sexta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2009

A a Z do Electro

Ok, este vai ser um longo post. É mais do que óbvio que há neste momento um certo regresso ao Electro original, depois desta palavra ter visto a sua gloriosa reputação algo manchada na primeira parte desta década. Mas gente como Dam-Funk ou Arabian Prince veio repor uma certa justiça com lançamentos recentes. O ano, aliás, arrisca-se a ser de Dam-Funk, com a sua massiva edição na Stones Throw - «Toeachizown» - a revelar-se brilhante a todos os níveis.
Claro que o momento - e a vontade de fazer uma mixtape - fez-me pensar nos clássicos: sim, porque os sintetizadores não foram inventados ontem. Há anos, quando a Lollipop ainda era uma realidade no Bairro Alto, consegui um dos meus melhores achados: a caixa definitiva do Electro por uns míseros dois mil escudos. Ter uma loja passava também por usar o balcão como factor potenciador da colecção pessoal e poucas compras nessa qualidade terão sido tão certeiras como essa. O exemplar mais barato dessa caixa custa 180 euros no Discogs! Mais ou menos ao mesmo tempo que adquiri essa caixa foi publicado na Wire um definitivo artigo de David Toop - «The A-Z of Electro» (de que vou reproduzir excertos mais abaixo) que me lançou no trilho da descoberta: não descansei enquanto não coleccionei todos os discos referidos nesse artigo. Agora, para os interessados em Dam-Funk e afins, deixo ficar algumas portas de entrada num fascinante universo onde as máquinas de arcada são uma realidade e todos querem fazer o smurf.

The A-Z of Electro by David Toop

In its original incarnation, Electro was black science fiction teleported to the dancefloors of New York, Miami and LA; a super-stoopid fusion of video games, techno-pop, graffiti art, silver space suits and cyborg funk. Now that Electro is back, David Toop provides a thumbnail guide to the music that posed the eternal question: 'Watupski, bug byte?'

‘Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)’ stands as prime contender for the weird-titles-in-pop award. Released on Aldo and Amado Marin's Cutting Records label, Hashim's glacial, squelching track become a breaker's anthem in the UK. Also ‘Arkade Funk’ by Tilt, Trouble Funk's Washington DC hybrid of arcade games, Electronics, live go-go percussion, and Vocoded, pitchshifted lyrics: "I am an arkade funk machine... search and destroy".

Urban spaceman Afrika Bambaataa and producer Arthur Baker, plus musician John Robie, were the trio behind a musical revolution called "Planet Rock", Bambaataa's 1982 single with Soul Sonic Force. Following the impact of ‘Planet Rock’, UK groups made Electro-boogie pilgrimages to Baker's studio in Manhattan: Freeze's ‘IOU’ rocketed jazz funk into the infosphere but more significantly, New Order's "Blue Monday" launched indie dancing and sold massively on 12".

Cybotron, the Detroit brainchild of Juan Atkins and Rick Davies, alias 3070, creators of ‘Clear’, ‘Techno City’ and ‘Cosmic Cars’. Cold Crush Brothers were old-school South Bronx pioneers but they joined the beat wave with ‘Punk Rock Rap’ and ‘Fresh, Wild, Fly And Bold’. Captain Rock, Captain Rapp and Captain Sky did their space cadet thang, but nobody could go further out into the phunkosphere than George Clinton.

Davy DMX, Queens DJ, multi-instrumentalist and creator of ‘The DMX Will Rock’, named himself after the Oberheim DMX, drum machine of choice in mid-‘80s HipHop.

Electro-pop, British style: Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Human League, Gary Numan, Thomas Dolby et al. The one-finger keyboard techniques of Depeche Mode were an inspiration to a generation of scratch DJs across the Atlantic. 808 (as in Roland), the beatbox whose artificiality liberated Electroids from drum cliches.

Futura, Fab Five Freddy, Face 2000 and Phase II, all graffiti artists who recorded Electro-rap tracks on Celluloid. The Funhouse, Manhattan's temple of futurist Electro. Freestyle, late ‘80s New York dance music, very post-Electro/pre-Garage, Latin flavoured, frequently softcore (‘Talk Dirty To Me’, ‘Vanessa Del Rio’) as recorded by Corporation Of One, Bad Boy Orchestra and Tommy Musto.

After Grandmaster Flash and ‘Scorpio’ came Grandmaster Melle Mel with Electro hits – ‘White Lines’ and ‘Survival’ - followed by Grandmixer D.ST's ‘Grand Mixer Cuts It Up’, a storm of stereo-panned arcade bleeps. D.ST went on to perform live on turntables with Herbie Hancock's Rockit group.

With ‘70s albums such as Sextant, Thrust and Headhunters, Herbie Hancock anticipated many tropes and tricks of Electro. His Electro tracks with Bill Laswell - particularly the smash hit ‘Rockit’ - were not such a future shock, and his earlier music has aged better.

For glorious one-offs it's hard to beat ‘We Come To Rock’ by the Imperial Brothers, ‘Running’ by Information Society (a Latin freestyle prototype followed up by relentlessly dull quasi-"British" Electro-pop albums) or ‘Inspector Gadget’ by The Kartoon Krew.

Boston's Jonzun Crew, led by Michael Jonzun, were literally the most wigged-out Electro act of all, basing their stage appearance on Beethoven. For mutant cyberian phunk, their Lost In Space album, particularly the menacing ‘Pack Jam’, remains chilly the most.

Kraftwerk, the showroom dummies who caused Bambaataa to scratch his head and say, ‘'Scuse the expression, this is some weird shit’. For ‘Planet Rock’, Bam used the melody from ‘Trans Europe Express’. Over the distinctive 808 beat, the effect was spectral.

Central to the scene due to their Electro edits, Latin HipHop production and remixing were the Latin Rascals - Albert Cabrera and Tony Moran - who made the endearingly trashy Back To The Future album (titles include ‘A Little Night Noise’ and ‘Yo, Elise!’).

Miami Bass took up Electro after NYC had finished with it, turned up the sub-bass on the kick drum, filled cars and jeeps with woofers and tweeters, and drive around the hot streets of their Fourth World, postmodern city in a nomadic ecstasy of boom. Tracks by Bose and Gucci Crew II fetishised loudspeaker power, perpetual movement, Robocop and similar urban dislocations; DJ Extraordinaire And The Bassadelic Boom Patrol's ‘Drop The Bass (Lower The Boom)’ went over the edge with its info-bites; The Beat Club's ‘Security’ merged Planet Patrol and Human League into a heaving epic of sci-fi emotions; Maggatron, who combined awesome bass drum boom with rampant George Clinton influences, manic scratch 'n' sniff production, screaming Metal guitar solos and a selfless dedication to Electro cliches. Their Bass Planet Paranoia (1990) boasts titles such as ‘Pygmies In Devilles’, ‘Temple Of Boom’ (the original) and a cover of Clinton's ‘Maggot Brain’ that the late, great Eddie Hazel would have been proud of. Mantronix (Man + Electronix) came just after Electro. The musical combination of raps, vocoded choruses, sequenced basslines, clap delays and crashing beatbox snares suggests they were influential on ‘90s drum 'n' bass. Also hail Man Parrish for the all-time Electro classic ‘Hip Hop De Bop (Don't Stop)’.

Gary Numan, the eyelinered squadron leader of British Techno-pop, whose ‘Cars’ struck an unlikely chord in the hearts of Electro-HipHoppers. Buried in the archives but never to be forgotten: Nitro DeLuxe, who briefly fused Electro, experimental House and Techno, apparently without knowing it; Newtrament, whose ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’ was the first (and one of the few) credible UK Electro records; Newcleus, whose ‘Jam On It’ can still bring nostalgic tears to the eyes of the chilliest Brit-based technocrat or hardass rapper.

Bobby O, New York (Mostly hi-energy) producer who released the awesome, surreal Beat Box Boys Electro-minimalist 12’s ‘Give Me My Money’, ‘Einstein’ and ‘Yum Yum - Eat 'Em Up’. Bobby Orlando also signed and produced The Pet Shop Boys in the same year.

‘Planet Rock’ for the party people convening on fonky Pluto, and Planet Patrol, a Boston vocal quartet shamelessly transformed into an extra-terrestrial mutation of The Stylistics by Arthur Baker and John Robie in order to sing Electro versions of Gary Glitter's ‘I Didn't Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock And Roll)’ and Todd Rundgren's ‘It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference’. Their ‘Play At Your Own Risk’ was one of the great Electro singles. RIP Pumpkin, "King Of The Beat", who played all the Electro-tech on Enjoy singles by The Fearless Four and others. Post-Electro, which has to include, for greater or lesser reasons, LFO, Black Dog, Shut Up & Dance, Metalheadz, Bandulu, Moody Boyz, Plaid, As One, A Guy Called Gerald, 808 State, Carl Craig, Bally Sagoo, Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead, Depth Charge, Chemical Brothers, Underworld, The Shamen, Talvin Singh's Future Sound Of India, Future Sound of London, Jedi Knights, the Clear and Mo'Wax labels, and even, at a pinch, M People.

"Queen Of Rox", otherwise known as Roxanne Shante, who bridged the gap between the Electro era and those crashing Brooklyn beats of the mid-‘80s.

‘Rockin' It’ by The Fearless Four was one of Electro's greatest moments. Iconoclasts who borrowed riffs from Gary Numan, Cat Stevens, Gamble & Huff and Herbie Hancock, they took Kraftwerk's ‘The Man Machine’ for ‘Rockin' It’, added a phrase from Poltergeist and created future R&B. John Robie was one of the musical architects of Electro, playing keyboards on ‘Planet Rock’, ‘Looking For The Perfect Beat’ and ‘Renegades Of Funk’, Planet patrol's ‘Cheap Thrills’, ‘Body Mechanic’ by Quadrant Six, C-Bank's ‘Get Wet’ and ‘Walking On Sunshine’ by Rocker's Revenge. Run-DMC may have sounded like stripped down, hard Electro when they started, but by turning the emphasis back on words and beats they blew Electro into the outer darkness.

Smurfs were diminutive Hanna-Barbera cartoon people for whom smurf served as a verb: ie ‘My potion is wearing off. We'd better smurf out of here.’ In 1982, Tyrone Brunson, a DC born bass player, made a dance craze record called ‘The Smurf’. More jazz fusion than Electro, ‘The Smurf’ was answered in an orgy of copyright-busting spelling variations by ‘The Smirf’, ‘Pappa Smerf’ and, with far more class, ‘Salsa Smurph’ by Special Request, ‘Smerphie's Dance’ by Spyder-D and ‘(I Can Do It... You Can Do It) Letzmurph Acrossdasurf’ by The Micronawts (an alias for journalist and eventually New Jack City scriptwriter Barry Michael Cooper). Also Shango, the Afro-cybernetic fusion of Bambaataa and Material; Sir Mix-A-Lot, an Electro pioneer who went ballistic with ‘Baby's Got Back’; Sly Stone, exploiting the machine feel of rhythm boxes on There's A Riot Goin' On back in 1971; all things spacey, such as Star Wars, Close Encounters, space suits knocked up from leather and tinfoil, and Sun Ra, credited on The Jonzun Crew's Lost In Space album. Not forgetting the itch to scratch and not excluding ‘Was Dog A Doughnut’, a rare fling at Techno-pop-fusion by Cat Stevens, transmuted into Electro by Jellybean and The Fearless Four.

Techno Techno Techno, the man/woman-machine interface, the inevitable spread of music inspired and haunted by technology. For an example of the Techno diaspora, listen to Off's ‘Electric Salsa’ - pure Electro, recorded in Germany in 1986 and featuring vocals by a young blond named Sven Vath. Tommy Boy Records was the New York company run by Tom Silverman and Monica Lynch that released a string of Electro classics, beginning with ‘Planet Rock’. Down in the sunbelt, Luke Skywalker's 2 Live Crew traded in tits 'n' ass, took Miami Bass to the masses, got sued by George Lucas, were taken to court for obscenity, pioneered rumpshaker videos, and generally gave Electro a filthy reputation.

UTFO, robot dancers for Whodini who progressed to a career as rappers by launching the Roxanne saga of the mid-‘80s. Also, UK House, whose roots, as early tracks by the likes of Hotline, Zuzan and Krush show, were as much in NYC Electro as they were in Chicago House.

Video Games from Space Invaders to PacMan, Defender to Galaxian. "We live in a time of extraterrestrial hopes and anxieties," wrote Martin Amis, looking for answers to questions raised by the so-called blank-screen generation, in his "Invasion Of The Space Invaders". Some vid-kids took inspiration from the alien voices, blips, squirts and mantric melodies of arcade games and made music from it. ‘Waaku-waaku’ went The Packman on ‘I'm The Packman (Eat Everything I Can)’. Amis wrote about Defender as having the best noises: "The fizz of a Baiter, the humming purr of a Pod, the insect whine of the loathed mutants as they storm and sting." Part Gorf command, part Kraftwerk effect, the Vocoder was Techno's primary instrument. A studio device that combines voice sounds and synthesizer, thus symbolising the human-machine interface.


‘Woof woof’, a barking noise made by B-Boys in lieu of applause when the Electro shuttle lifted off. Often preceded by ‘Hey buddy buddy’, ‘Wicki wicki wicki’ or similar. Warp 9, whose spacey productions by Richard Scher, Lotti Golden and Jellybean reached warpspeed on the ‘Light Years Away’ dub mix. West Street Mob, Whodini and Whiz Kid all saw their moment and grabbed it. Wildstyle: the film, the record, the mode of behaviour. Back on the beach, ‘Whoomp! There It Is’ by Tag Team was a ‘90s ‘Planet Rock’ soundalike that revived old-school Electro with a vengeance, selling more than four million copies to go quadruple platinum.

Xena's ‘On The Upside’, along with Shannon's ‘Let The Music Play’, were quintessential examples of the Mark Liggett/Chris Barbosa sound, the booming, jerky diva-Electro that launched Latin HipHop. Xploitation as in Jheri curl and Zapata-tashed soul bands such as Midnight Starr going for Electro hits. Also xploitation as in Spaghetti Westerns, kung fu, porno and science fiction, all of which provided Electro with its mise en scene. Down in Miami, R&B and disco veteran (soon to be Miami Bass entrepreneur) Henry Stone jumped on the ET boom of 1982 with the Extra Ts and their weird ‘ET Boogie’. "It hurts", said the Extra Ts; King Sporty's EX Tras answered with the stun gun Electro-bass of ‘Haven't Been Funked Enough’.

Yellow Magic Orchestra, who inspired Afrika Bambaataa back in the days. YMO's cover version of Martin Denny's ‘Firecracker’ can be heard on the Bambaataa turntables on the notorious ‘Death Mix’ 12’. In fact, Ryuichi Sakamoto's ‘Riot In Lagos’ had anticipated Electro's beats and sounds in 1980, while Haruomi Hosono's 1983 Video Game Music took the musical use of game noise to a further, maddening conclusion: "Digital sound with body and spontaneity had game-character, no, is music as a game" (album notes).

Zulu Nation, Afrika Bambaataa's vision of a global brotherhood linked by a passion for the cyber-street arts of HipHop culture. Inspired by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and George Clinton's ‘One Nation Under A Groove’, it was the predecessor to today's invisible engloballed info-community of New Headz.

© David Toop, 1996

Outro artigo crucial para funcionar como mapa neste labirinto é Electro Funk - What did It All Mean pelo pioneiro britânico Greg Wilson.

Greg Wilson – November 2002

Electro-Funk is undoubtedly the most misunderstood of all UK Dance genres, yet probably the most vital with regards to its overall influence. Central to the confusion is the term itself, which during 82/83 (before it was shortened to Electro) was specific to the UK. From a US perspective this music would come under a variety of headings (including Hip-Hop, Dance, Disco, Electric Boogie and Freestyle), arriving on import here in the UK, mainly on New York labels like West End, Prelude, Sugarhill, Emergency, Profile, Tommy Boy, Streetwise, plus numerous others. Just as Northern Soul was a British term for a style (or group of styles) of American black music, so was Electro-Funk, and, like Northern, the roots of the scene are planted firmly in the North-West of England.
Although this has been documented in a number of books and publications down the years, often with a fair degree of insight, the subject is rarely approached with any true depth and attention to detail, the information all in fragments. Perhaps the main reason that Electro-Funk remains a mystery to so many people is because it’s audience was predominantly black at a time when cutting-edge black music (and black culture in general) was very much marginalized in the UK, and as a result essentially underground. To keep up to date with what was happening on the British black music scene in 82/83 you’d have had to have been a reader of a specialist publication like Blues & Soul or Black Echoes.
In the UK scheme of things Electro-Funk eventually took over from Jazz-Funk as the dominant force on the club scene, but not without major controversy and upheaval. The purists regarded ‘electronic’ or ‘electric’ (as they called it) with total contempt, rejecting its validity on the grounds that it was, in their opinion, ‘not real music’ due to its technological nature (although Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ would put paid to that theory). However, as time went on and audience tastes began to change, even the most hostile DJ’s were forced to play at least some Electro-Funk. Despite all the resistance, the movement slowly but surely began to gain momentum, sweeping down from the North, through the Midlands and eventually into London and the South. The reason the Electro scene took so long to fully establish itself in the capital was down to the stranglehold the all-powerful Soul Mafia DJ’s held on the Southern scene. The Soul Mafia, with big names like Chris Hill, Robbie Vincent, Froggy, Jeff Young and Pete Tong, continued to play Jazz-Funk and Soul grooves (later referred to as ‘80’s Groove’). It wouldn’t be until 84 that their virtual monopoly of the clubs, radio, and the black music press began to erode as a new order of music replaced the old, laying the foundations not only for Hip-Hop, but also the subsequent UK Techno and House scenes.
As has often been said, Electro is the missing link of Dance music. All roads lead back to New York where the level of musical innovation and experimentation throughout the early 80’s period was quite staggering. It wasn’t one narrow style that never strayed from within the confides of an even narrower BPM range, Electro-Funk was anything goes! The diversity of records released during this period was what made it so magical, you never knew what was coming next. The tempo of these tracks ranged from under 100 beats-per-minute to over 130, covering an entire rhythmic spectrum along the way. There was no set template for this new Dance direction, it just went wherever it went and took you grooving along with it. It was all about stretching the boundaries that had begun to stifle black music, and its influences lay not only with German Technopop wizards Kraftwerk, the acknowledged forefathers of pure Electro, plus British Futurist acts like the Human League and Gary Numan, but also with a number of pioneering black musicians. Major artists like Miles Davis, Sly Stone, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, legendary producer Norman Whitfield and, of course, George Clinton and his P Funk brigade, would all play their part in shaping this new sound via their innovative use of electronic instruments during the 70’s (and as early as the late 60’s in Miles Davis’s case). Once the next generation of black musicians finally got their hands on the available technology it was bound to lead to a musical revolution as they ripped up the rule book with their twisted Funk.
Before Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force’s seminal Electro classic, ‘Planet Rock’ (Tommy Boy) exploded on the scene in May 82, there had already been a handful of releases in the previous months that would help define this new genre. D Train’s ‘You’re The One For Me’ (Prelude), which was massive during late 81, would set the tone, paving the way for ‘Time’ by Stone (West End),
‘Feels Good’ by Electra (Emergency) and two significant Eric Matthew / Darryl Payne productions, Sinnamon’s ‘Thanks To You’ (Becket) and, once again courtesy of Prelude, ‘On A Journey (I Sing The Funk Electric)’ by Electrik Funk (the term Electro-Funk originally deriving from this track, ‘electric-funk’ being amended to Electro-Funk following the arrival of Shock’s ‘Electrophonic Phunk’ on the Californian Fantasy label in June). However, the most significant of all the early releases was ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ by the Peech Boys (West End), for this was no longer hinting at a new direction, it was unmistakably the real deal. An extreme chunk of vinyl moulded by Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan, ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ would quickly become a cult-classic, and eventually even manage to scrape into the top 50 of the British Pop chart, purely on the back of underground support (as would a number of subsequent Electro-Funk releases).
As the first British DJ to fully embrace this new wave of black music, I came in for a lot of personal criticism. Having already become an established name on the Jazz-Funk scene, I was seen as a heretic for playing these ‘soulless’ records, especially those that were regarded as the more ‘blatant’ ones (for example, the dreaded ‘Planet Rock’ and the rest of the Tommy Boys stuff, Warp 9 ‘Nunk’ (Prism), Extra T’s ‘ET Boogie’ (Sunnyview), Man Parrish ‘Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don’t Stop)’ (Importe/12), and Italian Zanza 12”, ‘Dirty Talk’ by Klein & MBO). I generally opted for the Dub or instrumental versions, mixing them in alongside the more orthodox Funk, Soul and Jazz-Funk releases of the time at my weekly residencies, Legend in Manchester and Wigan Pier, where the scene first took root. These venues, both state-of-the-art US styled clubs, would become central to the movement throughout the 82-84 period, attracting people from all over the country. The music would also gain further exposure via my regular mixes for Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio (beginning in May 82), and in August 83 I’d introduce Electro to a new audience, when I became the first Dance resident at the now world-famous Hacienda club.
Electro-Funk’s legacy is huge. It announced the computer age and seduced a generation with its drum machines, synthesizers and its sequencers, its rap, cut and scratch, its breaking and popping, its Dub mixes, its bonus beats and its innovative use of samples. Made to be mixed it inspired a new breed of British DJ’s to cut the chat and match the beats. Now legendary names like Grandmaster Flash, Tee Scott, Tony Humphries, Larry Levan, Francois Kevorkian, Shep Pettibone, John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez and Double Dee & Steinski became role-models for tuned-in DJ’s and would-be remixers, whilst pioneers of the new digital sampling technology, including New York producer Arthur Baker and his collaborator John Robie, British producer Trevor Horn (via ‘Buffalo Gals’) and, of course, the Herbie Hancock / Bill Laswell combination, with their Grammy winning ‘Rockit’ (Columbia), not only revolutionized black music but instigated a whole new approach to popular music in general.
Electro-Funk was the channel that finally brought the Hip-Hop movement, and all its various creative components, firmly into the UK mainstream, helping to spread its message throughout Europe and beyond. To all intents and purposes Electro-Funk pre-dates Hip-Hop in a British context, the term not coming into common use here until much later. We were more or less clueless when it came to Hip-Hop until late 82, when Charisma Records in the UK unleashed Malcolm McLaren & The World’s Famous Supreme Team’s ‘Buffalo Gals’ video, which came as something of a culture-shock to say least, bringing the full-force of NYC street-culture out of The Bronx and into our living rooms, and inspiring a carnival of breakdancing in cities and towns throughout Britain during the summer of 83. Eventually we’d learn of its origins with Kool DJ Herc, spinning his famous ‘merry-go-round’ of breaks for the b boys. Before this, most people had presumed that the break in breakdancing referred to the damage you might do to your bones if you got the move wrong!
Although the media gradually latched onto this ‘new dance craze’, the scene that surrounded it wouldn’t receive any serious attention here in the UK until 1984. This followed the runaway success of the Street Sounds ‘Electro’ compilations (Volume 1 released in October 83), which would take the music to a much wider audience, and result in The Face announcing ‘Electro – The Beat That Won’t Be Beaten’ across its entire front page in May 84, a full two years on from the US release of ‘Planet Rock’. This substantial delay in recognition went a long way towards obscuring Electro-Funk’s essential role in kick-staring the 80’s Dance boom, with many UK club historians bypassing the pivotal early 80’s period and mistakenly citing Detroit Techno as the trigger. Even the track that gave birth to Techno, the Juan Atkins / Rick Davies 12” ‘Clear’ by Cybotron (Fantasy), was regarded as an Electro classic here in 83, way before the Techno scene began to take shape, and would feature on the first Street Sounds ‘Crucial Electro’ compilation the following year. Little mention is ever made of the fact that its remixer, Jose ‘Animal’ Diaz, was immersed in NY Electro, with previous mix credits including ‘We Are The Jonzun Crew’ for Tommy Boy, and ‘Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop)’, which gained a new lease of life following his much sought-after limited edition mix for Disconet (the DJ Only format affiliated to Sugarscoop).
Electro’s star burnt very brightly, initially on the underground and eventually with the club masses. In 1984 the London scene took off in a big way, both in the clubs and on the radio, with the emergence of DJ’s like Herbie from Mastermind (who mixed the Street Sounds albums), Paul Anderson, Tim Westwood and Mike Allen confirming a radical shift in power on the capital’s black music scene. With the substantial weight of London behind it, the Electro movement quickly went overground enticing an ever-increasing number of switched-on white kids in its on-going search for the perfect beat. With a significant proportion of the British youth, regardless of colour, now grounded in Hip-Hop culture, the new UK Dance era was well and truly under way and it wouldn’t be long before musicians and DJ’s here began to create their own hybrid styles, most notably in Bristol where Electro was fused with the Reggae vibes of Dub and Lovers Rock, to bring about a unique flavour that would later be known as Trip-Hop. By the end of the decade cities like Manchester and London had become major players on the now global Dance scene, with the UK a veritable hotbed of creativity both in the clubs and the recording studios.
Electro-Funk was the prototype, and Hip-Hop, Techno, House, Jungle, Trip-Hop, Drum & Bass, UK Garage, plus countless other Dance derivatives, all owe their debts to its undoubted influence. Without it’s inspiration, it’s unlikely that British acts such as Coldcut, 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald, Soul To Soul, Massive Attack, The Prodigy, William Orbit, Goldie, the Chemical Brothers, Underworld and Fatboy Slim, to name but a few, would have emerged. When all’s said and done, Electro-Funk (or Electro or whatever people choose to call it) was the catalyst, the mutant strain that bridged the British Jazz-Funk underground to the Acid-House mainstream, Until this fact is fully recognized the UK Dance jigsaw will remain incomplete and confused, with countless clubbers, twenty years on, having no idea of the true roots of the music they’re dancing to.

© Greg Wilson – November 2002


D TRAIN you’re the one for me (US Prelude)
DR JECKYLL & MR HYDE genius of love (US Profile)
STONE time (US West End)
P-FUNK ALL STARS hydraulic pump pt III (US Hump)
ELECTRIK FUNK on a journey (I sing the funk electric) (US Prelude)
PEECH BOYS don’t make me wait (US West End)
SINNAMON thanks to you (US Becket)
AL McCALL hard times (US West End)
ELECTRA feels good (US Emergency)
ATLANTIS keep on movin’ and groovin’ (US Chaz Ro)
SHOCK electrophonic phunk (US Fantasy)
SECRET WEAPON must be the music - remix (US Prelude – from the LP Kiss FM Mastermixes vol 1)
THE SYSTEM it’s passion (US Mirage)
ROCKERS REVENGE walking on sunshine (US Streetwise)
RAW SILK do it to the music (US West End)
THE JONZUN CREW pack jam (look out for the ovc) (US Tommy Boy)
SHARON REDD beat the street – remix (US Prelude)
KLEIN & MBO dirty talk (Italian Zanza)
Q the voice of q (US Philly World)
EXTRA T’s e.t boogie (US Sunnyview)
GEORGE CLINTON loopzilla (US Capitol)
WARP 9 nunk (US Prism)
TYRONE BRUNSON the smurf (US Believe In A Dream)
PLANET PATROL rock at your own risk (US Tommy Boy)
WHODINI magic’s wand (US Jive/Zomba) (RIP Mr MAGIC!!!)
STONE girl I like the way that you move (US West End)
ORBIT the beat goes on (Canadian Quality)
DR JECKYLL & MR HYDE the challenge (US Profile)
TONEY LEE reach up (US Radar)
NAIROBI & THE AWESOME FOURSOME funky soul makossa (US Streetwise)
MAN PARRISH hip hop be bop (don’t stop) (US Importe/12 – later on Disconet 12”)
INDEEP last night a dj saved my life (US Sound Of New York)
REGGIE GRIFFIN & TECHNOFUNK mirda rock (US Sweet Mountain)
MELLE MEL & DUKE BOOTEE message II (survival) (US Sugarhill)
THE WEBBOES under the wear (US Sam)
THE JONZUN CREW space is the place (US Tommy Boy)
SANDY KERR thug rock (US Catawba)
KLEIN & MBO wonderful (US Atlantic)
EX TRAS haven’t been funked enough (UK Excellent)
VANITY 6 nasty nasty girls (US Hot Tracks – originally on Warner Brothers LP)
AFRIKA BAMBAATAA & THE SOUL SONIC FORCE looking for the perfect beat (US Tommy Boy)
JOHNNY CHINGAS phone home (US Columbia)
PURE ENERGY spaced out (US Prism)
VISUAL the music got me (US Prelude)
C.O.D in the bottle (US Emergency – later on Disconet 12”)
THE JONZUN CREW we are the jonzun crew (US Disconet – later on Tommy Boy 12”)
RUN DMC it’s like that / sucker mc’s (krush-groove 1) (US Profile)
WARP 9 light years away (US Prism)
D TRAIN music (US Prelude)
SHIRLEY LITES heat you up - meltdown mix (US West End)
WEEKS & CO if you’re looking for fun (US Salsoul)
FEARLESS FOUR just rock (US Elektra)
MIDNIGHT STAR freak-a-zoid (US Solar)
FREEEZE I-dub-u (US Streetwise)
SINNAMON I need you now (US Jive/Zomba)
ROCK MASTER SCOTT & THE DYNAMIC THREE it’s life (you gotta think twice) (US Reality)
ELECTRIC POWER BAND papa smurf (US Bee Pee)
NEWTRAMENT london bridge is falling down (UK Jive/Zomba)
S.O.S BAND just be good to me (US Tabu)
TONEY LEE love so deep (US Radar)
NEWCLEUS jam on revenge (the wikki wikki song) (US Sunnyview – originally on US May Hew)
HERBIE HANCOCK rockit (US Columbia)
PROJECT FUTURE ray-gun-omics (US Capitol)
TWO SISTERS high noon (US Sugarscoop)
THE RAKE street justice (US Profile)
WUF TICKET the key (US Prelude)
TIME ZONE the wildstyle (US Celluloid)
CANDIDO jingo breakdown (US Salsoul)
UNIQUE what I got is what you need (US Prelude)
THE PACKMAN I’m the packman (eat everything I can) (US Enjoy)
CYBOTRON clear (US Fantasy)
PLANET PATROL cheap thrills (US Tommy Boy)
NEW ORDER confused beats (UK Factory)
HOT STREAK body work (US Easy Street)
WEST STREET MOB break dancin’ – electric boogie (US Sugarhill)
GARY’S GANG makin’ music (US Radar)
CAPTAIN ROCK the return of captain rock (US NIA)
B BOYS two, three, break (US Vintertainment)
ARCADE FUNK search and destroy (US D.E.T.T)
DIMPLES D sucker dj’s (I will survive) (US Partytime)
G.L.O.B.E & WHIZ KID play that beat mr dj (US Tommy Boy)
TOM BROWNE rockin’ radio (US Arista)
GRANDMASTER & MELLE MEL white lines (don’t don’t do it) (US Sugarhill)
CAPTAIN RAPP bad times (I can’t stand it) (US Saturn)
TWILIGHT 22 electric kingdom (US Vanguard)
RUSSELL BROTHERS the party scene (US Portrait)
SHANNON let the music play (US Emergency)
DJ DIVINE get into the mix (US West End)
HASHIM al-naafiysh (the soul) (US Cutting)
B BOYS cuttin’ herbie / rock the house (US Vintertainment)
MALCOLM X / KEITH LeBLANC no sell out (US Tommy Boy)
XENA on the upside (US Emergency)
PUMPKIN king of the beat (US Profile)

The above is a list of 100 of the biggest tunes played at Legend in Manchester and Wigan Pier during 1982 and 1983. The tracks are listed in chronological order (the first 3 entries arriving on import in late 81).

E, já agora:

Hip hop electrónico
Por Rui Miguel Abreu

Quem cresceu nos anos 80 sabe bem do que era feita a paisagem da época: computadores com nomes futuristas como Amstrad ou ZX Spectrum, monitores com luz verde, jogos de Arcada chamados Space Invaders, séries de ficção científica na TV – Galáctica, Buck Rogers – mais naves espaciais no cinema – Guerra das Estrelas, Regresso Ao Futuro, ET... Enfim, na época ninguém tinha a cabeça na lua, mas nos confins do espaço, “onde o homem nunca foi antes”. Esta “paisagem tecnológica” surtiu, obviamente, efeitos ao nível da música.
No início dos anos 80, jovens como Juan Atkins, por um lado, e Arthur Baker, por outro, começavam a dar os primeiros passos na produção musical. Maravilhados pela estética do P-Funk de George Clinton, ele próprio um confesso viajante do espaço cujos shows ao vivo incluíam naves espaciais e extravagantes fatos de astronauta, Atkins e Baker atiraram-se de cabeça à tecnologia mais básica existente na época – a caixa de ritmos DMX, a Roland 808 – e começaram a fazer ruído sincopado.
Paralelamente, nos bairros do Bronx, em Nova Iorque, jovens DJ’s começavam a inventar o futuro, tocando duas cópias do mesmo disco alternadamente para criar a ilusão de um break de bateria sem fim. No início, o electro procurava fazer a mesmíssima coisa com caixas de ritmos e sintetizadores: prolongar a batida até ao infinito, por um lado, e emular os sons produzidos por uma banda inteira de funk, capturando o espírito do groove nos circuitos integrados da maquinaria à sua disposição.
Juan Atkins criou, juntamente com Rick “3070” Davies o projecto Cybotron que, praticamente sozinho, lançou as bases do techno de Detroit em faixas como “Clear” ou “Techno City”. Paralelamente, em Nova Iorque, Arthur Baker ajudava a traduzir a visão de Afrika Bambaataa para música, criando, juntos, o hino “Planet Rock”, uma faixa de Hip Hop tão poderosa que haveria de desempenhar o papel no advento de variadíssimos sub-géneros de música de dança apoiada em tecnologia electrónica, como o Electro, o Miami Bass, o Freestyle, o Techno ou até o Acid House...
Quando o hip hop deixou de gatinhar e começou a andar pelo seu próprio pé, os artistas começaram a dispensar as “house bands” dos estúdios em que gravavam – responsáveis por um som ainda muito ligado ao funk e ao disco, nos primeiros momentos da década de 80: ouça-se, por exemplo, “Rapper’s Delight” da Sugarhill Gang – e a mexer directamente nas tais caixas de ritmos que começavam a invadir o mercado. O resultado foi um mergulho instantâneo no futuro, com um funk sintético e fluído, capaz de incorporar as influências vindas da cena “synth-pop” europeia (grupos como Kraftwerk, Yazoo ou Depeche Mode eram ícones para qualquer jovem negro dos “Boros” de Nova Iorque), aproveitando o vocoder ou a capacidade de alterar o pitch de uma voz para dar o ar robótico ás faixas que depois eram adoptadas pelos B-Boys nos seus exercícios de desafio da gravidade conhecidos internacionalmente como “Breakdance”.
Filmes como “Beat Street” ou “Breakin” fizeram muito para levar a sonoridade electro a todos os cantos do mundo. E por um breve momento, grupos como Jonzun Crew, Warp 9, Latin Rascals reinaram supremos, debitando funk cibernético e futurista em pedaços de vinil que hoje são verdadeiras peças de colecção.
O círculo completou-se quando Herbie Hancock, famoso pianista de jazz, resolveu levar ainda mais longe a sua paixão pela tecnologia já evidenciada desde os anos 70 nas suas gravações mais “eléctricas” (ouça-se “Sextant”, por exemplo) e editando, com a ajuda de Bill Laswell e do DJ Grand Mixer DST, o álbum “Future Shock” de onde foi retirado o mega-sucesso “Rockit”, um dos primeiros hits criados pelo poder da MTV. Com um scratch infeccioso de DST (que todos os turntablists apontam como a razão que os levou a eles próprios a tentar scratchar) e um groove electrónico irresistível, “Rockit” foi, porventura, o maior dos sucessos de um género que nos fez acreditar que no futuro todos os robots teriam groove!.


1. “Rockit” – Herbie Hancock
2. “Jam on It” – Newcleus
3. “Pack Jam” – Jonzun Crew
4. “Al-Naafyish (The Soul)” – Hashim
5. “Egypt Egypt” – Egyptian Lover
6. “Nunk” – Warp 9
7. “Clear” – Cybotron
8. “Hip Bop Don’t Stop” – Man Parrish
9. “Bassline” – Mantronix
10. “Death of a Rascal” – Latin Rascals

Os curiosos devem, definitivamente, passar por aqui: encontram por aí alguns volumes da já referida série da Streetsounds para download.

E, para acabar, algum eye-candy:

1 comentário:

  1. Não descanso enquanto não ouvir todos os discos referidos nesse post.