Thirty Thousand Streets

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Went to Benji B's Deviation night at Gramophone on Commercial Street in Shoreditch, for my mate Al's birthday last night.

I really like this night. I've been once before, for the birthday shindig, when you couldn't really move, or dance particularly. This time it was a bit less packed, but still fairly lively.

The guest DJ was Kode9, who was dropping dubstep stuff, which I caught a bit of. I like some Dubstep, some tracks I've heard by Martyn especially, but often find it can retard actual dancing somewhat, the music seeming to be lacking a kick drum somewhere, to anchor you in the goove – the Dubstep room at the last night I went to at Corsica studios was a mass of unsyncopated flailing limbs, like octopi drifting in space.

Benji B's sets seem to be reliably good, though I'd be hard pressed to pigeonhole his sound, apart from the fact that it seems to represent the new generation of producers who eschew predominantly sampled motifs in favour of a new, more electronic flavour of beatmaking – more specifically the kind of glitchy laptop aesthetic that dudes such as Flying Lotus create (and some of whose tracks off the excellent Los Angeles got an airing last night).

There was also some heavy rotation of tracks by the late hip hop pioneer Jay Dee, his having passed away almost exactly two years ago on the tenth of February. And in truth, echoes of his warm, slightly off-kilter sound could be heard in a lot of the newer music being played. The bouncy, James Brown sampling I don't Know and lolloping uptempo drums of Fuck the Police eliciting excited whoops from the crowd.

In general, the beats are loose limbed staccato funk. The vibe excited, friendly, warm; the crowd a mix of all shapes, sizes, etc. And though there was the usual contingent of cool kids, looking all nonchalant as they danced, there was a distinct lack of attitude in the sense of moodiness and general sub-gangster (or actual gangster) posturing I recall from jungle nights way back last decade.

Indeed, as the old guard of hip hop and drum and bass producers continue to lick their wounds and dream of those halcyon dog days of the mid-90s, it's heartening to go somewhere like this and bear witness to forward thinking (if not quite avant guard) music of (whispers it) black origin with a left-of-field lean. I'll be going back soon I think – I'm just gutted I missed the lesser-spotted Moodymann, whom the webbernets tells me played there in December last year. Dayum.


sigh9 said...

Yeah - eyechild becomes MP3 blog! it's the way of the future!

The Eyechild said...

Can't say I've not thought about it. But my track record for writing consistently about a given topic ain't so amazing.

And it's a legal MINEFIELD.

But who knows. I'd certainly like to do some mixes.