Jean Grae: The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP

I've followed the career of Jean Grae since her collaborations with The Herbaliser (as "What What") back in 1997. Since then she's changed names, crews and producers, making her very difficult to track from outside New York. Just try finding "What What" on Google...

Jean Grae is one of the most talented, intelligent and varied rappers I've yet encountered. Her rhyming is always lyrical, frequently darkly humorous and incredibly intelligent.

Anyway, her best release yet came out last year. The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP finally marries her brilliant vocal style with good production. Her collaborations with The Herbaliser hinted at this brilliance. Her work with Natural Resource and her previous album, Attack of the Attacking Things, lacked coherent and clear backing tunes to her always awesome vocals.

So if you like underground hip-hop with a bit of intelligence, go out and buy this.

Spearhead gig

Holly and I went to see Spearhead last night. As usual, an excellent gig. Spearhead are one of the best bands you can see live, but it's kinda hard to recommend their uniformly cheesy and dull albums. Michael Franti is such a natural performer and the vibe at their gigs are always amazing.

This is the third time I've seen them and every time it's just amazing. Once was even at Glastonbury. Mmmmm

If you see a Spearhead gig coming up, I couldn't recommend it more highly.

New musical discoveries

I've just discovered some new, and re-discovered some old, music worth passing on.

Ellen Allien has been around for years but I've only recently discovered her music. She has an excellent mix on her site. A nice range of interesting new techno. Always interesting stuff coming from Berlin.

This has also got me interested in some other artists on her label, Bpitch Control. Sascha Funke is good, and there's a great compilation called Gemeinsam. If you like interesting and varied techno, well worth checking out this label.

The Berlin connection reminded me of the early days of MFS Records in the early days of trance. Back then, the trance coming out of Germany was a revelation. When it was all happening, just about every release on this label was gold. A huge and lively scene grew around this style of music in Sydney, sparking off into numerous other sub-genres of music and opening up trance as the mega phenomenon it became.

Alchemists of Sound

I just saw an amazing documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the creators of spooky soundtracks for BBC programming. Anyone who grew up in the seventies remembers the scary sound effects and haunting theme song of Doctor Who.

The doco charts the history of the workshop, its prolific output, the incredibly tedious but wonderfully creative work they did with tape loops, the amazing music and some of the incredibly talented people working there.

It's called Alchemists of Sound and was on BBC Four and will be repeated over the next few days. I imagine it'll make it to Australia soon enough. Keep an eye on the tv schedules.

Critically listening to The Beatles

I've recently been listening in some detail to the more structurally complex Beatles songs such as Happiness is a Warm Gun and the Abbey Road medley (You Never Give Me Your Money/Sun King/Mean Mr Mustard/Polythene Pam/She Came In Through The Bathroom Window/Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End). This has been greatly aided by Alan W Pollack's Notes, particularly his very detailed analysis of the Abbey Road medley.

The Beatles really were amazingly disciplined while being amazingly creative when they had their shit together. The Abbey Road medley contains a series of songs (more than just the named ones) that could each have been developed into workable songs in their own right, but the guys were just overflowing with ideas and keen to try new forms after all the years of fairly straightforward songwriting.

Paul's inherent sense of the catchy tune coupled with John's playful technical and structural hacks just blow me away. Every additional listen brings out new details. This may seem a rather academic exercise but I would recommend it to any music lover, particularly those who like music with deep structure but appreciate pop.

Next one to look at will be Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys, possibly the best hip-hop album ever. For this I will be aided by Brad S Benjamin's excellent analysis.

Sub Bass Snarl playing this Sunday

Sub Bass Snarl (and Kerrii) arrive in town tomorrow. They're playing on Sunday night. I finally managed to get details out of them. Apparently playing on laptops these days, due to problems with equipment earlier in the tour.

Sunday 22.6.2003
Moon Palace @ The Strong Rooms
120-124 Curtain Road
(nearest tube Old St.)
4pm-12 midnight
special live guests:
dDamage (planet ?u/tsunami addiction)
Carthage (pause2/irritant)
Crunch (mas) dex and laptop set
guest DJ:
Sub Bass Snarl (Australia)
Phil Summit

Glastonbury 2003

We got home from Glastonbury last night and wow, was it a great festival! Musical highlights were Ozomatli's brilliant, energetic morning set on the Pyramid Stage and Asian Dub Foundation's lively set. Billy Bragg, REM, Lemon Jelly and The Delgados were all good.

Of course, Glastonbury is about more than music. The vibe was great. Very relaxed and friendly. Weather was brilliant. A bit of rain on Friday morning and then blazing hot the rest of the weekend. Perfect!

I'll have some photos up once I get photos developed.