Low End Lowlife: 03-04-12

In the midst of a national breakdown, lowlife Matthew Bayfield is going to save us all.

Posted on Apr 3rd, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife: 03-04-12 As a nation we bloody love a good panic. BSE. Bird Flu. Postal Strikes. Trains that find it impossible to run on time, usually on account of three leaves on the track in mid-October... Surely someone could just duct tape a broom on the front of all the trains? Do I really have to think of everything? We go bananas for this stuff. In fact I don't think this country is truly happy unless we are miserable and bitching about something or other. So that's why, this past weekend, in an act of fearless defiance, I decided to drive to Tesco solely in second gear, purchase a four pack of Ginsters, proceed to cook all four on an open barrel of crude oil I've had burning in my drive way for a fortnight, Thatcherite style, then proceeded to throw away three of the four pasties whilst reading The Hunger Games and snacking on the fourth... Then I fucked off The Hunger Games and watched Arnie get his Sir Lawrence Olivier on in The Running Man. It made that fourth pasty taste that little bit more beautiful... I care not for the lack of availability of fossil fuels, I have nice trainers. Also on a no less logical note, the vinyl used to make records is derived (in part) from the processing of natural gas and/or petroleum to make ethylene, so why don't we all charge down to our nearest independent records store and panic buy some wonderful music instead illegally downloading it all without the pretty covers and filling up jerry cans, paper cups and old teapots inna Mad Max mentality?

Here's what you should really be stock piling for when you are stuck in a bunker with nothing but tinned peaches and a baseless sense of survival...

Lone returns to the Bearded turntables to help turn the tables on our dreary "crisis" this week, courtesy of those hard working boys & girls at R&S Records, with his ‘Crystal Caverns 1991 / Vulcan Acid Mill’ 12”. On the A-side ‘Crystal Caverns 1991’ takes things back to, well, 1991 I assume (I wasn't there myself as I was more concerned with hanging off my mother’s mammary and watching Pingu, but by the sounds of this they all had a bloody brilliant time) The piece opens with a percussive loop of almost pure energy intermingled with the gentle sounds of chirping birds and other rainforest Foley as a set of spacey synths layer up on top like rays of sunshine through a jungle canopy, after a quick tempo shift things go into overdrive with some rich almost "purple" sounding synths kicking in, pushing the track further into the stratosphere before a wonderfully timed drops sends the track tearing off into a world of preposterous tropical percussion. Over on the flip things are no closer to sanity with 'Vulcan Acid Mill' a slice of 303 powered, acid fried bounce that pushes the lunacy factor potentially even further than the A-side, sounding like the ADHD toddler of Funkstorung at their finest. It also has possibly the most grin provoking drop I can remember this year (and admittedly that doesn't count for much). With tracks like 'Once In A While' and 'Joy Reel' Lone has always been a man who works in vivid Technicolor, but this newest cut is probably the most animated and vibrant piece he's ever put to wax... In fact it's probably the only 12" on planet Earth I would tolerate people wearing sunglasses in a club too without calling them a dick. It is also quite mercifully nothing at all like rotund martial arts master cum shit sheriff Steven Seagal's 2005 blues magnum opus Songs From Crystal Cave, which I initially misread from the title.

Loefah's Swamp 81 are back again too this week, with everything expected of a Swamp release in check as usual: beautifully refined, intricately detailed cuts from a consistent artist (Falty DL) coupled with beautifully refined design and presentation from a consistent artist (Ashes57) on a horribly limited (500) 180 gram vinyl only release (Mean Streets Part 2). The title track of the piece is a spacious, almost jazz textured shuffle which blends African chant vocal clippings (my geographical knowledge is largely based on poorly translated Tintin comics so I may be well off the mark there) floating, weightless harp/chime style sounds and a loose, clanking percussive arrangement which is addictively off step, never quite seeming to lock into place for you to satisfyingly bob your head. Much like I did you too can have hours of fun on a bus or any other variety of public transport by trying to nod in time without someone thinking you are having a mild muscular spasm! First up over on the flip is 'Wallow', again following the offbeat shuffled patterns, but this time with a slightly more tense air, the pockets of space in the track filled with barely discernible vocoded audio trimmings and some impatient finger clicks. This tension is steadily built and then opened out into a more impatient rhythm which rides into a broad open space where a full soulful vocal can finally be heard, providing a nice relief at the track's end. This is followed by 'Laid Back' which takes a slightly harder, cymbal heavy percussion line overlayed with more soul indebted vocals and airy channels of evocative urban clanks and groans. Not quite as hard as hard as Mean Streets Part 1, but certainly more foreboding and claustrophobic, and alongside 'Wallow' the perfect counterpoint to the A side's much more open, loungey textures. Frankly, by the time you read this I may be dead... No that's possibly bollocks, I'm probably fine, but by the time you read this Mean Streets Part 2 may have already sold out, which would be sad, as it really is lovely, but if it hasn't please heed my advice and panic buy on sight. Just one though, because otherwise you are a greedy materialist bastard.

From spacious tropicana and airy tribal rhythmic shifts to the persistently preposterous 808 excursions of Mr Addison Groove. Groove (an alias of dubstep totem Headhunter) first appeared on Swamp 81 (another feather in their cap right there) with the ridiculously well worn 'Footcrab', a skeletal percussion track which more or less opened the UK's floors to the "footwork" craze, which has had people shaking like Phil Collins at an alimony trial ever since. Now 'Groove returns once more, this time on 50Weapons, with his first full length Transistor Rhythm. If the footwork thing is not quite your thing, then this may not be the record for you, what with it being a full length, 45 minutes of bouncing subs and gloriously synthetic tapping drum machines it may leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed. Admittedly not everything here quite hits the mark, opener 'Night To Remember' is actually not particularly memorable and 'Incredibly Exhausted Bunny Ears' doesn't really live up to it's joyous title (not that I'm sure it ever could) but when AG hits his stride the results are nothing short of ecstatically brilliant. 'Ass Jazz' is a synth stabbing sphincter shuffle of a rhythm, completely with be Fisher Price kick drums and some cheeky cowbell taps whilst 'Dance Of The Woman' is a frantic tribal knockabout in a similar vein to some of the cuts found on the Shangaan Electro compilation I bang on about all too often. As if this wasn't enough fun for one track try and knock back a swift G&T every time a disco whistle is employed in the piece, I was on a stomach pump by about the eighth bar (oh a cheeky drink/bar pun, who would have seen that coming) there is also the loose, low swinging cruising anthem of 'Savage Henry' which I managed to play as I walked behind an old lady on Gorleston High Street whose hip replacement put a definite pimp in her step to my intense personal amusement. Without doubt my personal highlight on this one though is the whimsically bouncy 'Superlooper,' which rolls along on some spare brass jabs, numerous finger clicks and squelchy electronic scratches before breaking out into more of that stripped down rhythmic goodness to get your feet going. Perfect for those wise, wise people who don't go out with the intention of taking their night too seriously... And if you are one of these chin stroking duffle coat types that do take your nights out seriously, what the fuck are you doing reading this column? One quick note mind you, the copy of 'Transistor Rhythm' I am reviewing (the three coloured triple LP edition) has the tracks in the right order on the vinyl, but misprinted labels, so maybe everything I just discussed is applicable to a track other than the ones named here... Alas once more we see the futility of human pursuits. Nevermind ey? At least that gurning, "chirpy" box faced moron Jessie J isn't involved in this column. Do you think she use a wood plane to level that chin off? And if so, does she borrow Alexandra Burke's when she's done squaring off her incessantly grinning, moronic face? Who the fuck cares to be honest... Cest la vie.

You can also catch me spreading positive vibes when sober and drunkenly tweeting abuse to lantern jawed celebrity folk like the above on Twitter too @Lowendlowlife if the mood so takes you!

Anyway that's all, I'm off to cue at the petrol station for something or other...