Arsonists Glasgow: The Arches, Sun 26 Mar.
When Arsonists released their debut album, As The World Burns, it caused something of a stir among hip hop cognoscenti, thanks in part to the deft freestyle skills and heavy underground production. The group also attracted attention for their uncompromising stance, signing to indie label Matador to guarantee creative control, abandoning corporate hip hop strategy of drafting in R&B sirens and guest producers to shift units.
Conversely, Arsonists relinquished the tenets of the underground as well, favouring humour over macho posturing and endless tales of thug lives, as seen on standout 'Rhyme Time Travel's journey through the rap styles of 1979, 1988 and 1999.
'With the live show and in the studio,’ explains MC Jise One, 'we take something that we would take to our living room. We're not afraid to smile on stage, we’ve been having fun doing this stuff for years. We go out there to perform with the crowd. We don’t have that ‘You're here to see us’ attitude. People have paid good money to have a good time, so it isn't right to just stand on one spot and talk about life on the streets. If the music on stage makes us want breakdance, why not?’
Given their refusal to be pigeonholed, and an emphasis on the key elements of hip hop culture, Arsonists were soon tagged as keepers of the old school faith. 'We do try to eliminate the segregation of commercial and underground,’ admits Jise One. ’As far as the old school thing, that was a label put on us. It was a good time, but that time has gone. What we want to show is that the elements - DJing. MCing, breaking, graffiti writing and beatboxing — have all been elevated. The lyrics are more complex. The
If the music on stage makes us want breakdance, why not?
scratching has gone to new heights.’
Arsonists, then, are a group who take the uncompromising production values of alternative hip hop, but eschew the macho mores, write accessible, rhymes homogenisation and look back to times past without resorting to tired Wildstyle breaks.
Thankfully, this mass of contradictions is lent cohesion by the skills of the polymath five man crew. Q-Unique, D-Stroy and Freestyle produce, and, along with Jise One and Swell Boogie, dabble in graffiti and breaking. The five come into their own, however, when at the mic, and the mastery of freestyle technique they display live are the main attraction, with the MCs switching styles and duelling each other while covering all lyrical bases. With hard beats to draw in the hip hop faithful, and rhymes to entice those put off by macho posturing, Arsonists look set to move the crowd, whatever brand of hip hop they favour. (Jack Mottram)
avoiding major label
Speyer cites New York as the definitive influence on his music
Loz Speyer Quartet Glasgow: Harbour Jazz, Thu 30 Mar; Stirling: Cowane Theatre, Sat 1 Apr. Trumpeter Loz Speyer last toured Scotland with his quartet in 1998. His present itinerary takes him to Montrose and Aberdeen as well as these central
42 THE LIST 16—30 Mar 2000
belt dates, and will feature some new material destined for his next album, a successor to last year’s well—recieved Two Kinds of Blue on 33 Records.
The Miles Davis allusion in the title is a little tongue-in-cheek, but while there is a discernable influence of Davis in his playing, he is by no means simply
an imitator. He began playing trumpet at school, and his initial interest in jazz was fostered by trumpeter Henry Lowther.
’The biggest influence on me though, was a summer I spent in New York,’ reveals Speyer. ’I really got into free jazz — I was seeing people like Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra playing in small clubs, which made a real impact on me. At the same time I picked up a lot about the fundamentals of bebop from a guy I met there called Bob Johnston. He was a bit of a down-and-out by that time, but he was a great guitar player, and we would sit in Washington Square running down bebop tunes until I got them right. I feel the relationship between these two things has been really important in my music, and for me, they are very related.’
Speyer will bring two versions of his quartet north, one with the CD line-up of guitarist Andy Jones, bassist Richard Jeffries and drummer Tony Bianco, and the other with Jones’ successor, Richard Bolton. 'I haven't used the two guitarists together so far,’ Speyer says, 'but I quite fancy trying that out at some point, possibly on the next album.‘ (Kenny Mathieson)
WHILE FULL DETAILS of the confirmed bill at T in the Park have been revealed (see page “I? for details) the summer's other big music event, the proposed Gig On The Green still remains unconfirmed. The bill and details of the show planned for Glasgow Green on August bank holiday weekend (26 & 27 Aug) to be headlined by Oasis and Primal Scream will be announced by promoters Regular Music in the new two weeks.
NEW GLASGOW MUSIC initiative Northern Rock is an opportunity for those resident in the north areas of the city to gain access to music- making facilities. The first fruits of this venture culminate in a gig at MacSorleys Pub on Friday 17 March. Anyone wishing to get involved or in need of more information can call Hugh Reed O’Hagan on 0141 400 7791 or e-mail on directoranorthernrockfestivalgp.fr eeserve.co.uk
IDLEWILD HAVE CONFIRMED they will be gracing us central belt dwellers with their presence soon with a special instore appearance at the Buchanan Street Virgin megastore. The appearance on Sunday 9 April marks the release of their album 100 Broken Windows, out on the following day. Look out next issue for our special on the road feature with the band.
CHART TOPPING, SOUL laydee about town Gabrielle has announced two dates to keep us warm in the winter months. She plays Dundee Caird Hall on Saturday 5 November and Glasgow Clyde Auditorium on the following night.
THOSE DEBONAIR TYPES Hefner pop in for an evening of suave guitar-led
experiments at the Edinburgh Venue
on Saturday 8 April. Look out for their new album Boxing Hefner also out in April.
THOSE PIONEERING WEEGIE guitarrorists Mogwai are playing a one-off date at the Edinburgh Venue on Tuesday 4 April. This is a warm up for the Bowlie Festival the following weekend in Camber Sands, an event which the band themselves helped set up. If only it had been 500 miles further north, we at The List would be happy