The filtered world
a psychogeographic dual review of Scientist's "Rids the world of the evil curse of the vampires" and "Heavyweight dub champion"
The walk between Shepherd's bush and White city isn't exactly the legendary journey it promises to be, I merely quasi-circumnavigate the BBC through Hammersmith Park, expecting at least a gradual brightening of the streets, but as I travel past the stained bricks of White city tube station, I figure that the only white around is the average face exiting the dark hallway into the non-descript street ahead.
Ten minutes later and I'm surrounded by shifting Caribbeans in Latimer Road. Scientist's version titles are deceptive marquees advertising a ludicrous cast of creature features, monsters of the week and duels of titans.
I listen to "Rids the world of the evil curse of the vampires" back to back with "heavyweight dub champion", skanking through strata of West London. The city and albums alike are open invitations to maunder and mooch between layers; the stations, streets and tracks names give a sense of organization but they end up being, more than mere markers on the map, another layer of man-made deposition, anecdotal blood stains on an opaque mille-feuille of garish pigments and unidentified binders.
I cross the street to avoid a quiche-like plash of vomit that's been there for rainless weeks, hardly eroded by wind and hungry pigeons, five-hundred meters from the pizzeria, it must have been quite a feast, they have a buy one-get one free deal on extra-large pie to pie, dust to dust.
Scientist, the master-wanderer, doesn't bother with the past, it exists as mere texture, fading fast into atoms of carbons to be reconfigured, separated, clustered, the drum and bass are the only constants here, simply because without them there's nothing left in the echo chamber but the sound of the dust creeping in.
I take a straight left onto Ladbroke grove, it is a pleasantly balmy morning, full of details I can't quite make sense of yet, as if the contrast was too low to make out specific features in the stuccoed terraces.
Five months later this is my home, day and night, and I get to experience these two albums again, on the darkened Portobello road.
I spend months negotiating the jumps, climbs and falls between urban mesas and canyons, rooftops and basement flats, bass drops and foundational kicks, the vertiginous gaps between the trains and platforms of dual histories, dreamed or documented. Scientist exhumes legendary nuggets from within the scories accumulated in the cracks between bleak History and poignant stories, sandblasting the multiple coats of cheap paint and homo sapiens grease; he leaves human affairs behind, the world is full of them, I hear the screams every night and turn up the headphones, everything looks different from the daytime, the priest isn't smiling outside his church on Ladbroke grove, the corner shop's metal curtain is down, the drinking leaves the pub and continues on the street corner, the singer gets lost in his ginger beer can while scientist finds a guitar hidden inside the piano on "your teeth in my neck", vampires might well exist after all, walking down greed street, as plausible as heavy-weight champions.
I finally warm up to London as I leave its reality and start moving above the buildings and through underground tunnels, making connections between the layers: night and day, paranormal and banal, authentic and reformed, both sides of a coin I decide to spend, another pint maybe?
It's raining on Ladbroke grove, "Kidney punch" is on, the evening disappears, its pointless neon signs, dirty T.V. windows and unreliable street lights washed away in millions of infinitesimal blurred reflections, I am walking home from a friend's smokey rented basement, thinking mystery meat and chips soaked in malt vinegar between two slices of bass and drums.
And as I fall out of love with the rotting city, I nevertheless get to enjoy the soundtrack better than the otherwise dull drama, and there are of course the occasional bits of corny dialogue but it doesn't bother me any more, I push a button, turn a knob and they sound prophetic, it's all about the right filters.