Friday, August 05, 2005

Talking of unlikely cover versions, I see that Deep Dish have done a cover of "Dreams". Somehow the sacrilege is only doubled by the fact they've roped in Stevie Nicks to redo the vocal. (Their new album George Is On--huh?--also includes a mash-up of Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" with Deep Dish's own "Flashdance"). For some reason Deep Dish for me encapsulate everything that is mediocre and grimly industrious about the mainstream of dance culture in the Noughties. There's a cover story on them in the June/July issue of BPM and even the writer seems bemused by the fact that they've continued to be "so unbelievably prominent". The duo's Ali Shiranzinia thinks it because "people are always wondering where we're going to go next musically, so they're always paying attention. Like with Howard Stern..." What planet is this guy on?!?!?! More plausibly, he thinks it's also down to "pure hard work. We never decided to go away for awhile and come back. We've always maintained our aggressiveness." This theme of tenacity--"We've worked too hard. We've stayed up too many nights, travelled all over the world, and given it our blood, sweat and tears. We have to see it through"--is chimed throughout the piece. That's the mainstream dance industry in 2005: refusing to relinquish its portion of the shrunken pie, blocking the new love-not-money talent from coming through.

Flicking through BPM (still mystifyingly appearing in my mailbox) is weirdly fascinating, like looking at a world I once just about intersected with that's now drifted way, way off. I recognise the words but the combinations they're in don't quite compute. What is "disco-trance" and how I can avoid ever hearing it? (That's from an ad for new Bedrock artist Luke Fair, whose music is described as "an energetic blend of disco-trance and progressive funk". Ugh). Depressing to see all these DJs--Sasha, Richie Hawtin, James Zabiela (whoever he is)--gambling on Ableton Live as the next frontier, what'll bring the audiences back to the superclubs. Why something that pushes seamless-dj-mixology to the next level of inter-track indistinguishability should be a smart move is anybody's guess. Yet in its own way the opposite trend--eclecticism, "great records from all kinds of genres," the best of the past and the present--that sort of neo-Balearic stance touted in the August issue of BPM by everyone from Damian Lazarus (if I'm not mistaken, the guy who put out Position Normal's Stop Your Nonsense) to Tim Sweeney--seems equally a dead end. Or at least, it might make for a great night-out (as it does with Sweeney, with Optimo), and it might in practice and in most instances be preferable to the mono-stylistic purist approach, but, well, it's not exactly the basis of a culture. It's more like a stalling game, playing for time until the Next Thing, the next all-consuming rallying point. I guess the synthesis that I'm imagining that would transect the purism/eclecticism binary is the scene that combines a total sense of identity with expansiveness, a voracious ability to assimilate external influences but bind them within its own fierce sense of generic self--Kogan's "context of abundance"--the model being hardcore, or 2step, or in the largest sense, some could argue, hip hop, come to think of it. Some would say house was once and still could be and sometimes still is such a context of abundance, and I can almost believe it listening to things like that fabulous M.A.N.D.Y. Body Language 1 mix (An The Original Soundtrack Turn-On), although it's still a little too much a scenic tour through both the finest views and some overlooked nooks of dance history to scream PHUTURE in my face.

(Talking of things screaming PHUTURE in your face, what's with the insane degree of 303-bashing going on? That sound is all over most of the Analord 1-11 series [parts of which are really excellent I think, a White Stripesy retro-move by RDJ that's actually paid off big time] and I was surprised to find myself really enjoying the Fabric Live mix by Death In Vegas [whose actual albums are prima facie evidence if you wanted to construct an argument about the decline of the art school rock tradition in the UK] which is pretty much one long neo-acieeed fest).

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