The Squire of Alsatia

A new uptempo mix from me, like the previous mix, Tabula Rasa which was an existential psych mix without many psych tunes, it’s far from just some tunes thrown together, there are layers and multiple themes. It’s deep, yes this mix has a sort of manifesto, a journey which spans from xylophone jazz to electro and pop to drum and bass, ska and reggae. *deep breath*

What’s Alsatia? Well, I was doing one of my Wikipedia trawls, I think trying to find more about King Arthur an Opera by Purcell (again not featured in the mix but Nyman borrowed part of this tune which is how I ended there). I found that the opera debuted at the Dorset Garden Theatre, I tried to track down the location and found out it was a lawless zone in London called in thieves’ cant (a sort of palare, a secret dialect) Alsatia. Nothing to do with Alsace (apart from it was then equally lawless) but it was the site of a former Carmelite monastery – hence it’s modern name ‘Whitefriars’ which like the Southwark Mint meant it was free from certain laws, usually to do with debts. Hard to think now that in antiseptic corporate London had such places, a Wild West in your backyard!

So poor people in debt flocked to these ‘rookeries‘ (an early name for what we’d call a ghetto or slum) and built upwards, rickety buildings all crammed together, messy and noisy like crows. Stuff of Dickens and Hogarth’s Gin Lane and indeed they survived until the end of Victorian times. One of the strange things was apparently on Sunday there was an amnesty for debtors – I guess to go to church – so people used to come out and try and beg for money or food, then rush back before the debt collectors caught them!

So I decided to name the mix after a picture, the one I used above called The Squire of Alsatia originally by Pierce Tempest. Obviously it’s a joke since squire is a man of high standing and Thomas Shadwell wrote a play with that title which sounds very much like a prototype for Oliver Twist, a sort of Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels of it’s day. The mix started about my anger over gentrification, the closure of the Black Cap, Madame JoJo’s, Joiners Arms…and the death of scenes, as soon as any scene or group of people happens the countdown is ticking for it’s inevitable destruction.

Culture tends to exist not in the high class art galleries, but the cracks afforded by lawless places, like the Asylum which didn’t have a license, the shebeens, the squats, the rookeries of today. Gentrification in London is squeezing all of that out, for safety deposit boxes in the sky. Art, music and real culture isn’t something for corporate sponsors, it grows like weeds or fungus in places like the seven rookeries, rubbing it’s shoulders with the thieves, the crooks, the poor.

Then, as always events overtook – Baltimore kicked off with riots, and the UK election loomed large…so I extended it to cover modern ghettos and poverty which seemed an obvious progression, bringing in the reggae and drum and bass consciousness. I wasn’t going to talk about the State of the Nation and elections but Kabaka Pyramid fit so well, so really the mix has several parts – the first bit about gentrification and dying culture, then there’s a riot going on, elections and then a sort of uneasy and strangely happy Last Dance ‘Sunday’ conclusion. This is very much a sort of soundtrack without a film, or even an opera without the score πŸ˜‰

The funny thing is it comes full circle – as I was doing the graphics I was reading about Shadwell, he had a feud with Dryden – who did the libretto for King Arthur with Purcell…

Big thanks to Ian Lloyd for the Monophonics track as played in Lloydbrary 66 and reminding me of the Bad Ass track – those are a big inspiration for these mixes.

“But there are some few spots of ground in London, just in the face of the Government, unconquer’d yet, that hold in Rebellion still.” (148Mb, 1:20)

  • Arthur Lyman – Those Were The Days
  • East India Youth – End Result
  • Scissor Sisters – It Can’t Come Quickly Enough
  • The 2 Bears – The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)
  • !!! – All U Writers
  • Minty – Useless Man (The Grid 12″ Mix)
  • Scissor Sisters – Running Out
  • Devo – Freedom Of Choice
  • My Robot Friend – Dead
  • Fabio Frizzi – Voci Dal Nulla
  • Shut Up and Dance – Death Is Not the End
  • The United States Of America – The Garden Of Earthly Delights
  • Blur – Death Of A Party (Billy Whiskers Mix By William Orbit)
  • Monophonics – There’s A Riot Going On
  • The Wildlife Collective – I Need A Dollar
  • Ed Solo & Deekline – Bad Boys (feat Top Cat)
  • Micky Finn & Aphrodite – Bad Ass (Serial Killaz Remix)
  • Zinc – Ready Or Not 2003 Mix
  • Monophonics – Promises
  • Kabaka Pyramid – Well Done
  • My Robot Friend – Failure
  • Sandra Bernhard – Lonely Town
  • Beth Orton – Go Down Easy
  • Gravediggaz – Mommy, What’s A Gravedigga (Screwed by Babe Rainbow)
  • McAlmony And Adamski – The Last Waltz
  • The Bluebeaters – End Titles

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