“A Night At The Knitting Factory” w/ D-Styles Sextet and Ned Hoddings. Special Screening at CSG 2011!
A special screening of seminal concert movie “A Night at the Knitting Factory”, featuring the D-Styles Sextet and Ned Hoddings.
Friday, Aprill 22nd, 8.00pm, 126 Gallery, Queen Street, Galway, Eire.
words by deviant
I did attempt to write a standard PR piece for this, I really did. I failed miserably. What follows is a haphazard trek through my thoughts….
To say “A Night at the Knitting Factory” changed lives is not an overstatement. I’d say we watched that DVD every day for a year. It heightened my enthusiasm ten-fold for an artform I had grown to love, that I had largely immersed myself in for the five years previous. The arrival of that DVD in our hands is responsible for much that has happened in the little skratch pocket that continues to bubble away in the west of Ireland. So bigs up to our old friend Savage, for twas in his living room we first set eyes on the D-Styles Sextet.
For those that don’t know, the main performance is a re-imagining of tracks from D-Styles’ LP “Phantazmagorea”, itself a major landmark in the evolution of skratch music. A real eureka moment for me and many others, the album declared that finally someone had done it, i.e. fulfilled the potential of record manipulation.
DJ Disk had threatened to get there a few years previous with his “Ancient Termites” LP, and Faust, Craze and Shortee made some bold steps in that direction, all releasing on seminal San Francisco-based record label Bomb Hip-Hop. As good as these records were (and I still think “Ancient Termites” and “Man Or Myth” were massive achievements and pointed the way to this juncture), they were still lacking musical maturity, held back by the relatively primitive means of production and the new compositional terrain which they were attempting to traverse. Kid Koala was on that skratch music flex too and indeed had garnered a significant amount of mainstream acceptance for his efforts. I think though that the feeling among hardcore skratch heads (or nerds, however you choose to see it…) was that Koala’s output wasn’t necessarily from the skratch scene, it was outsider shit by a guy whose mastery of the turntable arguably wasn’t up to the standards set by those on the battle scene at the time and above all, it didn’t appear to come from the hip-hop aesthetic, more pipe and slippers than 40s and blunts.
Of course Q-Bert had released Wave Twisters in 1998, hailed then, and now, as a history making album. It can’t compare however, with the musical nous displayed in “Phantazmagorea”, and tho deserving of its place in the pantheon of “classic” skratch LPs (there’s not that many really) it never goes beyond the sum of its parts, remaining firmly within the “turntablism” sphere, of little note outside of these confines. The LP is also meant as an accompaniment to the animated film of the same name, only released 3 years later. It did go on to greater success and exposure as an accompaniment to the movie, receiving much critical praise while touring the film festival circuit. It also marked the beginning of the hyper commercialisation of Q-Bert the brand. Which I could have done without to be honest.
Ok, I’m meandering…..anyway….
For all it’s experimentation, “Phantazmagorea” has hip-hop at its core, rooted in the Bay Area drum machine funk and sleaze of Too $hort and the otherworldliness of Ultramagnetic. It’s deviations from the script remain largely within the scope of the culture hip-hop had come to encompass, it’s as braggadocious as any E-40 joint, it’s drums knock as hard as any Paul C shit. It’s tight as hell, technically refined, not a sloppy cut or wasteful bar to be heard. Personality oozes from the songs, that of the fringe character, the weirdo porn enthusiast, the serial killer obsessive with a muted swagger, as indicated on the “Pharoahs Of Funk” skratch collaboration with DJ Flare in 2000.
It is in this respect that the performance is perhaps most notable. Though far from a faithful re-rendering of the LP, the D-Styles sextet, more commonly known as the World Famous Beat Junkies, truly realised a fucked up, dissonant, near-mess of sound, a cacophonous uproar of boom-bap sensibilities and b-movie zombie soundtracks, booming kicks and snares, samples torn from their context and abused for all to see. This was the epitome of their output, towering above even their legendary battle sets in its accomplishment. It could even be regarded as the definitive full-stop on the progress made since the Invisibl Skratch Picklz laid down the crude “DJ band” template over a decade before and elaborated on in compositions such as “Vs The Klamz Uv Deth” and “Invazion of the Octopus people”.
Ned Hoddings, on the other hand, brought the new shit, ultra stripped back experimental hip-hop compositions and freestyle skratch freakout interludes. Such was their musical maturity and confidence, the solos kept to a minimum, the music allowed to speak for itself and given room to breathe, free of the hectic mess pervading so many other attempts at musical skratching. This was the flowering of four hyped hyped young skratch musicians and the moment when Ricci Rucker, Toadstyle, Excess and Mike Boo announced themselves to the world.
In an hour both groups had obliterated all around them. Instantly the dick-measuring contest masquerading as a battle scene (which had previously seemed to underpin the whole movement) became irrelevant, and creation of music by means of turntable manipulation was now the ultimate goal.
(I had another 5 paragraphs of shit written here. We were well into rant territory so I deleted it.)
Bottom line is, this is the shit that really made me wanna do it. I know others feel the same.
Come watch it with us. It may be emotional.
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