Saturday, April 28, 2007

What the Fuck Is Breakcore?

If you tell people you like breakcore, "what the fuck is it?" is a strong inevitable first reaction. Jason Forrest nicely puts it in the freshly released Notes on Breakcore documentary. "I have the computer, I have some break beats - I can speed them up and make music from them. It's three chords and the truth type stuff." Society Suckers describe it as "music too fucked up for neo-Nazis." That entertains me.

I'd come across the trailer for the documentary last year some time, and the site had promised a torrent release some time back in February - it never emerged. No harm, the thing has been leaked onto the net now and is available on Google video. Watching it seriously makes me realize I haven't been to a good and proper raggle tag night of vicious amen-ism in quite some time now, it also reminded me of the sweat drenched excitement of first going to some of the gigs. Toronto better sort itself out.

As a documentary its an interesting survey of the variations in how breakcore as a cultural movement has been putting down roots through word of mouth and the internet and the artists attempts to resist genre categorization. In a review in Vice magazine, some of the usual digs are thrown in, with one of their commentariat calling it "music for people who hate ears." Make up your own mind.

The DuranDuranDuran photo above was taken way back when at !Kaboogie in the Ice Bar last year.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Scary Eire Interview for the Scary Era.

The latest Mongrel carries a rare interview with the tragically under-recognized Scary Eire. Strange to thing that it's taken over a decade for legendary Irish hip hoppers Scary Eire to finally release their album after Island records refused them rights to their material, in an act of wanton criminality that depriving us hordes of a sheer gem of pre-Celtic Tiger urban poetry and befalls many young bands.

The production may have been so-so on all those anthems that wormed their way down to us on battered cassettes copied to mp3 and live sets that could occasionally dug up on Soulseek, but there was something indelible in the gruff vocal delivery and the swaggering flow of the deep Irish accent winding its way around socials issues like unemployment and nights boozing, that ever ready release.

Wearie stumbled onto them first, but there's no better time than now to direct readers to a number of mixes hosted by DJ Mek over on his myspace. Ranging from contemporary flavorings scratched to ribbons with rock classics, to old school hip hop and junglist styling these are definite early morning caffeine replacements for your giddy up perk.

The photo to the left was taken by Paul Tarpey.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Poster Art and On Street Visual Vitality

Trapped somewhere between functionality and art, the posters used to advertise gig have a short enough life span - binned after an event or merely ending up on the wall of some appreciative fan or organiser until when destroyed with blue-tac they are dumped unceremoniously when moving house. With this tragic faith in mind it's good to see a thread on Thumped archiving some of the better examples from the Irish music scene. It's well worth a look for the brilliant work done by the Skinny Wolves organisers and Scrawl zine's Glyn from Belfast.

It always struck me as rather tragic that Dublin looks culturally barren in comparison to other cities that allow postering on the street or at least turn a blind eye to it. Head into George's St Arcade and there's a riot of posters going on, but such a shifting exhibition of posters and designs is confined to rather narrow spaces. Could you imagine if public lamp posts and hoardings across the city fluttered with the culture and nightlife of the city as opposed to dry corporate advertising?

This visual vitality is the one thing that has really blown me away about Toronto, you just know it's a city that is happening. Radical urban re-imaginers Spacing carried a brilliant photo essay on just what exactly such posters add to a city both politically and culturally over on their site some years back.

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Book Review: Distant Babylon

Distant Babylon by Patrick Ryan belongs to a developing serial niche of Dublin literature arising from the devastation caused in inner city working class communities by the heroin epidemic of the 1980's and 1990's. The Dublin these mainly auto-biographical tales describe is unrecognizable when compared to the one we inhabit today. Lyder in Pushers' Out for instance refers to Thomas St as one of the biggest open air drugs markets in Europe, while drug dealing persists there it does so in the shadow of new apartment complexes and expensive cafes.

In the opening of his account of this older Dublin Patrick Ryan declares how he wants to records "the positive upsurge of collective aspiration of the a breath of fresh air that swept through the city" when a strong social movement emerged to re-occupy community spaces from predatory drug gangs, "vomit and urine stained stair cases" and create a world for their kids where games such as "pusher dealer, snatcher copper"could be an oddity rather than reality.

Ryan begins his tale growing up among shored up yet to be renovated tenements "brokers" and a liberal sprinkling of head bangers with an excited Dublin story telling wit that often runs ahead of itself with a demanding repetition. Ryan excels in charting the introduction of heroin to the inner city through the cider party scene and it is here he began "skin pricking" himself. Ryan was an addict for about two years before a bout of hepatitis forced him to get treatment. Not so long after he would be "caught" and placed into employment by the Gregory deal which he accredits with saving "more young men than anyone will remember."

The death of his father came over Ryan like an emotional catastrophe, one worsened by a needless police raid on the pub where his family were grieving. Throughout the book Ryan details the constant scrutiny of "the police as part of the furniture" in working class communities, where it is only "bad copper - bastard copper" and this experience comes to define his sense of class. The deeply hostile role of the police comes to the fore throughout his experiences of community activism as well, with the harrassment faced by Sinn Feiner Christy Burke and the media hounding of a local so-called "provo-priest" moving the author to some solid conclusions about powers inabilty to understand and accept community mobilisation from below, similar to Rossport "a picture was painted to make them look other than they were" facilitating criminalisation and clampdown.

There aren't many thematic differences with Lyder's book, although Ryan does recount some shocking attempts by well organised crime gangs to break the movement including one forty strong attack by a group of men he accredits with breaking the resilence of his group and destroying the community vision associated with it.

Eventually as the book moves on the prose becomes worn down and bloated, beginning with a trip to England where the author fantasises about facing persecution similar to the Birmingham Six. Stick in an awful page long ode to the "Prime Minister" Bertie and his "language of the people" and some of the most off the wall, ill-researched rants about soft drug use and Ryan manages to lose you before the end of the book. If you are reading it for its social history you won't be disappointed, just be careful Ryan's barbed analysis of the drug situation towards the end doesn't sicken you too much.

Distant Babylon by Patrick Ryan is on sale for €10 in Connolly Books on 43 East Essex Street, Dublin.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

In Me Ears 2: Mister Minimal Himself

Those that like the bare stripped down tiny sound of minimal techno and others who haven't got a clue what it is - can hear a mix by Mister Minimal himself, Ricardo Villalobos, over on the Maryanne Hobbes sub-site of the Beep. Get listening to it before Friday as then it will disappear into the offline world of the BBC archives.

Hobbes gives it her usual sultry intro, emphasising the near mytical status of the mix, through a melange of tales coming from the various managers and promoters required to cattle prod Ricardo into doing this, his first ever radio mix. As ever she was very honoured and blown away by "just how deep" it was. Ah Maryanne..

If dubstep carries the echoes of the whole UK hardcore continuum, with the genes of rave passed on within it as Simon Reynolds would have it - then I have no idea what minimal techno is . Music with the bass sucked out of it and played back through a 1930's gramophone? His use of some version or other of 'Rose Rouge' by St.Germain mid way through is rather surprising. The photo of a sweat drenched Ricardo to the left was taken at Electric City sometime last year, where I for one had the pants bored off me.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bloc Weekend Review: Faceless Chalet Blocks , Techno and Arcade Machines

A review of the Bloc Weekend that went down from March in a Pontins Resort in Norfolk wings its way into us courtesy of Kyle Browne. The photo of Authechre is nicked from a Flickr set by Micheeky.

If you were to try and describe Bloc Weekend to a lot of people, they would probably stare back at you with a faintly blank slightly worried face. This wasn’t your typical, run of the mill festival, it was something a lot different and to many who attended a completely new experience.

When we first arrived at the weekend, it fully dawned on everyone that we weren’t at some dingy over-crowded field with a extreme amount of tents, we were at what many people would think of when asked about their earliest family holiday experiences, faceless chalet blocks (no pun intended), arcade machines that look like they’ve been unable to get out of the 1980’s and an interior décor of the main building which reminds you of countless cheap package holiday resorts you’ve tried to repress. But don’t let that deter you…

Once everyone had settled into their temporary homes for the weekend, and had a little intake of the fine cheap alcohol available, it was time for people to get down to why they came to Bloc in the first place…the music. First main act that everybody came to see were the Two Lone Swordsmen in the Bassbloc/Main Arena.

For most people the opening major act of a festival sets the tone for whats to follow so the crowd were expecting a blinder, which unfortunately they didn’t receive, their awkward mix of Electronica & Rock didn’t blend together at all well and the crowd were left a little shortchanged, but from here on in, things were to only get a whole lot better, in the neighbouring arena, the Techbloc, acts like Cursor Minor were getting the techno adoring crowd into a frenzy, and when DMX Krew (an odd title seeing as there is only one member, Ed DMX) the crowd were on their preverbial knees, his style of mixing up influences from Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin & various German electro-tech artists. For a one-man electronic band, he really covers a whole range of soundscapes and usage of his machines & devices.

After the rush of adrenaline DMX Krew left people it was time to return to Bassbloc, were Kool Keith aka Dr. Octagon was about to perform, a full-blown hip hop act was a bit of a different style to the majority of acts on show at Bloc but was welcomed with widespread approval, his appearance on stage with a silver cloak, tinted bono-style sunglasses and ‘gangtsa’ apparel was a bizarre sight for now intoxicated crowd, but his linguistic skills on the mike and with his impressive backing band the crowd got caught up in the beats and rhythms of the Dr.

Once Kool Keith had finished his impressive set, it was time for a quick top up of beer and back to whats on show, up and coming French hip hop group TTC were the next port of call, famous for their collaboration with German electro/techno/hip hop maniacs Modeselektor, now these guys really know how to put on a good show, three MC’s and a DJ on a laptop, they fully used to their advantage their excellent grasp of the English language with their obvious use of their native tongue, throwing in songs from their most recent album 3615 TTC, from what I observed for the brief seconds I turned my back on them to observe the crowd, they were going absolutely crazy, somewhat like being at a Public Enemy concert in their hayday.

To really stir things up a bit TTC threw a few random cheesy pop songs to really catch the crowd off guard, if you were to bet anyone earlier that day that they’d be singing along to Ace of Base "All That She Wants", you’d be pretty sure they’d bet a lot against you, and to top off a brilliant end to their set they finished with the dirty, grime influenced anthem, "Girlfriend."

After the thumping beats and growling rhythms heard so far the plan was to retire temporarily back to our homebase, but in the states that my cohorts and I found ourselves in things never went according to plan, between partying in countless random chalets and in the open areas, we eventually made it back to our chalet for some recouperation, after a little dosage of R n’ R, I and a couple others returned in the uncomfortable late morning hours to the Smashbloc were the music went on constantly, 24 hours a day, however the music in here really left something to be desired, a noted remark from one of my friends was that a) This music was wasted on the wasted and b) He has never heard such distinctly average techno in his whole life, nothing to write home about I’ll just say.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

In Me Ears: The Sick Girls

I'd like to think I could bring readers all sorts of regular features and whizz bangs instead of the occassional post. One such recurring habit might be sticking up the results of a net scoured for mixes to listen to on my MP3 player while meandering around.

The Berlin based duo Sick Girls were pointed out to me about two weeks ago by a self confessed "beardie weirdo," who was quite taken with their fast paced routine of 2-Live Crew via Stone Rose's bass lines with rude ass addictive vocal hooks raining in from all sides of the cheese grater.

It dips about 16 minutes in, but salvages itself by slapping some Bloc Party emotion back to back with some grime before flinging on an Adidas hoodie and having a boogie woogie with Lady Sovereign. The mix is hosted by Blentcast, something of an online "best of the downloads" mix archive, mentioned by DJ C on this site previously and always worth a gander.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Gig Review: Bonde Do Role in Toronto

When I first saw NME coin the phrase "new rave" I thought it was a joke. That they were creating a market where there was none to seem cutting edge, to create a market for their magazine. Well now I have seen the scene in action, and I’m running in the other direction. Its not that what is coined as "new rave" is all bad, far from it, there are some bands in this category that make for a damn good time. Bonde Do Role being one of these.

I saw them for the first time in Dublin at Crawdaddy. Perhaps the crowd was of the new rave persuasion but we were up front having a blast and not taking notice. Some people have said that new rave is the combination of electronics and punk, and I suppose this is how I would have described Bonde Do Role, they were fun, they were raunchy and they put on a good show.

They don’t claim to be political, they don’t claim to do proper baile funk, but they do claim to have jumped on a bandwagon that has taken them around the world. They are playing nightly on their world tour and are doing the festival circuit this summer including Irelands own Electric Picnic.

Friday night at The Social in Toronto was a disappointment; a good band ruined by the scene. Their initial Toronto gig was set for The Horseshoe tavern that was to be opened by Canadian Bonjay but that was cancelled and rescheduled in gentrified queer west at The Social, where they don’t really need a sign since the crowds of hipsters will give the location away.

They really must have friends in the city since as of last week there was no gig and on Thursday the day of it, they had an article in the Toronto Star and front page of Eye Magazine. Whether people were following and waiting for the reschedule like yours truly or the it was a regular Thursday night crowd, as the line ups at 1 am indicated, this was a jammed packed night. No room to dance only to rub up against plastic jackets and witness what one friend coined as a "New Kids On The Block concert."

They played again tonight in Hamilton and tomorrow back in Toronto at Lee’s Palace. A much better venue, for the space and the sound– hope the crowd tomorrow can enjoy a bit a room to dance because this band does inspire it and with the stage a bit higher they will have a chance to see MC Marina do her thing!

Bonde do Role will be playing The Pod on Harcourt Street in Dublin on May 30th, entry is from 8pm and is a hefty 14 squids.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Big Hole On Jagtvej: Remembering Ungdomshuset.

There's a big hole on Jagtvej. They tore it down and now there's nothing but a big hole. It could be a carpark. At the wall to Saxons there is still a chimney and flue that they couldn't destroy. Some people gather around it and there's a few candles lighting, a makeshift shrine in an imaginary fireplace. Someone tells me that you can go down Jagtvej and if you don't pay attention you can still see Ungeren in the corner of your eye.

But it really is gone. If this was a normal day I would have come into Copenhagen and walked up the steps and said hi to everyone at the door. I would have walked past the stairwell and into the bar, and all my friends would be there, sitting in a corner and complaining about the kids even if they're only twenty three. I could have gone to the bar and got a warm organic beer for only 12 kroner and I could have smiled till my cheeks got sore.

But it's gone now, and there's nothing but a hole on Jagtvej. It took three days of rioting and seven hundred arrests to tear down Ungeren. but they did it. And now my friends are in jail and who knows when they'll get out. And there's a great big hole on Jagtvej.

What could they put there? Property prices have shot right up, now that those disreputable elements have been denied their refuge. It could be a train station, a shopping centre, apartment blocks, even a church, but it won't be Ungeren.

We had it for over a hundred years. Built by the worker's movement it was a bookstore, a meeting house, a ballroom, a boxing ring. It grew disused and run down before we took it back, and the resistance used it as a base to fight the fascists from. Years later and it was empty again, 'til the city gave it to quiet a growing squatters movement. Now it became a concert hall, a soup kitchen, a bar, a place for those who wanted something different to go. A place to read books, make music, cook food and drink beer.

But now there's nowhere left to go. How can a movement centred around a single place survive without that place? It doesn't seem possible. Even if they do get a new house, it won't be the same. Who can handle a defeat like that?

There was nothing perfect about Ungeren, it was full of faults and all the inconsistencies that trying to live free in capitalism entails. The market logic penetrates everything, even some supporters of Ungeren would claim that it 'nurtured creativity' to please the city council. But you cant express the value of a place like Ungeren in the logic of capitalism. The value of Ungeren was freedom, autonomy, a place that you could organise yourself; that's what made it fun, that's what made the people there the nicest people in all of Denmark, how can you sell that to a politician?

But now they have had their way, and once again Copenhagen is to be grey, peaceful, bland and boring. Sports bars, bistros and cinemas, organic food and who fucking cares? Every single bit of it shouting in our face 'there's no place outside of capital, there's no place we can't find you'. The only answer we have is struggle, struggle and the refusal to give up until our whole lives are made of freedom.

By Ronan

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Towards A General Descriptive Ontology of Madonna

"Borderline" Madonna and John "Jelly Bean" Benitez (Sire 1983) - will there ever again be such a perfect gem of a record? * With its faux faux glitzy production it's the song of innocence lost and deception…"something in your eyes is making such a fool of me"…baby (implied) Everyone knows that song if not as a tinny sound in their ears then, more likely, a distinct and real actual event in their life. Don't listen to the B side: Physical attraction - EVER!

Anyways - it set me back a fiver at a record fair in Dublin a while ago. "Are you interested in more Madonna stuff?" asked my man. "No this is the only good thing she ever did" says I (a thin, white lie as "Holiday", "Justify my love", "Ray of Light", "Erotic", "Hung Up" and quite a few others ain't half bad) Too late! Already he pulls out a gigantic poster.

Immediately I realize that he has mistaken both the intensity and the nature of my interest. I remember getting a loan of a Madonna documentary a few years back. It was bizarre. A parade of very, very worried New Yorkers. Those whom she had lived with, played with, worked with and so on. My God they still hadn't recovered! Each and every one of them was touched with a very faint mark…A tiny blue eye shadow pencil dot of disappointment hovering over them. And They all said something like:

"I thought she loved me…" "I thought she was gay…" "I thought she was my friend" "I thought she was in our ska band…" "I thought she was a real punk…" "I thought… I thought… I thought"

But hey fuck it maybe; possibly, just one of them looked in any way genuine as a human being (I seem to recall a black fella - sound engineer – possibly) Lets fact it which of them in the glittery underwear hell of the New York nineteen eighty something – who didn't think that they "had her" on mission? To use and abuse in some way on their knicker twisting burst up, up and out of it –to belly button level at least. They thought that they were on the user friendly end of the power trip. And she beat them at their own game! Ya wake up one morning and La Ciccone has fled…She's had you!

Borderline is my favourite Madonna tune but the very, very last tiny bit of it is possibly my favourite record fade out… EVER. You know it –The bit where she she switches to "la da de da de da la da de da" – listen again if the DJ spins it all the way through (they never do – fuckers…). The scary thing about it is that her voice beautifully deepens and widens from the affecting but tinny tone of the rest of the record. It's almost as if forty-something Maddser has taken control over the twenty-something Maddser.

But that's it! Madonna is like poor old Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse five. She has come unglued in time.She exists now, then and in the future. She slips on through easily.
So that's how she did it! Shit they never had a chance!! She has had her entire life over and back to continuously play the game again and again – to win again and again…Each time she plays better and better and she each time she wins better and better.

Something in her eyes is making such a fool of you. Just try to understand…understand. You've given all you can. But she's got the best…of you now…

* Probably! by Krossie

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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