Tuesday, December 18, 2007

nuum talk

* dissensus thread started by Gabba Flamenco Crossover on dubstep's migration into the free party scene where its sloth and coldness mesh perfectly with the Ketamine-induced Katatonia that's long defined the squat-rave vibe, When the pharmasonic synergy kicks in and producers from that scene start to propel dubstep deep into the K-hole, will the genre's metabolism screw right down to... quarter-step?

* bassline: another piece by Hattie Collins, this time for RWD and letting the scene itself--deejays, producers, promoters, even vocalists--tell their own story.
plus K-punk on bassline's freakadelic fairground aesthetic (and re. erm, nongenitality,yeah, totally, the amorousness of bassline is utterly fantastical and hyper-real; nothing to do with real-world between-sheets carnality, more luvdup than love action.)

* Martin Clark convenes a clutch of movers and shakers in the London scene to assess the significance of funky house's ever-rising popularity in the capital; whether it is indeed a major "pendulu(nuu)m swing". Martin is surely right to argue that the most exciting phases are those periods of semantic indeterminacy before anyone can settle on a genre name, everything's still in flux, the sound has yet to arrive at itself. But the difference between this moment and grime's wot-u-call-it phase in 2003 was that then there was a very obviously new and highly significant entity that was simultaneously demanding to be called something and evading the nomenclative fix. Here it's much less clear if there's even an "it" that's sufficiently defined/different to require a "wot". "Funky" melts into other genres at every edge without establishing much sense of itself as a demarcated terrain of sound. And as Martin notes at a couple of points, "funky" isn't yet a great leap forward, or even sideways, musically; the sonic paradigm shift has yet to reveal itself. Lots of interesting points made during the discussion (e.g. the bit on reloads in grime--a classic example of going into the Zone of Fruitless Intensification, something that was incredibly exciting--the rewind--getting overdone to the point where there's a complete disruption of any flow) but at the end of reading it I felt as confused as its participants appeared to be!

Martin lays out what the shift constitutes more starkly in his Pitchfork summation of the year in grime and dubstep. Kudos for the coinage "reflectist" in this nub passage:

"...In the capital funky house is on the march into grime's London fanbase. Diametrically opposite to grime [feminine, escapist, "mature raver," warm, anodyne, danceable, tracky, DJ-focused, shoes/shirts versus masculine, reflectist, "yout," hard, raw, watchable, MC-focused, hoods/trainers], funky house shows every sign of becoming UK garage part 2. While the sound is fairly generic funky house now, the sound of every wine bar as it has been for over a decade, urban London has now got its hands on the genre. History has proven that when they do, it gets claimed for their own and quickly mutated."

That's the glass half-full view. The other outlook would be to see this latest return to 'dancing/4X4/girl-friendly/'adult hardcore'/dressing smart' not as a drastic swing/start-of-something-new a la 1997 and speed garridge, but as the wheel turning one complete revolution... and coming to a dead stop. Back to where 'we' started. Or before we started, even: pre-rave, pre-acieeed. The words 'house' and 'funky' have a lameness to them, a stale familiarity. They suggest a modesty of ambition, of demand.