7:30pm, Thu 12 Mar 2009
I love my big beats, I do – but not enough to have chased beat-oriented music during the heady days of house and jungle. I’m a band man, myself – going to see a bunch of peeps twiddling knobs for a couple of hours doesn’t really float my boat. But tonight Cate opted for the Basement Beats option (over, most likely, Orpheus), so down to the basement of Big Star we trotted, a few glasses of wine on the happy side.
Basement Beats was split into two halves; Supermarket opened with a full-on audio-visual set. They produced a decent bedrock of beats, but overused the supermarket-y samples that sat atop them, making the set feel overlong and repetitive. Their video backing included snippets which I assumed were supposed to be poignant, but which I found borderline racist; maybe others felt this, too, because there were uncomfortable moments in the breaks between tracks, with no applause or vocal support from the crowd of twenty who had squeezed into the Big Star basement.
After a short interval (and an impromptu – and impulsive – purchase of a Siouxsie & the Banshees best-of CD (finally I possess a copy of Peek-A-Boo, and scored an extended mix too)), it was back downstairs for DJ TR!P. Now, I’ve a massive affinity for chip tunes… my teens were spent listening to the best of 80s synth-pop, and comparing it to the tunes being pumped out of the SID chip in my beloved Commodore 64. Some of those tunes remain favourites even today; sure, anyone of the era will be able to rattle off Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway classics, but for me Steve Rowlands’ work is technically superior… dig up the Music Select 2 collection and tell me that the first piece doesn’t sound like it’s using six or seven channels, as opposed to the three it makes do with.
Ahem. Where was I?
Ah yes… chiptunes. Love ’em, I do. And so, when checking out a flyer for one of DJ TR!P’s other gigs, I was genuinely excited to see “8-bit” emblazoned across it; “classic game themes,” it promised! Awesome; this sounded right up my alley. And his set starts with some gloriously clipped crunchy noises; but they were punctuating rather morose underpinnings. But, about half-an-hour in, the big feisty chip tunes I was expecting kicked in – great multi-layered beats formed out of familiar 8-bit samples. This was exactly what I’d been waiting for! Unfortunately, after only two fabulous pieces, he appeared to revert to his original beat-over-melancholia mode, and we had to leave… it wasn’t shit, it’s just that we wanted to make sure we made it to the next show on-time.
So – would I see Supermarket again? Only incidentally. DJ TR!P, on the other hand, will be sought out to see if there’s any more 8-bit goodness to his set.