A Brave Mu World
Thanks to the helpful people that tend to break music down into bite-sized categories that are easier to digest and generalise about, it’s pretty safe to place the Planet Mu record label within the field of what is rather smugly known as ‘Intelligent Dance Music’. Unfortunately for the advocates of such generalising, the latest aural assault from Mu’s relatively hostile corner of the universe, entering our airspace in the form of the Ammunition tour and accompanying CD (mixed by the label’s founder, Mike Paradinas of Mu-ziq fame) seems to have a certain violent - and deliberate - unintelligence about it.
This is not immediately apparent, as the CD begins with the incredibly virtuosic and surprisingly melodic collages of breakbeats, electronic glitches and other sonic detritus that make up the excerpts from Venetian Snares’ latest release, Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding. However, after some equally complex but undeniably similar cuts from Datach’i and Chevron, the mix segues into a more confrontational and belligerent sequence of jungle tracks with a tendency towards thumping simplicity (as in Hellfish’s ‘U Don’t Quit’;) and a greater emphasis on sampled (though mashed up) beats. By the time we reach Shitmat’s ‘There’s No Business Like Propa’ Rungleclotted Mashup Bizznizz’ it’s perhaps not too presumptuous to wonder whether or not some kind of point is being made.
The strange contradiction between the ornate sonic architecture of many of these songs and the laddish personae that seem to be squatting within, becomes even more distinct in a live setting. For the Cambridge leg of the Ammunition tour, selected invaders from Planet Mu (Datach’i, Accelra and Venetian Snares) were backed up by a host of djs, and welcomed by an embassy of very sweaty boys and girls, several of whom appeared to have prepared for the occasion with hefty doses of ketamin. The first two acts, Datach’i and Accelra, impressed with beat-laden barrages of near noise that were suitably vile but almost completely indistinguishable from each other, making for a slightly monotonous hour-and-a-half, not greatly helped by the fact that they were performing on laptops, nor by the fact that there were no breaks between the sets.
Aaron Funk’s (Venetian Snares) set was much more engaging, and his skill at live sample manipulation and beat-mixing was jaw-dropping, but by the time he came on not only was the bruised sound system periodically cutting out in protest (the silences provoking immediate screams of pain from the majority of the noiseniks in the audience), but the prospect of another hour of ear-pummeling was not the brightest one for those in the audience sans tranquilisers and dreadlocks.
Or so it seemed. Sweat dripping from the ceiling on to my shoulders and with hair ruffled by the most accomplished K-Rat of the evening (complete with beautifully lank mohawk), I became slightly worried that ‘stupid’ might be the new ‘intelligent’. But that’s probably the point, so all in all it was a resounding success I suppose. Cindy’s anyone?
- Shitmat - Full English Breakfest Vol.3
- Shitmat - Full English Breakfest Vol.1
- Various - The Sacred Symbols Of Mu
- Venetian Snares - Meathole
- Luke Vibert - Lover's Acid
- Frog Pocket - Gonglot
- Phthalocyanine - No One Said You Didn't
- Various - Amµnition
- Electronic Music Composer - Abandon Music
- The Gasman - The Grand Electric Palace Of Variety
- Chevron - Everything's Exactly The Same
- Julian Fane - Special Forces
- Kid Spatula - Meast
- Shitmat - Killababylonkutz
- Venetian Snares - Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding
- Datach'i - Mmale And Ffemale
- edIT - Crying Over Pros For No Reason
- Remarc - Unreleased Dubs '94-'96
- Remarc - Sound Murderer
- Urban Myth & Steve Beresford - Live At The Friends Meeting House
- dDamage - Radio Ape
- OOO - Upon Cycles
- Venetian Snares - The Chocolate Wheelchair Album
- The Gasman - Remedial