Thursday, 29 March 2012

Curley RiP

Born in Leidschendam Holland 16 April 1973 Curley Schoop spent his childhood years in Curacao (Netherlands Antilles). After moving back to Holland with the family in his teenage years his love for music came into true fruition. At the age of sixteen he released his first record on the DJAX label (D.I.C.E. - rubba dice stylin).

In 1994 he was to travel to Berlin with R.A.F. who were his friends Joep, Katja, and Chiel as well as with his friends Sazz and Ratski where they played on a party of Acid Orange.

By now the entire Spiral Circus had descended on invitation to stay at the 'Blauwe Aanslag' squat in Den Haag, Holland. This is where the infamous Acid Planet parties from Jan, Unit Moebius, Siuli and Guy where happening and where Sebastian (69db) and Simon (Crystal Distortion) from Spiral Tribe together with Unit Moebius were beginning to inspire a whole generation. These happenings were to change everything for Curley as they did for so many from this period.

After returning to Holland the 'Hardcore Peace Generation' was formed. Holland was by now in full party flow, parties and sound systems were springing up all over the place. Curley moved to Den Haag from the south to be in the midst of it all. Time was filled squatting and organizing parties and tekno cafĂ©’s big and small all over the place. It was in this period Curley was making music together with Jan, Sebastian and Simon. Together a sound was made: that sound would become legendary: 'the Spiral Sound'.

It was somewhere around this time Curley met Barbara who he was to be with for the rest of his life. Holland had much to offer for a young inspiring musician and DJ with its full flow party mayhem from the likes of his friends from Cyb-X and Mononom Soundsytems for whom he would play his legendary mental mix of acid, hardcore and tekno many times.

In 1995 he made the move to London. Barbara was English and Curley was always up for new adventures. Although a far cry from what he knew from the free party scene in Europe Curley would flourish in the diversity of the music in London. New influences were creeping into his Dj sets, breakbeats, drum and bass, the London style. I don't think there are too many recordings from his DJ sets from these times, in fact I don't think you could capture it on a tape, you just had to be there, those that were there know exactly what I am talking about, some things you just can’t capture in a recording.
Curley had the utter ability to ignite a dead party, to whip up a dance floor into free flow mayhem. He never looked the part, a black guy in a predominately white hardcore scene in a funny hat and flared trousers, but he was still somehow the coolest geezer in the building, everybody wanted to talk to him, everybody wanted him on the decks, to hang out with him. Probably some of his finest moments DJ'ing was in those warehouses in London, there he would create his voodoo magic on the wheels of steel.

A lot of people who had not been out to Europe could not understand what he was playing but they loved it. It was a combination of the Spiral sound, the Dutch sound and the London sound all mixed in and mashed up, it was truly unique.
It was in London he would meet Ben and Brett from the Fear Teachers: he would play a lot at their parties together with the Mainline Soundsystem. The Fear Teachers and the surrounding people would be a big influence on Curley. They had been to Europe, they did know what was going on but they had their own sound, their influences were also from electro and more distorted and messed up beats. Curley thrived of these new ways and sounds; he would revel in the London ways of music. Drum and bass were to seriously influence his DJ sets where he would play out together with his friend Beven (Dj Terroreyes) with their three deck mash ups. At this time he releases on Ben and Brett’s Audio Illusion label and made his other classic releases on the Club Craft, Utmostfear and Crowd Control labels.

In 1997, Curley now just twenty four years of age was a proud father happily in love and with his music seriously taking off. By now his DJ gigs were constant, playing out in London and back home in Holland as well as Italy, Germany and France; his records were also now starting to come out in a steady stream. After always releasing on other peoples labels and as he was always wanting to push forwards he decided together with Barbara to start their own label Kibra Hacha. The first release on this label was to be his final one in his lifetime.

After spending Christmas together in London with his new family, Curley & Barbara set off to drive to a big party in Rome Italy for the New Year of 1998. This was to be Curley's final set. In the early hours of the third of January whilst still out in Rome Italy Curley died suddenly in bed of a heart condition he never knew he had. It shocked us all and sent tremors throughout the party scene in Europe. Many tributes were made and several huge memorial parties were made in his honor, in Holland, England and Italy. One of the finest had been taken away in the prime of his life with everything to live for.

Some stars light up the night sky brighter than others, they give off more energy, sometimes those stars will burn out quicker because of this, but those are the stars you remember. In the end it's not how many years you have lived that are important but what you did in those years and Curley lived every minute of his life to the full. I think the following written by his friend Brett after Curley's death says it all:

"Within our creative dance culture there are few people with the active energy and dedicated commitment necessary to keep the scene fresh, vibrant and at the cutting edge. Curley possessed all these powers and spread them like a virus, infecting all who crossed his path with a positive feeling and uniting us all in confidence for the future" (Brett Youngs R.I.P)

[Huge Thanks to Skurge for writing this very difficult lovely words]

Thursday, 15 March 2012

"Truth" about young people and drugs revealed in Guardian survey

A fifth of young drug users admit to taking "mystery white powders" without any idea what they contain, according to an international Guardian survey that reveals the extent of reckless behaviour among a new generation of high-risk drug takers.

The poll of 15,500 people by the Guardian and Mixmag magazine also found that more respondents in the UK and US admitted taking cannabis than either tobacco or energy drinks. Those who defined themselves as clubbers were more likely to take ecstasy than smoke cigarettes.

The headline findings from what is one of the largest ever surveys of drug use raised alarm among health experts, who pointed out that even those who think they knew what they were taking could be consuming another drug entirely.

John Ramsey, toxicologist at St George's medical school in London, said: "It is amazing that so many people take mystery white powders. The truth is nobody knows what the risks are and it is patently dangerous to take untested drugs."

The survey found 15% of respondents say they have taken a unknown white powder in the past 12 months, a third admitting it was supplied by someone they didn't trust.

But younger drug users were much more likely to take risks with unknown substances, with a fifth of all respondents aged between 18 and 25 saying they had taken mystery powders. Respondents who spoke to the Guardian were confident that they could balance drug taking with their careers and relationships, and regarded the side effects of drug use as often no worse than a hangover.

One respondent, James, a financial broker, told the Guardian: "My daily life is sensible, regimented and very stressful, so at the weekend I want the opposite. When I go out, the last thing I want is to think about work and responsibilities. I just want to lose myself for a few hours."

The survey also reveals:

• There are signs of an emerging "grey market" in legally prescribed painkillers and antidepressants, often acquired from friends, dealers or through the internet.

• Mephedrone, which gained media notoriety and was banned by the British government in 2010, is falling out of favour, with reports of more harmful side effects compared with other substances.

• Survey respondents caught in possession of small amounts of illegal drugs are unlikely to be punished heavily by the law, and stand a high chance of being let off.

• Alcohol is used regularly by almost all drug users, and, apart from tobacco, is the substance respondents would most like to take less of. Two-thirds of male respondents and 60% of women reported drinking at hazardous or harmful levels – though a fifth of regarded their drinking as average or below average levels.

Some 7,700 UK drug users and 4,000 from the US and Canada took part in the detailed survey, carried out online in November. Respondents were asked a range of questions including what drugs they took, how often, and what the health and legal consequences were. It was conducted by the independent drug use data exchange Global Drug Survey, in association with the Guardian and Mixmag, the clubbing magazine and website.

One of the strongest underlying messages is that this group of drug users report as happy, healthy and educated, and feel at ease with their recreational consumption of a range of illicit substances from cannabis to ecstasy to cocaine. They are not in rehab, prison or in trouble with the law and do not take heroin or crack.

The mean age of UK respondents was 28. Nine out of 10 were white, three-quarters were in work and earning between £10,000 and £40,000. Some 55% were educated to degree level or above.

Dr Adam Winstock, a consultant addictions psychiatrist and director of Global Drug Survey, said: "This is the largest assessment of current drug use ever conducted. What is overwhelmingly tells us is that people are not defined by their drug use, but that the harms that drugs can have are defined by the way people choose to use them.

"The challenge for government and policy makers will be how to regulate and craft a public health response which remains credible and respects individual choice."

The drugs most likely to be used by respondents were overwhelmingly alcohol and tobacco, with 92% of respondents saying they had drunk alcohol in the last month, 53% had taken cannabis, 34%, MDMA and 22% cocaine.

One in 10 respondents said they had been stopped and searched for drugs in the past 12 months. Of those found with cannabis, just under half were let off. Over a third of those caught with MDMA were let off.

Niamh Eastwood, chief executive of the drugs charity Release, said the findings suggested the police might be reluctant to criminalise this demographic group for carrying drugs.

"If you sent the same survey to different groups – young black males in inner city areas, say – it would tell a different story. The survey probably does represent the experience of middle class people who use drugs."

David Nutt, the former government drugs adviser sacked for suggesting LSD and ecstasy were less dangerous than alcohol, said he was not surprised by the survey findings about the extent of drinking and the concerns people had about it. "That's what I expected. People understand. The message is out there and people know alcohol is the biggest problem. It confirms what the evidence has been saying."

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Critical Beats #4

Might sludge along to this-

Critical Beats #4: Sound Systems

From 19/04/12 to 19/04/12
Location: London Stratford Circus, United Kingdom
Special Events

The series of symposiums on electronic dance music and club culture, co-hosted by The Wire and the University of East London, continues with a panel discussion on the culture of sound systems. With Julian Henriques (author of Sonic Bodies: Reggae Soundsystems, Performance Techniques And Ways Of Knowing), Colleen Murphy (Lucky Cloud Sound System) and others tbc. London Stratford Circus, 19 April, 7:30pm, £4/£2.

Whose hardcore continuum?

Over the last ten years, the music journalist Simon Reynolds has developed the concept of the hardcore continuum ('nuum' for short) to describe a scene which began with rave and progressed through various styles including drum n bass, jungle and 'ardkore through to dubstep and grime, then to 2step to funky in the present day. He draws out connections between genres in terms of labels, dubplates producers, pirate radio stations and places. But he's missing out as much as he leaves in.

I'm more concerned with underground music than following fads, and despite dabbling in therory, Reynolds seems to ignore the fact that capitalism consistently recuperates any challenges to its hegemony. Thus labels and people sell out, pirate radio stations become mainstream to develop an audience, free parties become recommodified as commercial festivals like Lowlands or Glade or Bangface. Just because pirate stations like Rinse used to play drum n bass and now play garage, or certain artists have developed in the same direction, doesn't mean that garage is in any way hardcore.

Whilst I like some of the ideas behind the nuum I'm not sure how relevant it is to me, since I'm more interested in dark fucked up sounds and sonic experimentation (the real progression of hardcore, surely). The last time the nuum got me going was dubstep and I don't think there's anything hardcore about funky.

To be fair, Reynolds did say in 2009:

It's even not the only dance continuum I'm interested in as a listener or as a writer, for instance I've written a lot about another music called hardcore, the gabba tradition, European four to the floor kick drum pounding terror techno, I'm a big fan and defender of that

... but then he hasn't mentioned it much lately. At a 'Critical Beats' talk in 2012, he even seemed rather dismissive of gabba, possibly because he has lost touch with its offshoots through living in New York and listening to shit like Burial.

Yet as we all know, one offshoot of rave, the faster hectic strand hardened into gabba which then itself influenced many forms, such as happy hardcore, french tekno, speedcore and breakcore. Various subgenres have splintered off and sometimes form into valid scenes themselves eg flashcore.

Where does that leave us now? Well, we are in the future. You tell me. Having gone through explosion then death, whatever breakcore now means nowadays still throws up a shitload of good stuff, since experimentation and sonic deviance is explicitly welcomed by its broad parameters. Wrong Music pioneered a return to weirdness and now bassline (Kanji Kinetic, Figure, Warlock) is getting people raving on the dancefloor again.

Personally, what I'm hoping for would be just as dubstep bass infected dnb basslines, we'll end up with a fast return to the darkside, with massive basslines anchored on 220 bpm beats.

At the Critical Beats talk the heroes seemed to be Zomby and Burial. I'd prefer to sit down and talk about Venetian Snares, Enduser, Shitmat, La Peste, No Name and Mouse. Vsnares is on mu-ziq records, Enduser is on the consistently interesting AdNoiseam (among other labels) but these names didn't get mentioned once.

That's a bit weird, since these people really are maintaining some sort of hardcore continuum (although that name's taken already). For example, VSnares frequently drops in references to allsorts of stuff in his tunes (commercial drum n bass in 'Fuck Toronto Jungle' and 'A Lot of Drugs',' punk in 'Abomination Street', rave in 'Husikam Rave Dojo' and 'Calvin Kleining', gabba all through the Winnipeg album and so on).

Reynolds is correct to identify how a scene develops in reflexively self-referential style, which can be almost impenetrable to outsiders who don't know the heritage of the scene. But he is wrong to track continua as they mainstream and become commercialised. It's personal choice I suppose, but surely it's much more interesting to stay underground.

Flint Michigan wrote in the initial manifesto for Datacide magazine that it was:

A communication tool of the trans-european Undo*round, it is intended to give the a deserved coverage to those who do things, not for the kudos, prestige and cash it might bring in but for the buzz of inter-activity and mutual respect

There is an underground quietly bubbling away, partying at the weekend, communicating through zines like this one, creating music of all sorts with a seriously anti-capitalist and anti-commercial attitude. That's what gives me hope and what I see as the real hardcore continuum.