Sunday, August 13, 2000
Fun fun fun. Last night after work I had a chance to check out the UK Garage night I was talking about. Most excellent! What was really interesting was that despite this being the only night of its kind in the entirity of Melbourne, it actually felt very much like a full-blown scene. The crowd was the most relentlessly cool I'd ever come across, I'd have to say. That's not a compliment really, although I'm not incredibly surprised.

Unlike in the UK where Garage is the urban sound de jour, in Australia you have to be either inordinately obsessed with music (like me) or a consummate hipster to even be aware of its existence. I suspect for many people there, going to Double O bar on a Saturday night is the equivalent of having the latest type of ultra-chic shoes. On the other hand, this was also the most truly multi-racial scene I've come across, with blacks, dreads, asians, europeans, indians and anglo-saxons not only mingling on the dancefloor, but within their own small cliques as well - not particularly common in Australia, even in the more mixed areas. Which was cool.

But what about the music? Ah, well, it was of course excellent. In fact if it was possible I think I would have fallen in love with the charming DJ Erica (who has apparently been pushing this sound in Melbourne for two years, and not getting a reaction until very recently) on her selection alone. Interestingly, the three best moments on the floor were indicative of garage's current scope. One was perrenially excellent "Neighbourhood" by Zed Bias, which is like one of those falsely extravagant jungle tunes from around 94 - lashings of grandiose piano and a diva's ecstatic sigh spiralling into a ragga chant over a doom-laden bassline.

Secondly was a brilliant remix of MJ Cole's "Sincere", which kept snippets of the vocal and the compressed echo-chamber backwards strings from the original, but coupled them with really choppy, almost psychedelic breakbeat rhythms and a resonant two-note bass oscillation which was so thick you could almost touch it. Again I thought of a jungle comparison, that being the current house-oriented sound of, say, Marcus Intallex (who has done his own exceedingly fine jungle mix of "Sincere"), but this sort of garage has the edge because the off-centre stutters and hesitations in a garage rhythmic matrix actually make the beats more enticingly disorienting than the comparative flatness of a straight jungle break.

And the third was, of all things, a 2-step mix of Mousse T's "Horny", which just had the most amazing bassline, basically. So: hard, floaty, and crass. Three different models of garage, and each sound fantastic. Indeed, Erica's set would veer from a sort of housey exubrance to r'n'b chill and then to a jungle style oppression with a devil-may-care attitude. Unfortunately she didn't drop any old hardcore numbers into the set as I'd heard she likes to do, but hey, I can also go back!

Anyway, I think this means that the rest of my posts for today will be about garage stuff. Sometimes you just get in a certain mood.


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