Perhaps it’s the time of year. When Scotland hits mid autumn the daylight vanishes; what little is left comes shrouded each day in heavy, bruised cloud that chokes out the ultraviolet and leaves you wondering if you will ever see the sun again. We’ve been lucky so far this year. It’s been an abnormally dry and bright transition from summer but it lulled us into a false sense of security. And now nature has reasserted itself energy levels have wilted away to nearly nothing.
In my case it’s hit me with a growing irritation for a lot of the music I’ve found myself listening to. The easy-going, scratchy and faded house of the summer just seems too fragile to cope with the demands made on it at a time when it grows dark by three thirty in the afternoon. Some of it seems annoyingly chirpy. It’s not the fault of the music, nor does any blame lie with the producers. It’s with me and a need for something else.
I’m not sure that hard techno is the answer either. I have a love/hate relationship with the banging end of the spectrum that begins to roll out about now, just as the deck chairs and the shorts are packed away for the season. The aggression might be welcome but the sounds are not.
Away from the blog, I’ve been listening to a lot of electro. Not that old school stuff, replete with careful 808 breaks and frizzly peels of synth. I’ve never been bothered about too much of that, if I’m honest. Still, I’m a sucker for a breakbeat and I’ve been dining on the likes of Drexciya and a whole bunch of Underground Resistance related material recently, alongside other additions to the canon such as Clatterbox and Detroit In Effect.
It seems to be working. Something in these lithe, xenomorphic tunes is getting through the thick fog of disinterest that has appeared over the last couple of weeks. I think it’s the eerie combination of anxious, claustrophobic beats and life affirming, snarling grooves that has done the job. Thank God something has. And it seems to have come at an interesting time, what with the reissue of James Stinson’s Transllusion album, The Opening of the Cerebral Gate on Tresor and a growing re-interest in this most spiky and shape shifting of genres.
I’ve had Her by Urban Tribe on heavy rotation for a while now, turning to it whenever I need an endorphin blast. Urban Tribe is Sherard Ingram, better known as DJ Stingray, one time tour DJ for Drexciya. It’s aural lucozade with just enough grunt beneath the warmth to get me off my arse and into the day. The meat of the tune is that bass – a truncation, largely, of the one that propels Drexciya’s awesome Sea Snake – which just holds the mood somewhere between full on party mode and whimsical introspection. Way above it the shifting melody, forever expanding and contracting along side that rolling vocal sample and the springing percussive elements that gather pace and strength as the track builds to its distant climax, delivers a hit of the purest sunrise promise.
It sure as hell isn’t techno, but I’m not sure it’s electro either. The best of the tunes from way back were the same, stripping elements from many genres and bringing them together as Ingram has done here. There is the intellectual adventure of prime Detroit techno, the funk fuelled drive of old-time electro mixed together with the popping streetwise nous of garage at it’s most immediate and alive, all reborn as a chrome skinned dancer aware of its heritage but paying it little heed. Just as it should be.
It’s woken me up. A burst of sunlight to drive away even the most tenacious of the autumn’s rising shadows.