Saturday, September 26, 2009

This Brutal House

Me on, if not in the New Statesman on the subject of the Sheffield wing of Warp's extensive 20th anniversary celebrations. Now not only have Warp released many of my favourite albums (in which I could include Intro), but for their 10th anniversary they brought out three double CDs, of which two - the collection of American and English techno in Warp 10: Influences and the utterly peerless Yorkshire bleep & bass anthology Warp 10: Classics are among my favourite records ever released by anyone ever. So the suspicious tone of the article is more to do with politics and urbanism than music, although I've ceased to care that much about their output in the ten years since. There have been some wonderful records by Broadcast, Boards of Canada, a couple of others (though the jungle plus cute electronica and/or jazz bass side of their output sounds horribly inconsequential in retrospect, the new prog rock in terms of its rhetoric of ultra-complexity and its spotty demographic), but largely they've become just another slightly-more-interesting-than-usual label. And really, call me a prolier-than-thou sentimentalist, but the fact is that this has much, much more to do with the label they once were than this. Perhaps this is because they've 'moved on', but to whence is not often commented upon.

Park Hill-related pun inspired by this, the 'Let's Get Brutal' mix of which Nightmares on Wax played on the night (photos here of Magna and PH are by Joel Anderson and not for re-use without approval In Writing). Also in the NS and oddly good, Will Self on wood cladding and the possible uses for this insufferable architectural mannerism post-collapse. On the fascinating subject of cladding materials, there's a letter in this week's BD taking issue with my earlier 'naive' (I was trying to be faux-naive, but I suppose it didn't convince) column on reclad towers. It does a fair bit of cheating, in speaking only of panel constructed towers, while those I mentioned by name in the piece were either steel or concrete-framed things that hardly merited such drastic, and architecturally disastrous encasing, other than a sign from councils that Something Is Being Done, so accordingly we don't have to bother doing any maintenance again afterwards. As it is, I was thinking more of this sort of thing, the be-hatted towers of Wakefield, rather than the rather swish redesigns shown in BD.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you are being a sentimentalist, but realising Warp's 20 years old has made me all melancholy for the sudden, tragic death of any non-nostalgiac subculture in this country (especially here up north). Arguably a deliberate political project - via the housing market, regeneration, student fees etc. etc. etc. but fuckin' hell - where's the life in nightlife gone?

Still got a soft spot for Warp's proggier, jazzier faze though - Squarepusher, Leila, Jimi Tenor - not that I'd listen to anything they've done in the past decade!

12:44 am  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Leila was great, but on Rephlex as I recall - the other two hmmmm (except a few great singles in case of 'Pusher).

There was plenty of life at Warp 20, but it seemed the end of something or even perilously close to a Don't look Back thing rather than a sign of continued non-nostalgic subculture...

1:03 pm  
Blogger Lang Rabbie said...

Coates' former NCPM consisted of four (no longer quite so shiny) blobs and was in use as the Students Union rather than University offices the last time I looked.

2:34 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

The last time I looked they were two interconnected blobs of two. Also, there were certainly offices in there when I tried to use their toilet a couple of months ago.

3:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... parody as a sign of decline?

5:01 pm  
Blogger nothingshortoftotalwar said...

your piece in the NS was well on the money. you got any sheffield connections?

you did miss out on the "edgier" warehouse party on the friday, secret location etc, but to be fair most other people seemed to have missed it too.

re: national disaster for pop music
it's actually built to look like 4 massive curling stones. back in the day, the funnels on the top rotated.
it became hallam's student union building when the nelson mandela got demolished. there's a bar, the union shop and offices downstairs, club nights and, once in a blue moon, gigs upstairs in each of the four "pod"s.

re: jimi tenor. fun live, i'd never choose to listen to one of his records though.

re: sheffield. there's actually much more exciting stuff going on in sheffield with bands with guitars at the moment. unbelievble really in the wake of t'monkeys.

all those clone bands were given short shrift by anyone who knows anything around here. i'm pleased to be able to announce embarrisons, milturd and little brown shite are all dead. vive le revolution.

if you want to hear what's going on in sheff now, check these idiots out..

i'd particularly recommend 'youth map'. and 'telemark'. and 'i spy dry fear'. actually, just listen to it all.

12:09 pm  
Blogger Charles Holland said...

That Will Self thing is pretty hopeless isn't it? Very scattergun, ill informed and pig ignorant when it comes to Loos who emphatically didn't coin the phrase Form Follows Function.

5:37 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

...well, I thought it was uncharacteristically alright until it got to Loos, at which point it was obvious they should have asked someone who knew something about architecture.

5:49 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

As Friedrich Hundertwasser said, "ornament is crime"!

(Game: match the famous quotation with the least appropriate attribution)

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