Sunday, 12 June 2011

Music Review: FabricLive 56 - Mixed by Pearson Sound/Ramadanman

With many dubstep artists trying to out-wobble and (in more desirable cases) out-dark each other, counterparts within the scene have turned in different directions in keeping the sound fresh, original and relatively non-offensive.  Enter Ramadanman, a.k.a. Pearson Sound, for the 56th instalment of the eclectic (almost randomised) FabricLive series (that which aims to offer a taste of Fabric London's Friday breaks, beats & bass night), and he has come up trumps with a mix that is sure to catch the attention of dubsteppers who are growing tired of the sound's corrupted, flatulent direction.

The first thing that one might notice about this mix is that Ramadanman could very well be spinning an almost exclusively techno set.  This is a solid reflection of the sounds that have gelled to create "bass" and "UK funky", two genres that have also been described as "post-dubstep" as well as reflecting the eclectic musical influences behind the Hessle Audio label boss' own sound.  The inclusion of tracks, remixes and re-edits by names such as Levon Vincent ("Late Night Jam"), Marcello Nepoletana ("Everyday Madness") and Carl Craig (re-editing Ramadanman & Appleblim's "Void23") help paint the techno-illusion in the listener's mind, however after the party-like Afro vocals and rhythms of Tiyiselani Vomaseve's "Vanghoma", the mix leaves the branch line for the main rail corridor headed straight into the heart of London's burgeoning "bass" scene (suffice it to say that Carl Craig's re-edit of Void23 completes the transition).

Listeners to FabricLive 56 could indeed aliken this mix to a trip from the West Country to Bristol, in the sense that there is no need to buckle the seatbelts (railcars are devoid of this option anyway), and it is, for the most part, a journey that does not badger those that take it into holding their attention.  Instead, Ramadanman's clever, layered mixing (which is at odds with the hastened style as employed by other jocks within the scene) invites the listener to absorb, take in, the journey as it comes.  Immediately following Void23, Ramadanman drops in "Project" (produced under his Pearson Sound moniker), a track that features strong old-skool and UK garage influences, as well as a swirly, advancing synth-stab - perfect for wetting the appetite of the listener for a night out (particularly if they are indeed heading to a FabricLive night, at which Hessle Audio holds a bi-monthly residency).

Subdued and almost chilled-out tracks that dominate sections within the first half of the mix do well in lulling the listener into a false sense of security (which, on the other hand, represents Ramadanman taking a huge risk in losing an audience brought up on harder, more aggressive breaks, beats & bass), however make no mistake in assuming that this is a smooth ride through strictly lounge-car listening.  Look out the window as Ramadanman drops in "Stifle", a hip hop-cum-dubstep dancefloor bombshell that will doubtless suit the heavy industry or tower-block dominated scenery that can be seen as the train nears London.

Some say that a trip is more about the journey than the destination, but whether or not one subscribes to this way of thinking, it cannot be argued that a good excursion is made up of contrasts.  As FabricLive 56 nears its final destination, Ramadanman changes course once more into somewhat deeper, darker territory (perhaps familiar sonic landscapes to those with a strong affinity towards early dubstep).  Those who enjoyed Fabric 55:  Mixed by Shackleton will surely stand to attention as Ramadanman drops Burial's "Pirates", a track whose rollicking percussion and tap-dancing-with-clogs conjure up images of a journey that perhaps went wrong, but was more positively memorable for it.  The somewhat deep, dark and twisted mood retains its momentum from here on in, however contagious tribal rhythms are replaced by retro-electro stabs (as heard in GIRL Unit's "IRL", which are later superseded by the vocally aggressive, (albeit slightly minimalistic) street-corner B-boy beats of Addison Groove's "F--- The 101"

Be it a metaphor for a cross country rail-journey, a soundtrack thereto, or a journey that charts the past, present and future flavours of UK bass & beats, FabricLive 56:  Mixed by Pearson Sound/Ramadanman ticks all the boxes.  Jaded dubsteppers looking for something fresh, techno fans looking for further sources of excitement and electronic music fans in general will want to hop onboard, and what's more, it has done the FabricLive series a great service in tipping it towards a more consistent keel.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Fate Is Not Far From Our Plate

“Daddy, why does the water look so horrible?”
I had been dreading the drive to Mom’s for a very long time, for my inquisitive son would doubtless ask why the Florida coastline resembled the unflushed toilet that it had become, after decades of pollution (namely fertilizers and pig faeces) from industrialised pig-farms located throughout the Mid-Western and Southern states of America.  As inquisitive as little Darcy is, I found it difficult finding the words to explain to him how this environmental disaster had eventuated.
“Pollution, son” is all I could manage.
I am glad for my car’s air-conditioning, for if I were to open the window, the pungent smell of algae would be far too much to bear.  Even the sight of it, a living organism which spells the end of existence for any other creature that shares the same environment, is proving too much.  The fish that once thrived in this waterway and ridded it of any toxins; gone.  I had once dreamed of the day when I could take Darcy fishing at this very spot long before he was born, but sadly, because I could not resist eating pork and bacon on a regular basis (like so many others), that very dream has ended up becoming a nightmare.
“Do fish still swim here?” he asked.
After a long silence, I reply “fish don’t swim in many places anymore, son”.
I used to love my pork, sausages, bacon, cured meats...  You name it.  Not even Anthony Bourdain, a favourite travel/food writer and documentary presenter, could consume the volume of pork that I did in my younger years (the fact that I don’t smoke would probably give me the upper hand here, as nicotine is a known appetite suppressant).  Put a full Irish breakfast in front of me, complete with crispy-crunchy bacon, beautifully saline black pudding and buxom Irish sausage, I would devour it in minutes, and would go for seconds.  Thankfully, on the strength of advice from my GP, I changed my diet, thusly avoiding paying the cost of such gluttony with my health.  But as an avid (but misinformed) environmental activist, I did not foresee the cost of pork consumption upon our waterways.
I feel grateful for the fact that Darcy cannot apparently notice the pile of syringes that lay dormant on the sand as we travel South.  Or if he can see them, he certainly could not comprehend what the objects are designed for.  Indeed, I would almost prefer it if they had been used as a means of intravenous illicit drug-taking.  Looking at the amount of dried blood that has covered each needle, like a layer of age-old rust, it is clear that they were most likely used to inject medication into the bloodstream of livestock.
I turn on the radio with the hope of taking my mind off of this.
“Yale University scientists have reported that a new flu strain, believed to have emerged from Vietnam, is highly resistant to current flu vaccination and other medication.  It is believed that human’s susceptibility to this new flu strain has resulted from injecting pork livestock with an antibiotic, used to promote growth”.
Should I be thankful that Darcy has fallen asleep?  Not even the dead ocean to the left of us could come close to the sickly feeling that has erupted within my stomach.  This is the future that over-consumption, and the industrialised farming methods used to accommodate it, has left behind for Darcy and his generation.
“Unless science can engineer a suitable vaccine or treatment for this deadly flu strain, populations the world over could be decimated in a matter of months”.
I reach over and gently stroke my hand through Darcy’s hair, the sun reflecting upon it, creating a golden halo, but the queasy feeling within continues.  There is nothing that I can do to absolve myself, for it is I who deserve the fate that awaits us, not someone who had no hand in its cause.

Ultimate Double Standards

Hello and welcome to the first post of "Illegally Sighted"; a blog in which I intend to document my thoughts on a whole manner of topics - everything from daily life, beats & breaks, beer tastings, animal welfare.  Just about everything.  Anything to take my mind from the incessant traffic noise that can be heard outside (currently dominated by what sounds like an endless convoy of two-stroke mopeds).

Indeed, animal welfare will be at the centre of this debut post, or rather, why people seem so affronted by those who hold animal welfare in greater importance than human rights.

I have just finished reading a blog post by one Sam De Brito (whose All Men Are Liars blog is the only such publication I read regularly), in which he questions the conviction and passion behind peoples' advocacy, and indeed the advocacy itself, i.e. that Australians are far more concerned with the fate of thousands of cows bound for Indonesia than the fate of thousands of people who have left Indonesia in search of a better life (some of whom suffered a merciless fate some months ago when their boat crashed near Christmas Island).  I thought I might elaborate on a few points made.

Sure organisations like GetUp! have done a great job rousing our moral outrage about both these issues, but what does it say about us when 40,000 people sign a petition to end mandatory detention, but 233,000 sign one to ban live exports of cattle?
I'll tell you what it says: we're a pissant country.

Okay, so the crux of De Brito post seems aimed at those who wish to absolve through signing a petition or copy & pasting a pre-composed letter (often provided by Animals Australia or the RSPCA) while they tuck into their factory-reared, antibiotic tainted roasted pig carcass (complete with teeth-bending roasted skin & lard - otherwise known as pork crackle) while laughing across the dinner table about a work colleague who told their "Whingin' Pommy" workmate to "love it or leave it", which is fair enough (I'll get to this a bit later).  Yet it seems that De Brito feels a certain disdain for those who are far more passionate for the sake of animal rights than the rights of humans:

But what are we getting up in arms about?

The blog post in question can be read here:

In another separate post De Brito also states, in no uncertain terms, that such people and their feelings "worry him" (I will post a link to the post as soon as I can recall its subject matter).

Why is this so, Mr. De Brito?  Are you concerned that people, such as yours truly, are going to force-feed you broccoli and bok-choy for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week?  Well, in short, perhaps I ought to.  You admitted to your readership on several occasions recently that you, and those around you, have noticed how "doughy" you have become of late.  Think that severely rehydrated, overly processed "ham" and product of the menstrual cycle (egg) roll couldn't bite you back?  It is.  It's biting you back by piling on the kilos while leaving fatty deposits behind in your already clogged, forty-year-old arteries, but you'll probably blame it on the beer.

Not every vegan/animal rights advocate is a hysterical, sociopathic, pasty-skinned, whatever stereotypical images conjured up by a mind that is making a feeble attempt at washing its hands of any guilt for enjoying that "throiii poiiice foiiid from K-F-Coiii'.  Oh, and hold on, who the flying fox are you to suggest that a person cannot advocate for two, or more, causes?  That is just a bit arrogant, don't you think?  Moreover, while you are doing a good job, Mr. De Brito, of trying to mould your readership into a better way of thinking, but have you so much as critiqued your own?

I would think not, for you are probably unawares of the fact that heart disease and impotence go hand in hand.  This is something that ought to be brought to the attention of your readers Mr. De Brito, for is the subject of your blog all about men’s' issues - getting their hands out of their jocks in lieu of a living, breathing sexual partner?  Either way, it's not much good when you can't get it up because a whopper just wasn't enough - it would have to be an Ultimate Double Whopper.  Nope, all that's left is an Ultimately Supple-Flopper - minus the cheese.

Penis jokes aside, the reason as to why I protest for better animal rights & welfare is simple; animals do not share our means of communication - hence they cannot protest OUR means of torturing/exploiting them solely for OUR benefit.  (Pardon the caps, not shouting, just emphasising).  Just imagine for a moment sharing a pint with a a battery hen survivor.  Would the chicken not have the attention of the entire room with its story of miraculously surviving the horrors of the battery farm, assuming that it could speak English in articulate and eloquent fashion?  But instead, because it cannot communicate in the same manner as its human overlords (nor could its blood level sustain an alcohol reading of more than .00000003, I would hazard a guess), it shares the same digestive acids as that pint of Tooheys Extra Dry-Retch, which, from its viewpoint (and certainly mine) would perhaps represent the highlight of its existence.

In conclusion, Mr. De Brito, when you think about how devastated you have been over the separation between yourself, your wife and your child, just think that it is not so farfetched to suggest that caged animals go through a similar experience?