King Rat: Needs A Remix

Oh dear, my naffness premonition about King Rat turned out to be right. Check out these lines:

  • “Saul’s heart was beating like a Jungle bassline.” [This is after Saul had been running for ages. Fuck saving the metropolis, dude has some serious irregular heartbeat issues to worry about! You want to exaggerate like this, say his heart was beating like Moby’s Thousand, but a jungle bassline is just…medically wrong.]
  • “The rats and Saul left the relative safety of London’s nightlands and entered the warehouse, the frenzied jaws of Drum and Bass, the domain of smoke and strobe lights and Hardcore, the Piper’s lair, the heart of Darkness, deep in the Jungle.” [Again with the unnecessary capitalisations. Are we in Brixton or the Hundred Acre Wood?]
  • “The Drum and Bass felt as if it would lift the hatch out of the floor, off into the sky. It was unforgiving, a punishing assault of original Hardcore beats.” [It feels a bit off to use that usual MC patois of “original hardcore” in a description like this. Is it just me?]
  • “She pulled the record back, let it forward again a little, pulled it back, scratching playfully like an old school rapper, finally releasing her hand and switching off the first tune in a smooth movement, unleashing the new bassline.” [Scratching like a rapper? Also, reading about how someone DJs is like watching paint dry.]

Apart from the drum’n’bass cringeworthiness, some other things about the book’s plot seem a bit misconceived, sort of like what you might come up with if you went out to a massive jungle night with your mates back in the day, took a lot of E, brought everyone back to yours to come down on some spliffs, and while lounging wrecked on your plonk-stained student flat carpet, started brainstorming ideas for a book. For example (some spoilers to follow, but I think they’re so damn obvious long before they happen that there’s no harm giving them away now):
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King Rat (China Mieville)

I decided it was about time I read some China Mieville (although he’s a notable writer in his own right, I must admit the main draw for me was that he’s said the Borribles trilogy is one of his biggest influences) so I went looking in the library shelves. I know Perdido Street Station is his most celebrated work, but when I read the blurb on the back of King Rat it was clear I had to start with that instead:

Something is stirring in London’s dark, stamping out its territory in brickdust and blood. Something has murdered Saul’s father, and left Saul to pay for the crime.

But a shadow from the urban waste breaks into his prison cell and leads him to freedom. A shadow called King Rat.

In the night-land behind London’s facade, in sewers and slums and rotting dead spaces, Saul must learn his true nature.

Grotesque murders rock the city like a curse. Mysterious forces prepare for a showdown. With Drum and Bass pounding the backstreets, Saul confronts his bizarre inheritance – in the badlands of South London, in the heart of darkness, at the gathering of the Junglist Massive.

Like the DJ says: ‘Time for the Badman.

Potentially a bit naff, I know (who capitalizes dance music genre names like that? It’s like a Winnie the Pooh book), but how can I resist? I’m hoping it’ll be like Neverwhere…with riddim.


Something dramatic was needed to break my obsessive aural dependency on the sound of Elliott Yamin’s voice, so I revisited Venetian Snares’ Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett, which I’d been enjoying quite a lot before Elliott poured molten sex into my ears.

It isn’t easy to describe why this album’s fusion of (mostly) classical music with drill’n’bass works for me, because at first blush the concept sounds insufferable. The thing is, as drum’n’bass subgenres go, I like drill’n’bass because it has a certain drama and intensity that I find lacking in the jazzy stuff. On the other hand, classical music has lots of drama and intensity but lacks riddim.

Track 8’s sampling of Elgar’s cello concerto in E minor fascinates me. The sample of that famous bit of melody is cut off one note later than you expect it to be – one would have thought cutting the segment off on the D would make for the obvious easy loop but instead it’s left for one more note, which weirds up the time signature and the listener’s feel of the melody. Every time I listen to the track it always makes me feel a bit off-balance at the start, but then I descend into a geeky wanky happy place where I muse about whether I’d feel the same way if I didn’t already know the classical piece, and whether this use of the sample is deliberately intended to elicit this response in the listener, and then I look to the track title for any help but unfortunately it’s called “Szarmar Madar” so nothing gained there; meanwhile, there’s an opera singer throwin’ down high E’s and the chaotic beat’s just tearing shit up, and I start thinking tasteless thoughts about how even Jacqueline du Pre would dance to this except oh wait oops and I’m not even sure whether any of this is good or bad but I like the fact that the song is making me think it.

Do Yourself In (The Arts House)

It’s a pity last Friday’s DYI was only a one-off event, because it had a great vibe to it that I wish I could experience again.

I’ve danced to a fair amount of drum’n’bass in my life, but till last Friday I’d certainly never danced to drum’n’bass on rich brown wooden floors in a building which used to be a Parliament. It’s a little hard to describe the small beautiful stage they had in that bar, and which the DJs played from that night, because I was generally so tripped out from the experience (and the heat) that I didn’t scrutinize it carefully enough. I think it had a sloping, almost mini-cathedralesque, wood-carved ceiling.

The music in the other room downstairs was less to my taste, though I did embarrass myself slightly by throwing a fit when they suddenly played Galang and exuberantly bounding to the DJs to say hello!! oh man I’ve loved this song for the past one and a half years but never heard it played in Singapore till now so thanks for playing it!!

How will I ever become a genuine hipster if I can’t even perfect the art of detached world-weary ennui?