Thursday, January 18, 2007


Hunger tracks the tiniest shifts in the perception, emotion, and outlook of its protagonist as he sits, stews, and starves out his days while "nothing" happens. Each one of these seemingly inconsequential turns becomes crucial and central, the narrative's building blocks, the art work's fundamental units. Knut Hamsun's approach is heartening: shamelessly, relentlessly subjective, a grand experiment, a supreme demonstration of faith in his process. Yet his strategy is nothing if not meticulously structured, documentary, conceivably objective: beautifully simple, transcribing the mind's various turns and twists chronologically, deadpan--with incisive, urgent prose to be sure--and simply choosing where to jump time, which events to place in what order.

Also completely heartening to see that such a frantic, fretting mess of a mind is--if not necessarily normal--at least perfectly, authentically human.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

get mashup

Bizzy B and Equinox embody jungle-as-jungle's renaissance post-2000, tracks swirling with amens and other once-innocent recordings, snipped and stitched until they gleam and dance schizophrenically. Both are willing acolytes of the darkside classes of '93 and '96, and they do indeed bring those sounds into the future, but their single-minded focus can wound their relevance as much as it enables them to explore new extremes of the same territory. Their jungle cannot ever sound like the future, today's future as opposed to the last decade's phuture; it's all roots.

In contrast: ASC tracks such as "Distress Signal", "Lightsphere", and "Drum Track 3 (Heatsink)" and most of Sileni's discography. Jungle isn't just an era; it's a template, an outlook, a creative philosophy. Much like Photek sharpened his drums into textural (textual) slivers and Boymerang mutated his amen so thoroughly it was named "Boymerang" in his honor, ASC--at his most profound--employs and re-employs his own custom-built breakbeats. This is not unique, but ASC is inimitable: his sounds can't be missed; they're his signatures and symbols. The way he wields them is cut & paste--powered by jungle's recombinant heart. His productivity is theoretically endless: the possible recombinations are infinite, an infinity that multiplies each time his "purer" creativity leads him to fabricate a new sound, texture, breakbeat. This way of working seems ideal, and the element of newness is key.

Sileni manufactures all of his own sounds (except, of course, when he's sampling amen). And his music seems inspired and informed by jungle, but it doesn't feel especially like jungle. Instead, tracks like "Twitchy Droid Leg", "Failspan", and "Pressing Buttons" come across as alien, fully resistant to deconstruction thanks to their author's consummate weirdness. The form is recognizably jungle to varying degrees, but the sensibility trumps all. If ASC is a thoroughly contemporary jungle soldier, Sileni explores the zones in the jungle's outer dimensions, stretching the definition of the medium. In a sense it's music-as-music, distinguished by constructing an entirely new language rather than simply deploying a new vocabulary. (Given a certain degree of talent, neither is clearly preferable to the other; the question is how important it is that the artist transcends style and genre.)