The terminal decline of intellectual dance music

Matthew

FKA Woebot
going through my records as i catalogue them for discogs

(a process that has been a little like articulating all the thoughts i ever had)

the nineties electronica (that's all the electronic music that isn't explicitly dance music - not techno, house, jungle etc) section gave me particular food for thought.

[all those things like boards of canada, mouse on mars, GAS, kid 606, illbient, basic channel, phoenecia, mille plateux, ultramarine, casino vs japan, oval and herbert]

i always thought this was going to be like the absolute graveyard of my collection - where i would get embarrassed. reason being because of the way the imperatives of dance music culture were shaping notionally "serious" electronic music.

the most anxious player with regards to this dynamic was autechre. more than anyone else autechre wanted to escape the idea that they ever had anything to do with dance music. to expunge it.

i wrote a big review for one of their records a few years back in which i tried to do the therapy on them to help them with this dilemma.

[i don't own a single autechre anything] [i don't mind them at all] [i respect them on their path] [i'm glad they are out there doing their thing] [i just never thought they and what they represent were my thing]

to this very day a big part of the alternative music universe never recovered from this.
they never worked out how to cope with the perceived bastardisation that dance music caused.

it seemed like they never got over the sense of being disapproved of.

that comment of stockhausen when being played the aphex thin is emblematic

"I heard the piece Aphex Twin of Richard James carefully: I think it would be very helpful if he listens to my work Song Of The Youth, which is electronic music, and a young boy’s voice singing with himself. Because he would then immediately stop with all these post-African repetitions, and he would look for changing tempi and changing rhythms, and he would not allow to repeat any rhythm if it were varied to some extent and if it did not have a direction in its sequence of variations."

to his eternal credit the aphex twin held his ground - told stockhausen to put a donk on it

"You could dance to Song Of The Youth, but it hasn't got a groove in it."

-

it's like a fork in the road ultimately.

the ideas of david toop's "rapattack" and simon reynolds "energy flash" founder on the rocks.

intellectual, body-loathing white people who were never comfortable with dancing were able to hew that uncomfortable appendage out of their lives.

there was no need to go to gatherings where other people could dance better than they could - or even simply participate in physical way without shame and awkwardness.

their frozen bodies could stay that way. armored. superior.

-

but it turns out to have been an infectious position to take.

like this was merely the vanguard of an emotional and [especially] physical calcification.

the doorway to a universe where people obsessed about virtual currency.

trap - for instance - is a music of paralysis - of an overpowering physical numbing by bass.

bass as novocaine.

(in its favour) occasional frenzied irruptions of activity - like earthquakes at plate boundaries.

(like the moshpits at gigs)


but usually experienced static.


-

it's a massive failure of intellectuals - of people who are inclined to thinking - that they can't grasp this side of the spectrum. of the body.

we are so close to this world that it isn't even funny any more.

with uber and deliveroo.


in the era of the electric car this will soon be upon us.


-

who dances any more? right now in lockdown almost nobody i'm sure. i miss it.

a really embarrassing clip to post at the end of this - because it's so uncool that it threatens to overturn the whole argument - but perhaps the very awkwardness it incites is worth confronting.

 

other_life

bioconfused
for a place called dissensus we sure have come to something of a consensus about certain questions. quaint.
this isn't even wrong
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Presumably all other life is saying is that being a forum formed in Reynolds image we all cleave loyally to the body-wisdom of the dancefloor and disparage the more cerebral pleasures but that this, at a certain point, can become wilfully boorish
 

mvuent

Void Dweller
"intellectual, body-loathing white people who were never comfortable with dancing" is definitely a good way to describe my cultural background. i really wish it had been a part of my upbringing. and yeah, sure seems like we're headed even further in that direction. BUT i feel this trope can easily become a strawman.

re: the comments about autechre and stockhausen...

Screen Shot 2021-02-20 at 5.08.37 AM.png

Screen Shot 2021-02-20 at 5.05.05 AM.png
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
She probably won't be awake till about 4pm so we have to sing her parts for her
 

thirdform

Well-known member
I think Mouse on Mars, BoC etc were less faithful to dance music even if Autechre tried to escape it. And I think that's where Reynolds' orthodoxy breaks down for me.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
i like reading quotes from artists that challenge my assumptions about them and i assume that others do from time to time as well.
That wasn't a response to you, it was a continuation of the conversation I was having with myself
 

mvuent

Void Dweller
what did you think of "cosmic pulses" luka? iirc you heard it somewhere, or at least were going to. i saw it in a thread. didn't i??
 

mvuent

Void Dweller
it would've been the other one. to me it's just chaos and his other electronic works are my favorite music.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
I think idm and trance had a pyrrhic victory though. They don't need our validation cos they are the sound of the mainstream. whereas even chicago house like this isn't


Jungle was popular but not populist. The true populist dance music of the 90s was handbag which is why I mercilessly teased @craner about why he didn't follow that 'funky house' continuum into the 00s.
 

other_life

bioconfused
oh haha we're living in wall-e world
absolutely cynical. you offer no hope you get no hope back.
we are godless.
 
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