Sunday, April 29, 2012

nuum / post-nuum / anti-nuum

1/ "End of the Road"

probing piece by Martin Clark for FACT on road rap and its implications for the (uncertain-looking) future of the hardcore continuum

"Pirate radio is being replaced with a primary medium that is indistinguishable from media used by all other musical continuums, road rap is absorbing grime’s road energy into hip-hop’s traditions, house continues to satisfy ravers’ need to dance without a strong sense of local identity, breakbeat/bass science rudeness or flava. Grime and UK funky continue to iterate in interesting ways, ways that show real promise but can’t claim the seismic bursts of intense energy they once saw. Dubstep fans who reject brostep have dispersed into either purist halfstep traditionalist stasis (“the dungeon sound”), floating islands of the post-dubstep archipelago, trad European house  and techno, homogenizing crate-digging revivalism and eclecticism, US trap rap and juke. So what’s next?"

2/ same old scene-not-scene

"What all three tracks share in common is a profound, almost militant, resistance to the immediate, booming gratification that the vast majority of contemporary club music promises. Turning bass-music formulae inside out, they represent the anti-drop. But here's the other thing: these tunes are so extreme, in their own ways, that they don't exactly invite imitation. They're difficult and hermetic; they don't play well with others"--Philip Sherburne, fromThe Genre That Shall Not Be Named (Dubstep)
Surprised to to see Phil,  hitherto a comrade in neologistic arms, taking the naming = restriction stance here

of course what he's talking about does have a name,  an unsatisfactory placeholder name: postdubstep

nu-IDM is what I used to call it for a while and i couldn't help flashing on that in this description:

"Objekt's "Cactus"... was the first to catch my ear with a weird inversion of dance-music energies: its bass wobbles with the ferocity of the down-and-dirtiest dubstep, but the rest of the tune feels gutted and hollowed-out.The drum track seems to be missing information, as though a mute button had been pressed or a patch cable had come unplugged; for all its heaviness, it's a weirdly enervated tune, gliding listlessly like a sailboat stuck in the doldrums. I've never heard it in a club, and I can only imagine that it would be tough to play effectively"

[great youtube comment on this: "it's like someone put 1995 through a paper shredder" !!]

Phil pinpoints what may well be the most interesting and revealing characteristic of these hybrids, which is that they are one-offs...

 "Jabbed like iron rods into the clockwork of the night, they feel less like seeds for potential subgenres and more like weed killer, burning off the overgrowth."

hybridisation, in the era when analogue mediation still dominated, seemed to take the form of, well,  forms...  new forms... these became the focus, the centripetal attractor, for  a collective surge, a swarming...   scenius logic: a strong new template  off which myriad minor variations could be "seeded" (to use Phil's organicist metaphor)...  this then created a monolithic vibe (Amentalism... Wobblism being the last of these -isms?) that was both impressively/oppressively total at any given rave or club night...  but that also had staying power (a new template like breakbeat science, or bass-science, could last five or six years before all the potential permutations got played out)

hybridisation, in the post-broadband era (which quickly led to the not-quite-total-but-near-enough eclipse of analogue mediation) seems to rarely lead to anything.... anything much.   Hence the the one-off hybrids.... they are non-generative, non-genre-ative....  instead, there's an interminable series of momentary agglomerations...  a particular collation of networked influences mesh inside a producer's digital audio software...

offering further thoughts on this zone and "the anti-drop" Rory Gibb at Quietus notes how "these very UK-sounding hybrid forms don't exist in a vacuum. They're all held suspended by a tangled web of reference points, connections and affiliations. More so than, say, many early dubstep and grime producers [i.e. early 2000s, before broadband really seriously eclipsed the analogue channels-- hard to remember, but emergent/golden-age grime barely had any web presence], many of these producers have a deep knowledge of music stretching far beyond their immediate surrounds."

the more connectivity in the post-geographical sense (and atemporal, archive-raiding sense), the less connection to a here-and-now....  the more that artists are drawn out of a fully current, geographically-situated musical conversation... (a continuum)

as well as undermining the conditions for scenius to emerge, this centripetal, dis-integrative logic (inherent to digiculture, to networks?) seems to extend the other direction too... to worm itself inside the practice of the individual producer...  conceivably, it's as anti-genius as it is anti-scenius

for, at the extreme, even the artist doesn't develop a personal style... doesn't repeat themselves... each new track is another genre-of-one

style is related to a measure of inflexibility, a measure of predictability...  that's how we recognise artistic signature.... but in the ultra-flexibilized conditions of digiflux, the artist is encouraged to endlessly differ from himself or herself, is pulled every-which-way by the same forces that (as described in Martin Blackdown's piece) are dis-integrating the nuum

genre = collectivised style... it too depends on an element of inflexibility, an element of predictability... on lockstep

3/ oh those analogue days, those economy-of-scarcity days

FACT interview with Loefah on his attachment to vinyl and buying old hardcore and jungle 12s

Q:  So hardcore was the real beginning for you.

A:  Hardcore was what got me started buying music on vinyl, yeah. And it was literally ‘cos you couldn’t get it anywhere else. I didn’t have decks at the time, I couldn’t mix; I was like 11 or 12 years old. But I used to save my pound lunch money every day, ‘cos the records were a fiver, and on Fridays I’d go down to Wax City Records in Croydon..... At the same time I was picking up flyers and it was like the same thing with that, I started collecting flyers and just….being part of it. Being part of that hardcore thing...  It was all about, if you’ve got it, then you were hardcore [laughs]. What I try to do at the moment [with Swamp81] – it’s a similar kind of ethos. The music’s there on vinyl. If you want to go and get it, you can; I’m not gonna shout about it, I’m not gonna try to get it into HMV or whatever the fuck the high street record store is now [laughs], I’m not gonna go digital, I’m not gonna do all that shit… so it’s like, it’s over here. If you want to be part of it, you can be, but you’ve got to make a bit of effort. And that’s kind of what hardcore was about. If you made the effort to find your local independent record shop, if you made the effort to get the flyer to go to the rave – ‘cos without the flyer you literally wouldn’t know about it, there was no internet, there weren’t many adverts, at least not for the smaller raves – then you were hardcore. If you did make that effort, then you were accepted, you were in a kind of gang, a club. It was a special thing, and it was linked into the record shops, the vinyl, the pirates, the flyers – it was all this one thing together. That was hardcore for me.