Critical Beats Down 8: Smack My Pitch Up
The persistent progressive, and artistically regressive slowdown in the tempo of club music electronic dance music or whatever remains a mystery and the purpose of this dark excavation.Only a trip through the murky musical past can hope to reveal how and why beats became missing - and if there might have even been too many, sometimes, in the first place.When we last left Northern Italy in the early 1980s, Danielle Baldelli was in the process of shaking off the heavy syrupy shadow of late local imitations of the Philly sound and feeling his way into peerless genius.Go up the tape numbers in digits and you will be overwhelmed at points. Tempo sure is not the fucking point.Once you start to hit tape 20 or so it becomes clearer what is really going down.The venue where these alchemical artefacts originally played out is also incidental. It would have been beyond bliss to be there in the fog and neon - sweating flesh and speedball up and down with lashings of well made local LSD but in the end, it seems to me this is a very private performance.An individual intelligence speaking to himself, to his peers and all time. It is magical that he was able to create such a space and find such an audience, but in reality this is far from accessible art.The beats are baroque assemblage that cannot be predicted. Voices and genres meld in and out like bubbles and colours in a bath of hot lava.This is uncomfortable music.You could dance to it, in parts. Or have some kind of anonymous encounter with a stranger. Or perhaps become a profoundly embarrassed and embarrassing vomit comet, choking on the styrofoam cup you chewed through in the most whited out badder than bad trip possible - the too slow moan of a Bow Wow Wow B-side taking you over the edge like a drunk driver driven fucking minibus.Baldelli could not care less. He is engaged in acts of audio alchemy.Go further up the tape numbers and in places it gets faster. BPMs hit 140 in places, but it is a delicate touch. More and more levels of tribal bass blood percussion and chronically abused pitched up or beaten down new wave get in there.At points he may well be assisted by veteran sidemen like DJ Moz-Art or persons unknown. Yet this cannot diminish the depth of the achievement. Juggling a fat sack of vinyl, four tweaked HiFi oriented turntables, tape loops, pedals and crude early home computers connected up in a spaghetti vomit of wires while looking cool doing it was more a job for an octopus than a man. No matter how heavily it all was rehearsed.The last time hipster revisionists knocked on the door of this titanically under acclaimed multidimensional audio alchemist was when he offered a remix, hopefully for cash, of some Italian language exploitationist excrement laid by the career corpse of Roisin Murphy.Hopefully you do not remember, but she was the better looking half of TripHop bandwagoneeers cum Grandma "House" practitioners, Moloko. An over indulged solo emission called Scooby Poo or something seven years ago was rocketed out.Another attempt to pump pretension into service station comp level dance pop. And it is this tendency I suspect may have some fingerprints on the corpse of our missing beats.One recalls faux radical fashions and obvious juxtapositions of imagery - a surreal of the stupid. Oh my you are wandering round in club wear with a lighting rig attached - that means it's how you feel in that context? It's 6am at a greasy spoon - you are encased in an oversized jumper surrounded by microphones. That must be because your ears are ringing from Kylie Club Mixes and you are numbed from the mundane.Cost a packet. Did not hit hard enough for the dying majors.Even Interscope Labs Developed Lady Gaga has now realised slightly overestimating the intelligence of the mob is a money loser. It gets even worse if you press pause to get the time to pop out two new souls for the Mother Church (an odd allegiance for anyone leaning on a Gay fan base). You really should not try to make people try to raise up to and feel what you are offering if you want the coin to keep rolling in.So just like Seal and so many others Rasheen decided to take cover under an alien tongue.And thus did the forerunner of FACT magazine decide to give Danielle another shine in their small spotlight. Clearly unprepared for his literal level of participation, he hit them up with his top 50 "Cosmic" records.I have just listened to them all, in order.They reveal not only what a peerless craftsman he is, but what a singular strange scene this sound comes out of. It is like the legacy of the Easter Island Moa - totally disconnected from the flow of influence and inference you would expect.A lot of these records are utterly awful in the raw. Not just the fusion piss stain of Passport.Proggy moggies who got a hold of a DMX. Yes men who succumbed to tromboning by Trevor Horn. The New Age inflected fringe of Krautrock - not Rother but Klaus Shultze on a bored and bombed out day with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown hanging around. Sure there are some Names there. Depeche Mode. King Sunny Ade. Liaisons Dangerouses. Fela. Chris and Cosey. More.Yet one is struck by all the artists not present.He really painted with such passion that the individual pigments cannot hope to divulge or even reflect a part of the whole.At times in the 90s and Naughties, the Dons of "IDM" - Mills, Hawtin, Clarke, Surgeon and more were similar. Not that their components were as pale to my differently tuned ears - I am not from Danielle's time and as a result the drum machine experiments of Jan Ackerman sound less impactful - but that the parts are just colours, no matter how fast. And this is a hard art. You need to rise up to it. It also relies on the sacred concept of 'right time, right place, right people'.Lasting longer than Cosmic but casting a deeper shadow into our own age was another Lake Garda legend - Typhoon. A storm with a man called Beppe Loda at its centre.