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senser - bar academy, 13/09/2006

simon gray 2006-09-13, 12:57:37
Read this article aloud — 491 words

Before there was Cypress Hill, before there was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, before there wasThe Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, there was - in the UK at least - Senser

It's probably pushing things a bit to say they invented the genre of angry intelligent hip-hop with a strong musical underpinning, but they were clearly influential in its development. 

It was in the atmosphere of Thatcher's Britain that the band formed in the late 80s - the Criminal Justice Acts of the time, the Battle of the Beanfield, the Poll Tax, and raves on the beach and in warehouses. Mass rioting in the streets was common, and even many in 'the establishment' agreed that police violence and corruption was out of hand. 

Although Senser disappeared from the mainstream public profile almost as quickly as they entered it, despite some line-up changes they've only really had a few of years of not working together. Clearly from the audience last night, their following comprises fans from the whole period of their existence. 

When they started the show last night, I was initially struck by how fresh and relevant their sound was, not at all sounding as if it had been forged 15 years ago - and the energy was certainly still there.

But as the night wore on, I did find myself thinking I'd heard everything before - the songs, whilst definitely good and all that, did start to sound the same as each other after a while. 

Similarly, although initially I thought the political content of the songs seemed still relevant today, by the end I realised: we don't live in Thatcher's Britain any more; we don't have riots of anything like the scale of then, and - recent high profile raids and shootings aside - the police aren't nearly the right-wing private army they'd become then. To be sure, we have many problems with our current government and the erosion of civil liberties just as then, but we need a new artistic discourse of protest, not a rehash of the old arguments. 

So eventually I have to admit I was starting to get bored with being there, and left 10 minutes before the end. 

Don't get me wrong - it was a great gig, and if you are a hard core Senser fan you'll have had a great time; and I'm still just as likely to play my copy of Stacked Up whenever I'm in the mood every now and again. 

But that was then, and this is now. Maybe I've just grown up a bit more than I thought?

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