As the clubbing associations recede with time, the trend in electronica is towards a more self-reflective and inward space, sited in the home listening environment – a trend which first became articulated with terms such as ‘trip hop’ and ‘IDM’, coined to help mark out a space for a more sedentary appreciation of a music removed from the dancing and socializing going on around us.
Much current experimental electronica continues to grapple with the possibilities of finding an appropriate post club context, while building temporary narratives reflective of an uncertain future, where ‘clubbing’ and its hedonistic glory days are brought up sharp against acute socio-economic realities and a changed sense of social interaction.
Electronic records have become self-referential – whether this is to be found in the re-imagined ‘Radiophonic’ noodles and doodles of a bygone age (see previous Haunted House articles) – or in the ‘knackered’ and ‘wonky’ deconstructions of a fuzzily soundtracked past life, when we went ‘out’ just to ‘be’, unfettered by any need for contextual thinking.
Much current electronic experimentation takes its cue from this dialogue – the re-imagined dancefloor is to some extent a signifier of what has been lost…
Part One: ‘Knackered House’
The recently coined electronic sub genres, ‘Knackered House’ and ‘Wonky’, provide us with examples of both revisionism and retro futurism as embodied in skewed and slowed down ‘raves in reverse’, which encapsulate both a nostalgia for the past and an ambivalence about an equally uncertain present. The euphoric pads of uplifting house ‘science’ are morphed and warped, with references to the steely futurism of Detroit techno prevalent in both house and beats producers approaches, those original templates rusted and sun baked, icy future funk tempered by ageing salt water breezes and the nervous smudges of glitchy re-touching.
Much of this output can be seen as springing from an ongoing dialogue with the history and context of electronic music production itself – attempts to find new meanings and coordinates through deconstructed production techniques that themselves hint at fresh contexts and wider cultural significance.
The sonics of dance music’s golden age are still fertile signifiers, both of potential regeneration and current economic austerity. If the rising pads and propulsive breaks of former club glories can be seen as emblematic of ‘dance music 1’, pulsing with the rhythm of new possibilities, many at the controls have chosen to pick over the remains and to reposition the fragments, with twisted beat makers and ‘knackered’ producers soundtracking the new paradigms of a ‘dance music 2’, where time is tight and money tighter, record labels scarce and tangible rewards leaner.
PART 2 TO FOLLOW SOON