Welcome to part three, wherein i take a tour through some of the electronic music that has defined my 2011. This is an exciting time for electronic music and I’ve been lucky enough to have been around people who make the local electronic music scene. When you’re lucky enough count promoters and producers among your friends it gives you a good insight into the genre and this list reflects taste of the people i’ve been knocking about with as much as my own.
Noisia - Machine gun (16 Bit remix)
This in one I always like to stick on at parties, particularly when theres a good bass amp or sub woofer on the houses sound system. This is just all about that drop. The song is called Machine Gun and this out of all the various remixes of the track this one lives up the name the most. When I hear it i have visions of the Terminator films. The start is a dark menacing build, a circling Hunter-Killer against a black red sky looking for its target, stalking it down, growing in intensity up to the drop. The drop is amazing, hard as fuck and heavier than metal. If you want to know what the term “Drop” means in the context of electronic music this song should tell you exactly what it is. To me is sounds like a whip made of shards of broken metal being cracked over and over, or a metal terminator skeleton unleashing a clip from a ridiculously elaborate sci-fi machine gun. Then after the brutal assault of the first drop it fades out back to the stalking brooding feel of the into, circles one and goes back in for the kill again.
Huoratron - $$ Troopers
2011 marked a bit of a break for me in a lot of ways. One of the things was a move away from some of the electronic music I’d been listening to for the last couple of years. The sort of industrial, EBM and aggrotech that I had been into has become to seem a bit crap to me, like I’ve outgrown a lot of it. That said I still like the notion of the industrial sound, i.e. compiling music out of harsh metallic sounds, the sort of thing that runs counter to melody and smoothness. That’s one of the things i like about Machine Gun and it’s a sound I like to hear in the sort of dubstep, D&B and Hardcore stuff I listen to. This track is another that I think sounds very “Industrial” and wouldn’t sound out of place in a set with a lot of noise (in fact it was my intention to play this in my training set for my friend Tracey’s Goth club night Cornucopia). I like the use of the harsh distortion, white noise and grinding bass and the way they contrast with the chip music-y stuff going on in the highs and its got a good wee beat to it. Oh and the video is excellent too.
Dirtyloud (feat. Sirreal) – Needle
I came across the above track when i was looking at who was playing the Bangface Weekender music festival that I went to last year. Unfortunately as much as I loved that track I missed Houratrons set as he was on at the same time as Otto Von Shirac. One set I did see that I wasn’t expecting much from but ended up really liking was Jackal and Hyde. They did well coming straight on after Kanji Kinetic and keeping the general energy level up. They kicked off with this track and as soon as the vocal came in (particularly the “lickin’ the floor / kick in the door” rhyme) I was loving it.
This hard electro stuff is sometimes hated because people that don’t know what they’re talking about call this dubstep just because it has a drop, I think it sounds more like bassline (which we’ll get into in a minute) but however you define it, it’s fun party music with a bit of a bang to it. I remember dancing to it in a fairly excited way and actually going straight over on my arse. Good times.
Kanji Kinetic + Submerse – NERV
Bassline has featured a lot in my musical intake over the last year. Belfast was fairly quick to get onboard the whole bassline thing with Kris Kodine booking Squire of Gothos for Bad Taste about two years ago and Kanji kinetic playing Pressure at about the same time. The whole bassline / Mutant Bass seems to be taking off now the way Dubstep did about 5 years ago. What it is essentially, is a distillation of all the fun party music of the last twenty odd years into a bouncy distorted whole. It is unpretentious fun music to rave to. I like this song (which is available to download for free from the record label’s own website with many other EPs full of good stuff) because it shows one extreme of the music with its soaring strings and general epic feel before it sinks into something more ravey with bass and chip music elements coming in, then integrating the two aspects of the music.
Tempa T - Next Hype (2 Bit Thugs re-rub)
From the loftyness of the last track this bassline track takes us down into the very grime of the streets with some actual grime. This is a remix of the Tempa T track is unusual in that for once the hyperactive wobbly bassline has to compete with something that’s at least as interesting going on right on top of it for your attention, a sick nasty bit of Grime spitting about being a hood and running around robbing people. Actually you could equally say that this is a solid dirty bit of road rap that for once has to compete with the sick, wobbly bassline and breaks that are at least as interesting as Tempa T’s abrasive flow. As much as they compete the two things just go together so well. I heard this for the first time at the Belfast Electronic Festival in January last year, and I remember loving it then and loving it again when the boys from Pressure played it in the dance music tent at the Jigs and Rigs festival on Rathlin. Then I was really happy when they posted a recording of that set to their mixcloud complete with the tracklist so i could get the name of the song and the specific remix (t here are quite a few but this one is definitely the best). I’m not the only one out of my crowd that remembers this, when I had the name of the song I found it online and posted it to my mate Chris’s facebook, his exact words I think were, “that track saved my life on Rathlin”. I don’t know exactly what he meant by that but its an absolute banger and i could well believe it.
Techdiff – Eat Drink Fuck
In 2011 there were a few things that were a part of my life that I decided to put behind me. Some i just put behind me one day without thinking about it and didn’t realise I had until later, some I struggled to get shot of and some I thrust away with ease and great relief. One thing, possibly the first thing, was my account on the web forum Warseer.com. This was a site I was on for about 5 years, has a paid subscription for because i wanted to support it, made numerous friends on and was a valued member of that community. My account was suspended due to some overzealous banning by a site moderator called t-tauri. I was given warnings and points on my account for really silly minor infractions by that same moderator. I suspected there was some sort of agenda there, that he had something personal against me, but I never got to the bottom of it. The thing he finally got me on was posting a link to this track that contravened the forum rules because it had the word fuck in the title, even though I had the word fuck partially obscured in the title of the link on the web forum and the word fuck doesn’t appear in the song. I challenged him to explain himself but he never did.
Anyway this is a cracking tune and I stand by it. It’s one of the first pieces of breakcore I came across when I started getting interested in it, It kicks off with an anti capitalist sample (well something to do with corporations anyway) and goes into some breaky ragga-core and keeps hitting hard. I liked it as soon as I heard it and it cemented my interest in the whole sub-genre.
Aaron spectre – You Don’t Know
Breakcore, the sound that brings joy to my heart. If you listen to this and the last track you can hear the essential elements that make Breakcore what it is. All that hyperactive percussion going on in and around the basic beats, that’s breakcore. All those drum loops and cracks and beats around a central rhythm or some sort of more traditional tune structure. Although this genre started off as a progression from Jungle and most of the tracks were based around old tunes with a Jamaican sound to them you can do this with just about any form of music by putting beats in the space between the notes. Venetain Snares does it with Classical music and old Jazz, Igorrr does it with Baroque chamber music, the Teknoist does it just around aggressive bass and Aaron Spectre does it around Heavy Metal on his side project ‘Drumcorp’ and here around an (absolutely banging) old Punk track. There are many more examples of what you can do, stuff like Otto Von Shirach that transcends any previous notions of what music is supposed to be.
It is this music along with Hardcore, dubstep and bassline that are the living practice of post modernism in music. This is the destruction and recreation of the elements of music, detachment from notions of rhythm, consistency and tune. This is something that has been going on in electronic music since the Black Ark studios on Jamaica created dub and all through the history of hip hop, rave and all forms of electronica. It’s the perfect expression in musical form of the post modern condition and the fractured nature of our lives, labour and consciousness under the conditions of late capitalism. Maybe it’s because of my own revolutionary politics but I genuinely feel that this is revolutionary music, if not the actual music of revolution. Its taking the things from popular culture and showing how false they are by recreating them harder and spikier. If its not the actual process of liberation itself then it is at least the necessary destruction that must occur before the process of rebuilding can begin.
Well, that was part 3. The fourth and final part will see some of the hard experimental down tempo stuff I have come to like, me plugging some of my mates stuff, the sort of music i would be making if I knew the first thing about how to produce and the track which to me sums up my year.