Saturday, August 29, 2009

Farewell, Craig Disley



Two or three seasons ago, during a typically unremarkable fourth division encounter, the ball ricocheted slowly towards the once flame-haired, later suspiciously blonde midfielder. Rather than just hoof it diagonally forward, he had the temerity to trap the ball, briefly look up and then pass it all of about ten yards to one of his team-mates. At this, there was an audible tut from the guy in front of us in the crowd. Almost in despair, he turned to his mate and said "That Craig Disley. Luxury player".

From then on, the Dizzle was always "the luxury player" to us, but in reality, like most decent centrocampistas at this level his forte was basically running around a lot: he was hardly of Giresse finesse. We'll miss him though, not least for the solid role in our promotion season, when like a few of his team-mates he played over 60 games with ne'er a murmur of complaint, unlike those poor undervalued Premiership stars who get narked if they play around half that number: indeed, after 60-odd games he still managed to help Rovers bypass Shrewsbury that wonderful day at Wembley. Gone (to the Shrews, as happens, as seems to be a usual exit route these days), but not forgotten.

* * * * *

Um, music. Breakthrough single ahoy: Lomax decides to throw us a *mighteous* 'plate with "Faith Massive" on Ram Records, combining dubsteppy wiles with fractured jump-up, a nervous and skittering dish rendered slightly surreal by the occasional crashes of what appears to be Gary Numan's doorbell. It's a double-12", but you only really need the title tune. And on a dimly-related tip, "Iced" sees Taxman & Heist come correct with some *plangent*, coursing d&b skillz on Frontline, including the occasional intrusion of what could just as conceivably be our Gaz's ringtone.

Still traipsing through the environs of the Democratic Republic of Jump-up, we stumble over Jaydan's "Suicide" 12" on Propaganda Recordings (AKA "King of Miami" part two, not that you'll have read about part one yet, nor are likely to, given our summer sloth). While this is barely the sublime stuff of '08's sugary house reinvention "What U Want", Jamie Cope is making a compelling case for joining Speech Ferapy and MJ Hibbett (latest album worth getting for the midsong conceit in "Red Black Gold" alone) on the podium as Officially Leicester's Finest, and while on first listen quite sober and contained for something of its ilk, "Suicide" is actually deceptively frenetic. And intensely rewarding.

It's fair to say that Mutated Forms, meanwhile, are never going to be winning artistic plaudits for their rustically straightforward drum and bass outings, and "Coppers", a single on Zombie, will not be catapulting them any closer to an Ivor Novello award. However, after the obligatory student-friendly speech sample, they sensibly get on with raising the roof with some no-nonsense jump-up which is about as subtle as a night out with England's under-21s.

As is Mark Ankh's "L and M" ("Therapia") single on Sound Evolution. When not churning out trancey anthems for the less discerning peeps in the Slovene massive, on this twelve the Ankhster applies himself to chunky hard techno, creating a beast of a bassline of which Paul Langley (ooh, check PL's "Clash Of The Titans" fuzzy-minimalist jack-techery fest with Jamie Bissmire, too) would be proud for what's a somewhat unsubtle number, but still probably his best vinyl outing since "Fourth Dimension". (D.A.V.E. the Drummer cranks up loop-bass for an extensive and extended remix, but in all honesty there's little need to look much further than the original).

Meanwhile, issuing about a single a week in 2009, the Serbian Concrete DJz collective know what it takes to wrongfoot the cherrypickers like us who try in vain to come up with a system for working out which twelves are essential and which are missable. There's any number of their tunes which have more than lightly tickled our fancy, and several that have left us tepid at highest, but it seems to be "Solid State Refills", from the "Generator" EP on Mike Humphries' Mastertraxx - a kind of driving "Limehouse Green"-style cut with female vocal yelp and back-of-the-mix feedback - that we keep coming back to (and would therefore urge you to start with).

Continuing this very loose mini-tour of central and Eastern Europe, we come to Anjay's "Mechanical". It's rare for a techno EP to exactly overflow with strong tracks, but three or four of the numbers here from the Polish stalwart would qualify as own-right singles, which makes this one compete better for your several pounds 99 than some of the one-trick ponies. And whereas "Old Thought" rides a rolling drum intro before animating a Shredder-like groove, focussing heavily on rhythm rather than the sonics, and "Steel Emotions" by contrast is built around hovering, minimal blippery (the K-Tech remix of it is a little slower and less austere, stripping the joy from it rather), "Mechanical Brain", the title track of sorts, may be the best of all worlds as it starts off being all about the beats, but some neat blippery then ensues.

Next arrival on the platform is Andy Farley, Ant and D.A.V.E. The Drummer's new 12" on Cubed Recordings. With London techno it's all about the BUILD, meaning that for the first couple of minutes of most numbers you're none the wiser as to whether they're any cop or not. Luckily, both sides of this (A&A's "Buzzin'", obviously a popular song title at the mo, and DAVE & Andy's "Do Right Thing") then let fuzzy acidtech spring from the vinyl, pounding with metronomic efficiency somewhere into the middle distance. Would both sides of this be even better without the irritating sample ("free your mind", for chrissakes) ? Yes, yes and thrice yes.

And "Revolution 909", a 12" from A.P., continues the theme of back-to-the-old-school acid techno, a TR-909 tribute that could have come straight outta five years ago and, unlike the Farley 12", that wades straight in, pumping from the first seconds with the single motif that runs all the way through it and helps make the eight minutes positively fly. Only the millionth tune to use the "Revolution 909" title, too. Would it be even better without the annoying sample (yep, some bloke saying "revolution 909") ? Hell yes.

And then the good ship (Chris) Liberator hoists Mr (Sterling) Moss on board for a single on Polish label Neuroshocked, "The Cult", that cuts a fine swathe through the tremulous waters of hard LDN techno. While more subtle than melodious, and nowhere near as down-yr-throat as the offerings from A.P. & Mr Farley, its strangely soothing bombardment of your frazzled soul after a hard day's work is ably assisted by employing a kind of distant drilling sound, the mother of all swooshing, that gets closer and closer until, rather like Chorley FM, it's coming in your ears. And is "The Cult" (not in any way a tribute to Astbury and Duffy) all the better for not having any enervating samples ? The man from Delmonte says YES.

(Hm. This might also be the appropriate point to lament, once more, the passing of the man who introduced us to all this kind of stuff: the great J.P. All those who seem to think his legacy consists of dogtired "indie" bands continue to miss the entire flipping point.)

But to finish on the theme of infuriating samples (we're not keen on letting such things lie), N-Type's "Dark Matter" 12" on Black Acre also shoots itself in the foot. It's just two steps short of being brilliant: one is a faible kinda sub-Scooby Doo 'eerie' sound effect, the other a profoundly mind-numbing sample of some Withnailer type blabbering on about the moon. Why NT felt the need to blacken an otherwise sublime instrumental, a change of direction, is unclear, even if it's hardly an uncommon crime on the scene. Still, if you can erase these deficiencies from your mind and concenTRATE on the BASS on the PLATE, "Dark Matter" blissfully melds these shadowy frequencies and skittles them arrhythmically through its otherworldly doorways for your listening pleasure.

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