As has been pondered lately, here and elsewhere, the loftily titled Breakbeat Continuum is every bit as baffling and recombinantly bizarre and wonderful and horrible as ever. I think part of the reason very few US artists have made a serious mark in any of the UK-originated break styles is that by the time people here have heard it and given it a go they’re 6 months or a year behind the curve. Broken-Beat was over before we even really got a proper listen.
At any rate I’ve given some time to exploring what I can over the past week or so. I spent my time at the gym with The Roots of El-B. I ordered the CD from the UK because Burial rated him highly in interviews, and my listening is shaped by his comments. I can get lost contemplating the way El-B pushes the sequencer swing and makes it work. Anyone who’s made beats and tried going down that path knows you can go mad trying to achieve that perfect groove. El-B kills it, so much so that anyone else sounds fake by comparison. And Burial’s template is present in near-complete form in the El-B track “Buck N Bury”: [audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/El-BFeat.Juiceman-BuckNBury.mp3]
And then there’s Seiji, a member of Bugz In The Attic, who’s putting up free tracks and mixes on his blog. I rate “Raving A” very high — it’s got everything — Breakbeats, chunky Detroit Pianos, 303, even a guest appearance by the might Hoover bass. [audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/Seiji-RavingA.mp3]
At the other end of the spectrum… well, I’m always a little baffled by what constitutes a hit in the UK and the EU. On the one hand, they’ll go crazy for stuff that would be way too weird for American radio. On the other hand, they’ve never met a track too cheesy or disposable. This track (“Head Shoulders Knees And Toes”) is apparently big, and annoying as fuck. Nursery Rhyme Hook? Check! Cheap Baile Funk beat? Check! I can see how this could be fun — for about 30 seconds.