Saturday, May 1, 2010

April's Untimely May Discussion Thread: Triangulation, ~step, the future?

Hello SSGs,

apologies for this untimely post, I'd meant to get it in yesterday, but have been snowed in with marking responsibilities. Thus it is May Day, time to think about the future...

In fact, this month I wanna have a whole theme: in a sense, everything posted here in May will be about the future.

The future of music, the future of the SSGs (that includes you), the future of a planet, whether it's a planet of sine waves, laptops, headphone-wearing sheep soaking up the surplus, or a light rail to unknown trashscapes...

...a coupla weeks ago, Dave Slutskin had me back on To and Fro on Triple R (or Triple 'Ah' as it might sound if you don't share our stunted, mu(n)ted Australian r). We covered a lot of ground, played a bunch of records... well, I think the show gets at a lot of things I've been thinking about, talking to Chris about, and listening to...

Check out the To and Fro site, here, and see the downlad link, just below... hopefully that'll give you all plenty to feed off...

To those who cannae be bothered listening to the show (but I would really like you to if you can), let's just call the theme triangulation and start from there...

Penny for your thoughts, fellow SSGs...

EDIT: well, it's either proof that Jung lives and is among us like a fungus, or that somehow all the cool kids have their best thoughts at almost the same time. Boom/tick/bleep's most articulate spokesperson, Mssr Philip Sherburne, reaches beyond 'dancing about architecture' to represent triangulation. Represent, y'all. Fuel for your pennies, farthing for your fuelled coins...



  1. The rivers of psychic (and not so psychic) shit that run under our feet; a thought that has crossed my mind on a few occasions, normally when the sun shining, ironically bringing out the smell.

    Interesting points raised in the video. Movement away from nature is an idea I have read and discussed with friends before.

    That said (or perhaps it is coherent with that idea), I recently watched the fascinating documentary "requiem for Detroit". I was particularly struck by how swift nature had begun to reclaim the city after the vultures had left. The people in the doc attested to the freedom now afforded to them since the profiteering had ended in what some were describing as the first post-industrial city. Almost as if the eye of power was now longer looking. I was fascinated by the rudderless spirit, that seemed to be drifting and trawling through the remains (or trash?) of what was.

    Could it be that a city synonymous with visions of the future, is once again indicating the direction of things to come. I don't know, but it's where my line of thought is at the moment.

  2. speaking of trash, back to my weekly record hunt.

  3. The Scuba track @55 sounds more like UK Funky than Dubstep. We'll be hearing a lot more tracks like this in the future. UK Funky has already well and truly taken off as the new offshoot of the Hardcore Continuum (the Reynolds term you couldn't remember) but most of it has a slick Housy urban sound, and not such a tech feeling like this one.

  4. This is a good example of more techy UK Funky

  5. Either I'm only hearing the good stuff, or I've got easy tastes, but most of the Funky I've heard sounds great. Admittedly I've not heard much, but these two casts are worth checking out.

    First, The Wire's Derek Walmsley talks to fellow Wire writer and nuum' critic Joe Muggs about the definition of Funky and the like, and plays a few choice tracks:

    And here Chrissie Murderbot's My Year of Mixtapes does Funky. Interestingly in his post on dubstep he's adamant about its demise, that its all about post-dubstep now:

    I've a suspicion that I'd like the cheesy commercial Funky too, if anyone wants to point me in that direction? Not sure where or how Scuba fits in, but I like him too. Oh, tried downloading To and Fro but only ended up with 2 minutes worth - how do I get the whole thing?

  6. @ Joshua Meggitt

    Here's some examples of the biggest funky tracks there's been over the last couple of years. Some good, some not so good.

    Kyla and Crazy Cousins - Do You Mind?

    Funky Dee - Are you Gonna Bang Doe? (this was huge)

    BBK - Too Many Man

  7. @ Never really began: yeah, I like to think about 'infrastructure' at the moment.

    Ever been sitting in a chair when suddenly and inexplicably it breaks?

    Times like the Icelandic volcano make this unavoidable. Perhaps you only realise what the laws of physics are during an earthquake, but...

    Q though: what do you mean by nature? This has come up in several conversations I've had over the past week...

    Also, what the fuck does it mean that there are fucking triangles fucking everywhere?

    ...ah, the Detroit doco... actually, that's quite a gun jump on your part, watch this 'space'...

    but/and aren't the people existing in the derelict/abandoned spaces of industrial capitalism also 'nature'? And wasn't it nature (us) who built Detroit and left it to rot? I can't draw a line between me and it and them and just say it isn't related, even though I can't say what those relations are...

    ...maybe the point is that Detroit IS the future in a lot of cities.

    Wasn't this what was so great about District 9?

    My contention, that I wanna explore more this month here with you people, is that we need to imagine the future before we can go ahead and built a tiny corner of it. That includes SSGs...

    @ Josh: you should be able to subscribe to To and Fro as an iTunes podcast. The buttons are on site. Dave's selection is on fire right now, and he's always on the hot stuff, it's a great show to listen to week-to-week... when's your contemp. classical show gonna go live, eh?

    @ All: can anyone recommend any good/classic sets of funky? Particularly those that don't have shout outs? I'm not London enough to be able to stand that..

  8. argh those youtube links are most definitely NOT for me. a little unexpected for a mnmlssg discussion thread hah

  9. @PC

    At this stage Funky is still far too 'urban' to not have sets that are littered with shout-outs and the like. As I said, the sound is still a London thing, heavily reliant on personalized, sexual politics and hasn't developed much in the way of timbral possibility and 'sophistication'. So in short I can't think of a set to recommend as of yet.

  10. @PC

    "Ever been sitting in a chair when suddenly and inexplicably it breaks?"

    Yeah, I know the feeling and experience you are talking about. The phenomonologists in the early part of the 20th century spoke a lot about it. Heidegger in particular in his discussions on "present-at-hand"/"ready-at-hand".

    Like the Icelandic volcano, and the strange feeling that seemed to follow when things fell apart a little. As you say, we seem to then become aware of the laws of physics (and so on) when whats suppose to happen doesn't. When our intentionality is checked, our perspective changes and we obtain a new sense of objectivity and awareness of our relationship to the world and objects in it.

    I mention all this because I suppose it helps form my understanding of nature, as something that perhaps runs counter to this. I understand it as perhaps the absence of human work, energy and intention. A good example perhaps can be taken from the 'doc', the sight of the homes once lived in, loved and maintained, are slowing being consumed by nature or the absence of work/maintenance. I like the word maintenance, as I imagine us humans scurrying around desperately fending off that which seeks to tumble the rocks we place on top of each other.

    I realize that I am setting up dialectic, one that is derived from a western mindset. But I do see us as quite unnatural, in our attempts to shape, create, and mould the world around us. To defy decay (change?) or the kind of nature I describe above. I see Detroit almost as a good example of unnaturalness. Born out of work and industry, rotting without it. The architecture that dominates the place (the statements of power), lasted for a tiny period of time. Infer what you want about the system which created it.

    Yes perhaps Detroit is the future of a lot of cities, and perhaps what's required for the future is something quite different to the ideas I have tried to convey above.

    I apologize profusely if this spiel comes across pretentious or confused. It has been a long time since I hit the books looking for answers. All I am left with is the remnants of ideas that have fallen into disrepair without the maintenance they perhaps deserve (much like Detroit). I have since swapped such pursuits for the satiety induced by a 4/4 beat.

    As for the triangles; no idea.

  11. This release isn't straight funky but has enough in common with techno and afro house. fun stuff.

  12. @ never really began

    was your 'speil' mediated through adorno/benjamin? that dialectic of nature vs history that your talking about is a primary interest of theirs.

    if you feel like hitting the books again and havent already read it, you should check out The Idea of Natural History by Adorno, available on (excellent resource for critical theory texts, you need to subscribe but wont be spammed).

  13. "At this stage Funky is still far too 'urban' to not have sets that are littered with shout-outs and the like. As I said, the sound is still a London thing, heavily reliant on personalized, sexual politics and hasn't developed much in the way of timbral possibility and 'sophistication'. So in short I can't think of a set to recommend as of yet."


    Isn't triangulation here just a kind of shorthand or signifier for the way that localised electronic folk traditions (i.e. very regional generic mutations of Electronic music driven by pirates, record stores, a few dj's/producers) are theorised by self-appointed intellectual guardians. This serves to dilute, and to an extent exclude originators, placing the theoriticians or the favourites of these theoriticians at the centre of the new "sophisticated" triangulated sound.

    This certainly seems to be a subtext at work in your dismissal of house inflected bass music as "too urban". Also your contention that Funky or it's myriad regionalised variants is a London thing omits the enormous contribution of the Numbers and Hessle label umbrellas, both pushing a varied, but more naturally triangulated strain of generic experiments unburdened by some of the intellectual overreach (and overstatement) inherent in the analysis of the contribution of some other triangulators.

    Overtheorisation is a dangerous and corrosive business- you could argue that it inhibits creative development, disippating energy and urgency by introducing a degree of self-awareness which isn't conducive to getting shit done.

    Simon Reynolds touched on some of the inherent triangulatory snobbery in his recent "Blubstep" post which wondered aloud whether the current post-IDM wave of emo-bass music wasn't rooted in a distain for the origins of the music itself.

  14. @creamydairyrice

    I have read about and around Adorno, without actually reading any of his writings. Thank you for posting the link and directing me towards their work, I will get on that asap.

  15. @creamydairyrice

    I just tried to sign up, but it comes up with a screen saying " had been taken down".

  16. @ Clom: ...sure, there may be a danger in over-theorising, but isn't there a counter danger in not only under-theorising but, in some ways, showing distain for 'dancing about architecture'?

    I can't help but feel that there's a tenuous link between what you're suggesting and the populist anti intellectualism I/we have to put up with in the Australian mainstream.

    Not only that, but you make a number of separations that I find dubious: are you saying that thinking and talking aren't acting? Or that 'getting shit done' doesn't (or shouldn't) involve thinking and talking?

    Can you really separate 'critical reflection' from 'spontanous action'?

    Also, I feel like you're resurrecting an idea of purity/authenticity/source/tradition/essence/artist, and suggesting by implication that when (usually white, middle class, 20-30something, usually male) people interact with something, or present an interpretation of it, that they're diluting it, polluting it, watering it down, etc...

    ...which is kinda Pipecock's endless monologue, no: black urban innovator, white suburban imitator; source, soul, origin, essence;

    ...which is also a kind of very elaborate way of essentialising, fetishising, and orientalising black people, to me.

    The excluded originator ends up getting held up as the spontaneous producer of untarnished, pure essence (which he/they can do, because, well, they do have such rhythm, don't they)

    But this is my subjective white male middle class PoV on it, naturlich...

    Surely the appropriations also always have inappropriations going on, and this takes place from all sides and all parties... we're all entangled in this together...

    ...then again, maybe it's true that blogs like this one latch on to things in order to drain the flavour as quickly as possible (before it turns sour and goes off) after which, juice drained, the old husk gets discarded.... ex genre to the next genre...

    @ never really: aaaa is up again, I think... but it's being attacked by Palgrave Macmillan right now, or so I heard through the USB vine...

  17. You seem to be filling in a lot of blanks there with some separations of your own.

    I'm disappointed you've chosen to to lump in my scepticism at tendency to over-intellectualisation with an unthinking, knee-jerk anti-intellectualism but i'll attempt to clarify my position.

    it's interesting you've chosen to denigrate my perspective as having race as its subtext where I deliberately avoided the topic as it's a bit of a red herring when you look at the multi-racial, egalitarian makeup of the originators of whatyoucallit-step.

    my problem with the statement that funky isn't "sophisticated" enough stems from what i see as an inherent conservatism on the theoretical side.

    effectively by intimating that triangulation is the future of ~step you're staying, or hinting that the triangulation between the basic channel/berlin greyscale with the different ~step variants of the likes of paul rose are "the future". this, for me, is a matter of taste dressed up as theory.

    the complaint about shoutouts and funkys lack of sophistication are fig leaves allowing critics of funky (and variants) to distance them from this (in their eyes) shallow dance music.

    i have to say, it was surprising (and a wee bit depressing) to see you suggest that i'm essentialising or orientalising black people in this considering I expressly referred to two crews that are predominantly suburban/exurban white twenty something males (numbers and hessle) but let's try and peel off the racial/orientalisation layers and get to what i feel is the heart of the matter.

    what i am essentialising is the headspace that loud electronic music in nightclubs generates is, in it's own way, anti-intellectual. or it doesn't lend itself comfortably to intellectualisation, you tend to lose yourself in it, a type of "going away" in cocteau's "les enfants terribles".

    this kind of unconscious detachment is something that is unnerving and perhaps a bit faux-spiritual/gauche for the theorist, the notion of unexplainable or indescribable sensations, feelings and connnections being anathema to him/her.

    a recent interview with the Numbers crew said that a lot of the Glasgow linkups (triangulations if you like) came from afterparties, from folk going round each others houses after clubs and making sense of the night through carry-on. not the kind of thing that sits easily with some of the stuff you guys have been writing about (which, fwiw, I value, even when, and frequently BECAUSE, I don't necessarily agree). there is, of course, a role for thinking, writing and talking.

    i'm just arguing that occasionally the thinking, talking and writing about it uses theory as a fig leaf to say, ultimately, "i don't like it".

    i believe the majority of variants of electronic music are not dissimilar from folk forms, they're messy concoctions of influences, myth, shared experiences, friendships and the like. none of these things are discernably conscious decisions- which is where i think the triangulation argument falls down.

    sorry, that's super messy but i've got a four month old boy roaring at me to get off the fucking internet and flip over the tropic of cancer 10"!

  18. @ Clom: you're right, you're right, maybe I was jumping on things I saw in what you're saying more 'cos it served what I wanted to see 'in between the lines' (parallax error).

    ...yeah, the two elephants in the room (whether that's the mainroom during the party or the lounge room after) is the conviviality generated by shit talking in the context of some kind of inebriation... and usually it's people talking shit these days about files on their mp3 players which they obtained through grey means (bypassing end user agreements, shall we say)... often producers are carrying around the purloined productions of their others, which is why they can say with authority (and without commodity exchange): hey man, I love your shit, wow... what is the community about? Sharing substance, sharing shittalk, partaking in the productive consumption of 'stolen goods' and other materials that could be deemed illicit?

    I think we find it very tough to talk about this gift economy openly. Maybe it MUST be euphemised in order to function.... the theft, guilt and binding that will not speak it's name.

    All this is plunderphonics?

    But/and: well, the triangulation thing, it's not really a future, is it? I think it's merely workmanlike to draw lines between things and then build sturdy structures. This definitely builds something (and gets something build sturdily, efficiently), but has anything 'new' been created?

    ...partly, yes, it is all just a matter of aesthetic prejudices, with a whole armature of words and things, a massive discursive scaffolding, placed out front (defensively) and beneath and behind (to buttress and support).

    It's true I don't like shout outs... be honest 'Triangulation' is really not at all 'creative'; but it is a supreme piece of workmanship. This is its structural strength and its artistic weakness simultaneously.

    ...Does that matter? Depends what we really need from music, where the passion plays.

    I'm happy to listen to genre music, I think that's fine.

    And I think it's fine and interesting to take three genres and make new shapes with them.

    But then I listen to the wild, weirdness of the new Autechre, for example, and remember that there are other games with other stakes, and for me in that particular case Booth and Brown are playing with and playing for something much more like.... art.

    But then: really creative music has something perverse and monstrous about it. First time you listen to Prince, you think: this shit isn't right. This guy's all wrong. This is weird... who is this skinny muthafucker with the high voice?

    ...spent half my life getting comfortable with prince, and trying to understand how something so apparently wrong could be so right. Genius can just be a kind of perversion, and subjective recognition of genius just like admitting a shared pecadillo.


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