60.000

2007-01-18 22:30:00
I like statistics, big charts and organized information and there's nothing I can do about it.

The track number 60.000 in my profile was The Magnificent (War Child) followed by Bacalao's rework of a classic Kraftwerk track for the "8-bit Operators" tribute.

It took whole 4 months to get to this point from the previous round number. A rollover that changes some mess to a digit followed by zeroes is seen by me as statistically exciting.

Dubstep - article from the Wire magazine

2007-01-05 08:36:00
No, really, just tell me what this fuss is all about? Not everyone is from South London, get over it.

Thanks to the ubiquity of Malcolm Gladwell's pop-science blockbuster, the phrase 'tipping point' feels like an ineradicable part of the landscape these days. Gladwell's book may not have made it any easier to predict or precipitate these tipping points, but it's certainly created a new cultural pastime - spotting them once they've happened. One surely took place back in March, in a 350 capacity Brixton nightclub called 3rd Bass, which had been hosting a dubstep night called DMZ for the previous 18 months. The night's events have already passed into legend - by
midnight, the club was packed, the queue to get in stretched round the block, and, with a euphoric presence of mind, the whole event was moved upstairs into Mass, a room twice the size.

This unexpected surge of people on a South London pavement was a sudden, physical manifestation of the rapidly increasing interest in what seemed just 12 months ago to be little more than an interesting, geographically specific subgenre. It also threw into sharp relief the exhilarating speed with which the Internet can spread the word about music; in fact, from a certain point of view, the way that listeners have found out about dubstep is almost as interesting as the records themselves.

The conduits are multifarious: blogs like Gutterbreakz, Blackdown and Drumz Of The South; 'social networks' like MySpace; message boards at places like dubbstepforums.com, dissensus.com and subvertcentral.com; more leisurely surveys of developments within the scene like Martin Clark's switched-on monthly reports for Pitchfork. The music also circulates freely online, with the downloadable DJ sets at barefiles.com being particularly crucial. In short, there's a wealth of comment, argument, excitement, vitriol and hair-splitting out there, a vast wave of digitally transmitted chatter carrying the music to our shores.

One of the most hotly debated issues concerns the dividing line between genres; specifically, the relationship between dubstep and its older but less easily assimilable cousin Grime. From the outside, it's tempting to infer a simplistic relationship: if Grime is the equivalent of 'Ardkore, then takes on the mantle of drum 'n' bass - to quote LTJ Bukem, it's the 'logical progression'. But it wasn't quite so simple in 1993-94, and it isn't now. Grime continues in rude (if less heralded) health, a vibrant cottage industry bolstered by a slew of CD-R mixes. But cross-fertilisation between the genres seems to be artificially held back, with producers remaining firmly allied to one side or the other because of their label affiliation or just because of where they live.

So, dubstep has developed in hothouse isolation. It's very much a producer (rather than DJ) scene, grouped around a close-knit yet openminded network of studio auteurs, each one focused on generating innovative and devastatingly functional stylistic touches. The litmus test for these laboratory experiments - as it was for Jamaican sound systems 30 or more years ago - is the way they sound over a club PA; the most crucial dubstep nights at the likes of Forward» and DMZ are still based around producers playing their own tunes, more often than not on dubplate, to gauge the reaction of the acolytes. And one of the reasons for dubstep's success over the last year or so is the speed with which these stylistic refinements have taken place; everyone involved pushing mercilessly at an oscillating bass envelope in the pursuit of skanked-out, subsonic nirvana.

The reputation of a new tune spreads by word of mouth, and there is often a gap of many months between an anthem's first appearance in a DJ set and it becoming commercially available - if, indeed, it ever does. Acetates are scarce and shared sparingly.

Make no mistake, this is a scene for aficionados (although one refreshingly open to recent converts), and the collective sense of being in possession of secret knowledge is one reason that the excitement in the scene keeps bubbling away. But there are more visible statements emerging from the underground, and -for the outside world, at least -the key feature of 2006 has been the gradual birth of a new artefact, the single-artist dubstep album. Chief among them was the self-titled Burial long player, a stealthy and seductive symphony of resonant bass and mournful white noise. For Memories Of The Future, Hyperdub label boss Kode9 worked with MC The Spaceape, suffusing supple beats with dread, apocalyptic, stream of consciousness poetry. Both collections were commendably artful, making a convincing case for dubstep's relevance beyond the dancefloor. By contrast, Skream - the man behind some of the most gilt-edged tunes in the history of this music ("Midnight Request Line", "Deep Concentration", to name but two) released an album which reflected his prodigious workrate - and his fondness for vintage reggae - more than it did his undoubted gift for innovation. Planet Mu releases by Distance and Boxcutter majored on twisted atmospheres as much as low-end weight and rhythmic science; both were, nonetheless, excellent.

In 2007, watch out for more from the peerless DMZ collective - Coki, Mala and Loefah in their various permutations remain the masters of percussive bass wobble and addictively counterintuitive drum patterns. Other producers creating genuinely distinctive sounds include veterans like Benga and Pinch, and relative newcomers like Shackleton, HiJack and Zombie. It's anybody's guess how long things will remain this fertile, but right now dubstep feels like the most vital sound on the planet.


(c) The Wire