I’ll Be There was released in the heady heyday of jungle. It’s a tune driven by its blissful melody, silky breaks and an absolutely HUGE bassline. In a ‘connected’ world, this song is just one of hundreds of physical artifacts archived into the ever expanding database of our shared experience.
It’s a tune that encapsulates the euphoria of the rave, and the bittersweetness of hedonism. Dance music has always existed, at least in part, to serve as an escape from the demands of day to day. As we descend further into the depths of late stage capitalism, it’s hard not to feel the crushing weight of responsibility, or at least dread, permeating through all of our lives, and that feeling doesn’t leave in the club either. I feel like Baraka has unwittingly synthesised this feeling into five and a half minutes, with enough melancholy to keep you grounded, enough euphoria to give you escape. It brings enough to the table to be equally suited soundtracking a night out, or a last ditch attempt at revolution.
Light + Space starts with sparse intertwining drones and soundscapes which are soon overtaken by a solitary vocal. Eventually this is joined by cascading harmonies that fall away from each other in a haunting invitation that draws you deeper into the rabbit hole. This song feels like a walk through the first post-capitalist morning. It creeps out of the dawn and blooms into an uneasy sunrise. Melancholic soundscapes haunt the places in-between, the light catches on hidden corners in the twilight. Accelerationism has prevailed, capitalism has brought about its own demise, and the weight of possibility sits heavy on your shoulders as you wait amongst the infrastructure we created.
Industrious sound design meets the deafening weight of space. Blippy, nostalgic futurism dominate the percussive elements, whilst the vocals feel like a threnody that pulls back against the ceaseless march of breakbeats. Sirens blare over a cityscape wasteland. This song explores the stress and strain of urban desolation. It repurposes the functionality of progress into a driving lament. Touch Absence pushes forward until there is nowhere left to go. After everything collapses, there is a joyous coda of rebirth. An anarcho-primitivist anthem that explores the growth of a new world out of the rubble of the old.
Ever since reading Generation X by Douglas Coupland I’ve daydreamed about mental ground zero: ‘the location where one visualises oneself during the dropping of the atomic bomb’. What would it be like to watch that immense spectacle in the seconds before the end of existence?
Imagine the dystopian scene. A media blackout gives way to a pre recorded loop of Boris Johnson across every channel urging citizens to seek shelter. ‘Keep calm and carry on! Believe in a Greater Britain!’ For once the suits on the tube are the lucky ones. Above ground amid the chaos, some of us acquiesce to the futility of it all and break away to gather in the nearest open space. I’ve always thought there must be a certain sublimity as the sky glares white in the seconds before the heat wave. We fire up the soundsystem. What the fuck do I play as the soundtrack to our imminent demise? What one track will cut through the intensity as we wait to be turned to dust? I max out the volume and stick this on: ‘Grilling the Cheese’ by Cursor Miner – a relentless rave annihilator, fusing our little crowd together in a final timeless moment of apocalyptic euphoria. Boom.
‘I spend more money on security than I make’
Safe – Young Thug
‘I can feel it, the scream that haunts our logic’
FEEL. – Kendrick Lamar
‘One day we’ll be free at last’
Hold On – Popcaan
America offers rappers death with one hand, high life with the other. American radio stations lap up rap music, tapped directly from certain vulnerable communities. Embrace your street stereotype with enough finesse, with enough personal distinction, you can enter a new world of wealth. Get the balance wrong, you lose your cut of the world. You dance at the edge of oblivion.
Zoran’s first Deep Cuts submission is one of my favourites from the series, which is really saying something; I’m enormously proud and excited by the writing we’ve collected. This piece wasn’t just good though. It clarified the excitingness of so much of my favourite music right now, that particular quality of modern rap music, music made at the precipice of social upheaval, Trump-era party music.
One of my best friends hosted a reunion drinks last night, the first time he’s seen many of us in 2 years (he returned to Singapore after university). I was chatting to one friend about their job drawing up financial deals between companies, the kind that bring immediate profits and destabilise the economy in the long run (watch The Big Short, amazing film that explains this so well). I asked them if the office was toxically masculine, they said it was just toxic full stop, that they was trying to earn enough to get out and start a good life. They told me how confident they was that the next major global recession will come in the next year or so, I joked that they’d best practice self defence as, if the revolution comes, it’ll be coming for them. We laughed, but as it turns out they’re already taking classes. For now we drink and dance on London’s sun-baked tarmac.