16 July 2009

Toddla T - 'Rice and Peas'

Hey it’s not all fey indie that harks back to that golden year 1986, time of anoraks and bowl haircuts, around here you know…

I am a great loser of objects. First I lost my leading brand of MP3 player. Then in short order I lost my mobile phone. Now, as a result of an expensive need to replace lost items, they are neatly combined into one, even easier and less convenient to lose package.

For the first time, I have taken out insurance.

Getting to grips with the new technology this presents, sort of akin to going straight from steam power to nuclear fusion, without any of the intervening stages, turns out to be fun. I’m no technophobe, me, I just don’t believe in upgrading for upgrade’s sake. But even in these ominous years where I totter towards the first digit of my age clicking over in a fairly significant way, I am finding new things I can do. For example, I’ve reactivated a dormant Twitter account, because now I can update it from the pub, which surely seems the point, and there in case you did not notice was the gentle invitation for you to sign up and ‘follow’, dreadful verb though that is. You may find the quality of your life improved by one or even two per cent by access to low-grade random observation if you do so.

One of things I’ve found fun is that on this new phone-cum-music-player thing I can play tunes direct, through tinny but quite loud speakers, unmediated by headphones. For someone who prefers his music from mostly ambient sources rather than pumped straight into his brain – I enjoy the interaction with found sound – this has been an intriguing development. Of course, it works with some music better than others. Fortunately I’ve never really been a symphonies kind of person. And there are limits. This stays in my kitchen. I’m not about to become a feral, blade-wielding 14 year-old deliberately annoying people with a shuffled playlist at a bus stop. I caught a train the other day and there was almost a whole blissful hour before someone saw fit to generously share with us all the dubious contents of his MP3 folder. Unprecedented.

Of course there are some things that work better out of tinny phone speakers than others. I was intrigued to hear that Wavves, who I adore, who is as important to me as anything else in music right now, deliberately encompasses and has fun with the distortion and degradation you get from MP3 compression. I’ve always loved lo-fi, never understood audio snobbery. (I download these massive flac files of Fall live bootlegs and instantly do the thing I’m not supposed to do and convert them into MP3s. It’s The Fall, for god’s sake.) Wavves sounds magnificent coming out of my phone speaker, by the way. And Toddla T sounds great, and this tune Rice and Peas has insistently burrowed its way into my brain.

I seem to recall this coming out last year in multiple versions on a couple of 7”s, which I bought and felt pretty cool about myself for, as the next person at the Sister Ray counter was asking after them but I had the last copies. They’ll be somewhere in the pile that has successfully mounted a campaign of occupation against my living room, and if I had a spare day and a student archeologist to hand I could probably unearth them. Now it resurfaces as obviously the best thing on a CD that’s been out for ages that I forgot I wanted and only found when I was looking through the racks for something else they didn’t have, and I decided just to buy everything I wanted beginning with T. Tinariwen it was I was looking for. Such is life.

Haven’t listened to the whole LP yet, to be honest, and find the linking bits of dialogue, presumably aimed at establishing Toddla’s street geezerness, annoying to say the least (I edit them out for the version of this that will underwhelm people on imminent CDs) but this paean to the urgent need to consume bad for you street food is just silly, uncomplicated fun of the sort that simply needs to be encouraged.

Even in the midst of a currently largely theoretical diet, I vibrate around the kitchen to this, phone in hand, immensely irritating my partner.

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