Sunday, September 06, 2009

fuzzy nuum thoughts from Matthew

fuzzy's a good word... cultural phenomena are fuzzy at the edges, and fuzzy at both ends of their temporal span (they coalesce imperceptibly, disintegrate and decay gradually). but as Matt puts it nicely, "we call the Thames the Thames even when its source and mouth are difficult to pinpoint and when it is fed by many other rivers"

not sure about his point re. nuum self-quoting and looking for examples "whereby an entire tune was lifted wholesale from one era to another to make a musical point of continuity but actually there were slim pickings"... aren't there rather a lot of them? There certainly were a bunch during the speed garage and 2step era. but his point that such echoes "form a musical vernacular, and are not wheeled out to prove lineage" is crucial; it's rarely done out of piety but because a good tune (or a good riff) is a good tune (or good riff). perhaps the distinction is that while for the nuumological scholar these echoes/recyclings prove the continu(um)ity of the macrogenre/macroscene, that isn't actually the primary motivation or point of them for the scene itself; they just occur.

what's most intriguing is that this kind of scene-reflexive recyling--whether pragmatic cannibalisation of parts or roots'n'future homage--doesn't go on to anything like the same extent in other forms of dance music (you don't get it in techno, or trance, or progressive, or house, do you?). (i have speculated before about there being a peculiar time-consciousness operative within the nuum but why that should be c.f. other dance musics I don't know -- the Jamaican influence? Reggae and hip hop have similar things going on and a similar unprecious, non-pious relationship with their musical pasts). In techno/trance/house etc obviously you get remixes of classic tunes being brought out, remade/remodelled for the current dancefloor's requirements. (Drum'n'bass, as it got more poncified, developed its own sort of arty-auteur version of this with e.g. doc scott doing "drumz 95" or goldie with his endless sequels to "terminator"). but these come out under the name of the original artist, whereas in nuum it's about collective memory and scenius; so it's not LFO getting some 2step (or funky) producer to do a paid remix of "LFO" that comes out on Warp, it's about some 2step (or funky ) producer doing a white label that's in some senses closer in spirit to the scene's bootleg of a contemporary R&B tune; there's a cheeky, appropriative, fast-money-music aspect as much as there is ancestor-honoring or this-is-our-roots.