Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ssgs re-presents: Carsten Jost and Lawrence, Betalounge, 2002

Ten years. It seems extraordinary to me that it’s a decade this year since I first heard this set. I even remember where I was: I was in Cybac, an internet cafe – remember internet cafes? – in Shibuya, which was in that building opposite Tokyu Hands that stands near the corner of Inokashira Dori, that has the shop selling cheapo hip-hop clothes. In that building or maybe one next to it that’s been demolished. Somehow everything in Tokyo feels like it’s been demolished or I seem to recall I was there and it was scheduled for demolition, then I go back there and it’s still thronging and kicking. Nakano Sun Mall. I loved the set so much I stayed online from start to finish, long, long after I'd emailed everyone...

Ten years. There are mixes that sit with you, that stay with you. For me this is one of the few best, and its importance is threefold. The first is obvious and biographical: this was a set that stitched Cam and I together, Cam the co-founding ssg who went somewhere, who is presumably in London. Then I discovered how much Chris loved it, too. We’ve told one side of the story of ssgs elsewhere. I can’t say that this mix enabled ssgs in the way other contingent encounters and shared passions did, but if there is one set that perfectly captures the spirit of that time and the spirit of the music we all loved, this is it. And this connects to the second thing, which is that this mix captured a moment in time for Carsten Jost and Lawrence. But maybe they didn’t quite realise it? I don't know... There is so much fluid energy here, so much promise, and the mix just totally brims with all these wonderful selections, which get worked out in the interplay. We know what happened, and some of you will know my mixed feelings about that (I think it's still worth reading what I wrote about it in 2008 [in that my assessment was correct], the recent piece is just an angry afterthought to dead loss), but right here, with this, they hit it, they did something incredible and unrepeatable. To the third point: I don’t think this mix is just significant for Chris and I and Cam and David and Peter. I want to say that, fundamentally, this mix might be important. This is one set of connected moments where minimal – which was really what was *actually* interesting in European electronic music of the last decade – really found itself. All artistic expression involves finding a way of ‘speaking’; there’s a whole language here. And it still speaks, to me at least. But is kind of an abandoned language now. Why did the people involved stop speaking in this way? I understand that it got boring and bad or whatever, but I think it’s odd and a shame that one might find comfort in derivative decontextualised ‘deep’ house (3D), when really, what you have here with this set was and is an audacious and genuinely European form of new electronic music, one that contained and expressed all these directions and possibilities, one that had a unique energy, colour and bittersweetness. That's the thing, why it's important. It's not just a generic sound or fashion they downloaded. They developed their own syntax and vocabulary and tone - more than anything, tone - and they spoke well and spoke in their own voices. All this has been abandoned...? I don't know, I wonder... ...I make it available to you in the hope that, maybe, you can start speaking with it again? Or just listen...

Ten years. Fuck. We had posted this mix once before, but with a megaupload link. So many dead links. Another piece of collateral damage from the decade whose signature is collateral damage. When I think back... so much has been defaced and vandalised in the world since then. Other things have grown and developed in interesting ways. Here it is then: ten years. Not for nostalgia, but - I hope, I trust - with the right kind of reverence (the kind that has no reverends): my absolute respect to the time, place, memory and significance of this set, which still hits you right where it hurts.

Carsten Jost + Lawrence, live @ the Betalounge, October 5, 2002


  1. Thanks - it's good to be pointed at this again, it's been too long. Those old Dial records, still so good.

  2. If you try to walk forwards while looking over your shoulder you'll bang your head and end up complaining even more about the present.

    Your passion is wasted if it comes out coloured with regret. Chin up, positive face on. You can not hope to build a better future from bits of memories.

  3. @ rhythm method:

    on the contrary, all we have to build the future from is bits of memories, and creativity. The latter can bring genuinely unimagined things into the world, but rarely out of nothing.

    Memory is the *only* thing that prevents bare repetition.

    “Consider the cattle, grazing as they pass you by. They do not know what is meant by yesterday or today, they leap about, eat, rest, digest, leap about again, and so from morn till night and from day to day, fettered to the moment and its pleasure or displeasure, and thus neither melancholy nor bored.

    [...] A human being may well ask an animal: 'Why do you not speak to me of your happiness but only stand and gaze at me?' The animal would like to answer, and say, 'The reason is I always forget what I was going to say' - but then he forgot this answer too, and stayed silent.”

    - Nietzsche, Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life

  4. @pc

    You're right. This is what I was trying to say:

    One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn' t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. Lucille Ball

  5. @ the rhythm method:

    Adorno in California, drinking orange juice, poolside...

    ...I'm wary of optimism... is it opt-in-ism?

    break frame though: I think there are genuine *new* opportunities here, with this set, in 2012. It's worth listening to now, again, or for the first time.

  6. this is a first listen for me...really timeless sounds. i think its very difficult for a set to transcend styles/genres and do it without being contrived/corny. really enjoying this so far, thanks.

  7. @PC

    Indeed it is worth listening to.

    My head was elsewhere in 2002 and so the recommendation is very welcome.

    Funnily enough I'm going to dance to Charles Webster next week. Principally because he made an album called Presence - All Systems Gone in 2000 and it was such an important album for me, then, that I'm going to listen to him, now.

    In respect of optimism I'm with Twyla, not least because my optimism has become stronger the older I've got.

    Optimism with some experience behind it is much more energizing than plain old experience with a certain degree of cynicism.
    Twyla Tharp

    Enjoy poolside, it's drizzling in the UK has been all day and it feels like its been raining for weeks.

  8. It has been raining for fucking week's mate.

    Anyway, I remember going down to get The Night Will Last Forever from Smallfish records.

  9. Regarding important mixes I want to recommend Dimbiman & Pantytec - Live @ Betalounge (22-05-2000). Such an amazing set full of timeless music.

  10. still listen to this mix at least once every month. more than never it is pure inspiration these days. i believe we are reaching a severe point of stagnation and eventually early 2000s will make a comeback. that's no rocket science though. fair to say, they still are my biggest anchor in todays house. you should try listening to a few of the dial/laid night streamings available at awdio. yes, everyone should do that.

  11. as for Betalounge, there's also the Jan Jelinek one from 2001.

  12. if i had to choose, i would say this is my favorite mix of all time. i listened live when it came out in 2002, and it completely changed the way i listen to house and techno.

    brilliant post.

  13. quite agree w your characterization of european minimal. i don't think the main point is europeans doing something underivative tho - this is rather a rare moment of electronic music doing something underivative - all together - with one voice, as i think you put it.


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