A couple weeks ago I finally got round to splashing out on this 'andsome triple-vinyl set via Mike Paradinas' Planet Mu
beats. "The horror, the horror..."
Classic mid-00's Grime stripped of MC-rhymage, of the skipping/backflipping wordplay, the cockahoop vowel-catapaults - The Goading, The Boasting, The Threats Made Explicit - leaving just the instrumental backdrop. The 'plate, the musical platter. The Urban Beat Vista.
Except there's no "just" in this; the music is a thing unto itself: an entity
, a being in its own right. And it's all
there scattered in amongst the beats: clues...tiny bkwards-looking references to Jungle, squarewave Rave-synths n stabs, Arcade Games, microscopic Breakbeat interjections, Sheffield Thug.Funk, pitchshifted Kraftwerkian vocoder.spurts, even some unknown variety of Almost-Electro...glimpses of the past, a quick shifty shufty over its own shoulder while the drums lurch ever onwards into the night, into some futuristic urban Stygia. A dark, Robo-Gangsta Long-Nite-of-The-Soul.
What's surprising it how busy - how ornate
- these tracks are; it's like a declaration of intent: only the most deft, the most vocally acrobatic need apply for lyric-spittin' duty. Well, okay, maybe ornate's the wrong word, but there's a superheated frantic
-ness on display here at points, an (Oliver) Twist-iness presumably designed to inspire an MC to new levels of verbal virtuosity. This ain't just some batch of lazy, stripped-back FruityloopedGrimeBeats slung together - an exercise in Distopian Minimalism - the music playfully twists and pivots, sometimes with a disconcerting, almost organic
level of dexterity. But T.Danjah can also turn on the broody, creepy fairground ride sound too when it suits him. Bad Buoy Guignol.
For urban music, it also strangely fits a Somerset autumn; the sounds are well-suited for cold, dark, murky evenings; for rain and mould and leaf debris, Carnivalia and morbid horseplay.
(But it's Science-Fiction Music too: A Science-Fiction of Now, or rather: a Present that has only just slipped thru our fingers. We can still taste it, remember its touch even as it shifts away from, leaving us standing there in its wake, saying, "Cor! Did you see that? What was that
(I can feel it; I can feel Time moving forward
again. What can that possibly mean?
Maybe I sometimes wish the music just a bit more
ominous or baroque - but that's a personal thing - a preference, not a criticism - I know I'm deliberately missin' the point when I say that: after all, this music was designed to be a vehicle
, to carry a human voice as its passenger. This is a series of (wrong word, I know, but...) 'beautiful' handmade envelopes that once held messages, containers that we can now appreciate as a complex, multifaceted objects in their own right.
What went wrong? I dunno. I really dunno enough about Grime history to say for sure; I'm just a po' country boy who only had dial-up when it all blew up, tho it held an incredible fascination for me - did the music get buried beneath the MCs as well as by the police? I dunno.
I wish...I wish I'd bought more Danny Weed twelves than the meagre 2 or 3 I've got stashed here somewhere. Is it wrong of me to now want a comp. of Danny Weed instrumentals?
These tunes could have only been made in England - well, London
, actually, and a very narrow slivver of London, at that; they're a snapshot of a particular place and
time; beats that could have only been made during an all-too-brief period of musical history.
A time when Grime was king.