Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gig Review: I Still Love You Kid 606

Mark keeps the home fires burning with this review of kid 606. (Photo by Gusset)

Last Friday was a big night for Gigs in Dublin, with Battles, Chris Clark, and Kid 606, all billed. It was to The Mighty Kid 606 for me who was supported by Irelands finest Herv and new boi Creator.

For those who are familiar with 606 they will know that he is as versatile as he is spanner bendingly mental, from the beautifully organic ambient sounds of Resilience to the banging electro of Pretty Girls Make Raves, the fever dream of glichy sampling that is The Action Packed Mentalist Brings You The Fucking Jams, and the twisted bounce of Oh So Now You ****ers Want To Dance, and many stupid, brilliant, and beautiful sounds in between. There are also a few free mixes of his, banging around, with one in particular making me incontinent with joy.

Heavy on the bass.

It was for these reasons that Id been looking forward to this gig for quiet a while. I got my ticket early as there seems to be quiet a appetite for this kind of music in Dublin at the moment, if you look for instance at the crowd at any of the Kaboogie gigs over the last six months.

Fire by Night were the promoters, who are new to my ears but their myspace states that the two people behind it have been promoting independent music for years.

I would have taught the logical place to have this would be the Temple Bar Music Centre but with that undergoing restructuring at the mo then the reasonably large area and downanddirtyness of Kennedys would have suited, but for whatever reason the gig went ahead in the Village with an early start (7:30 people) a very unfortunate combination in my books.

This as well as the other gigs going on that night must have contributed to the surprisingly small and in the most cases subdued crowd that turned out, unfortunately I missed Creators set entirely, (did anyone see him? How was it)?

But caught Herv, who played a excellent live set, doing his best to get the mainly muted audience wiped into a frenzy and he was well received with a shriek of joy going up from those in the front when he dropped his gameboy-core anthem "Party Gaff", from 2001's Customers.

The pockets of mentalists at the front gradually expanded into pools as the night went on, until eventually, approaching the end of the kid 606s set, there was about 40 people up the front dancing like they were selling hammers. Kid 606 really went ofF in parts but the set seemed stilted with it never really descended into that twisted reverie that I expected.

As a result of the early start, small and muted crowd, and patchy performance in my opinion this gig was less than the sum of its own parts.

We were turfed out at 11pm so that the village could get the club ready for the nightly barn dance. The small crowd drifted of into the nighT, some going to Clark, with scattered reports coming back that it was good at best. Off I was to McGurners which was hosting two sound systems Duplo (DnB/Dubstep) and Headmelt (?), cant tell you what it was like as I succeeded in not remembering arriving or leaving or anything in between, but sure apparently it was a grand old time.

Anyway I still love ya Kid 606,

And for anyone who missed this gig or who would like to get another taste in the near future and is willing to make the pilgrimage (that is not a pun) it would appear from his myspace that he is playing at Bangface in London on the 12 October, as is DJ Ruptures according to hisspace, a line-up not to be sneezed at. I couldn't find any info for this on the Bangface's website but in fairness I gave up after 5 minutes as the flashing lights and retarded music was making my head hurt.

P.S. Oh at the end of the gig the promoters came out and apologised for the early start and said to hold on to the stubs form the gig (mine had absconded by then, sure who was to no) as it would get you in free to “an exciting event” in the not too distance future, so expect something similar from the guys soon I guess.


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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A System That Lets People Live In Shit

A Review of Planet of the Slums (Verso 2006) by Mike Davis.

In the mega-cities of the global south, massive slums and squatter settlements have shattered modernity’s optimism with an unprecedented Dickensian squalor - now for the first time in our history the urban population of the earth outnumbers the rural. Planet of The Slums is Marxist belligerent Mike Davis’ attempt to map our world's breakneck urbanization and the impact of this watershed.

Historically he explains how once European colonialism resisted urban migration with its threat of fostering an anti-imperialist solidarity straight out of the Battle of Algiers, but now there is a staggering 400 cities with a population of one million while in 1950 there were only 86. Famine and debt, civil war and counter insurgency were the most "ruthlessly efficient levers of informal urbanization" in the fifties and sixties. Then from the seventies IMF structural adjustments tore away even the dream of third world states’ playing a role in housing provision.

As the most dominant alternative to public housing we Davis runs us through a topology of slum forms. Presented with the familiar “hand me down” of western inner city housing, the pirate urbanization of squatting and renters in invisible property markets. Finally we are confronted with the nightmarish figure of the permanent refugee camp such as Gaza on “the pariah edges” of the mega-city.

In Davis’ view, the very organization of these urban spaces has become a theatre for the play of class; sometimes its beautification drives; sometimes criminalisation. Poor people dread international events such as the Seoul 2008 Olympic games, that justify land grabs and mass evictions. Using criminalising myths that obscured their potential as resistance centres, Argentina’s generals determined to destroy the villas miserias of Buenos Aires on their return to power in 1976.

Davis explains that the class politics of urban space are best symbolized in sci-fi-esque“off-worlds” like Alphaville in Sao Paulo; heavily militarized private suburbs constructed by a super rich connected to global networks of wealth and ignorant of localized poverty. On the surface of the more mundane everyday, there is vastly differentiated access to simple infrastructure like roads and electricity - or statistics on who ends up dead in traffic accidents, predicted by the WHO to be the third largest killer of the poor by 2020.

The ecology of slums is a dangerous one too. Terms like “classquake” come to designate just who bears the brunt in natural disasters like Turkey in 1999 or man-made environmental disasters like Bhobal chemical plant. More metaphorically, in cities like Kinshasa with its population of 10 million and no waterborne sewage treatment, capitalism quite happily leaves whole swathes of humanity living in shit.

Snapping heavily at the “soft imperialism” of NGOs, Davis rushes on the failure of their talk of democratization, self-help and participation, to highlight how they diminish grassroots mobilization and increase corrupt elites. Tearing into market based solutions that celebrate “boot strap capitalism” and a small business led “transubstantiation of poverty into capital,” he describes how such ideology dissolves self-help networks essential to the survival of the very poor.

What bothers Davis most is how contrary to traditional visions of urbanization, capitalism has created “a surplus humanity” excluding billions from its labour markets and leaving them to an informal bare survivalism that defies traditional visions of class. In the absence of the left, Pentecostal Christianity and political Islam weave new social solidarities but the social technologies these religious forms leave often breed nihilistic terror. Of course there are other models such as the indigenous organizations of El Alto that provided the back bone to Bolivia’s resource wars.

As he explains in his conclusion, US military think tanks have their own take on this dose of neo-liberal reality, with crash courses in how to fight under slum conditions in an “asymmetric combat” that literally goes through walls instead of using winding streets. Haunted by this lurking counter-insurgent terror, Planet of the Slums merely provokes and prepares the reader with a preliminary over-view for Davis’ next project, with its promised leaps of scale between global warming, slum life and a future of resistance to capital.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Vidiot: Call Centre The Movie

After starting a new job in a call centre I was pretty entertained to come across Call Centre The Movie, a short independent movie made I suppose, by some Indian Film makers - it strips away the telephone lines to look at life inside a fictional call centre in Delhi and the chaos that ensues when too many calls come in.

Driving along a similar vein I've recently added Chetan Bhagat's One Night @The Call Centre to my immediate reading list - it's the tale of a story told to a bunch of weary train passengers about romance, obsession and a phone call from God in another Indian call centre.

At the moment I am preparing a course on working class fiction for the Anarchist Free University in Toronto - you can expect a stream of posts on it - and am curious as to whether there is more fiction using call centres as a back drop, giving their massive role in the global economy at the moment - it'd be odd that fiction would ignore them, imagine a 19th century fiction without the mine and inner city poor. So I throw the floor open to you to fill me in, are there more out there?

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Modeselektor At Remedy On November First

Someone from Remedy dropped a comment here saying the mighty Modeselektor are playing Remedy on November 1st. Ye Dublin bastards are spoilt.

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In Me Ears 2: Tasc The Spaceballer

Tasc is a Toronto based DJ, that rips mid sections through cheesy melodic dancefloor fillers with the bounce of baltimore club stutters . I had the good fortune to come across him tearing through a killer set at about five thirty in the evening at the otherwise dour recent World Electronic Music Festival in Bumfuck, Ontario.

With only about four people dancing, we ended up being the lucky recipients of a nicely pressed, gate fold sleeve CD edition of a promo mix he uses to get money paying gigs - a calling card if you will.

Ye peasants can make do with the Zshare version of the mix, download at will and don't let that freak like Paris Hilton track inflict too much damage on your ass.

Hopefully in the next week or two I'll get the second installment of my own summer mix series online.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Interview: Vomito Attack On The Streets of Buenos Aires.

Time flies when you are sitting on your hole. Nearly a year ago I made a short trip to Argentina and was pretty taken aback at the highly developed street art culture my eyes were left to devour all around the city. You can have a taste of it from a large Flickr gallery I created to store the photos I took. Sometime after returning I contacted one of the collectives involved in putting this art up and got this interview down through the auld email.

Who are Vomito Attack and how did you guys come into being?

We began processing ideas after seeing the 9/11 attacks in New York City, 2001. After that we arrived in Buenos Aires in December and the crisis exploded. Without any possibilities of work possibilities, no money and a lot of free time - the project started growing. At first we did cut and pastes from newspapers and magazines changing the meaning of the contained information. Then we decided to use the streets as our main canvas, so we translated all that information to stencils and went out to paint.

Where's the name come from?

The name comes from how we recycle images, ideas and information. No fucking copyright exists for us. And also it's a peaceful and good way to get out all the shit that makes us sick.

A lot of the art I saw across Buenos Aires really seemed to be influenced by the radical politics prevalent during the economic troubles of 2001/02 - do you think that when the middle classes were out vandalising banks a space was created for street artists to put their work up on the walls of the city too?

Of course that was a big step to do whatever in the city, people were painting and destroying banks during the day, under the nose of the police - so at night it was easier to paint and do what you wanted on the streets.

During that time the city was in complete chaos, with a little bit of anarchy in the air.

Have you ever faced any hassle from the police when engaged in the creation of street art?

Yes - but just now beginning in 2007 - not before. In one week we had two incidents with police. During the second incident they made us erase what we painted. The problem now is that we are in an electoral year, both presidentials and major cith elections. And also we have a growing number of tourists coming to BA, so the city should look clean. Now in San Telmo we have a cop on every block.

What was the 'Vote PCM' campaign all about and where did you get the idea for it?

Political parties used to promote their candidates with "paintings" - using lime for the paint - which is very cheap. At the begining of the democracy in 1983 and during the eighties, people who painted the walls were all volunteers but from the nineties on it became a paid job. It's still the cheapest way to make political advertising.

Two years ago, we started the VOTE P.C.M. campaign, on top of the same walls, using the same font but changing the color (because every party has a representative colour)we propoused to vote POWER, CORRUPTION AND LIES. (Poder. Corrupción. Mentiras).

Most of the art I came across seemed to be located in and arond the Plaza de Dorrego? Are there any other areas I should have peeled my eyes in?

Yes! There´s a lot of street art around the city - but the main hoods are San Telmo, Palermo, Congreso y Abasto. Also we saw several stencils in others states of Argentina, like Córdoba, Bariloche, Mar del Plata and Entre Ríos. Thanks to the Internet!
Is there much of a street art network across South America?

Not really. We have kind of Latin American version of the Wooster Collective, which is very useful to connect with others latin american artists. But in fact we (in received more visits from U.S. and Europe artists than from Latin and South America.

Is there any over lap between traditional writers/bombers and newer artists influenced by stencil and sticker work?

I don´t think so. There´s not many graffitti artists in Bs.As., spray cans are expensive here. Stencil is much more rebel in content than graffitti. The conection between both are spray cans and the streets as medium to express.

A lot of the statues of military figures and statesmen from Argentinian history in Buenos Aires were splashed with red paint or had stenciled texts about imperialism at their base. When was this done and how come the state never washed it off?

During the 90´s stencil was only used in demonstrations and by a few artists. After 2001 crisis become a very strong way to show ideas. The Internet is the most used tool now. The way through we received information from the outside world.

Many are fascinated by the Latin American tradition of murals - do you guys take any influence from this background?

Not at all. But the city has many murals, all of them make it with permission. We never ask for permission.

Aside from political pieces, many of the street art works I saw suggested a strong counter culture in Buenos Aires. Is this a fair reading and what form does it take?

Argentina has a very strong history of anarchist activism. Lots of italian inmigrants came here and spread anarchist ideas during the past century. We´ve an interesting background. And streets always were the better place to put the ideas.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Jawa: Burroughs With A Cheap Laptop

Some people obsess over William Burroughs because he got rancid on amphetamines, sello- taped pages together in a constant machine gun like feed into his type writer and churned out nonsense that he would cut and paste randomly back together.

Well there's nothing too random about Jawa - it's an attempt to make coherent audio from video imagery, using cut up techniques. Every sound you hear in a Jawa piece can be traced to a visual element on the screen. Remember that Coldcut track Timber from what seems like aeons ago, full of angsty pained mother Earth imagery and an SOS beep bent to the will of chainsaw chugs? That's a pretty good exposition of the technique.

One of the other Irish blogs recently linked to Biz's Beat of the Day by Skeeter, a Toronto resident and speed-bass mucker. Here I bring you some more examples of Jawa.

Coldcut -
Timber (You Tube)
Nwodtlem - Blondes Have More Coke (YouTube)
Skeeter - Untitled (YouTube)
Shinjiseiko - Destro Tokyo (YouTube)

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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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