Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
Charles bangs his head for fun…
Antidisestablishmentarianism is a word that appears in few dictionaries these days, simply due to its rare usage. I cannot think why. Could it be because it takes half an hour to pronounce, and half a day to write? It is still arguably the longest word in the english language. Yes, arguably - don’t start up in the comments. So is it just its length that stops people including it in their day-to-day vocal spiel? Probably not. It is probably because it has a stupid meaning. One can be FOR the establishment. One can be AGAINST the establishment. But this word sums up being against being against the establishment. Not a typo. Meaning FOR the establishment. And we’re right back where we started. Take coffee, for example. There are people who like coffee (the correct ones), and there are people who don’t like coffee (the silly ones). And then there are the people who don’t NOT like coffee. Who in God’s name invented this irritating and confusing double negative?? Speaking of God, this lengthy pretentious word originally stems from the Church of England, being the establishment. But just as you were all starting to moan and groan about this being another piece about words, you are now moaning and groaning further in thinking it is another piece about religion. Well, I am here to put your mind at ease. It is about neither. The point is, anyone who uses “antidisestablishmentarianism” is evidently someone who is against things for the sake of being against things, while trying to look cool. Bringing us to punks. A modern take on the original renegades. But not the rather amusing punks of the 70s, or the bullies of the 60s disguised as Hell’s Angels, but in fact a different variety. The crazy mixed up kids of the early 90s. Anti-establishment? Antidisestablishment? They were anti everything! But also couldn’t really care enough to make a solid point about anything. Basically, it was an excuse to have a lot of fun. To enjoy being young and seemingly invincible - as all young people should feel. Though this had been going on underground since around 1988, it took a few years for the scene to become a known culture. I bring you, London 1992.
Now concentra’e and take a deep breff.
"Ravin’ it up big in the East London Massive, dem speakers are bruk but big in the bass department if ya know wha’ I mean. Dem beats is lashing me like a fast knife innit. You can pozitivlee smell da daynjar. Dat sweet smella fresh spray paint licks ma nose like a bleeder an’ don’t no one knows what’s comin’ to ya. For every second is a new second. A second never breeved before. But as soon is it is here, it is old. Dat’s da name o’ da game ‘round ‘ere. Suits? SOOOTS?? Ain’t got none ‘round dis parta town. Zoots, maybe, but not suits. Dey’re not welcome. It is everything we stand for and nuffin’ that we stand for, innit."
But despite this rather dirty, dangerous atmosphere, there is little chance of harm should you venture further than the side entrance (for there is no front entrance). And the colours, oh the vulgar yet gorgeous radiance of neon colour! No balance, no attention to detail, no care in the world! Yet it somehow works. It embodies the whole scene. It captures brief moments in between pills that London had never experienced. And most did not want to experience. Which was the whole point, and why it worked so well. Those who chose not to take part, did not have to. And those who wanted to let it all go, were quite welcome. I suppose it was the kind of middle ground between the punks and the hippies - but not as preachy. Rave culture was simply a wonderful thing. Pure joy, if you didn’t overdose on ecstasy and die, of course. There’s always a drawback - it was completely and utterly drug-fuelled. The new flavour of popcorn. So it was just the drugs talking , then? Well weirdly, no. The music that came out of this era was, and still is, stunningly original, and quintessentially British. I don’t even think it managed to cross the water to Europe, let alone America. That is, until a little known act from Essex strangely and unpredictably hit the mainstream. It was so unlikely to happen - yet it did. The Prodigy was (at least in Britain) one of the biggest acts of the decade. The 90s were really about two things in music in Britain: Britpop, and The Prodigy. And I mean just them. They made a style of music that no one had heard before, made before, copied then or copied since. And yet, their music lives on with fondness and excitement. It was therefore a black day when the lead “singer”, Keith Flint, died suddenly at the age 49, just 4 years ago. I won’t go into the details. It is sad to me that the death of a musician is so often what makes people listen (often for the first time), but needless to say, this is exactly what happened. There was a brief resurgence of that stunningly fresh, stunningly original music again. It probably made an even bigger impact because most mainstream music right now is stultifyingly kakka - to coin a phrase. Even I (a longterm Prodigy fan), fell into the trait of waiting for someone to die before rediscovering an artist’s brilliance. There I was for weeks, ravin’ it up big in the North London Massive - admittedly, on my own like an ageing dweeb. But who cares?? EYE enjoyed it. Just like I did back in the 90s with ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ - a song unlikely to receive such applause in these sober equality-ridden days (we don’t NOT like men). I deeply enjoyed hearing the song once again, but you’ll be pleased to hear that I refrained from doing as it suggested. My bitch is safe. So I started a fire instead. A twisted fire. For years, I wondered what a twisted fire was. For those of you not familiar with The Prodigy’s music, get ya speakers warmed up and smash that play button.
These past few days have brought us a particularly mega hoard of golden nuggets in the form of brand new music from the New Artist Spotlight artists, that the choice was even more difficult than usual. But what with me being me, I wanted to pick something that maybe wasn’t at the top of your radar. Something a little bit “leftfield”. Something that you wouldn’t so obviously have jumped to. Sometimes I choose more obvious things, but lately I have quite enjoyed going “off-piste” for that element of surprise. Apologies if my going off-piste makes you piste-off. I do love it when someone tells me they KNOW what my review will be. I titter from the other side of the internet like a dribbling boy. It may seem dangerous and bold, but that’s the kind of guy I- “ARGHH, a spider!!” - okay, maybe that’s not the kind of guy I am, but I’m doing it anyway. Here’s Darren Mason’s ‘What You Looking At?’, remixed by Daverage J. Normal.
Darren is an unusual man in music. He mainly releases ballads. Yet he has his Croydon roots firmly planted in those heady days of the early 90s. The land of the wild. I wonder if perhaps his ballads are some form of rehab for those days, but like so much good stuff that is bad for you, the need comes back whether you want it to or not. When he released his original ‘What You Looking At?’, I was blown away, mainly by the shock. What, this is DARREN Darren? Ballad man? Can’t be. And yet I never reviewed the original nor the previous ballads. Probably because some other poor sucker was being accosted by my words that week. This remix gave me another chance. And I have to be honest, I prefer it to the original. Because it warms my cockles like a tempting dealer with the words “Remember me…?”. Well I suppose one last fling in the darkest of golden years can’t harm. Can it…? No it bloody can’t! Let’s get stuck in!
Just like when I reviewed Atlas to Earth’s remixes of Kele Fleming’s songs, I will make it clear that the original is the vital foundation to the remix, and while I prefer these remixes to the originals, they simply could not exist without the originals. Darren teaches music. He knows the importance of passing on knowledge, but more importantly, the importance of getting involved with the younger generations and with like-minded individuals. With this new knowledge it maybe won’t surprise you (it surprised me) that Daverage J. Normal is his student! To me, this is hugely generous, but it also shows the high level of belief and confidence Darren has in his students, that Mason is willing to release a remix under his own name. Such faith; such trust. This is the kind of tutor that we always want, but so rarely have. One who cares. Anyway. I keep saying I will get into the music, but never do. Let’s focus on this remix.
The doors to the club swing open slowly, then spring back even slower after D&D saunter in. Trousers so baggy they must be concealing weapons, as it were. All eyes on them, as if to say, “shh, they’re here!”. The impending distorted bass starts in motion. This is like a scene from a Guy Ritchie film, just before a closeup of a jaw shunted out of place by knuckles. It is clear their sights are set upon the stage. This is where it all happens. The room swirls, as swirling rooms do, but all the while their focus is as sharp as a compass, determined to see off the posers and make this a game for players only. Once they reach the stage, Daverage picks up his headphones, closes his eyes and gets to work. Darren in the meantime has thrown off his bomber jacket so that its orange lining is a cosy bundle on the sweaty floor. He starts to distort as he grabs the mic. Or rather, his vision is gaining static. He needs to push through this moment to get to the other side. To SEE euphoria. A quick erratic shake of the head to knock himself into consciousness, and he’s ready. Ready to be a heavyweight with his sidekick, as D&D are about to explode. Darren warns the inquisitives in the front row: “STEP BACK!!” - That’s Daverage’s cue to pump up this joint and ditch everything about his surname. Beats pound the fresh ears of the young, and they feel ever-youthful. They stare, in awe. What YOU looking at??! Instantly their eyes flick back inside each skull of contentment, as their limbs flail to the dubstep breakbeats like those of an epileptic. Are these possessed twitchers taken by the devil? Or are they simply enjoying themselves in a moment of blissful freedom? It’s the harmful aggression of which we rid ourselves in the most harmless of ways. I mentioned it was breakbeat, well it’s not quite. It isn’t NOT breakbeat… Think breakbeat with the energy of jungle and the feel of drum ’n’ bass. But by just 1 minute 30, we need a breather. The beat is gone, but the energy still rides high with the motion of “something’s coming”… A robotic bongo player loses his mind to the thrill of it all - I think it’s his first time in a club. Enough breathing, let’s jump back into the mosh pit. With satisfaction, the kick drums tells us, “I’ve got you covered” on all four beats of the bar. FOUR 2 DA FLOOR beats everything. But as reassuring as that is, to help us not lose our balance, it doesn’t last long. Screaming wild siren synths filter above the crowd like a jagged plume of yellow smoke. After a couple more breathers and coming towards the 5 minute mark, you might be assuming you’re all panted out. Which you are. But our friendly pill-pusher we affectionately call Shnookums (for no obvious reason), seems to always gauge the best time to appear without warning. He peps up the crowd and disappears with roughly the same warning. That heavy house beat takes no prisoners. Once no more energy can be summoned by any means, the raving song of a lifetime comes to a close. Most of the crowd parts to make way for the stars to leave in that same Guy Ritchie manner. The rest are left lying on the floor, quivering with a smile.
This ‘What You Looking At?’ remix is not for the faint-hearted. But should you dare to press play, make sure you have enough courage to play it loud, for maximum effect. Free the wild animal in you. But don’t do drugs. Shnookums is now behind bars.
Ya know what’s even longer than Antidisestablishmentarianism? This article! Hope you didn’t NOT like it.
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