|A Certain Ratio
Retro, Classic - all terms have time indications tagged to
them. For most, it's about twenty years. So the eighties are
back - in fashion, economics, and especially music. As the
old saying goes, 'those who don't remember the past are doomed
to repeat it,' - in our culture this rings especially true.
But perhaps repetition isn't all that bad, because repetition
is where it all began - in the beat.
Manchester band A Certain
Ratio, became fascinated by the beat when their peers
were trashing the melody and burying the beat that came with
it. But ACR, a group that formed in 1978 and began to move
feet in 1980 with their single "Shack Up" on Factory
Records (Benelux), doesn't hold any tenets to the 80s. "We
were influenced by music from the 70s and jazz from the 60s,
but happened to be most prominent in the 80s," says Martin
Moscrop, guitarist and trumpet player for ACR. As a result,
"Shack Up" became the stand-out on Factory, sporting
sounds that mixed Punk and Northern Soul. At the time, a punk/funk
hybrid was ahead of its time in the UK, and ACR became the
first band after the punk movent to record in America. "I
really enjoyed the rise of Hip Hop in the 80s with all the
stuff from New York and was really honoured to be there when
all this was going on. We saw Africa Bambataa's first appearance
in Manhattan at the Roxy...and also played Dancetria supported
by Madonna." It's no wonder the band invited young, Bronx-based
band ESG to England to record their first single on Factory.
With the aid of engineer Martin Hannett, ACRs dancefloor friendly
punk and ESGs minimalist funk aided the American influence
on British acts still palpable today.
After all this time, Moscrop is making a journey back to NYC,
bringing with him a head full of what's transpired over the
years: the creation of urban dance music - a modern day parallel
to the multi-cultural subversion twenty years ago in diversity
challenged England. "Urban music is very popular [in
the UK] and the garage acts have taken elements of House,
Hip Hop, R&B and made it their own. I was really excited
by Jungle when it first started evolving...Acid House music
from Chicago and later Detroit in the late 80s was fucking
great. [Acid House is] Another great American import that
grabbed Britain's undivided and fanatical attention.
True to the times, UK label Soul
Jazz has gathered both American and British bands
on "In the Beginning, There Was Rhythm," an album
which includes two tracks from ACR, "Shack Up" and
"Knife Slits Water." "Shack Up," an infectious,
funky yet metallic, industrial tune encourages cohabitation
before marriage and tells the tale of the anti-conservative
social climate of the times. "Knite Slits Water"
incorporates more electronics and reverb effects, warming
up the cold, mechanic beat with that funky bass line and hip
swinging congas. An even more dancefloor-oriented song, ACRs
loose steppin' philosophy resonates: "take the chance
and dance." Fueled by this enthusiastic inclusion on
a fantastic comp, ACR has been gigging again lately, and is
due to release a new album, Early, a double album of mostly
unreleased mixes and BBC Peel Sessions, at the end of March.
A perfect chance to promote the album, Moscrop will be DJing
a two hour set that is sure to release the primordial beats
found in funk, dub, acid house and techno that he and A Certain
Ratio fused so neatly.
(Joining him will be Safety Scissors [Plug Research], Cut
Faster [Record Camp], Dan Selzer [Transmission], Joshua [Aux
Armes], Todd Rocker [Carpark Records], and Uysses [Scatalogics]
@ Luxx, April 10th, 9pm, $10).
-- Lisa Garrett