band's tunes which I didn't write, Greg our drummer did, maybe he was referencing it. The only song of Mud's I vaguely knew back (Youtube not yet invented) then was Tiger Feet from when I was little which must have been on some kind of mid 70s hits compilation. I certainly wouldn't have known who it was by. Mud mustn't have been as big in Australia as Slade, Sweet, Suzi, Marc, Gary Glitter et al. Anyway Rocket's got more Elvis inflections in the verses here. This was issued in 1974 and hit the number 6 spot in the UK.


Undeniably infectious pop smarts are displayed on their early 1974 single Tiger Feet. which became their first UK No.1 smash. Tiger Feet stayed on top spot for 4 weeks running. This tune brings out the shoulder jive moves when heard amongst the company of my wife's side of the family who come from North Wales.

Anyway a good little run of tunes over an 18 month period, I reckon. Better than anything Blur or Oasis could come up with.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Beatking - Houston 3AM

Beatking aka Club God aka Club Godzilla aka Club King Kong...
He's back thank God(zilla). The only rapper along with Kevin Gates who is currently keeping my eyeballs on the rap scene really. I was a bit confused as it started with Stopped but this is a better version than the one on Club God 4 from earlier this year. It's some kind of weird tradition to chuck an old song here and there onto your new mixtape in the rap game ie. Houston 3AM also includes a version of Keisha which originally appeared on Gangster Stripper Music 2. Something I'm yet to fully understand, whatever, I suppose. I was a bit worried on the last mixtape, as Beatking was second guessing himself. He was trying to appeal to his new white and Asian hipster audience as well as his usual hood/club fan base. He even said he recorded a whole new tape during this time and released that instead of his original recordings. He had no need to over think things though because he gained a wider audience by just doing what he does. The best way to go is to just keep on truckin at what you do best and that will keep you true to yourself and your fans. Otherwise you could lose your fans altogether and then you're fucked. Suffice to say this is way better than Club God 4 which was pretty good anyway.

This is the best release from rap zones since King Kev's Luca Brasi 2 and Beatking's very own absolute classic belter Gangster Stripper Music 2. The Club God's consistency is incredible and it continues here. Don't worry he's sticking to his classic themes here: strippers, headjobs, clubs, cars, thowin ass, his dick, paper, Houston etc. He pulls off his usual subject matter with such aplomb you don't get bored with it. Sonically he's got an array of styles as usual like ratchet, trap, 90s European tech flavas and softer soulful R&B. These styles are all intermingled now and just come out as Beatking music. Last year I asked the question, on this here blog, whether he was into rave, hardcore, gabba, doomcore etc.? He gave me an answer on Nervous, the outro, to Club God 4 by admitting his love for Neophyte the Dutch gabber crew from the 90s who had a slew of 12"s on the legendary Rotterdam Records during the golden age of gabber.



On Houston 3AM he even adds to his flavas with a hint of Calypso, Boogaloo, sweet soul and even a lil' bit of old school. I Got Hoez is state of the art Beatking with its low-key ominous yet sumptuous keyboards, brittle drum machines, subtle abstract background samples and great raps from Club King Kong himself and Short Dawg. Beatking's own productions are fine as per usual like Holup, Holup with its intergalactic siren stab, Donkey Kong soundtrack soundz, minimal keys and a wasted crawling vibe. This is shit hot! For a man who is known for being crass he can be incredibly understated at times. Not Right has got the best bass pressure on the tape while the rest of the tune has an opulence you want to get inside of. The Club Godzilla might on first impressions seem amoral or downright up in your grill immoral but he is slowly revealing a particular moral code. You might not agree with it but he does have one, not that I could give a fuck. It's just interesting in a Tony Soprano type of way. His contradictions and sophistication could be a reason for Beatking's continued artistic success though. Houston 3AM Freestyle is an unusually funky electro party jam that is soo superfly good. X-Files includes a sample of, well, the theme to the X-Files that sounds v cool you want it to go way longer than its interlude length of 1 minute. Actually the previous tune Isolated was possibly using the same notes or something very similar come to think of it. Squad keeps the spacey X-Files feel going as well but in a more 80s Casio cosmic tone setting.

One of the highlights here is Deposit which features fellow Houston rapper Sauce Walka who released the funny Sorry For The Sauce mixtape earlier in the year. There's a great bit of Twin Peaks style freaky/disturbing backwards Beatking rapping at the end of No Sleep, I like. That Ain't My Thot features a great boogaloo feel which is pretty much a wholesale appropriation of the 90s tune It Ain't My Fault by Silk The Shocker and Beatking ends it in skit style. Here he talks about strip club addicts who think they're gonna go home with the stripper because they've pumped so much money into her g-string throughout the night but they just end up getting turfed out of the club when the morning light starts appearing under the club doors. Swangas is the Beatking givin us a bit of sugar with a 90s sample I can't quite put my finger on and it's driving me mental. H is a fabulous slow jam informed by subtle gloomcore along with sweet soul vibes provided by Chalie Boy. H is obviously a love song to the city in which he resides H-Town ie. Houston. On Japan Beatking samples an artist who might be Juicy J or Chad C Pimp Butler (of UGK fame), correct me if I'm wrong and he's (the sampled dude) talking about country rap and how that became a style and an inspiration for regional and southern rap, I think? Beatking saves the best till last with the self indulgent navel gazing of What I am that's not uninteresting because he doesn't get where he stands in this mp3 generation. In the past (pre mp3) he would have been able to measure success by record sales. How do you measure it now though? He's well off, where he wants to be, got people calling him a legend, MTV playing his videos etc. but he can't seem to grasp where he fits in the larger cultural picture. I guess he is still a cult concern but maybe that's not enough for him no matter how large the parish. He never says he wants a Grammy or a Number 1 single though, I mean that's how some old people measured popularity and success. Now it's all social media hits and Datpiff HotNewHipHop download stats. After the Club God is finished with his mini self therapy session he throws in an unexpected and secretive classic cut featuring Gangsta Boo that didn't make it onto the great Underground Cassette Tape Music joint from last year. It makes you want Beatking to collaborate with Boo again and again. This tune contains brilliant horror movie motifs, a looped scraping violin and John Carpenter-esque minimal keyboards.

I feel like my world is back on its axis with this new Beatking mixtape and hey there's a new Kevin Gates one too (more on that soon). My faith in rap is has been restored thanks to Beatking. This might be the best recording of the year. He's still the Club God! Still the Club Godzilla! Still the Club King Kong! Still the fucking Beat King mane!!