Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I-F - Roll The Dice - A Dubstep Dilemma - Party Sounds For Proper Adults With Taste

I’ve been away for a week and I just know you all missed me....

There’s a layer of dust on these keyboards...to match the one coating my brain...so I’m trying to blow it away by playing I-F’s 1998 album, ‘Fucking Consumer’ (one of the greatest album titles ever) - fucking loud...‘I Do Because I Couldn’t Care Less’ seems to be doing the trick...followed by ‘Spiegelbeeld’...the thumping echoed beat and bubbling synth...splendid...
   I made the connection clicking through links to the past and found that Ferenc E. van der Sluijs’s album sounded like a masterpiece of Nu-electro, which may or may not be a proper genre...and if it is, I doubt that it’s produced any masterpieces...except this.
   The ‘big hit’ was ‘Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass’, my least favourite track. Compared to the rest it sounds like a self-conscious attempt to reach the masses. ‘Energy Vampire’ is much more my kind of thing. It’s synthesised song reminds me of something from a sci-fi B-movie...about vampires...on Mars.
   There’s also a cheeky acknowledgement of John Carpenter’s pared-down techno soundtrack genius in the form of ‘Assault On Radical Radio’.

There are echoes of Carpenter again on Roll The Dice’s ‘Into The Ground’ – some of that menace he created, anyway. The album, ‘Roll The Dice’, is one of the best new things I’ve heard recently. Somehow these two Swedes get sounds from machinery that sound fresh. I don’t know how they do it. Is it a matter of pressing the right buttons? I like to think they’ve built a Heath Robinsonesque computer comprising of cogs, levers, a pulley system, tubes, chains and wheels. It sounds like that’s the kind of machine they used for ‘Into The Mild’ anyway. Their sound is both epic and refined; almost improvisational in effect at times. It’s partly the spawn of German synthesised sound, but mostly unique in arrangement, mood and ideas.

I’m enjoying Wiley’s ‘4 Shots’ from the ‘Avalanche Music’ LP but anyone over 40 shouldn’t talk about dubstep because they’re in danger of sounding as if they desperately want to ‘keep up’. Not that there’s anything wrong with ‘keeping up’, but I know from experience that when that feat becomes an effort there’s something wrong. Sometimes you have to just go with the flow (or in this case the drift, away from modern urban music). It’s not for you because a) you’re no longer a teenager, b) you’ll always be two steps behind what’s really ‘happening’, c) it’s important to retain your dignity and avoid embarrassment by flaunting your fogeyness, d) unless you live in a Hackney tower block it’s not relevant.
   I’m dead against listening rules.
  But...displaying enthusiasm for urban music when you’re middle-aged is as bad as if you were to wear trousers that deliberately show your pants...whilst pushing a pram.
   Then again, they say appropriate behaviour in relation to age changes with each generation and that men nowadays are prone to boyishness. But there are limits.
   Perhaps, as a 45-yr-old, the most radical thing you could do now is wear a tweed suit, smoke a pipe and listen to Mantovani – although if you did I would think you were incredibly hip.

I’m not much of a fucking consumer when it comes to music these days, but I did pick up this Johnny Keating album for £1 from an Oxfam shop the other day, just for the sleeve. It’s also in brilliant condition. Listening to it, I instantly feel mature and sophisticated because it naturally conjures up the era when there was classy Adult Music made for husbands and wives (and lovers) who could still throw a good party and perhaps play some Johnny Keating along with Bacharach, Barry and Frank. To my surprise, some of it’s really good, especially the opener, ‘Mirage’, which is finger-snapping quality, complete with congas driving the rhythm. That and ‘The Prank’ are as fine as anything Quincy Jones did in his 60s prime.

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