Thursday, February 03, 2005

Ronan raises some interesting points. However the only one i'm going to respond to (cos I'm a bit busy) is the one i can easily knock out of the park (sorry!). The bit about Human League as just a British twist on Moroder--actually, Dare defined the state of the art at that point (i interviewed Rushent for the bk, he was quite sniffy about Moroder and only grudging re. Kraftwerk), Rushent & crew, they were using the absolutely top of the range, brand-new-that-week technology, and doing things nobody had yet done. Love and Dancing was the first remix album, wasn't it? I think they pipped Soft Cell to the post for that honor. (Also, the League can claim to have invented shaffel with "Things That Dreams Are Made Of" which has a sort of electronic version of the Gary Glitter beat on it). They were other New Popsters who had a bit of a postmodern thing going (soft cell with the northern soul element) but Human League at the point were pretty full-on modernist (unless covering the Get Carter theme counts as postmodernism). Same with New Order, they were responding to stuff that was happening in new york right that minute.

The "aging junglist" is a fair comment. It's totally accurate! But being one, i've now got a bit more sympathy for those older types who when i was ranting on about Loop or MBV whoever reinventing/rebirthing rock tended to have a shruggy reaction.

(which reminds me i forgot to mention the mini-shoegaze revival in dance as another retro trend, although that looking outside dance culture's own history, strictly speaking i suppose)

Jess has also has some nuancing. If anything, if his original analogy was based on the UK, the Fatboy-as-Beegees thing is even more shaky. If rave was disco, then the disco explosion starts in 1988 (or even earlier, "Jack Your Body" by Steve Silk Hurley was number one in the UK in January 1987). Fatboy-as-BGs happens a decade after all that. I'd actually say Fatboy is one of the first revivalists, his whole thing is a composite of old great tried-and-true stuff (everybody needs a 303, gospelly deep house with 'praise you', bit of old skool hip hop, some italo-rave piano on 'song for lindy', etc etc) which is irresistibly put together and serves as a kind of closing of the circle (i think that is the meaning of 'you've come a long way baby' sort of the ukdrugs-and-dance-culture equivalent of 'what a long strange trip it's been', the baby addressed not to an individual but the whole scene).

i dunno why it's so hard for folks to grasp that the original piece was about two continguous phenomena 1. the fortunes of electronic dance/rave in the USA (a bloody rout, basically c.f. my Nazi invasion of Russia analogy from last year) 2. the aesthetic midlife rudderlessness of the genre as a whole. After all, might they not be connected? if the genre was coming up with more mindblowing, you-really-must-pay-attention-stuff it might be doing better here. Probably not, given all the other factors stacked up against it here. But certainly shaffel or Sasha touting his Ableton Live thingy is not going to win back even the hipsters or fashionistas, let alone the fratboys.

in terms of optimism/pessimism, that piece went through many stages, and here is an alternate ending. another rockcentric analogy (cover your eyes people) but it might actually be the most accurate one. picking up from noting how weekly genre specialist clubs have died the death in san francisco but that special warehouse events (that have a sense of event) are thriving there, relatively speaking, it concludes:

"Perhaps the downturn for dance culture was necessary--a pruning back to the roots in preparation for regeneration. It can never be the new thing again, but it can hold out for renaissances yet to come. Perhaps the most hopeful analogy is with heavy metal, of all things. Throughout its long history, metal has gone through periods of commercial dominance followed by phases of being excluded from the mainstream and the radio. Metal has also experienced long patches during which it’s been aesthetically rudderless and sapped of inspiration. But it’s always bounced back. Dance music, like metal, is firmly established as a perennial option on the youth cultural menu. It will always attract a certain sort of person. But the chances are that somewhere down the line it will start once again to draw people beyond that core catchment. After all, as leisure activities go, dancing until dawn amid an ecstatic multitude remains a competitive option. “There’s been moments before when the scene’s changed and I’d think ‘oh God, it’s ending,’” recalls Galen [of Pacific Sound, SF party organisation]. “But here I am ten years since Pacific Sound started throwing parties, and it’s still going. The music is still coming out, even though the sales are down. There’s still people passionate about it. Maybe it’ll take some sort of trend in the music or something that hits a chord with whatever new generation’s coming up, and it could blow up again, in a different way”.

Going back to a point of Ronan's, quickly, actually the LCD Soundystem's probably my favorite lp of 05. the next thing i'll post here will be an interview i did with james murphy which includes quite a nice defence from him of the reworking-elements-from-the-past approach (and semi-refutation of the modernist/futurist completely-out-of-the-blue mindset that i have such trouble shaking off), however (cover your eyes again) some of his comments did remind me a wee bit of stuff Bobby Gillespie used to say in the early pre-acidhouse days of primal scream, he used to talk re. rock history as a library from which you can pluck books from any era.

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