Thanks to m'man Circle Brophy
for the Hardcore Devo CD...all the way from the recently stricken island of Java.
And to Matt Woebot
for his sublime collection of prime-time 2-Step (something that had passed me by for various reasons until I had a recent Damascus moment when I heard the Dark Garage mix posted on Dissensus a few weeks back, now I can't get enuff of Artwork/Menta and Co.):
1. Never Gonna Let You Go / Tina Moore (Tuff Jam Classic Vocal Mix)
2. Friday Night / David Anthony (Sunship Vocal Mix)
3. Cape Fear / KMA
4. Life Is What We Live In / Yardcore Crew
5. Body Killin / Vincent J Alvis
6. Beautiful / Matt Darey (Dubaholics Deeper Dub)
7. Kaotic Madness / KMA
8. Cum Cakes / MJ and Rob D
9. Flava / Young Offendaz feat CKP
10. 1999 Remix / Groove Chronicles
11. Endorphins / Skycap
12. Faith In You / Groove Chronicles and First Steps
13. Dibby Dibby Sound / Napa-Tac
14. The Clash / Skyjoose Feat Skycap
15. Screw Face II / Tweaker Pimps
16. Stuck to the Floor / Sticky
17. Un-known Genius / Dizzy Rascal
18. Down 4 U / Ja Rule, Ashanti, Vita and Charli Baltimore (D'n'D Conemelt Mix)
19. Tonka / Jammin (Menta Remix)
(Confess this stuff is all new to me with the exception of "Cape Fear"...how fuckin sad is that?)
Struck me, there's some sort of strange overlap going on between these two CDs...both are twitchy and uptight...Devo: lean, nervous and pimply...Garage: wired and coked-up to the gills...
Both Matt and Simon have been talking about the loss of 'Feminine Pressure' when Garage reconfigured itself as Grime and Dubstep, but, actually, I find this music curiously asexual, or, rather, I mean that it strikes me as kind of androgenous or de-gendered
in some way...it's probably the pitched-up vocals that leave even the blokes sounding strangely feminised
...and, jeez: doesn't "Friday Night" sound soooo like a post-millennial Jacko (himself occupying some sort of intersex hinterland)...
Cf w/ Devo, coming on like a bunch of hysterical high-school virgins...jumpy; hypercaffeinated; sexually inexperienced, like a bunch of teenage Woody Allen wannabes...for music made by men, it sounds peculiarly de-masculinised
(is that a word?)...Devo's music is in a hurry to get laid, but it doesn't have the first clue how to go about it. There's a complete lack of women in their landscape...this is the sound of circle-jerking; a soundtrack to premature ejaculation. That they actually covered "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" speaks volumes in itself.
2-Step is also the sound of onanism. This is meta-coke-music: the beats are vain and self-obsessed; they fixate on their own twitchily-complex hyper-detail; this is music that feeds on itself; it chases its own tail...it's in a hurry to go somewhere, but it doesn't know where. Like cocaine, these tunes are auto-addictive: they demand more and more of themselves
. The beats flutter and unfurl, fractal-like, to reveal more breathless self-referential similarity
...every bar, every track takes you deeper into a maze of self-resembling sound: swirling snowflakes, each one perfectly unique, yet hauntingly similar.
My five-year old calls it "Moth Music".
Skycap's "Endorphins" sums up the way that some of this music does little more than describe itself
. Listening to this mix, I'm presented with an eerie sense of getting lost in the sonic equivalent of a hall of mirrors. Your only hope of getting out is to go further and further in. Like I said: addictive.
I don't find these tunes particularly sexy or funky (but maybe that's because I'm from a generation that equates phatness, a roundness of sound
, with sexiness; maybe it's just my age...)...they're too 'skinny', too desperate to have a good time
; they lack any sense of ecstatic release, of resolution, sexual or otherwise...this is a dry hump, a tease: each tune leads to another, and another...like coke, the tunes trigger various bio-molecular-receptors and cerebral pleasure-centres, yet leave your brain with a strange hollowness of feeling as the senses search for something in the body's immediate environment that might have triggered the feeling of hyperpleasure, but instead finds nothing that it can recognise...
(some sort of allegory for the times we live in, there, I think)...
But, hey, don't get me wrong...I fucking loooove
these tracks. I find them thrillingly alien
. They describe a peculiar feeling, an emotion for which, as yet, I have no name.
I've heard most of the Devo tracks before, but not for some time; a coupla decades, in some cases...but, like the Garage toons, they also seem to descibe an absence of sex
...they are similarly self-involved, but for completely different reasons. This is Booji Boy Wimp-Music; made by male adolescents for
male adolescents, and it succeeds in summing up a certain mind-set, a certain acne-riddled moment in boy/man transitional politics far better than anything else I can think of right now. Like 2-Step, there is a manic desperation, a near-paranoid hysteria that neatly describes the fear that they Might Not Ever Be Getting Any
Sex. Money. A life.
(Hey, anyone remember "Square Pegs
I wonder: did Devo's anti-Jock stance presciently/inadvertently 'invent' New Wave? H-having said that, there's some lumpy, blotchily dark corners in their music, particularly on the earlier stuff, the ragged oscillators and spooked-out modulators that hulk and sulk there in amongst the lean, stripped-back, almost skeletal drum-and-guitar figures, like Abstract Expressionist blobs cut n pasted onto a Pop Art painting, and which sketch a rough road-map that points the way towards No-Wave.
Fucking love that Dizzee track.