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Every year at Christmas, I usually end up with at least one gift voucher for a music store such as HMV or Virgin Megastores. Since my early teenage years I took great pride in walking in and perusing every album on the shelves. My eyes could look for easily over an hour, finally deciding on the perfect way to get value for money. Buying an album has always meant a lot to me. It makes me feel like an enthusiast, a part of the music community and a supporting fan of that particular artist. A gift voucher was like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Until I was old enough to have a part time job, I would cherish it with my life.

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Once I was home from the record store, I would put the CD on and lie on my bed so that I could listen from start to finish. During that time I’d be able to take in the artwork of the album case and read through the booklet with complete content. This regime obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, but I feel that for the past few decades the ideal of a physical collection has been really important. Whether it is vinyl, cassette or CD.

This year though, I opened my card to find an iTunes voucher inside. I was instantly elated, having only recently started using the Apple software to store my music collection. I had never really looked at the iTunes Store before and wasn’t really sure how it worked. My brother explained to me how I would go about it and once I reflected I was slightly disappointed. I had thought that maybe I would walk into the Apple store on the High Street, where they would have their own choice of records and I could continue my tradition. No, instead I would be doing this online. As I booted up the software I began clicking through a few pages and felt my heart sank.

The fact that I had received a gift for Christmas was something I should be eternally grateful for, and I was. However, knowing that I was going to be spending that money on a file, something I wouldn’t be able to touch or keep on a bookshelf felt wrong. Is this the way all of our music collections will be going? Rather than going out to the independent music stores, we will just be sitting at a screen ordering with the click of a button? Illegal file sharing may be becoming ever prominent for youths, but for those of us that still buy records the future is already arriving. Rather than flicking through cases, we’ll be scrolling through music applications.

For some this digitalisation may not be an issue, but I’ll miss having an ever-growing CD collection. Seeing the independent shops close and even the larger chains such as Zavvi go down is a saddening thought on the shift of our industry. With CD sales decreasing year on year, it will be interesting to see how artists will continue to source their income. Does Apple give artists the same profit chunk as traditional labels did? I’m not sure. Regardless, it seems that soon the CD collection will be just like Vinyl. A retro niche, overshadowed by the next technological step.

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When you think of the UK hip hop scene, usually you don’t think of two white middle aged men sporting beards or sideburns. This is with good reason though, because Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip aren’t your usual UK hip hop act. Hailing from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex, the duo have more than made a name for themselves after competing with Rage Against The Machine for the audience at this year’s Reading Festival.

Their most recent album, Angles, was released earlier this year, featuring their signature track “Thou Shalt Always Kill” which broke into the UK Top 40. So what makes these two unique? Unlike the stereotypes of their genre Scroobius Pip rhymes with passion and intellect, producing prose that can be both comical and thought provoking within an instant. Dan le Sac on the other hand is in charge of the sampling and DJ decks, occasionally unleashing his own voice in tracks such as “Look For The Woman”.

On the 29 of October The Old Fire Station opened its doors to the student demographic in Bournemouth. Inviting the cold in for an evening that would be both different and more entertaining than the usual clubbing culture, at first glance it seemed like the turnout might be poor. Rest assured though when Kid Carpet came on for the headline supporting act, the floor filled. An electro musician from Bristol, the male in his twenties was quick to introduce himself and a snippet of the array of instruments he was about to use.

“This here is my guitar. I have to strum the air like this for it to work see.” Holding a small neck from a guitar, he points to the bottom where an infra-red sensor is placed. Quickly he waves his hand in front of it, once up and once down in quick succession to show the difference between an upstroke and down stroke. It sounds ridiculous, but as soon as it’s accompanied by a series of melodies the concept seems genius. Walking round the stage with jarring movements, Kid Carpet has as much if not more energy than the crowd he’s performing to. Which is a good thing, because before long the once placid degree hopefuls are bouncing up and down and cheering when a new recognisable sample comes in.

Merchandise is being sold in the corner, subtlety being plugged by the artists in between their songs. T-shirts, albums, flyers and even LP records are scattered across the table in the dimly lit corner. With good reason, being in an economic climate where album sales are lower than ever, this is the time for artists to make their wages and spread the word for themselves.

Once his half hour is up Kid Carpet puts down the fisher price tape recorder that he’s been using for his last song, bowing graciously and taking up the microphone originally meant for him to sing in. “Are you guys ready for Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip?” He calls out to the crowd, to which he receives a well deserved roar. “Then my job here is done.”

You wouldn’t think that The Old Fire Station could get any busier on a Wednesday night, yet somehow the first sighting of Dan Le Sac on stage brings a throng truly worthy of the headlining partnership. As they announce their gratitude for having us all packed into such a tight space, with true respect Dan Le Sac is already sporting one of Kid Carpet’s t-shirts. It’s great to see the music community supporting one another. Adjusting his trucker hat Scroobius Pip is ready and their first track “Beat that my heart skipped” begins, instantly sending the audience into a chant of “Boom, boom, boom.” With a smile Scroobius Pip raises his microphone stand into the crowd, giving the ok sign to show his approval. It’s easy to see that these two enjoy the music they make and both Dan le Sac and Scroobius Pip pull off their opening with poetic flow.

‘Magician’s Assistant’ and ‘Angels’ bring a much darker tone to the set, sending Bournemouth into a hushed silence as the themes of suicide and violent points of view are explored. The lyrics show a depth that is probably more mature than many poets their age, but in a musical context it also adds to the mood and overall entertainment. This is where the mix of prose and hip hop links so well and they quickly change the mood and address this with “Fixed”. The song uses a riff from Dizzee Rascal’s “Fix Up, Look Sharp” to comment on his argued shallow climb to the top of the charts and the current state of UK Hip Hop.

They leave their most famous song “Thou shalt always kill” until the latter half of their set list when they have finished some of their playful banter. Using a large book Scroobius Pip reads like a prophet, turning the pages as he raps over what he believes society should and should not adhere too. Strangely though, even with a call from the crowd for the song “Tommy C” they leave it out of their performance, perhaps unprepared or simply running out of time. As is now customary to nearly any gig, they are brought back on for an encore after exiting and saying thank you to The Old Fire Station.

As if on a whim Scroobius Pip calls out for Kid Carpet to return to the stage and the trio ignite the crowd once more with a hardcore version of “Nightclub” by The Specials. Perhaps an odd choice of song for some, but the students seemed to show their approval by producing a mosh pit any metal band would be proud of. Although not mainstream or stereotypical enough to please everyone, Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip is definitely an act worth checking out if you’re prepared to spend some time with it. For a weekday evening I left the student bar with a grin plastered across my face, knowing that the eight pounds I had spent was more than value for money.

February 2009
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