Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"minimal 's dead/ dance-criticism's dud/ dance music's directionless"

How on earth did I miss the eruption of moan 'n' groan a couple of months back concerning the death of minimal (or mnml as it now appears to be cutely nicknamed by the cognoscenti), the dearth of Big Picture writing about dance music, and general entropic vibes in dancefloorland?!?

It starts, more or less, with this Guardian blogpiece entitled "The Strange Lingering Death of Minimal Techno"

(although that column does refer to a slightly earlier article in FACT)
(and even earlier there was this record of course, "Minimal", by Matias Aguayo, meta-dance complaining how mnml "got no groove, got no balls", or is it satirising those kind of moaners --either way doesn't matter, it brought the Issue into plain view)

The baton is then picked up by Ronan Fitzgerald at House Is A Feeling who suggests expanding the frame of gloom:

"Maybe the article should have been called “The strange lingering death of dance music’s direction”. Not because the genre is finished or over, but because it doesn’t seem to be travelling forward in time with any coherency. People are looking to every moment and era of the past all at once. Others are fighting desperately to etch out some kind of future. After a couple of years of hostility the sounds of the past and the present sit together quite comfortably, even as new sounds seep into 4/4from around the world.

"The only question is: where the hell do things go from here?"

Then, a month later, Ronan announces his (temporary) discursive retirement (House Is A Feeling but the Feeling is Browned Off and Burned Out), which sets off a lively discussion on the state-of-dance in his crowded comments box.

Around the same time Philip Sherburne drops his Pitchfork survey of The Year in Techno which starts off pretty darn dispirited but then suddenly perks up--significantly, with the decision to abandon the drear duty of compiling a proper all-inclusive list of 2008's top tracks--when focusing in on three saving-grace auteurs who for Phil maybe just maybe point the Way Ahead. (Persuasively enough to make me want to go check them out--and that Tobias EP is exciting, especially "Go").

Sherburne's overview then triggers a debate at Resident Advisor (which as these things do features some of those tedious types who espouse that levelheaded-me stance of "it's always a good year (so long as you don't have excessive expectations)"

Reading through all of this, as you can imagine, I'm really wanting to holler:

Now that everyone (except for those aforementioned keep-the-faith plodders who've never understood the essentially bi-polar nature of true music fandom) is on the same page I should be enjoying some kind of warm glow I suppose. Actually I feel... sad. Looking for a bright side, perhaps you do have to get to the absolute utter pits, a nadir nobody in their right mind can deny, before the whole thing can reinvent itself. Perhaps it'll come back HARD in a way that's impossible to imagine until it happens. Oh it's too late for me, my lifestyle's altered irretrievably. But I'd love it if it came back in a real powerhouse way, something that shakes up the larger culture with the same force it did back in the day, but differently. Even if I couldn’t experience it directly, could only be an onlooker.

Strangely not long after reading all the above I stumbled on this. I've no real sense why Tom thinks 2009 is set to be the Year of Techno. But it's a nice idea, isn't it. I'm tired of young men with beards.