Saturday, September 14, 2002
Top Five

1. Junior Boys - High Come Down (Mix)
"Gary Numan meets Timbaland" apparently. I'm saying (The Blue Nile + Kompakt) X Dem 2. This is another one of those bands, like Coloma, like Horsepower Productions, that I had imagined exactly long before I heard, and predictably I love it. With its shuddering rhythm and cut-up, fragile vocal glimmers, "High Come Down (Mix)" is so fractured and wiry that it almost approaches a drill'n'bass style deconstruction/subversion of form. Actually, it merely adheres to the timeless rule of elastic horizons: keep pushing at what constitutes groove, what becomes song, and it will bend with you, the tension becoming greater and more delicious with every successive stretch until it snaps you back somewhere completely different. It's a tradition of "implied songs all the sweeter for their lack of solid presence", but one of the many things I like about the Junior Boys is they don't even need the tradition - they can craft more than fine enough "proper" songs. They're just being a bit naughty and flirtatious. Go and listen now.

2. Autobianchi - All Around (Everybody's Kissing)
Kompakt themselves are better than ever, and "All Around" tempts even more pop + dance equations. Filtering the heavy intensity Moroder-groove of decksman The Modernist's "Abi '81" through lithe, airy pop seems an unlikely proposition, but it's the sort of thing that Kompakt are increasingly adept. As dicerse a collection as ever, Total 4 nonetheless suggests an en masse resumption of the trajectory that Saint Etienne began to veer from after "He's On The Phone", containing feats of equipoise where science and tears and glitter get smeared all over eachother. Right at this moment - and it's majorly subject to change - Autobianchi, with their chugging bassline and strobe-like filter-stabs and new-dawn vocals, are the first among equals.

3. Missy Elliot - Work It
= self-evident, no? I've still not worked out what I want to say about "Work It", but you should already know it's great so there's no real urgency.

4. Fallacy & Plus One - Special
It seems a bit unfair to single out an individual track on Plus One's amazing introduction to UK hip hop Champion Sounds (remind me to return to it later) but "Special" seems to ask for extra attention. A sudden sideways swerve into hyperactive garage-rap, "Special" isn't content with merely upping the tempo. Instead we get punishing soca-inspired beats, twinkling sitars and pattering tablas, and especially an amazing MC performance, an explosion of high-pitched, fast-paced enthusiasm. What "Special" proves to me is how attached I am to garage MC-ing as a style of rap, that it's not just a functional response to the pressures of tempo and dancing. On an album of great rapping, this chant-heavy bonanza ("Fallacy on track! Make some noise you wanna wanna wheel it back!") is what I'm immediately drawn to.

5. Linkin Park - Enth E Nd (Kutmasta Kurt Remix ft. Motion Man)
Nu-metallers love Primo, quite apart from "N 2 Gether Now". Maybe Premier's style - the ebb and flow, the lazily hard-hitting beats - is the closest hip hop gets to rock spiritually-not-sonically. RZA is too hermetic, Dre too clipped, Timbaland too jerky, The Neptunes too funk; in comparison you can easily imagine kids in basements throwing stuff at the wall and nodding their heads angrily too even the most aristocratic Primo production. And at his most rugged, well, M.O.P. are already an honorary nu-metal group, aren't they? Kutmaster Kurt's remix of "In The End" is obviously Primo himself, but it reeks with his influence. A wonderfully creepy cut-up guitar-riff pushes "Enth E Nd", and even if you hate the original you'll be entranced. If you quite like the original as I do, then this new context allows its qualities to sneak up on you. I start thinking, "gee, that rap about time is pretty great, and I bet it would sound even better if I had something in my head that I could smash." And that whining chorus, intermittently looped in and out, becomes the sweetest bit of songbird melody you've heard.

Also great:
Radio 4 - Struggle (don't you just love
Beenie Man ft. Lady Saw - Bossman
Underworld - Headset
Skitz & Die ft. Dynamite & Rodney P - It's On
Schaeben & Voss - The World Is Crazy 2


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