When I went to Rustlers festival near Ficksburg three weeks ago, much of the music was rave - what they listen to, apparently, in Jo’burg. It was interesting, and best summed up by a newspaper article appended to this message.
At Rustlers, and also at Splashy Fen, last weekend, was also a lot of South African Folk music. Splashy Fen, in particular, had some most excellent examples of the genre. Ladysmith Black Mambazo was playing live at Splashy Fen, which made my day. Little new music from them though, but it was great to see them sing (and dance) in Zulu for the large Zulu audience there. There was also a Camaroon group, and many small bands from Durban and Cape town, truly superb.
Article from Weekly Telegraph 1st May about Rave in UK. Sorry about the formatting …
WHEN CDs arrived in the Eighties, every body predicted the downfall of the vinyl record. After all, the lit- tie silver discs stored sound that reproduced perfectly every time. They would, it was claimed, last for ever. Even though we now know the CD is far from the super- natural storage medium promised by those first ads, figures show that vinyl is dying. In 1996, 208·4 million albums were bought in Brit- ain. Of those, only 2·4 million were vinyl LPs. In 1990 that figure had been 24·1 million. The story with singles is the same: of 78·3 million sold last year, only 2·2 million were on 7in vinyl. But there is one area where vinyl has held its own. Twelve-inch single sales have remained nearly stable for the past five years, accounting for around eight or nine million of the 80-odd million total singles sales. The 12in vinyl single’s pre- carious survival has been based on one thing – the growth of DJ culture. Stories of DJs’ new superstar status abound; for instance, Jeremy Healey’s reputed f15,000 for one night’s work last New Year’s Eve (he used a helicop- ter to fly between gigs). So why is vinyl so important to the DJ? Analogue technology such as turntables and vinyl records can do things that the most sophisticated digital equipment can’t. DJs need to feel in control of their mach- ines, and get quick feedback about their performance. They favour direct-drive turntables that spin at full speed immediately, rather than the more common belt- drive turntables, which take a few seconds to make it from nought to 33%. Precision is everything, and on CD the tiny delay between pressing “play” and the first note is enough to scotch any chance of dropping a beat in exactly the right place. The key to dancefloor suc- cess is the turntable “pitch control” slider. Since mixing involves making seamless transitions from one record to another, the ability to make subtle adjustments to match the speed of two tunes is vital. On a CD player, the pace has been digitally “set”, which for aDJisuseless. There is also an entire sub- culture of the DJ world devoted to the equivalent of taking the bonnet up and fid- dling with the insides. The Technics SL-1200 turntable inspires extraordinary devo· tion, and SL-1200 tricks are swapped like the secrets of Formula One mechanics. Hip-hop DJs, who have taken the craft to new peaks, and have a special affection for vinyl, have arcane tricks to improve performance. Japan’s finest, DJ Brush, has been spotted warming his records before putting them on the turntable. There are even discussions ahout the correct thickness and texture of your slipmat. With this level of fetishisation, it’s no wonder the experimental techno artist The Aphex Twin once spent an hour “playing” two sanding discs to an unfor- tunate elub-hll of people. And DJs aren’t just playing vinyl records – they’re mak- ing them, too. L’Digging in the crates” for rare tunes (usually jazz, funk or soul, thongh nowadays- increasingly old hip-hop, electro or early house records) ispne of the greatest pleasures of the DJ culture, but with some sought-alter records going for several hundred pounds apieee, it’s often impossible for the hard-np DJ to get the best tunes. So bootleg records are circulating via specialist record shops, re-cut from the originals by collectors or DJs. Occasionally a hip-hop DJ might get 10 bootlegged copies of a favourite tnne pressed up so that a precious original doesn’t get worn out by scratching. New tunes are often circu· lated on “dub plates” or “white labels” (sometimes now on DAT), small-quantity pressings with no label or packaging. This is a kind ol test-marketing and music thal gets a good response will get 6 commercial release. However, the advent of 5 new generation of CD playerr does threaten vinyl In this area. Manufacturers such as Pioneer and Denon have brought out machines that can do speed changes, digital beat synching and just about everything else an analogue turutable can achieve. But there remains a reluc· tame among DJs to switch. Some of this is purely on “cool” grounds. As one music PR remarked about CD mix- ing: “Well, it’s just for fluffy little ambient DJs, isn’t it? You don’t want to turnup to a gig with a little handbag of CDs, do you? You want a big flightcase full of records.” A new generation of techne DJs is coming up who like the precision of digital equip· ment. But most DJs remain wedded to the “physicality” of vinyl. Pushing buttons still does not give the dynamic, responsive experience of han- dling a piece of plastic and pushing it backwards and for- wards under a tiny diamond.