Soup & Synths

21st October 2010

This week is mostly about soup and synths. All the soup is gone. Tomorrow I will make some more.

Three Minutes of Heaven

17th October 2010

My life is history. The sleeves of the 7” singles that I bought as a kid, that I treasured, that were life blood, escape, dreams, the future; those sleeves are kitsch tat hanging on the walls of the bar that I am DJing in. Like the horse brasses and toby jugs in a country pub they are little more than useless but cool stuff to fill up some empty space. I am in Portsmouth, a city with a bad reputation, with some people who want to change that. I discover The Barn, a sound proofed room at the back of pub somewhere near Fratton Park, where parties can go on for as long as they can go on, because once you’re inside, nobody outside can hear you. Tonight it’s psy-trance. Luke and I don’t stay long.

At Kraken Wakes (no soundproofing, better music and those 7” sleeves hanging from the ceiling) we make a little party by playing tunes on the Function One. And I wonder if the format really makes a difference, if you can fall in love with a digital file like you can fall in love with a vinyl single. And I wonder if, now, as long as we can get online, we can access nearly all music nearly all the time, it’s possible for music to have such a massive impact on the way people think ever again. And I wonder if the way I brought myself up, finding answers in the grooves etched into those slabs of vinyl, fining solace in the the words and sounds and ideas, the calls the action, the moments of tenderness, the anger, the love, I wonder if that was a good thing after all. Then we play, and it’s good, and people dance and smile and I drink another beer and though it all still makes sense , none of it seems to matter.

Beauty and the Beach

11th October 2010

or: in search of swallows or: all at sea or: say hello, wave goodbye

The Sound Of Music

11th October 2010

It’s becoming a habit, yo-yoing in and out of London on the train. Here at Hotel Washington, in Bristol, the sound of someone wonderful practising clarinet drifts in through the open window. If you look hard enough you can see the notes floating on the balmy air. The clarinet is singing plaintive old songs, memories of mists and mellow fruitfulness, sleepy slow loneliness, while I rest my head on the single bed, waiting for my time to play. Why is this sound so romantic, so beautiful, so alluring, so charged, like a secret, like a promise? So beautiful, the way it dances on the background sound bed, the familiar rumble and swoosh of city traffic, the constant of urban life. It is human energy, movement, tracing a twisted pattern of thought as it runs round my head, spilling technicolour balls of wool, unravelling like magic wires, dancing themselves beyond the laws of science and nature, every rhythm a dream, every note a new idea. Then I’m in the club (Big Chill Bar for the record), talking, and I’m saying, above the sound of music: This is the first time in the history of making music that it’s possible for the music never to exist physically. It’s a revolution, perhaps as massive as the point, only just over 100 years ago, when music was recorded for the first time. I never thought about it so specifically before but listening to that clarinet then going to the bar has really brought the thought into focus. Much of the music I like now never leaves the digital domain. It is made on a laptop using virtual instruments / soft synths; it is mixed in a software programme using plug-in effects; mastered in another programme with more plug-ins; then distributed digitally for people to download it and listen to it on their computers. There’s nothing ‘real’ in the old sense of the word, about it. It’s all, always, ones and zeroes, it doesn’t actually, at any point, physically exist in any form. And the covers of the records we used to buy and cherish are now used as cheap, quirly artwork on the walls of the bar. And when Dave Westernsoul plays his 7” singles he admits that lots of people don’t know what they are. What does that say about the people who make digital music? What does that mean for that lovely person practising the real clarinet in a real flat in a real city called Bristol? What does that mean for the future of music? I don’t really know, but in some way it changes everything or at least shifts it somewhere else and that somewhere is going to be really interesting.

The Normalites – Street Corner Classics

11th October 2010

buy on Juno Download

listen to clips on The Normalites Myspace page

The Normalites – Street Corner Classics – Subatomic

Release Date: 8 November 2010

1 Original Mix 2 Boozoo Bajou Remix 3 A&A Remix

After the success of their cover version of the Beloved’s Sun Rising on Defected/Bar Grooves, The Normalites return to their spiritual home, Subatomic, for the release of their next single, Street Corner Classics.

For this outing our virtual duo leave the beach behind and venture out into the big city for a party in the streets. Taking inspiration from the bass frequencies emanating from the sound systems at Notting Hill Carnival, the boys have come up with a stone cold urban indie electro blues dub classic, celebrating the feeling of freedom to be found when there’s music in the streets.

Remixes come from legendary German mellow dudes Boozoo Bajou who keep the song and guitar and up the party ante to create chugging funky groove; and UK rising stars A&A who stretch the original into a slo-mo space disco epic.

Whew, what a package.

The Normalites are chillout don Steve Miller aka Afterlife and DJ producer Chris Coco playing with sounds, ideas, poetry, dub and pop; confounding expectations; thinking outside the box; having genre-hopping fun; making music.

Note from Desmond Dekker : Normalites is pronounced Normal-ites, just like the Isrealites.