Friday, 27 May 2011

Schizoid Man - 'Karate Juice EP'

What's amazing, looking back, is that this record was distinctive and different enough for me to pick it up in a record shop (Jumbo in Leeds, the price tag says), listen to it, and think 'cor, another slab of funky, beat-driven sampler music, I'll have some of that'.

It's a decent enough tune, the sort of thing you play early in the night just before you want to get people omto the dancefloor. It signifies a move from taxi-ing trip-hop to ass-shaking hip-hop. I remember doing just that one night at Leeds' Elbow Room, playing head-to-head with Moose (aka Paul Curtis, founder of a lot of things, but is his latest thing).

To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, worth hearing, but not worth going to hear

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Phrack R - 'Catch 22 EP'

God bless John Peel. Right up until the point he died, he was still playing utterly bonkers music, and being totally, passionately, sincerely committed to it.

I bought this after hearing it on his show. In fact, this is the first record that the label Fused and Bruised released, and I've got it packed away in a sleeve with the second one that FaB did, the 'Bus, Dinner, Jam' EP by Futurecore. The more alert amongst you will have noticed that 'Bus, Dinner, Jam' sounds the same as 'Bustin' a jam', something I only realised when I went and asked for it by name in a record shop in Leeds. I forget what it was called, but I'm sure it was behind what is now House of Fraser. Was that Crash Records - surely not?

Of this EP, it's the track 'The Beatfreak' that I loved, a really minimal, over-compressed slab of electronic instrumental hip-hop. I used it for ages as a track to build rhymes around. I think I played it out a few times too, mostly when I did anything as an artist on the now defunct Soundclash label - 'The Beatfreak' is just such a dirty, swaggering slab of sonic 'shut-the-fuck-up-and-listen-to-me' that I think I used it as an opener to a DJ set a few times, and I'm pretty sure that one time I even rapped over it, plugging my headphones into the mic socket of the mixer and really cutting loose for a couple of minutes. I remember nobody took a blind bit of notice, but for those 2 minutes, DJing and rapping through headphones, I felt like a the bastard offspring of Grandmaster Flash and KRS-1. Happy days.

Papoose - 'Thug Connection'

Notable perhaps for starting with a punchy synth cover version of the A-Team theme, this actually kicks some serious arse, due in no small part to a guest appearance by Kool G Rap, who turns up, curses like a drunken uncle on Christmas day, and then leaves.

Another New York purchase, and bizarrely I think that I forsook the kickass A-side for the alphabetically arranged B-side, which is a great example of why trying to be clever isn't always a good thing. Sure, each verse/stanza is built around rhymes that start with the next letter of the alphabet, but it's actually rubbish. Tiring to listen to, impossible to dance to - so what's the point?

Give me a dumbass track featuring Kool G cursing over the A-team theme anytime.

Primal Scream - 'Kowalski'

Primal Scream are such an enigma that I can't actually tell if they're arch zeitgeist-surfers, producing of-the-moment highbrow pop music that is meant to be discarded like used tissues (as Freddy Mercury memorably described Queen's output), or are just tedious bandwagon jumpers of the highest order.

I've no idea when or where I bought this, and I'm pretty sure this is about the third time I've played it. Maybe it's the Automator remix on the b-side that drew me to it. It certainly wasn't the shite-awful cover of '96 Tears', a laughable attempt at garage-punk-electronica fusion, that caught my ear.

Piss poor, tepid, emotionless. Oh well.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Arsonists - 'Blaze'

I remember where and why I bought this - I was in New York in about 1999, and a mate was about to open a new hip-hop night in Leeds. It was called Loophole, and was notable for being the worst paid gig I ever did.

I don't remember how many weeks I played for nothing, but it was more than one or two. I should've known better, but hey, I'd just dropped a shedload of money on fat joints when I was in NYC. That's got to make me cool, right? When James, the promoter, started turning up telling me that he'd said a prayer before he came out, I should've known better, but you'll put up with endless nonsense from you mates, won't you?

I went to all the cool record shops in New York, bought all the hypest joints, and then flew home with them, happy in the knowledge that I was going to tear it up on the ones and twos in Leeds. I went to Fat Beats. I went to Discorama. I was on a mission.

Except actually, this is utter toss. Boring. Not totally without merit, but hip-hop as a slightly over-earnest art form. I'm all for trying to dance about architecture, but I refuse to dance to a record that is in any way trying to maintain some sort of artistic distance from the dancefloor.

Music is meant to move you in a primal way - if I want something thought-provoking, I'll read a book. If I'm listening to hip-hop, I want it to make me feel like I'm about to uprock, throw a windmill, whatever.

The worst bit is that this tune samples the War Of The Worlds theme. I pray to all that is holy that I never thought that was a good idea. And if I did, then count me guilty of overthinking what might make people shakes their asses on a dance floor. Oh well, it was only $4.49....