August 26, 2014


by Chris Randall

The video above is outstanding. There's no other way to describe it. I'm not a big Goldie fan, being more on the Roni Size side of the fence when it comes to rollers, but the Heritage Orchestra performing Goldie, with that level of musicianship, and the joy the proceedings bring to the table, is a prime example of the Perfect Storm, where everything comes together, and the energy that it gives off is greater than the energy that went in to making it. (And that, in my opinion, is the definition of art, overall.)

I don't really have anything to say about the performance, because it is both objectively and subjectively outstanding. I do have something to say about this, though:

Here's the thing: it is perfectly acceptable to not like something. It's even acceptable to voice that opinion. Music, like anything creative, is a subjective endeavor. But that comment is a prime example of the form of Internet Fuckwittery we've come to learn is a byproduct of making cool shit. The Dunning-Kruger Effect in full force. (The tl;dr version: the Dunning-Kruger effect is a scientific study that proves the old saw that a fool is certain, while a wise man is full of doubt.)

In my various careers, I've run in to this a lot. There's the pedigreed version, in the form of the guy that writes reviews of records and live shows. There's the semi-pro version, where someone has enough knowledge to make music, but not enough to do it well, and becomes a self-taught expert on gear, but not its use. There's the fan version, wherein lyrics that were generally chosen for their ability to fit in to a rhyming scheme become the subject of debate and broad declaratives about an artist's state of mind. There's the Agile version, where stakeholders and user stories substitute for actually having a vision. It goes on and on.

Chris Killer is phrasing his comment in this form: "I am an expert on the live orchestration and performance of 90s drum 'n' bass, and this fellow needs to work at things a little while in order to properly meet my exacting specifications of what, exactly, constitutes same." Chris isn't, however, an expert on anything having to do with this performance. He isn't even a semi-expert. As far as I can tell, the only relationship he might have to this performance is that he bought a Goldie record once.

And there's the rub: it's okay to just say "I don't like this." Leave it at that. "In my opinion, this isn't done the way I like to see Goldie's music done." That's totally fine. Everyone's okay with that. But when you're all "I KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS THING AND YOU DID THIS THING WRONG EVEN THOUGH IT'S YOUR THING AND NOT MY THING" you're running a serious risk of coming off like a fuckwit.


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Aug.27.2014 @ 8:44 AM
Leaving aside of course the possibility that he was being sarcastic ...

I've often fantasized about writing the arrangement getting an orchestra to perform Rhythim is Rhythim "Strings of Life." Technically it could be easy enough that a high school orchestra could do a creditable performance. It would be the same, note by note, but completely different in context and execution, and would be exciting in completely different ways than the original.

I like this Goldie business better than the Jeff Mills orchestral things, for a couple of reasons: 1. Goldie's original work did have a a pretty wide-screen orchestral intent, so it maps onto a live acoustic version better 2. The Jeff Mills stuff seemed to be structured and arranged to add some high culture legitimacy to something that didn't require it in the first place.

The Aphex Twin/Philip Glass orchestral stuff didn't work that well either, for similar reasons. In contrast, the Alarms Will Sound live versions of Aphex Twin songs worked really well.

And I'm really fond of the Metal Machine Music orchestral performance. That may say more about me than about its ultimate artistic value.

To me it's the difference between a fly and a fly caught in amber.

Aug.27.2014 @ 8:52 AM
@Chris -- Software methodologies are either a fig leaf on people continuing to do what they'd do anyway, or a layer of bureaucratic crud applied by people who couldn't build software themselves if their lives depended on it.

Agile is good as that sort of thing goes, but only insofar as it's used as a loose organizing principle for a development organization. I lost count years ago but I've been the victim of 6 or 7 different development methodologies in my career; they're about as significant in the end as the fashions for mens trousers.

I'm not convinced software development as an active actually scales beyond a group of 4 or 5 programmers anyway, no matter what methodology you use. AudioDamage is about the optimal size for a development team.

Aug.27.2014 @ 10:50 AM
dj empirical
Chris Killer, better you than me
Chris Killer, fuck his shitcockery

Aug.27.2014 @ 11:59 AM
@chaircrusher there are, perhaps unfortunately, quite a lot of orchestral versions of Strings of Life.


isn't fuckwit and youtube comment usually synonymous?

Aug.27.2014 @ 2:47 PM
I love the criticism that the live drummer playing insane beats doesn't sound exactly like the sped up programmed samples from the original. And the idea that it should. Hilarious.

My problem with most of these things (like the Alarm Will Sound - Aphex Twin stuff) is that it sounds too much like the original, but that's a problem I have with covers in general. What's the point then? Why is "sounds just like someone else's version" the goal for some people? Only if you're a tribute band, as far as I'm concerned.

This was a pretty good balance, and a great performance.

On another note, I was just looking up Goldie last night and bought something since Timeless was the only thing I really knew and I haven't listened to it in many years (also much more of a Roni Size fan). Weird coincidence.

Aug.28.2014 @ 5:17 AM
I'd love to know how many of his seminal nineties DIY Drum n Bass compositions have been performed by a full orchestra in beautiful English venues.

I mean, the guy's name is Chris Killer. Cunt Kunt would be more apt.

I'm from the same place as Goldie, and it's damned grim. I've also spent a lot of time in the Bristol area where the whole Trip Hop, Massive Attack and Roni Size movements are from, and in Bristol there was a massive scene, and all very much related to each other and were borne out of a massive energy the whole area seemed to have and still has. It's a beautiful place.

Goldie's achievement to me is even more staggering, as the area he's from - Wolverhampton - is a total shithole which produced absolutely nothing in the same time. It was completely solo, and the coldness comes across in Timeless, in the same way the warmth and colour - to me - is evident in stuff like Brown Paper Bag.

Aug.28.2014 @ 6:56 AM
@bongo_x If only Chris Killer's comment was instead posted by Roni Size, we'd all have had a good laugh and moved on.

Aug.28.2014 @ 8:43 AM
Chris Randall
That, exactly.


Aug.28.2014 @ 5:49 PM
Very on point commentary. I watched the video first and then read your commentary. The entire time I was watching the video the thing that really stood out to me the most was the drumming. I've listened to "Timeless" and I was really looking forward to seeing how they were going to implement the really complex break beat drumming. In my mind I was, like there is no way one human alone could drum that way. It isn't physically possible. I guess it isn't possible, but even having two drummers work on the drum lines still seems pretty much impossible to me. I can't believe how true to the album the music is represented. Bizarre to see someone criticize someone else, when they clearly are dismissing such an excellent performance. I guess everything is up for debate, but the I can't find much fault in the drumming. In fact, that was the thing I was most impressed with. Bizarre for that to be the complaint. Maybe Chris was drunk or something?

Aug.28.2014 @ 5:54 PM
Actually fuck that. Even if I was drunk I would have thought that was amazing. That's just some petty ass shit to say.

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