Beat : Files #4
In praise of HudMo, Rustie and Kode 9 - Olan All City on the environmental re-engineers.
Who remembers Gary McKay?. A seminal moment for any 80s child in Ireland – the national squad needing foreign aid via the Scottish first 11 in eastern European cauldron, complete with dodgy ref, noisy partisan fan base consisting of disgruntled factory workers given the afternoon off and apprentice hooligans. No moral victory here - up popped Gary McKay with 10 minutes to go and grown men cried in the street etc .
It wasn’t until years later I found that Scotland had the same population as we did yet they didn’t need foreign help being crap - no English managers, never mind a team chock full of a pretend diaspora with no connection to their country. They are way too proud for that. They had already failed at five World Cups in a row on their own merit. Scots have been happy to be mediocre on their own terms.
Sadly for us, another one of the many things the dastardly English denied us was a proper industrial revolution so - as well as the problems of famine, pestilence and general incompetence - we never developed the casual/youth culture and inter city rivalry/hatred that teenage culture, especially that of the US and the UK, has thrived on. No area codes here! Nor did we have the clatter of factory machinery that has formed the the basis for machine music of the last 50 years.
Although we have the shithole aspect you need for decent music down pat we didn’t have the need to remake our surroundings - being nomadics at heart, we just got the fuck out of dodge!
Tony Wilson pointed out that Scousers, being of Irish Catholic stock, felt little allegiance to their city so when they got successful they left and made a beeline for London. In Manchester, Irish descendants (like Morrissey) did the same, but the English Mancs like Wilson and New Order didn’t have that itinerant streak.
They stayed and re-engineered their surroundings to suit themselves. Built their clubs, built scenes. The Scots seem to be somewhere in the middle. There’s no doubt that Glasgow and Edinburgh are proper European cities but Scots still move freely – they have that Irish emigrant work ethic in them but they don’t assimilate as easily as us.
Alan McGee and Kode 9 would be too examples. Both might bemoan their Scottishness and almost reject it, but there’s never any doubt of where they’re from. Scottish people never lose that twang.
They have never had that rural society inferiority complex - the same one which has plagued the Irish. The constant tedious need for affirmation, that we really matter. They were miles ahead of us with their corrupt financial services industry back in the 18th century, muthafuck your halfwit bankers these cats invented the bubble!
They had a professional football league which had everything from exotic sounding teams (Cowdenbeath, Patrick Thistle, St Mirren) to the Old Firm with its regular 90 minutes of hate, packed stadiums, European trophies and hard nuts. Even their supergroups had their moments - Simple Minds had their Kraftwerk/New Wave hot minute on the 'Empires And Dance' LP from 1980:
The rearranging of the present and the clash of past roots and the future possibilities is what Kode 9 is all about. He has been at the forefront of future (or hyper dub) music for the last six or seven years and the new 2CD Hyperdub compilation 'Five Years of Hyperdub' is a fantastic vision of one of the most interesting minds in electronic music at present.
A curmudgeonly Scot, in print at least, he’s one of the deepest thinkers in music today. His Wire interview is a fascinating read and his Sonic Warfare book to be released later this year – a journey through frequencies and the aesthetic of sound experience – looks like an interesting read.
For a label with an extensive catalogue to have so few misses is almost unsettling! There’s only one 12" I was never that bothered with - reading Kode 9 sum it up makes me want to relisten as I obviously missed something.
One of the interesting things is while music gets more niche and sub genres abound, the Hyperdub label resists categorisation even more. The music is wide in scope and his history is as much in Cameo, the JBs and other rare groove staples as it is jungle and hardcore.
It might be played out for some of the more new-shit-new-shit dubstep heads but for me it’s still the purple funk of Kamata/2000F/Joker that sounds so fresh
And it’s that mixture of US and UK influences – specifically of 80s US funk and UK 90s dance riddims - that also comes across on Hudson Mohawke’s Butter on the Warp labe. It’s been knocking around the net for a while so a lot of people will have heard it but I have really enjoyed the interactive experience of playing this record.
Replaying the tracks has been an absolute joy. An incredible record brimming with ideas and originality, shiny newness and hella extensive - Kode 9 might recognise the sonic assault at work here. A friend likened a recent Hudson gig to getting smacked repeatedly in the face with a welly. There is a touch of that rowdiness on the LP but mostly it’s of the what-the-fuck-did-he-just-do variety.
I think some of the straighter, for want of a better word, tracks such as 'Joy Fantastic' - with Olivier DaySoul - and 'Tell Me What you Want From Me' (featuring Dam Funk) are especially dope
The bangers like “ZooO00oO0m” which most people have heard sound even better in an LP context.
Even after all these years the Hudson Heeters joints sound so fresh...
And of course the mighty 'Fuse':
This is one of the first, if not the first, post hip-hop LP’s for my mind, not in the “oh its got blips and wonky so we can mention Dilla right?” sense but in the way it reflects the modern iPod on shuffle (if that doesn't sound too twee).
Fast, slow, short,long, with vocals and without.. he might hate me for saying this but I mean it as the highest form of praise as the whole thing is so finely crafted. This isn't a collection of beats and snippets, its an LP - it sounds a little old fartish but the art of making an album as statement of purpose has been lost (a little) as with all the musical choice we have there’s no need to bump the one record but I’m four weeks with this one already - a personal record since Madvillain I think. The artwork is pretty playful but this is serious stuff.
Fellow Glaswegian Rustie, also signed to Warp, has the same scope of ambition. An off kilter, slightly darker squelchy sound, influenced as much by techno as Polow Da Don and (more obviously) Jus Blaze, he has appeared on a number of fairly diverse labels over the last few years – Hyperdub, Dress to Sweat, Stuff, Up My Alley – dropping some killer bits on the way, some of which are pretty collectible.
The 'Jagz The Smack' 12" can go for £100 which as collector/seller/buyer I think is pretty cool given the record is only a couple of years old. I know some dubstep promo/whites etc can go for that but this had really nice artwork with a screen printed cover. A little annoying though, as I cant find my copy.
The 'Clipper' track is a nice flip of Jus Blaze/Beanie Siegel/Freeway track, 'Rock the Mic':
The most recent EP, 'Bad Science', coming from the super Wireblock label is another mushy smash - he just seems to be one of those cats who is getting better with each record.
The Warp LP is expected some time next year and doubtless by time he'll have really found his style reflecting the myriad of influences of the incredibly diverse and energetic Glasgow he lives in.
As Ireland goes south once more and we rep like the 80s once again we could do worse than look for help from the Scots once again.
Look to the east as a guide for building small, sustainable scenes bursting with unique local energy and creativity using what's around them for building blocks. As Kode 9 says: "Shit-holes always have a silver lining. You’re so bored to the point of suicide that you have to re-engineer your environment to make it bearable". Or as Irvine Welsh succinctly put it: 'Think Souness'.