Agit Disco 8 by Howard Slater
1. Royal Family and The Poor: Art on 45 (1982)
2. Underground Resistance: Message to the Majors (early 90s)
Speaks for itself really. UR were the proof against techno detractors saying there was no politics (i.e. didactic message) in electronics and, as a result, that a subversive counter culture could grow from the popular front that was the rave scene. This bunch wore balaclavas and came from Detroit. Faceless techno bollocks. Ran a fiercely independent label as did Praxis, PCP, Bunker etc.
3.Duke Ellington: Money Jungle (1962)
The suave Ellington met Nixon in the late 60s. Once a cause for complete ostracisation and a closing down of the ears. Here backed by Mingus and Roach, Ellington gets more angry than usual, more violent with the keys. Probably inspired by Mingus encapsulating an unspoken frustration on the bass and Roach patting out a turbulent sea of cymbals. Unworded internal antagonisms in the camp?
4.Mattin: Attitude Fetishist (2007)
When expression seems to contribute to the lie of society we either censor ourselves, try to become egoless (in a non-mystic way) or fuck with our expressivity so much that anger becomes consciously two-way. You berate the other and you berate your internal fascist (narcissist) at the same time, you get to the point where meaning might as well be obfuscated and expression might as well abandon its old crutches. Pissed out of your head and dancing to Shalamar with the proletarians of noise.
5. Drexciya: Living on The Edge (1994)
Anonymous Detroiters who kept the continuity with electro before rap posturing took us to the charts in a limo. It later transpired that one of them – James Stinson – was a long distance lorry driver. Good form for most aspiring cred seekers. Something in Drexciya’s live mix downs from this period makes their tracks ultra vivid, sharp and subtly pissed off. Often, sardonic vocals, as on this track, lived the
ridge between despair and jubilation. Road blocks on the freeway.
6. Glen Brown: Version 78 Style (1978)
Well, not many words in this one either but the aggressive bounce of the bass and the insistence of its drive towards some non-resolution takes us away from songs and birds and towards a sound plane unfolding into a moebius infinity. Sweet endurance pinioned by the incursion of feedback. Utilising the steppers rhythm the militancy is as much in its taunting of bald-headed rock and rollers as it is in the surety that London Bridge is always falling down.
7. Petit Mal: Crisis II (2008)
Difficult fun from a chanteuse and keyboards duo who’ve been singing about a crisis in the credit system for a while now. Assignats flutter down from the ceiling and shower the dancers who don’t break off from their lithe spotlight movements and go to the bank but start to make a little bonfire from the worthless pieces of shit that may well have been exchangeable for money in the old days. Coinage tutelage.
8. Ghedalia Tazartes: Rien qu’au soleil (1979)
Self-taught amateur singer who learnt solo in the Bois de Boulonge, Tazartes commits the inspiring error of using drum machines and weird pop-like loops so as to insulate him from being crowned with avant-garde laurels and conservatory prizes. So unashamed of repetition, albeit in small doses, he lets cathedral bells jam with birds and children, while he crumbles cathedrals and turns the gun barrels back. Justifiable histrionics leave the stage and get a bottle of lager with the rest of us. Guttural Cultural.
9. Loefah: Disco Wrecker (2006)
Something about the end of entertainment springs to mind with this track but also that ever continuing underground lambasting of spoon-fed leisure. Dubstep had the capacity to go to war with indie rock fashionista music and on this track the sub bass tries to excavate an escape route from such middle brow blow hole corporate culture. It’s interesting that Loefah, like DMZ, has not made an album; they’re still strictly cutting vinyl for the decks.
10. Nocturnal Emissions: Fat Slimy Parasites (1980-1984)
Like Miles Davis going electric, using dance rhythms and parapolitics in the slipstream of punk purism, was a dangerous and audience depleting gesture. But such early industrial music as this brought on the awkward future as much as did Cluster and Kraftwerk. That grit in the system, the dirty timbre, has always been an emotive propulsion, a plug into an aggressive drive, into an unprepared-for lapse. The title doesn’t need any more fleshing out. Jump you fuckers.
11. Madonna: Music (2000)
No agit disco would be complete without us having to find something amidst the crap to cathect in some way. Here the line that mentions ‘bourgeoisie’ is enough to elevate this track into the realms of Scritti Politti crucial: utter perversion of having Apollo mission type production values with something in the lyric that undermines them, a pinprick of seeming subversion that then dissipates as you just get on with enjoying dancing with your mum and sister in the front room as if ‘bourgeoisie’ doesn’t mean anything anyway.
12. Marzette Watts: Backdrop for Urban Revolution (1966)
Like with novelist Sol Yurrick’s The Bag the idea that an urban revolution could take place in NYC now seems like the work of science fiction that the literati once categorically castrated it by. Listening to this you get the feeling that for Marzette Watts et al the urban revolution wouldn’t end in redevelopment but in some kind of outbreak of social idiosyncrasy, a ‘process of singularisation’ that is impossible without each accompanying each in an ensemble. Free jazz won’t always empty the disco. Tabula Rasa (with roots).
13. Electronome: No Landscape (1994)
Another anonymous electrohead who could have hailed from anywhere between Rome and The Hague. Memories of dropping this upstairs at the 121 Centre meant we weren’t quite dead by dawn but enlivened, agitated, wired, akimbo, ready to face blue monday dolour day. Some switched on reverse-effect ECT. 1984 in 1994 in 2008.
14. King Tubby/Jacob Miller: Frenemy Dub (early 70s)
Art can’t touch this beauty. Never call this art.
15. After Party Track