25 April 2014

a network of clandestine societies in which the electro acoustics involve the post processing of other peoples material

tVCabbage Sound System provide free parties, playing deep dubbed out house and techno music to the people of east Kent and beyond...

Into the mix of people doing their thing everywhere come the hoary East Kent free party stalwarts themselves. They don't profess to be the best, the most talented, the loudest, they don't boast, big themselves up, challenge or put down their compatriots. They just are.

tVC always liked to think they sat at the more cerebral end of the house spectrum sometimes being accused of being elitist and stroking their chins. More like knowledgeable and appreciative. With a bit of chin stroking. You can't not chin stroke, can you? Man, talking to them DJ's about tunes they've discovered or are excited about producing or releasing, record labels they're 'on' at the moment, clubs they've visited, sound systems heard, fellow DJ's appreciated. Oftentimes the banter is the scene. The DJ's are the scene. The deep house scene does and has existed in its own tiny bubble for decades. You either like it and are into it, and come along to gigs, or you're not. Simple as that.

It is unsalubriously rumoured that tVC gigs attract an audience of a certain age. They will so soon, if they are not already, be fat and disappointed and 50; or is that just Oz? With the renewed interest in the scene by the youngers an energy not seen for many a year has injected deep house with a much needed boost. You never know as the free parties start kicking off we can get them outside shuffling in the sunshine with the elders. As they always have done.

You can't fault tvc's enthusiasm though, and the aging house DJ is an easy figure to mock. In the early and mid 90's, the tVC people were boggle-eyed ravers in their teens and 20's, and one would think, these days at least, that a tVC gig would clearly be a red-letter day for babysitters; but it so isn’t. The baby sitters are at the party too. And another thing; it would be easier still if all tVC had to offer was memories of a bygone peak. But nothing could be further from the truth. They've never peaked. TVC do reject capitalist ideology, accept Buddhist principles and embrace equality and diversity as they always have done. Sitting outside the mainstream straddling the benign and the divine.

tVC deep house and techno ethics eschews tired cliché because they deal fundamentally in gently technorific affecting reveries. Their dazed funk sodden grooves and jazz-derived wooze provides uncluttered and pristine meditations. The throb of exquisite, synthesised kick drums, melting melodies supplemented with percussion and synths and just enough melancholy to suggest hidden depths, cannot fail to propel you gently towards the dance floor. They are still ploughing their resolutely individual, indefatigable and unpredictable furrow. It's a reason not so much about walking away from the world as about all the most contemporary reasons you may have for trying to embrace the world.

A tVC party is never less than fully unintegrated with its surroundings. The results of all this are mixed, as ever: funny, irritatingly clever, sometimes teetering along the edge of listenability, often all three at once. It is always tried, experimented, never safe. 

No dark, dour observations on the futility of it all from tVC. The effect is discombobulating, like being on a strobe-lit ferry in rough seas. They play sets of soulful deep house and minimal tech with lots of dancefloor bite. They dovetails this nicely with a pigeonhole-defying blend of mind-melding techno dubby grooves. They propel mixes that output chains of reference and ironic reversals extended beyond all bearing. They play a convergence that really works though; a pleasure indeed. It feels like that point between liquid and frozen, always on the margin, slightly skewed. Some people might call it slush. It’s like difficult easy listening, with globules of sound resisting each other like chip fat and washing up liquid. Not that it lacks more straightforward ways of hitting the dancefloor sweet spot because it doesn't  The parts may be disparate but they are made to submit to an abiding mood of vivacity and sunniness. A plethora of pulsating field explorations no less. Move this mix outdoors in the summer and that's where the interface disintergrates into a oneness with the earth and your fellow dancer and the DJ. Deep house will always eschew tired clichés don’t cha know?

But, thankfully, tVC have also lost none of their shambling, DIY philosophy or charm. The lugubrious undertow of their slinky flow is really becoming universally comprehensible to a new, more aware and sussed generation brought up on electronic music. Indeed the tVC sound mixes familiarity and misery in an oddly appealing way.

On a prosaic level, that is perhaps because deep house has made music less utilitarian: its subtle minimalism and playful ennui previously lost in the ludicrously lucrative funsucking, cheesy-anthem-fest of much of mainstream club culture. In the future we'll see less cheesy-anthem-festing and lots more smaller independent acts and DJ’s doing their own thing, but on a regional and city level. Basically we're going back down into the underground that we never left, baby, and there's nothing wrong with that. It’s where electronic music, and perhaps all art, truly thrives.

With exemplary and often excruciating honesty, of his crippling self-doubts, his needinesses, the greed of his addictions, his drive for acceptance, shallow though he knows it is, Oz still purifies his soul through his DJing. Education is about much more than learning things. As Stephen Fry maybe would say "in the rooms of friends, with earnest frolic and happy disputation. Wine can be a wiser teacher than (vinyl)." (The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry). Any excuse for a piss up, ey?

tVC are apologetically unapologetic. What that means is that on the one hand nothing has changed – people inspired by the past always want to make and hear new music – and on the other hand everything has changed – because people inspired by the past always want to make and hear new music.

Ridiculously over the top, but also ridiculous amounts of fun. It is dancing as a way of taking your mind off the fact that, as Woody Allen once put it, life is divided into the horrible and the miserable – i.e. genuine physical suffering v mere existential angst – and if you're really lucky, you end up miserable.

The revolutions we've experienced in the last few years in telecommunications, media, intelligence gathering and information processing, have coincided with an unprecedented sense of disorder and unease, not only in societies, states, economies, families, sexes, but also in species, bodies, brains, weather patterns, ecological systems. There is turbulence on so many levels that reality itself seems suddenly on edge. 

Centers are subsumed by peripheries, mainstreams overwhelmed by their backwaters, cores eroded by the very skins supposed to protect them. Master copies lose their mastery and everything valued for its size and strength, finds itself over run by micro processings once supposed too small and insignificant. It is against this backdrop that the free parties are currently being held with many such groupings of people all over the country/world, whose radius of activity is mostly confined to people in the know, often performing in unknown spaces. The atmosphere is intimate, convivial, almost private. Everyone seems to know each other; a network of clandestine societies in which the electro acoustics involve the post processing of other peoples material; where the record has become the instrument; where the sound is all about the mixture of other peoples work; where the aim is that of transcendance. True, great music should achieve this, making one transcend, and in doing so honouring the spirit, by taking you somewhere beyond, to a world you may not be familiar with, and freeing us from the unpredictable or the all too predictable realities of modern day life.