More Urban Classic

Yeah, I’m gonna keep picking at this because it sort of does (and doesn’t) have my name written all over it.

Two articles in the Guardian and the ever-grime-friendly Independent take a peek at rehearsals for the upcoming Urban Classic event (Hackney Empire, 16th Feb; broadcasts on 1Xtra on the 18th, Radio 3 on the 24th). And both come out pretty enthused by the whole thing. The UK press is generally supportive of grime in any case – witness the steady stream of articles, which completely outweighs any commercial success to date. I take the enthusiasm here pretty much at face value but I’m a little surprised that it comes as a result of the decision to fully orchestrate the instrumental tracks, rather than including at least an electronic beat. This is a tactic I’m instinctively cautious about, because I’ve never yet heard it done effectively. Phrases like ‘the electronic loops and samples of grime tracks have been painstakingly recontructed’ make me wince. Not since Philip Glass’s pointless orchestration of Aphex Twin’s already orchestral-sounding Icct Hedral have I come across anyone prepared to grasp the nettle and actually write electronically for an orchestra, rather just transcribe. New instrumental tracks, written for the orchestra, would surely be better than something that is, from the first, a compromise.

But both writers suggest that in Urban Classic’s case it’s a move that works; fair enough, I’m happy to be surprised. Expect more on this space once I’ve pulled the 1Xtra stream to my minidisc next week…

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