or was it stupid and annoying? you decide.
It's unlistenable, has me scrambling for the off button within seconds of the drop
called out!Quite often during hardcore continuum discourse there'll be an invocation of "the feminine"--as a depleted or suppressed quality in the music, and sometimes in the discourse about the music too. This deplorable deficit will prompt calls for an irrigation of fluidity to counteract the encroaching inflexibility, whether it's a stiffness and riffness afflicting a particular nuum genre, or the "ossification " [fnote1] syndrome caused by excessively rigorous theorizing.
Now the person invoking "the feminine" in these debates (if they're well-read they might even mention Helene Cixous's ecriture feminine) is always male, and not the least bit hesitant about recruiting "the feminine" to support their argument (generally aimed against some other male, an old fashioned iron fist wrapped in the velvet glove of quasi-feminism). Compare that with the way that few people nowadays would be sufficiently unaware to do a similar rhetorical move using "blackness": over time it has sunk in that few things are more undignified than two white guys squabbling over whose has the better understanding of/ relationship with musical "blackness." (I speak, wincing, as someone who has in the past been one of those two white guys). Despite this it's still permissible to do the inverse racism move and complain about an excess of "whiteness" in the music. Indeed nuum-discourse participants do this quite regularly, railing about particular subgenres that have gotten too "whiteboy" , which usually means too rocky/riffy, which in turn means too masculine/phallic. Taking us right back to all those invocations of "the feminine".
Now I did actually feel slightly self-conscious about invoking the Mighty Yin during my Liverpool talk--the passage on hypersoul/diva vocal science/"feminine pressure". As the paragraphs approached it suddenly felt awkward to be talking about this stuff in a room that contained a fair number of women: what would they think? But I ploughed ahead--had no choice, since those points were central to my argument, and furthermore were (as far as these things can be gauged) "true". There is a diva-fabulous, "feminine presha" undercurrent running through the nuum that every so often totally swamps the music (2step being the supreme example).
But in terms of my becoming intrigued by gender-coded discourse games [fnote2], the seeds of this essay go back a couple of months, when my interest in Caspa was sparked, having been startled by the vilification of the man and his music. All that incredibly vivid revulsion for wobble's mid-frequency blare as the sound of "someone jizzing in my face" and "bukkakestep"! All that anxiety about dance music degenerating into rock: "rigor mortis mid range shite… punching the ceiling and moshing rather than dancing… shouty soulless gack… big chunks of riff meat".
Here's a recent deployment of this kind of rhetoric, albeit calmer in tone: Louis Pattison spotlights as Guardian single of the week "Narst"/"Love Dub" by Cooly G (an actual woman! on Hyperdub!!).
"As dubstep begins to resemble, quite literally, a boy's club -- one that pongs of a pungent mix of spliff and locker rooms -- Hyperdub, the label behind the murky, underwater two-step of Burial, ups the ante once more… 'Love Dub' and its remix are a reminder of UK bass music's capacity to sooth and seduce, all gently massaging sub-bass, breathy vocals and woozy synth that collects like warm pools of sunlight."
Stop press: and here's another one, same newspaper, different writer, same rhetoric from scribe and artists alike (Bristol's new "purple" sound purveyors Joker, Guido, Gemmy--all men as it happens):
"There's a gender issue here, too: since the sexy vocals and pop sensibilities of garage disappeared, British club music has become dominated by bland masculinity. Guido says that is reflected on dancefloors: 'The low-end sounds carry the power, bass, and aggression, and the mids and highs carry the sexy melodies. Without the melodies, dubstep and grime clubs have lost the girls. But the girls get up and dance to our stuff'.... For too long, British dance music has been po-faced, masculine, drab...."
Stop Stop Press: in the big dubstepforum July 2009 discussion about wobble versus post-dubstep, one commenter referred to the low-frequency-oscillation riffs of wobble as "LFO rape":
"its not even the fact that the wobble is hated. Its just the LFO Rape I dont agree with.. My Defininition of LFO Rape... the process in which subject uses an LFO preset to create soul-less, machine music."
Stop Stop Stop Press: and still they come: in the second issue of Loops, Kev Kharas bigs up the in-touch-with-its-feminine-side aqua-step of Joy Orbison's "Hyph Mngo" versus the Swarzeneggerism of Coki's "Spongebob" ("a workout in thugstep cliche that womps along tediously doling out nuggies and farting the word 'generic' into air stale with dead sweat reek and 'roid fumes... pumped and solid to the extent that it leaves no room for any response other than a moody grimace and a flailing fist" followed by numerous references to the "generic thugstep" it spawned (Caspa, Rusko, etc), music "that only seems to make sense to moshing males with a heavy sadness in their loins".
Stop Stop Stop STOP press: and yet more--reviewing the Ikonika album in the Wire, Adam Harper sets up the familiar bogeyman of wobble a/k/a brostep: "at a time when what many hold to be dubstep has taken steroids and left London to conquer the world as the new Heavy Metal, rattling (almost exclusively) male students' bedrooms with its gargantuan sub-bass"