Dale Cornish - Traditional Music of South London
Puckered with ruggedly pointillist swagger and evoking discrete worlds hidden in plain sight, ‘Traditional Music of South London is a riveting masterwork by experimental music’s distinctive and cherished modernist, Dale Cornish. It is a concrète grimoire of recent and ancient folklore that binds Dale’s music, lyrics, and background into a strikingly personal synecdoche of South London. Since emerging as part of London’s shouty electroclash movement in the mid ‘00s, and assuming the role of deconstructed rave pioneer and poet in 2011, Dale Cornish has been (lo)key to new movements in electronic music’s underbelly for the best part of this century. His 12th LP, proper, ‘Traditional Music of South London’ is Dale’s definitive record; a confident testament to artistic maturity that comes with doing your thing against the grain over decades, and a potent expansion on ideas chiselled during his run of releases with the inspirational (now sadly defunct) label, Entr’acte, who helped foster Dale’s explorations of concrète rave and industrial pop tropes during the ‘10s.. On one level the album reads as a deep topography or psychosexual-geography of London’s lost gay club haunts, with the meat-motoring deep house of ‘Great Storm’ recalling DJ Sprinkles taking Loefah to the darkroom in its concrète carved and flesh trembling 8:08 perfection; or more literally in ‘Foxhole’, with Dale’s deliciously Croydon-toned accent describing urban gay mythologies with pungent lyrics about rotten fox cadavers synced to drily ricocheting hand claps, while the tight swinge of his “requiem for all the dead gay venues” in the gut-level bass of ‘Hoist Crash Fort’, and the playful evocation of “internecine conflict within the gays - live!” on ‘Palace Intrigue’ just utterly slap like nothing else. Yet it’s in the LP’s slower, bloozier and folky vocal bits that Dale’s dare- to-differ character comes into its own. The clandestine skulk of ‘My Geography’ portrays him like a modern Jandek traversing London’s brutalist-meets-semi rural meridian, and at its gooier core flashes of folk-classical brilliance such as the groggy ‘Norman Lewis’ give way to the writhing foley orgy of ‘Crowd Scene’, while the naked, one-take end of szn paean of ‘SCY BFR HNH’ and slurred, Tricky-esque confessional ’Shout Outs’ consolidate and temper the conflicting aspects of his persona with a deep burning pathos in the LP’s fading phosphorescence. In an era of overproduction and imitation-not-innovation, Dale’s strikingly original, sensually brutalist industro-folk-dance-pop critically cocks a snook at conventional, careerist music while embracing its heartical truths. An extremely personal record certain to resonate with those who believe art in music still matters. Love it to death.
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