Friday, June 24, 2011

D&E: we need to talk about Blando...(scattered speculations on why the d&e soufflé ain't rising in 2011)

In the past month I’ve had three searching conversations with music nut friends of mine. All of them were saying the same thing, more or less. The 2011 house/techno soufflé – it ain’t rising. Weirdly, in a year when electronic music writ large and wild is moving through one of its most fluxed up, interesting, future-facing, future-making phases and terrains, its groove-based relative (let’s call it dance and electronic [d&e for short]) has never been more blando, nor more boring. Next week, a big, fat, juicy post dedicated to everything that’s contributed to my sense of 2011’s being one of the great vintages in – and a real and exciting turning point for – electronic music. This week, it’s time for a d&m about d&e. It’s time to ask: why isn’t the soufflé rising? I offer ten possible explanations, in no order or emphasis, & without trying to force any single one of them as thee reason for our present discotheques’ discontents.

1) the medium is the context is the massage is the message is the messenger is the instrument is the producer: laptops

A primary part of the problem, surely, is the fact that everything is mediated by networked laptops, and now mobile devices with tactile GUIs. The whole thing was about laptops and networking, really. Minimal, I mean. Which was what was interesting about d&e in the 00s, let’s not disavow it. In fact, it is the genius and folly of the leaders of the minimal pack to have understood, enacted and, shit, totally embodied this. Its cold rise and fall - what pulse? - also tells us that, really, we were all just aping silicon valley. We’re all on Steve Jobs’ emaciated dick, one way or another. Jumping up and down and hooting like gibbons. We are all of us, mac monkeys. Some of just make money off it, that’s the difference. But at the same time: gosh it is just so fucking boring these days.

It’s not the technology in itself that’s the problem, but our use and abuse of it, and what motivates that. Have a listen to this and this if you’re interested in following it up, and/or watch this, read this, and definitely make the time to read this if you really wanna get down to brass tacks. Point is: technologies are more than merely technical: they embody certain politics, embed a certain ethos, and shape and constrain action in certain ways. Your controller might be more controlling than you think – and who’s controlling the controller? We shape our tools, and then our tools shape us, and then, somehow, most of us become tools holding tools, tweeting each other about the latest mix tools made on our favourite tools, which we play and send to each other – on our tools. What a bunch of tools. Lonely, needy, compulsive tools. The alternative to this might be about asking ourselves what we’re using how much and why, and why using might just make us all into a bunch of users, and why that might be terminal. There is nothing inherently good about networking, or the internet. This does not it mean it’s not useful and interesing. But it does mean that ‘it’ is not democratizing or liberating shit. Technology will not save us, no matter how many times we hit save.

2) media’s historical/social context (and lack thereof)

This from a Guy (Debord) who was alternately incredibly grumpy, then prescient, and finally killed himself.

“History’s domain was the memorable, the totality of events whose consequences would be lastingly apparent. And thus, inseparably, history was knowledge that should endure and aid in understanding, at least in part, what was to come: “a possession for all time,” according to Thucydides. In this way history was the measure of genuine novelty. It is in the interests of those who sell novelty at any price to eradicate the means of measuring it. When social significance is attributed only to what is immediate, and to what will be immediate immediately afterwards, always replacing another, identical, immediacy, it can be seen that the uses of the media guarantee a kind of eternity of noisy insignificance.”

To some extent this points toward the failure of contemporary d&e to be contemporary, and of our inability to protect the past and our common memories of it from being preyed upon for hack pastiche and cheapo nostalgia. Two recent artefactual examples of this are Andy Stott’s new albumette Passed me By, as well as Games’ Channel Pressure. Each is a release with merits and worth spending some time with. But what’s more interesting is the way each has been treated, framed and ultimately received as an artefact that’s ‘worthy of consideration’. The former, to me, is lazy in its positioning. For what it’s worth, I also think that being muddy and having a black guy on the cover is a failure of creative nerve, actually. And one that no amount of Sherburnizing eloquence can quite cover. Honestly, Philip’s review for Pitchfork is, you know, way too good for this release. Sisyphus?? Maybe he’s just out of ideas...? Maybe it’s a bit boring? Maybe it just doesn’t merit this kind of attention? Maybe that is the real Sisyphean task here, to give attention, imbue worthiness and praise on something that, you know, is 'kinda interesting'. There is a lot of lapping up going on between laptops at the mo’. And the latter, Games - it is beautifully done, but adds nothing: why not just listen to Bill Nelson, Rupert Hine, Heaven 17 or, shit, even Jan Hammer? Taken together, the receptiong of both these releases suggest to ‘us’ – remember, I’m trying to get at our reception of these as artefacts, what we expect to ‘get’ from them – a huge desire to get out of the torpid doldrums of po mo. But neither can, and nor can we. To build a future you need to understand the past, but not repeat it, or flog its corpses. And enjoying doing either is likely a sign of perversity.

3) the socio-dynamics of the album review: of peer acceptance, boot lickers and boosters

This point builds upon ones Chris has made before, but bear re-saying, if only because we appear to be forgetful (I know I am). Once upon a time, there were journalists. These near mythical creatures expressed talents creative, critical, crafted and vocational. They developed their chops over many years. And they understood the difference between editorial and advertising. They thought advertorial was something disgusting, something glocal, something grownups expressed quietly on the toilet. Perhaps it was always a big ask for d&e to produce a culture of journalists and journalism, let alone a milieu that fostered, cherished, loved and respected proper journalists. You know, the kind of people who asked tough questions, did research, brooked no bullshit, and got to the bottom of things, even if it broke them. These days, almost without exception, what we have is a bunch of wannabes who are so starry-eyed from getting tweet highfives from the artists that they love, and so addicted to the promo .zip files they receive, and so utterly compromised through their cosy relations with promo, that they either cannot and/or do not ever say anything critical. The surface effects of this are subtle, but the long term implications might be profound: no critical horizon, no contextual frame, just one big anus that a bunch of invested boosters are morris dancing around, alternating between circle jerks and high fives, waiting for the next ‘release’. As Shed so aptly put it in his LWE interview, which bears close, repeated reading (especially for the way the inane questions provoke him to interestingly grumpy responses): I think it’s spam. And Philip Sherburne and Simon Reynolds, as the two journalist/exceptions to this, cannot save us on their own. Nor should they have to.

4) promo: pervasive churnalism

Promo has its fair share of responsibility for this, too. This is no ‘one’ agent’s fault, as Chris pointed out in the piece linked above, it’s a systemic issue, but at the same time, the cottage industry that is, and the cosy cottaging (by proxy) that they support, has contributed to the pervasion and entrenchment of a distro system (and culture, and entourage of profiting beneficiaries) that has progressively eroded the boundary between information and PR, between journalism and advertising. The best example of this is boomkat, and by extension Modern Love. Read me carefully: it is not ‘their fault’ – boomkat are in the business of selling music, mostly excellent music that they are genuinely passionate about. I support them, and think you should too. But I choose them deliberately, as to some extent they are the dudes servicing the ‘aficionados’, the geeks, the maniacs (us). Thing is, get this right: they are trying to sell you things. And, you know, they are Modern Love, more or less. We know this, but keep forgetting it. It reminds me a bit of the 14 year old girls on the school bus, reading Cosmopolitan. Trying thereby to somehow be cosmopolitan. They were all smart girls from a selective high school, and read it ‘critically’ together, brutally taking the piss... But they also, without fail, bought it each month. And they also, quietly, internalised the sex tips and expressed the overall effect of the magazine through their bodies, mostly via bulimia. Cosmopolitan is evil, boomkat is emphatically not – clearly. And yet, and yet... how do we read them, and how/what do we need them as we do?

5) churning and churning in the widening gyre (the falconer can’t be bothered listening to falcon podcast [#197])

But, you know, the rats will have their charlie, will they not? I think we’re all in on this. This gross hunger for novelty, and the rate at which we churn through podcasts, and the horrible hangovers. Which is surpassed only by the thumping rate at which podcasts are released. And you’re still expected to have appetite enough to buy some music? A friend of mine confided: he can now no longer be bothered pirating. The very thought of it fills him with an unspeakable ennui. It’s so weird, isn’t it? It’s almost as if we don’t know how to operate outside an ‘economy’; without scarcity, how do you build evaluative hierarchies? And why cherish anything? This strange proliferation of simulacra, a veritable free for all... and yet, almost totally unappetizing – while it also tends to make people go on horrible binges, orgy without appetite, after which they become wracked with guilt, and feel the need to buy merchandise and attend live shows to atone for their sins...

6) studio time, headspace – and lack thereof

...but little wonder, when, really, so much of the music that is released appears thin, underdeveloped, in need of some slow time in the oven. Creativity takes time and headspace, lots of it. And unique creative sounds, embedded in scenes with their own non-generic locality, that likewise takes years to be able to make and support healthy young’uns. What we have now is a system that eats its young instead. Because production is now ‘worthless’, in a market sense. So producers have to be touring perfomers, constantly in long-haul motion, moving between endless stages in evermore bigbox festivals, where they gyrate for your pleasure. Some might like this, but I think it’s a bum deal: it’s bad for the environment, it’s extremely tiring, and, ultimately, it burns people out. Maybe the stupidist thing musicians ever agreed to was letting people record their shit. See the movie Diva for a full working out of this. And the second stupidist thing was the embrace of mp3. But, you know, we all prefer convenience, don’t we? ‘Ennui, and anomie/goes together in perfect harmony/side by side on my midi keyboard, oh motherboard/ why can’t we?’

7) hype bubbles, or: the temporality of microfame in the public sphericules

Pervasive promo, morbid appetites for novelty, and a lack of quiet space for reflection and creativity also mean that the hype bubbles are blowing bigger and popping faster than ever before. I hope they prove me wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we never hear from Mount Kimbie again. And what about Kyle Hall? Kyle who...? Or, for that matter, most of the younger post-dubstep producers? Or people who appear to have been claimed by soul sucking combos of scene vampires and their own egos, which, being invested in and supported by aforesaid hype bubbles, are both massive and fragile, ready to (release) pop at any moment. You need a very steady grip on yourself and the world not to fall into this trap in 2011, especially if you live in Berlin, where the fantasybubblediscoball is vaguely supportable. You certainly need more grip than most vulnerable, attention-and-recognition-craving people (and who isn’t?) possess. And who cares for the trainwrecks? Red Bull Trainwreck Academy/Grouphome, now there’s an idea.... for some reason I think it won’t fly...

8) whither the audacity?

Years ago, a famous German DJ, drunk and confessional in a Tokyo nightclub, confided to a friend of mine something about his countrymen. ‘Most German DJs... they do not dare. They do not DARE!’ Now, this isn’t a German-specific issue, I don’t think (we love you guys). It is about a general lack of audacity. I’m happy to call it balls, provided it be known that they do not inhere in (or adhere to) the male of the species. Back to Shed:

“I think that some other artists think they don’t have any freedoms, and they keep themselves inside of some borders, I dunno. They don’t want to have these freedoms, because they feel safe within these strict lines. They can do more, but they don’t. They think too much about it. They can do more than they are doing. They think that anybody out there wants… ah, forget it [stops himself]. They can do more, but they think they are not in the right position to do something free, something new. Because other DJs are doing the same thing, so they have to do things the same as the others.”

Why? I’m not sure. But I am pretty certain that a fair portion of what’s getting put out really lacks the fundamental audacity that is the mark of creative brilliance. In order to ask ourselves about what’s possible, we have to think to the edges of the impossible. And then just fucking relax. And stop being so fucking normative about the way we make music. Yoda it: ‘do or do not, there is no try.’ What I see is a lot of vague ‘ought’ and ‘should’ floating about, but not much do, not much WILL. Kraftwerk built their own synthesizers. Kraftwerk built their own synthesizers. Or: ask yourself why Mika Vainio, Sasu Ripatti or Sam Shackleton are so incredibly creative and prolific, and why their music is not and will never be confused with anyone else’s. They don’t inhabit this stupid frame. But you don’t have to either. We are freer than we often imagine.

9) But the real problem is ‘us’: we’re not listening

The common relay point in this whole clusterfuck of relations is us, the audience, the receptors. How receptive are we? And, well, how well are we listening? My sense is: most of us = not very well at all. When was the last time you really sat down and gave your undivided attention to a recording? When was the last time you got a bunch of people together and gave yourself to the unhurried sharing of some great music? I’m not talking about using music as a ‘do while’ noise filter for commuting, mac monkeying, internetting, helping you relax and circle jerk w/ your online homies. I mean music taken out of its relation as an audible beta blocker for the viccissitudes of contemporary capitalist work patterns. Fact is most of us ‘use’ music, and at the moment, because of convenience and overwork, we do so in an aesthetically, haptically and, moreover socially impoverished way. I think we’re all responsible for this to some extent. I know I feel it. And I also think it is a fucking waste of one of the most incredible things we’re capable of, flawed though interesting (and somehow sexy, some of us) monkeys that we are. It’s time for us to try to learn to pay attention. Wake up. And pay attention. The music we make between us can be the most wonderful thing, if we let it, if we make it. So let’s.

10) add your own reason, fellow ssgs... I beseech thee; and please disagree with me...

But please do me the courtesy of reading me carefully. If you read this on your way to work, hastily, on a device, and are now ready to type angry, that would be both tragic irony and strong evidence... so please: your best fire, but no flaming...


  1. I agree with what you've written though to add another layer, I've not heard ANY great new music this year.

  2. well that's a pretty incredible piece of writing / thinking

    has the "ring of truth"

  3. but when you say it's been an incredible year for electronic NON-dance... who are you talking about?

    (i'd like to believe it i would)

  4. Great post pete! i'll add my own 10th reason...

    before i do i should point out that while i am a techno fan, i place a lot more emphasis on unique sounds and sound design than most people... there's no particular reason for this it's just how i listen/process stuff.

    so for me new and interesting sounds in electronic music are very important... and i never really fully embraced techno until the early 00s which was after growing up on IDM and experimental electronic stuff like mego. then throughout the early and mid 00s i followed the techno scene and the experimental scenes which were both healthy at the time. but then the experimental scene started to dry up and got really flat and uninteresting... either through extracting all that they could from laptops or lack of creativity or both... probably both.

    the way i see electronic music is much like the fashion industry... you have the fashion show fashion for the cat walks which is usually too extreme for mainstream consumption but what will eventually happen is what appears on the cat walks will make their way into regular clothing stores only in a more diluted fashion.

    it's much the same with electronic music... experimental stuff won't work on a dancefloor but sounds and ideas from it will eventually filter through.

    so in a nutshell: experimental electronica stagnated, which led to techno doing the same.

    i don't think my view contradicts anything in PC's post though... it's just another possible perspective.

  5. totally agree that this year has been incredible for non-dance electronic music! which makes me feel really optimistic about techno in the future. probably the most optimistic i've been for 3 years.

    simon; i think we might have to wait until pete's follow up post next week to see what music he's talking about ;-)

  6. I think that music listeners go through these types of phases all the time, regardless of the type of music they listen to.

    Sometimes you just can't find any decent music and you start to blame whatever. I think that this then becomes worse because now you are suddenly much more aware of the lack of quality music around; as you now have nothing to distract you from it (i.e. good music).

    I find that whenever I get fed up with the current crop of music then I just start mining the past. Which essentially has been happening since I started listening to music in general, except for dance/techno/house (to some extent).

    Yes, there is loads of crap out there, but there always has been, it's nothing new. It just upsets you more when can't find anything to listen to.

  7. @ Dave W: I wonder if this doesn't feed back into something Roman Fluegel said in his RA interview in January of this year:

    'It's like you need at least three things to have a youth culture, which is a certain kind of fashion, a certain kind of music and a certain kind of drugs. I don't see that anymore, it's all quiet.' there's like a 'fire triangle', and, well, hmm...

    But I hear ya on the permeation tip. But maybe it's as w/ fashion now: 1 month or so (or less!) from runway to H&M. Just so people can buy sweatshop shit 'cheap' that they never wear... but if you're willing to only look at 'cheap and chic' and actively refuse to see the supply chain and the suffering that inheres in it, well then, you can have cheap chic.

    @ Semyon: hmm, yeah, I totally agree, but at the same time, I think there's heaps of really exciting contemporary music about, and heaps of 'new' stuff, too. Well, less of the latter, but still enough for me to think that this is a really exciting time in music.

    ...I think I was trying to nail something specific to d&e, such as 'it' is (is it a coherent thing?).

    but/and, getting back to Dave W: why do you think the laptop-driven experimental electronica thing failed? It still seemed exciting, right up 'til the release of Shuttle 358's 'Understanding Wildlife'

    ...after this time, there were always intimations of s.t. problematic about it, as as whole paradigm (or am I just retrospecting?).

    For me, there has to be, hhmm, a reflexive relation to 'the times'. Either pre-emption, or emption, or total disregard, but not, you know, this:

    which, even if it has heaps of merit, I just, you know, do not want to hear it in 2011. And further, I kinda think that making this in 2011 means either calloused balls I'm in awe of, or some kind of betise.

  8. Great read. Thanks!

  9. I'd be interested what you think about, if you're able to get on. It really seems to bring focus back to the music in a way that a usual streaming radio service doesn't.

  10. I don't have much to say except to applaud a brilliant, well-thought out article. Cheers.

  11. Well-written and truthful article. I'm starting to believe that I spend more time downloading and organising music than I do actually listening to it undistracted. This is a big problem.

    All the points raised are definitely valid ones, but they're things any decent person is already well aware of. See Stefan Goldmann's article on LWE a few months back for similar sentiments.

    Your pessimism is disheartening, too. At the end of the day, none of what you've written matters when you have a great piece of music in your hands and you sit down and get pleasure from it.

    As stated, the problem is the consumers, mostly. I'm very sad at my own "completist" obsession which sees me unable to miss out on anything or ignore anything. Ignoring all the piracy issues that mp3s raise, I sometimes wish the Internet had never been invented. That way there's be a lot more listening and a lot less obsessing.

    One question: why do you consider Philip Sherburne one of the bastions of honest journalism? I scarcely believe he's ever given a review less than 3.5 on RA. That's a lie of omission, is it not?

  12. I don't agree with the premise of this article, that somehow dance music in 2011 is more boring than dance music in 2010, or 2005, or 1997, or whenever.

    First of all, the time frame is so small as to be, to me at least, meaningless. It doesn't strike me as statistically relevant. Why does anything need to happen in 6-month blocks. Are we that impatient?

    To moan about the state of one very small genre of music in one very small block of time doesn't seem to me very meaningful.

    Second, even in this period of just 6 months, I've heard truly exciting albums from--to name a few--Morphosis, Kangding Ray, Cyclo, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit, Ricardo Villolobos & Max Loderbauer, and Jeff Mills, albums that I would put up against any other random sampling of good albums from any other 6-month period. Now granted, all of this might not be the common techno one hears in clubs, but it still comes from artists with deep club sensibilities and backgrounds.

    But as to why the situation might be perceived as negatively as you do, I would add another point: maybe it's not made for such critical listening. Maybe it's made mostly for dancing.

    I've always felt it unfair to compare dance music to other forms of music. It's unlikely I'm going to find a house or techno track heard on my sofa at moderate volumes all that engaging. I like to dance to the stuff loud. I think there's a chance that people involved in the techno scene, especially bloggers, spend too much time listening to techno and thinking about it and dissecting it, til it's just a corpse on a table. (Or doing the opposite--hyping it up to realms of nonsense.) One aspect of dance music that I love is its naivety, its romanticism, its tribal & communal nature. These are not traits that stand up well to an overly critical eye.

    As in many areas, inordinate focus is bound to produce measures of loathing in the beholder.

    If I didn't have to stay more plugged into techno for the purposes of booking artists for my events, I would be happy to listen to it seldom at all, and then really get excited when I heard it on a proper massive rig with groups of stomping friends. Then when I come home I can listen to some ambient drone, some Sade, some dub, some old Peter Gabriel, some synth craziness, some Portishead and Stereolab, refreshed and exhausted from an experience--TECHNO--that is communal and participative (such a rarity today!) and feel quite happy.

  13. Really enjoyed this article, you've articulated many of the issues that have seen me pull away from my music consumption patterns and reflect on how I want this relationship to continue. I look back to the days of my Walkmen and cassettes and how much time I invested into inhabiting the new musical realms of each new album. This is the space I want to get back to with music. It's hard, but it's happening slowly - and I am that much happier for it.

    On a side note, I have to admit that I wish you would get to the point sometimes and not keep flexing your vocabulary. I do enjoy a good read as much as the next person, it's just that sometimes I crave insightful commentary over verbal roller coasters.

  14. @ Jules: I hear what you're saying, and we as music consumers have some share of responsibility, but perhaps more as listeners? And also: I guess the nub of some of my points is more about distribution, and how all these decisions aggregate and have unforseen effects at different scales.

    @ Jules: I think Philip Sherburne is a very talented writer and someone who thinks carefully about what he says, and is genuinely passionate about what he does. In the past reviewers for RA - such as myself - were pressured to revise reviews upward not to piss off promo people. I believe this has changed.

    @ Russell: it's interesting how your mental partition gives an endless 'get out of blando free pass' to dance music. I dunno, if we didn't think that dance music was worthy of serious reflection, SSGS wouldn't exist. End of story. Don't disagree w/ those albums you mentioned though. But note the link: people who formerly made techno, now making interesting music... that isn't techno.

    @ Nik: reminds me of Pascal. 'I would have written you a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time.' This piece was written in one sitting, on lots of coffee, without a break. The quirks and bugbears of expression are all mine, unfortunately.

  15. Bla bla bla bla.. good party, amazing music, less rules and lots of drugs.. those were the days. good thing amazing music is still around.. everything else...


  16. All good PC, I am constantly censoring my over-verbalisation, so am perhaps too acutely aware of it. Will write more on this later as I am still collecting my thoughts.

  17. This from Chris Ott, emphatically ex Pitchfork, who got dissed by our comment box, which is possessed of a cosmic indifference that, you know, is quite cruel, if it's your comment. Anyway, here's his:

    I wish more people would send me things. This is great stuff, ideas more than prose. I spend a lot time trying to be strong on both sides but this moves quickly through pretty much all the dominant issues. I'm going to leave a comment.


    Huh, I posted a long comment but I guess he rejected it. Anyway it was nice thinking about this in another light so I guess you can thank him anyway.

    Was forwarded this by a mate of yours. I'm stuck on three specific issues right now.

    1) There is no podium here, yet we're all trying to take it. A small group of writers and thinkers are saying more or less the same things in variously novel, erudite and/or deferential ways. This community is disparate and has yet to self-identify outside the strictures its various participants adhere to, e.g. the divide between autonomous authors/bloggers and academic or commercial institutions (actual universities and colleges but also branded information silos, in the form of sites - RA - organizations - EMP - and even record labels). The concerns we have in common are an intellectual common outside the economies of ideas (in the advertorial or anti-advertorial press, either mode is guilty of conceptual branding), and the actual media we behold. This territory is neither new nor unoccupied (Barthes, Debord and others toiled here) but with the Internet is no longer a matter of enervating Treatises written in isolation and imbued with manic hyperbole: we are trying to begin a popular dialog on dialog, and at present have yet to deliver better than green shoots. As most of us are looking off into the distance, or in mirrors, we rarely notice when a new one sprouts, and too often process essays like yours with respect to how near or far our own thinking, our own writing, is by comparison. Whether this is down to jealousy or egotism or benevolent edification, we are annotating like-minded discourse as it occurs around us, rather than identifying ourselves - virtually or *gasp* actually - as comrades (uuuugh, but, it's suitable in some ways). This islands-in-the-stream problem is the broader issue DFW pokes at sadly in the essay you linked to; laziness, confirmation bias, egotism, self-absorption.

    ...part one...

  18. ...part two...

    2) The architecture and infrastructure of promotion. I have noted in other tracts that there's an increasingly desperate defense of classical cultural critique. This is probably simple - it's all we know - but complicity here is becoming a side-choosing affair. *I know* there is very little money to be made, and for *very few* people, on the dictum side of the fence, and my derision here gets more absolute and vitriolic as the battle lines become clearer. Envision hundreds of laborers hanging from the rafters in a cathedral; there are but few clergymen in the back, admiring the vaulted ceiling, its appropriateness. It gets a 10.0, let's say. The arrogance there is galling, destructive and diminishes the true glory of the work, which is all to the artist, and cannot be improved by translation or aggrandizement. if the critics and (intellectual) clergy are incentivized by profit, and their audience is ill-informed, and works are difficult to obtain economically or actually (the scarcity debate), perhaps this model is justifiable. But it has been surplus to requirements for over five years for a lot of us, and with the constant simplification of content delivery, is becoming a broader concern. Like buttons will soon be color-coded to indicate just *how much* you really "like" sometihng or someone, won't they?

    3) Waves of novelty. You've ticked one of my favorite passages from Debord. Though he was a metaphysical near-mystic, I have always held onto what I gleaned from reading Whitehead years ago, the idea of concrescence, of time coming into focus, folding into the present and abating. And so with ideas, spectacles...and trends. Pursuant to your area of interest, has any form of music been more and more deeply divided by trend life-cycles? Perhaps mainstream hip-hop, but even there, the evolution is subtle. With electronic music, trend is half the conversation, and to tip the cap to Reynolds' argument, the more history you're beholding and beholden to, the harder it is to escape. Which redefines novelty in that Debord way, as a refraction at best, a reflection at worst, of time-tested archetypes.

    Thanks for writing this - and to your mate for sending it my way.

    - Chris Ott

  19. Hi PC,

    To answer this point:

    "@ Russell: it's interesting how your mental partition gives an endless 'get out of blando free pass' to dance music. I dunno, if we didn't think that dance music was worthy of serious reflection, SSGS wouldn't exist. End of story."

    I did not say dance music is not worthy of reflection. I said it should be thought about in its proper context, at an event. So I don't see this a get out of jail free card.

    I like the way you analyze the entire structure of the scene with your nine points, and I don't disagree with any of those ideas per se. I found them all excellent.

    I just disagree with the overarching hypothesis that all is bland. To my ears (admittedly far less knowledgeable to the whole history of techno that yours and Chris's), there are as many exciting sounds now as ever.

    You say:

    "Don't disagree w/ those albums you mentioned though. But note the link: people who formerly made techno, now making interesting music... that isn't techno."

    A lot of what I mentioned still sounds like techno to me.

    To give some examples of people who have been at the game for ages, I like the music Regis, Function, Surgeon, Jeff Mills, Donato Dozzy, Alva Noto and others are making now FAR MORE than anything they've ever made in the past. I hear much better sound production, more natural dance rhythms, and basically a more mature approach than stuff done in the past. And I've never heard a techno record from the 90's or 00's (with the exception of Villalobos's au harem d archimede) that had rhythmic programming anywhere as sophisticated and exciting as what Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit are doing, and you can put that on in a club. But that's just me.

    And aren't you in fact strangling techno by saying the music I mentioned isn't techno? How can you expect a genre to stay creative by locking it down with such narrow definitions? It seems the very act of doing so would would necessarily lead to the blandness that you bemoan.

  20. @ Russell:

    hmm, well, I agree with you substantially, I think.

    My overall thought is:

    'yes, but nonetheless...'

    I think there are still many interesting - and often very, very well made techno records being released. My sorta half thought hypothesis on this is that we are seeing, and will continue to see, a kind of genrefication of techno, whereby it will function to its passionate listeners like certain subgenres of crime novels do.

    I can't see it retaining/regaining the momentum and creativity that it's had, and what I *do* see is a very, very large and diffuse economy - in the broadest sense of the term - of 'noisy insignificance' and half hearted participation/divided attention at work, and that has effects.

    What you say about context is absolutely true, yeah, fuck yes - this is a big issue, I think. Maybe it goes back to the point I was trying to make from the movie Diva

    The Diva in the film *refuses* to be recorded; people go to the utmost lengths to do so, the bootleg tape, and the chase for it, drives the whole film.

    Point here: what a subversive gesture! Imagine a techno artist refusing recording. There's something interesting and powerful in that, when you think about, say the CLR podcast (which I listen to and enjoy, but, fuck, when too much techno is barely enough!).

    Imagine a form of music that was even *forbidden* outside its context. Imagine how powerful odyssey events like labyrinth and freerotation &c would be if you could not hear that music out of that context? I guess the issue is, maybe, profanation, and the endless multiplication of simulacra. I've got hard drives full... guessing you do too?

    If I can cap it into an impression about blando though, let me put it another way. My mother has always insisted that techno is repetitive. Until recently, I stridently disagreed. But now, well, I think a lot of it *is*. Deeply repetitive. And that might be problematic. Or not. This is subjective.

  21. Agreeable stuff - if you swallow the presumption dance music is still all about house/techno. A particularly presumptuous presumption that, particularly in the light of all the excellent hardcore infused music that's being created with a view to innovation, danceability and musicality. Roko's Hotflush podcast is astonishingly good, along with Felix K and Rockwell's Fact mixes. But I guess the discussion will wend wearisomely back towards the blessed and benighted 4/4...

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  23. The Jonathan Franzen article that you link to really sums it up with the comment "anything that betrays real passion is by definition uncool".

    There is an enormous mire of dull, unimaginative techno and deep house out there ("Sor" by Tommy Four Seven is my default example). The impression I get from listening to music from the mire is that the producer was terrified sick of letting any emotion, passion, vision, or striking imagery slip out - Perhaps all the creativity gets fed into clever production or something, but god forbid that the music might be heartfelt and evocative! It would be, as Franzen says, uncool.. A hell of a pity really.

    I dunno what can be done about this - Do people really like such vapid music? It just goes clickety clack and has some grinding, whooshing noises on it! And yet: "this track is an absolutly bomb love it", "unique work man! 2 thumbs up :-)", "killer track! big up!!!!!!!!!!!".

    I think Russell has a good point "maybe it's not made for such critical listening. Maybe it's made mostly for dancing". Dance music does have a special context. "Sor" does not make me want to dance, but I dunno about anyone else.

    I want to stick up for the mp3 though, and wider access to music in general. It's all very well if you live in Europe, Tokyo or Sydney because record shops still exist and the postal system can take care of Juno orders. But further afield, like New Zealand, the shipping costs for vinyl orders are crazy. It's one thing to be in love with music and spend your hard earned cash on it, but pretty demoralizing that a big tax on that passion is postage. Vinyl only releases are just annoying these days.

  24. nice article, but i have issues with this strange idea you have that journalism was at some point in some sense "free" of the influence of the marketplace i.e advertising, etc and could analyse art from some neutral position, where they could somehow determine what was "good" and what wasn't. this idea that journalists were "the kind of people who asked tough questions, did research, brooked no bullshit, and got to the bottom of things, even if it broke them", seems a little strange and nostalgic. You seem to be clinging to the idea that there is some ultimate truth about what music is "good" and what is not. however, it seems obvious to me that this isn't true- the music that is good to you depends entirely on your education, class background, gender, sexuality etc. one explanation for why you cling to this idea could be that previously the music that was "good" was determined by educated journalists from a particular class that published in big magazines, which allowed rigid ideas of what was "good" to be created, which people are comforted by. However, with the advent of the web and communication, now anyone of any class can say what they want about music, which is in turn revealing that in fact no music is "good", there are just a sequence of equally irrelevant perspectives.

  25. "beware the bottled thoughts of angry young men" jeff buckley

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  27. Re: original post: You people are mongoloids (though I don't know what your faces look like although one of is got a mustache).

    LWE rules. They just don't fanboy jizz about their jazz over their. They let the artists talk pretty well, and strike a cool critical balance with their pods as well as the engaging interviews.

    But you crabby old guys over here are too much fun and we really do enjoy torquing the secondary gain of having drugs and electronic dancing culture torquing it too. RA is a fun end of the internet real world experience trainwreck.

    G.O.D. bless the junkie who finds the song that just don't end.

  28. Realcrabbyoldmanbullshit:

    Old man keeps him in line.
    He fucking spun it in detroit. he did america good, I was so proud to be a midwesterner and an iniate to warehouses of spinning fun.

    You guys remind me of the olden days of
    I like your concession to comments...

  29. ...and keeping it cool with the people.

  30. for junkies fiending for oddly placed familiar tunes:

    Woody McBride showing how to compression fracture an american club:

    he was running some fucking ninja nerd with glasses and a mac 8 bit video game 3d waveform trance bullshit at the Skyline afterparty on the river in detroit a month ago. everyone left(shut down) that party at sunup to go to seth troxlers house. Ketamined ectoplasmed supermodels and all.
    I had to go home and do a cardiac life support simulator test.
    KC to IL: 2005 nissan sentra no bp gas
    IL to DET; 1993 buick le sabre bp gas at family restaraunt after michigan food
    techno is everywhere

  31. @ darkcoupon: I did say they were mythical beasts, those 'journalists'. Naming them, I think, reveals their absence? I mean, it's clear that Rupert Molloch exists, and is Australian like me, and is from Adelaide, which explains something, but...

    @ Marzie: well, this is *mnml* ssgs, not *anml* ssgs or *vgtbl* ssgs or, you know, british bass music ?bbmzk? ssgs, etc... I mean, we have a certain archive to which we have a deep and not unproblematic relation, no? We iz who wii arrr. And that is not all who wee iz, but...

    @ Olaf: yes, it is all about passion. Because passion is hot. Never cool. It 'should be' (note the normative swerve, watchout!) all about being passsionate. I think so. Hit me hard, in the guts. As I remember from 2011:

    @ jesse: inspired...

  32. to circumvent the PR infestation of electronic music, why not just set up a website/blog that reviews music that is not shackled to a release deadline?

    It could mean a review of an old record could sit side by side a new release one of the reviewers had bought or an interesting unreleased demo on soundcloud. it would be one way for reviewers to liberate themselves from the endless 'full support' requirements associated with music PR

  33. @ Russell: context – viewing house/techno as primarily ‘dance’ music, that such spaces and activity provide its ‘proper’ function, what purpose does it serve away from here? While you may not choose to listen to it on your sofa, many do, and the fact that it can be enjoyed in these other spaces does not provide it with any less value. I love hearing techno in clubs, loud, through speakers, with other dancers, but I listen more often, and more closely, away from clubs. It’s music after all, not (only) a functional tool for generating music from dancers. That it has this latter power over most other forms of music just adds to its complexity, and justifies further critical analysis, not less.

    Of those releases you mentioned as examples of quality contemporary techno - Morphosis, Kangding Ray, Cyclo, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit, Ricardo Villolobos & Max Loderbauer, and Jeff Mills – I’d say none were produced with clubs and dancing in mind. I’d even say that for the new Morphosis, and Surgeon too

    No doubt music programming has gotten more complex, but I’m not sure this translates into more danceable music, I’d say the opposite, particularly given the current fad for bare-bones Chicago trax. The ‘more natural dance rhythms’ you say we’re hearing today are those laid down 20-30 years ago, tweaked and polished by modern production methods.

    Also – doesn’t dance function render almost anything momentarily great, if its got the right funk components. I’ve happily danced to plenty of dross, as I’m sure we all have, that I wouldn’t ever wish to listen to away from the dancefloor, which doesn’t go for the house/techno I enjoy.

    Reminded here of Stefan Goldmann:
    "The total de-motivation doesn’t manifest itself only in the musicians’ under achievements, but also in the annoyance of everybody else. A frustrated DJ plays lame tunes in front of people bored to tears."

    It's important to view musical stagnation as a symptom of a much wider problem about musical production, distribution, and reception, ie all PCs numbered points: poor criticism; the laptop-interweb-mp3 conundrum of everything-always-available; ease of production leading to too much half-thought results made available to all; too little engaged listening. These all feed eachother, fix some of them and you’ll get livelier music. Added to these would be:

    Ubiquity: music of all kinds played everywhere all the time, such that music isn’t at all valued, and nothing is deemed unworthy of commodification. Terre Thamelitz bemoaned here about hearing Rej in a departure lounge, and it wouldn’t be surprising to imagine Whitehouse or Merzbow going the same way in the near future.

    History: Much modern music seems wilfully ignorant of music history while simultaneously obsessed with it, reducing it to a giant datasea fit for sampling. Simon Reynolds’ new book looks like it will examine just this fact:

    "Under the Analogue regime, time was tilted forward. In Digiculture, time is lateral, recursive, spongiform, riddled with wormholes. It is characterised by operations like cut and paste, simultaneity (keeping open multiple windows), rewind/fast-forward/pause using mouse and cursor, saving things ‘for later’, fitting cultural or news experiences into your schedule (I won’t watch that major Obama speech as it happens because I can always catch it later on YouTube)."

    This too informs all the uncritical praise heaped on modern releases, failing to look back to what has influenced the present. Isn’t Stott’s newie closely aligned with much of what aspects of glitch was doing in 1999-2000? Isn’t tdoay’s hauntological crackle and hypnagogic warble merely an update on what glitch was doing?

  34. 'One question: why do you consider Philip Sherburne one of the bastions of honest journalism? I scarcely believe he's ever given a review less than 3.5 on RA. That's a lie of omission, is it not?'

    pretty weird thing to take issue with, tbh. firstly, who cares about ratings? I really wish RA got rid of them and followed LWE's lead (though obv. it is harder considering the relative volumes of music each review). but I digress.

    really, though, you only have to read PS' reviews and articles to realise that he's a fantastic, knowledgable and honest writer. fwiw, I think he's the best writer on techno that I've come across.


    as for the rest of the piece, well, I see merits in the (very well written) argument, but (...and maybe this is b/c I have lower standards / am an over-excited 'kid' / am used to mediocrity of these modern times, etc, etc.) but I have heard some amazing music this year. the Peverelist and Actress 12s alone have been superb.

  35. PS, obviously there's also an overwhelming amount of complete rubbish that needs to be sifted through, but tbh I don't buy that notion that this was not a factor 'back in the day'. I just think the increased availability of 'stuff' through the internet makes it more pronounced.

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  40. I never have trouble finding wonderful music, now or old, that is suitable for dancing. I consider "house" music as a style of playing record for dance purposes as it originated instead of a strict genre. This means I get to play Moritz Von Oswald Trio records next to Jamie XX remixes of Adele and the new Reggie Dokes record (while also throwing in some acid, disco, etc) and have it be fun, interesting, and the exact opposite of bland. I feel like a broken record saying shit like this over and over again, but it's as true now as it was when everyone was hyped up on mnml and glitch shit before that. I'll just take the good, interesting music and leave the rest behind, regardless of genre.

    I don't disagree that the over-reliance on laptops for production and deejaying has a lot to do with the current sound of bland, uninteresting music. The only problem is that there is ALWAYS more bland and uninteresting music than there is the good shit; it really is independent of production and deejaying tools and techniques. The thing I guess is that this particular sound/technique is so ubiquitous and easily identifiable that it is very easy to pick out as being problematic.

    I wonder where the ssgs count me in the realms of "techno journalism"? I am pretty unabashed in supporting and working with artists I find to be doing distinctive shit, across a number of different styles. I just run with the shit that I think works in making great music, and that means it should be personal, diverse in sounds and moods, and generally kinda funky ;)

    I'm big on dance music history, but at the same time one of the blandest things out there now are these computer assisted wanna be old school house/techno records. While I can understand where these guys are coming from in wishing they were Larry Heard, but come fucking on. It's getting ridiculous.

    As for podcasts, honestly I only fuck with joints by certain artists that I know will bring something interesting to the table. The shit we put out there on ISM is pretty diverse, isn't the standard "big name" guys, etc. And that is usually enough for me! Aside from our stuff and cats like Mike Huckaby, Beautiful Swimmers, Rahaan, etc whom I trust to do it right, I'm probably not DLing your shit.

    You can all share blame for "not listening" but I'm not taking any of that. I'm always listening, buying records, making music, deejaying, releasing records, promoting shows, writing about music, etc for the music I believe in! I am constantly doing everything I can for this shit. There's plenty of others doing the same thing, between my own shit and the shit the people I respect are doing, I don't even have time to pay any attention to wack shit anymore. I'm quite pleased with this, actually.

    There's a network of cats in the US underground especially that are all on the comeup right now, and they are diverse but trying to work together. I think some serious shit is gonna happen soon. It's not something you can read about on RA or mnml ssgs or LWE, but if you're part of it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Do more, think less!!!

  41. A very interesting read and some good points.

    This year, like any other year, has seen some great music from whatever angle you look from. Much like any other chunk of time. I never understand people who say they havnt found any new music that they like, surely that is either not looking hard enough or in the right places, or being lost in a sea of new material pumped out of certain download sites. The regarding of new music as something that has been released in the last x-amount of time is also a bit strange to me. New music to me is exactly that, something that i have not heard before whether it is from this last year or from twenty years ago. Hearing a DJ play lots of 'old music' might be just a novelty to some people or be uninspiring but it can open up some new avenues of music to people who may be too young or just somehow missed or bi- passed some music from the past. For example, Dettmann's 'seduction' mix for Oki Oni, I enjoyed this because I missed out (for whatever reasons) on some of the artists he selected and am now following some of them up.

    Certainly in places where the smoking ban has come in, whether in favour or not, it creates a moving flow of people on and off the dancefloor. Clubs tend to lose a coherent crowd that stay there for a long enough to appreciate the ups and downs of a decent set. DJs feel more pressured to play a set of 'bangers' to keep people moving, and the peaks and troughs are diminished. When crowds get too used to this it almost becomes expected. Maybe this is a personal standpoint but i cant stand the jump up culture that has now infiltrated most electronic music. The whole 10 djs in 3hrs with 11 decks and playing 50 tunes an hour, drives me insane and its purely a lack of ideas. Slow things down a bit and chill out. What’s the rush. Put something good on. You don’t have to dance like crazy all night. Promoters need to give good residents time to shine. The jump up culture also walks hand in hand with the throw-away culture that has sadly evolved with the use of the internet, downloads and technology. These do bring a number of benefits that most people who use them tend not to exploit to their advantage but they use these devices to be lazy – to get a quick fix (that is usually far less satisfying).

    Finally, i am uncomfortable when people say 'that isnt techno' or 'that isnt .....' with such certainty. I heard once, (whether correct or not - but i like the idea of it) that monolake said something to the tune of 'anything that someone can easily or directly identifiy or call techno probably isnt techno.' Which i take to mean, stop over analyzing what is and what isnt whatever. Genres may not be one specific label but a grey area in between. You can play stuff that is conventionally not techno and make it feel like techno – that to me takes imagination. That punk attitude has been lost a bit it seems. In other words, ‘house is a feeling’ not a bpm range, or 4/4 beat or any other construct or definition. Perhaps this is an inherent problem with widespread music journalism at the moment. Words are often not that good at describing music, and can sound clunky and awkward. Let people enjoy what they enjoy, without all this describing of what a kick drum sounds like or whatever. I generally have stopped reading most of the reviews on RA for this reason, bar some exceptions form people who talk more broadly and insightfully. Surely its better to use the internet platform to alert people to some music that they might not discover otherwise, new or old or any genre. This is why I tend to like mnml ssgs, I might not enjoy the podcast or the latest post of writing but I find all worth a look – and I guess that is your manifesto.

  42. "this is *mnml* ssgs, not *anml* ssgs or *vgtbl* ssgs or, you know, british bass music ?bbmzk? ssgs, etc... I mean, we have a certain archive to which we have a deep and not unproblematic relation, no?"

    So what were those exclusive ssg mixes from the likes of ASC, Kowton, Scuba, Felix K - and they are just the 'bbmzk' end of the spectrum - representative of then?

    That is an odd comment, PC. Or is it only Chris that's into the non-mnml music? I thought this blog was 'into' pretty much all ends of the electronic music spectrum - with the simple and admirable proviso that it just needs to be bloody high quality.

    Do I sense a schism, a false dichotomy developing within the ssg ranks? I do hope not as your general outlook on music has been inspiring at times...

  43. "But, you know, the rats will have their charlie, will they not? I think we’re all in on this. This gross hunger for novelty, and the rate at which we churn through podcasts, and the horrible hangovers. Which is surpassed only by the thumping rate at which podcasts are released. And you’re still expected to have appetite enough to buy some music? A friend of mine confided: he can now no longer be bothered pirating. The very thought of it fills him with an unspeakable ennui. It’s so weird, isn’t it? It’s almost as if we don’t know how to operate outside an ‘economy’; without scarcity, how do you build evaluative hierarchies? And why cherish anything? This strange proliferation of simulacra, a veritable free for all... and yet, almost totally unappetizing – while it also tends to make people go on horrible binges, orgy without appetite, after which they become wracked with guilt, and feel the need to buy merchandise and attend live shows to atone for their sins..."

    As much as I disagree with the general thrust and am confused by the exact targets of your ire, I have to admit this is a superb piece of writing and piercingly perceptive.

    The feeling of bloatedness and satiation - too true.

  44. (part 1/2)

    Interesting thoughts. Can't reflect on or react to everything either but I'll try to express what comes to my mind upon reading all this. Maybe I'll sound naive/irrelevant to some of you, being quite young and all, but I feel you need to know how someone younger and less D&E-knowledgeable perceives this.

    I think that this situation (i.e. not finding any exciting music for some time) is a very personal thing. To me, the only causes of this are time-related :
    - your age/maturity
    - how long you've been listening to electronic dance music (or some other genres, all this we're talking about can be observed in other kinds of music)
    - how much you know about this type of music and its history.

    What I mean is that basically, when you're in your late thirties, forties or later, and have listened to this music for 15-20 years or so, you've got a great chance to get bored today. Whereas someone in their early/mid-20s (like myself) cannot.

    But why does this happen now ? Because it happens that for about 3-4 years, D&E has been going through a kind of revival. Everything from the 80s and 90s is being revisited by the new generation (and also by the old - I can think of a few DJs/producers that are currently, um, "going back to their roots" to put it simply, or others that are making their comeback and very successfuly so).

    So to me, it's not that there's isn't any good music coming out. Rather that D&E might've come full circle, and that right now, after the laptop/digital revolution (that has given to the young 1- access to all EDM's history and 2- the means to produce anything they want), as "none" said, producers (and listeners) are catching up.

    They're not simply re-doing what has been done in the 80's and 90's, they're refreshing it, re-interpreting it in their own way, by mixing old and new like some DJs are very good at doing right now, or producing stuff that sounds a bit old school but isn't at all. They're not doing it because they're uninspired or not talented (well, some of them are, of course), it's just that, as "none" said, they need to process all this history in order to go forward.

  45. (part 2/2)

    To illustrate this I'll add some of my own experience : as a young EDM fan I'm really enjoying the current state of this music, because a lot of the stuff I'm hearing right now makes me discover the stuff from times that I haven't lived, AND makes me enjoy it more and understand it better. It's the best history book ! It's way better than just listening to the old stuff, which is not always satisfying : it's less exciting because you know it's old, and you miss the huge punch in the gut that people who listened to it at the time it came out took.

    A friend (a music journalist in his late thirties who has a very solid background in many types of music) was very radical about this recently : he said that today, music if boring because most young musicians are too aware of music history. They have access to everything so they know all their lessons by heart, all the classics. So much that it wipes away their creativity. They're good at processing everything, at mixing many different styles and sounds and creating something new out of it (these days new cross-over styles are created every week). And it sounds good, but not great. New and fresh enough, but not groundbreaking.
    It seems like what some of you "veterans" (if I may call you this) miss isn't particularly "good music", but music made with the naivety and adventurousness that is needed to create something completely new.

    So there, it's just a comment, therefore I won't fine tune what I wrote and fix all the inaccuracies. Still, I hope I've been clear enough. I know I repeated some things that have already been said, I know some of what I said will sound very obvious to some of you, but I had to make these repetitions in order to write something that's consistent, and not just a few isolated sentences.

  46. Hugo, I agree with you 100% on the knowing too much about the past - it's all available online if you are interested.

    but this bit "because it happens that for about 3-4 years, D&E has been going through a kind of revival".

    I agree that d&e is going though a revival, but that this has been happening for the past 10 years since electroclash.

    as you may have guessed, I am one of those older (but hopefully not too cynical) people!

  47. also, the thing about morphosis not making a techno album? It sounds pretty techno to me - it strikes a perfect balance between on and off dance floor material and it uses sounds and textures that made me think 'what the f**k was that?'

    actually for those reasons it's a quintessental techno album!

  48. i am on holidays so don't have the time to properly engage with all of this, but a few brief comments:

    - much of what PC wrote came about through ongoing discussions we have been having, and most of what he says i think it would be fair to say that he is speaking for me too.

    there is plenty of interesting music out there, without doubt, but i think the point PC is getting at - or perhaps this is my point that i am reading into PC - is that music where there were some interesting things happening a year or two ago is now getting rather tame and dull. for instance, the kind of revival of techno that started with the rise of the berghain sound a few years ago is exhausting its creativity, at least for now.

    - yes, some of these themes we have definitely discussed here before, but hopefully - as someone said - they are now in a slightly more refined form. like it or not, this blog is run by two academics so of course we tend to intellectualise music and this is an ongoing process. we revisit and revise ideas.

    - related to the last point, discussion, debate, disagreement - these things are healthy. the post has given rise to some really interesting discussion and comments. and this is most definitely a good thing.

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  50. The most popular thread all year, every year. And without a doubt, this piece was the most refined version of the idea yet. Rather like a lot of house that's around at the moment.

    "sons of chance take good care, for all those people out there"

  51. Dissillusioned blogger blames music for his own ennui, part 35487189.


  52. Chris and PC,

    If you are going to make a list of reasons why you find something dull, don't you think at the top of the list you should put yourselves?

    If I find something dull or exciting, the main reason is usually personal--what path I've been on too long, what path I want to explore next. I've recently taken an interest again in Greek orthodox liturgical music, a form of music which hasn't suddenly changed. What's changed is me, of course.

    You are both highly analytical types, so to not at least look into your own musical history, the trajectory of your blog, the mix series, your fascination for and hyping of certain sounds, public perception linking mnmlssgs with certain styles, etc, etc as potential sources of a highly subjective shared conclusion seems to me a large omission in that post.

  53. been thinking this through the last few days rather than jumping into the comment box.

    this has to be one of the most thought provoking articles i've read in a long time.

    i love the fact that this blog makes us think and debate. other than introducing me to loads of ace music over the years, Chris, PC's & the comment posters ability to make me stop & think every now & then is what mnml ssgs is about for me.

    on the point of house/techno in 2 cents:

    i'm an electronic music fanatic and have been for many years. i went through around a 2 year purple patch of finding amazing sounds but over the last few months i have almost completely disconnected with house & techno, so i have to agree with the overall premise of the article. i can still enjoy myself if i'm on a dancefloor, but my connection with house and techno has NEVER just been limited to the dancefloor.

    i often use my spend on vinyl as a reliable litmus test, and spend on new house/techno releases has dropped dramatically for me over recent months. i don't think house and techno is any worse than two years ago, but i'm just getting a bit bored of it. i can't hear anything moving things forward anytime that i check a mix out. and mixes are the source of the majority of my purchases, as reviews these days are bascially pointless in the vast majority of cases.

    maybe my tastes are changing rather than a lack of progression, i'm not sure....but i'm not hearing things that excite me at the mo in house/techno.

    i also think the whole "scene" - reviews, boards, arse licking, promo - etc etc have DEFINITELY contributed to my disconnect, as the post touches upon.

    for me something doesn't feel "right", and that reduces my motivation to dig. so it seems part of this problem is personal and outside of the music production itself; but i don't think the wider impact of all this on how music is made and moved forward can be underestimated. it's like it's getting watered down by scene bullshit.

    also laptops MUST be something to do with it. one of the labels i dig almost without fail is FXHE. i'm no expert here, but that shit don't sound like it's being made from start to finish on a laptop. the morphosis album, kangding ray too - again something special & unlaptop-like about em.

    also laptops + message boards + twitter + time-starved-post-recession-overworked-music-lovers = a lack of attention. if all the music makers are being similalry distracted by all the bullshit that goes with house /techno then that has something to do with it i'm sure.

    lastly, if there is so little money being spent on the music production itself, because of all the damn pirates out there, then maybe it removes some of the motivation to spend several months on an album.....?

    i'm sure some artists must rush a bit these days so they can meet the bookings of promoters keen to do an album release party. if so, the love gets lost, no?

    one thing i am going to definitely start doing having read this post is start giving music my undivided attention again when i listen to it. maybe something's passing me by.

    i will always LOVE house & techno at heart, it's in the veins. and i look forward to dancing my arse off at freero and labyrinth this year. but healthy debate when something don't feel right has to be a good thing!

    big respect

  54. some salient points but basically you have to admit you sound like this

  55. The "scene" has internalized the dominant ideology.

  56. I do not agree with you at all.. Maybe if you listen to boring tech-house or the same old techno.. But what about Four Tet, James Holden, Caribou?? This music is really danceable too, the only thing is that most people are too ignorant to even listen to it or understand it. I've heared 100's of great tracks this year and i'm sure there's lots more to come!

    House and techno is an old concept that has used up all of it's space for creativity, try to find/make something new!

    cheers from Holland

  57. @ PC: sorry to keep on, but i think your response misses my point (and in a strange way, clarifies it). i think you conceive of things like Rupert Molloch (in your words) being a corrupting influence on music and journalism, but i think this is where you and Terre are wrong- you think that there are some strands and movements of art (i.e certain forms house & techno) that begin uncorrupted, but the influence of the media and capital destroys them and makes them bland and changes what they signify. But surely this conception is incorrect. How is it possible that certain forms of art can, in a society controlled and dominated culturally by capitalism, be free of its corrupting influence? Every label, however obscure it is, falls into the same trap of being in the marketplace. In techno, we see the market functioning perfectly through obscure labels being marketable (to some extent) through their obscurity. This works so well because of this lingering idea that some music is actually uncorrupted and "good" and you just have to look hard enough to find it, which just isn't true. Sorry to labour over this point- it's great to hear people blogging about these things, but i really think you're missing something. We need to abandon this idea of "good" music and start just talking about music.

  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

  59. @Dave Coupon
    I think you're point about the pervasive and inescapable nature of music/art and capitalism is correct, but I don't think it contradicts PC or Terre, who I think acknowledge this. Successful music is that which engages with this struggle in some way, and there are myriad ways in which this can be engaged with.

    I believe what they are referring to in terms of bland music is that which refuses to engage with any of the issues raised here, music which just blindly follows existing trends, blinkered to extra-musical influences, complicit with damaging forces related to capitalist exchange.

    As for terminology, who gives a fuck whether its called techno, EDM, whatever. My use of the term 'techno' has been in the broadest admittedly misleading sense, referring to all electronic dance music. Of more interest are the new and problematic factors surrounding its production, distribution and reception.

  60. The more I think about this post, the more just plain wrong I think it is.

    Other artists at the top of their game today who occupy their own highly individualized spaces: Convextion/ERP, 2562/A Made Up Sound, Falty DL, Cosmin TRG, Ramadanman, Raime...

    Was this post really about all dance music? Or just, as hinted by Chris, one small strand that you guys think has run out of steam?

  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

  62. @ several people: please read me well. Did I say music was boring in 2011? Did I say I was bored of electronic music? No... As requested, please read me carefully - give me your undivided attention - if you wanna engage...

    @ darkcoupon on capitalism: yeah, everything gets commodified, pimped out, reified, alienated, etc.... everything...

    from a different angle I was trying to capture something of this here

    with my review of Pronsato, and it's no accident I added the comment from Shed:

    "Full of vigor.... not yet touched, used or exploited."

    Of course this is a utopia; but utopia provides orientation in thinking for me. It's absolutely critical, in both senses.

    It is also about optimism, vision, movement

    or - stasis, repetition, and, you know, spinning wheels for (dancing for) dollars, I dunno...

    @ none: actually, 'dance music' was and is just a marketing category. 'Techno', like 'house', has a whole archive, narrative, mythos, everything... to me at least they're much more evocative words, with a whole lot more baggage, good and bad. I used d&e deliberately to apprehend the capture of forms like house and techno - but also the whole ~step/bass spectrum - by a whole network of laptop-mediated relations, in order to think about the kinds of forms they might be enabling/creating/restricting/precluding...

    @ some others: I think we either have to practice a more careful and deep form of remembrance, or totally forget the past; what I see a lot of right now is, as I said, cheapy nostalgia and phoney retro stuff.

    Or otherwise:

    So: a certain record in 1981, it isn't the same if you make it in 2011, is it? Same w/ 2005 and 2011... this isn't merely 'fashion', though fashion is a part of it. Timing is .... everything. Or: important.

  63. I think the % of good stuff is still out there but we're missing a lot of it because it's not coming from the big guys anymore. Like you said, many are caught in comfort of their own limits and others are too tired from touring, releasing turds that people think is amazing. That is not helping setting up new standards. Meanwhile, there's some unknown kids making mental tracks. The flood of bad music is covering the gems. It's almost tragic because there's label working really hard to release original music but its the commercial stuff that gets all the attention.

  64. there's been some lovely deep house this year...

  65. this seemed to chime with this piece.

    I enjoyed the speculations while disagreeing.
    and agreeing in parts.

    i think the most significant part of the argument concerns capital's ability to entomb even very dynamic underground phenomena and reduce it to ersatz imitations. the frustration that inspires in originators and early adopters isn't necessarily new, but feels like the turnaround is accelerating. almost like capital is *learning* and that performers/artists/consumers are complicit. which is, of course, true.

  66. just wanted to chip in and say as someone who has tried to review music honestly and objectively in various different places it's barely worth it - i've had death threats, emails, phone calls, abuse on fb, twitter, threats and more from artists and prs alike (and i mean high profIle artists as much as newbies) plus all said artists' fan boys come out and publicly attack you, your ability to write, your knowledge of music.. even my poor mother has been dragged into it!

    totally ridiculous

  67. @ 0302 ltd - name and shame the artists and PRs involved so everyone reading this can avoid their music, gigs and labels...

  68. @frequencies

    not in keeping style wise with ssgs vibes but as a journalist i review what im commissioned to review rather than just writing about stuff i like (otherwise the accusations then become 'fanboy' slanted)

    most heated have been

    jay haze
    darius syrossian

  69. @ 0302: yeah, and, you know, if the coke + bitches + moolah were amaaaaaayzing, it might be worth getting tidy and tight with the collusio, corruptio and nepotismo... but the thing is, well...

    @ frequencies: if you name and shame, privileges will be removed. It's very simple. You are one person, trying to write for an entity who has more cultural capital than you. They send you things. You return them completed. If you return them in a way which is 'received favourably', then you receive further privileges and better opportunities. If you diss someone they're in tight with, or someone the promo person is in tight with, you will either cop flak, or get reduced privileges, or they will exclude you... this is part of how the wheel is greased. Who's the guy or gal who gets their name on the door everywhere, who gets all the privileges, etc? The one who NEVER pisses off promo, especially powerful promo and feted releases from the big temples.

    ...and within scenes, there is a massive amount of mutually contratulato-masturbatory activity going on (circle jerks + high fives). And enormous hostility to anyone who wants to puncture that bubble. Like it's winter, your're in a cosy room (even if it's as big as a big dancefloor), and some 'kid', who, you know, isn't even friends with everyone in the room, just opened a door and let a cold draft in.

    So you have them destroyed/managed/neutralized via email to the 'editor' of the content provider...

  70. @0302 ltd - fair enough, i appreciate you naming at least some names

    @PC _ I have been reviewing for years and years and while some artists have complained to me and my editors about my work, we usually brush it off and point to the 'fair comment' nature of reviews.

  71. ...or maybe Andy Stott just made an album. And there's no need to go into it any further.

    Yes, the review of it is lame, but why does his creation have to be considered perverse?

    Maybe the comparisons you make to it are perverse.

    Otherwise, I think your article raises some good points while staying nice and condescending.

  72. Also your #9 is very good.

    While I take my music creation and listening both very seriously, I get the hunch that maybe most don't? Not sure.

  73. And what's wrong with putting a "black guy" on your cover? Is that really a fundamental issue for you with that release?

  74. @Joshualine I agree that i think PC and Terre acknowledge this about capitalism and art. However the issue for me is that i don't think there are any methods that engage with the struggle without always-already being consumed by it, but i think PC, Terre and you do. It comes back to that old Frankfurt school point about every method of resistance to capitalism being always-already subservient to capitalism (the caricature of this being Marxist texts like Capital being published by literary corporate giants). I think the same is true for everything and i don't think the music that i like (i.e the music featured on this blog) is any different. Maybe the truth is that we already know this, but somehow we are to create the fantasy that the reality is not true for a while and convince ourselves that this new branch of techno is going to change everything and is somehow not subservient to capitalism. However within a year or two the fantasy is lost and we find ourselves at clubs forcing ourselves to reconnect with music that was once significant, but now is completely bland. But it's bland now because it wasn't ever good and its just that the fantasy has diminished.

  75. "However within a year or two the fantasy is lost and we find ourselves at clubs forcing ourselves to reconnect with music that was once significant, but now is completely bland. But it's bland now because it wasn't ever good and its just that the fantasy has diminished."


    great stuff.

  76. @ PC

    mythologies and narratives only serve to brainwash and hinder. or to mask something.. oh! the power of MYTH

    myth mythmyth myth. the end of history is near..

    im done with this conversation tho. im gonna do something important, like make music, instead of complain and bitch about it, or over analyze it till its so clinical and sterile it has no life left in it...

    its fine anyways cuz you obviously didnt understand my points at all

  77. im sorry my last comment was mean, i do hope pc that you had the time to read my full statements before i deleted them... i wrote quite a bit.. and i do feel like your response to me was good, just a little bit hung up by the language i used, ie, "dance music" but thats alright because i got hung up on the word techno. i see your point in that those words have meaning, but like i also said, cant you see how those preconceptions, those narratives, or "mythos" as you so brilliantly put it could possibly be stopping something? at least to you..
    i personally fall into the camp of those who think, well that all this talk about blandness is cynical. i hear amazing new music all the time...

  78. i particularly enjoyed your comments about the politics of technology btw...

    "Point is: technologies are more than merely technical: they embody certain politics, embed a certain ethos, and shape and constrain action in certain ways."

    and all in all i see your points, but i feel like im misunderstanding you, and you me.. if only we could actively have this conversation in person or voice to voice, i might better be able to articulate, and you as well..

  79. ugh i told myself i would not get dragged back into this article... now i wish i would have left my other essay long posts...

  80. @ none: but did I say that 'music is boring in 2011'? No, I did not... this is one of the most exciting times for permutation and creativity in electronic music for a while.

    @ others: but myth, as well as fantasy, they're very important, no? Just 'cos something 'doesn't exist', doesn't mean it isn't real, and doesn't mean it isn't really important.

    I mean, just 'cos Oedipus was a myth, doesn't mean I can/ought to fuck my mother, no?

    And just because capitalism empties a thing of its value, aura &c, doesn't mean I/we shouldn't struggle & create

    @ Tyler: thanks for the backhander... condescending why? Could you qualify that?

    In relation to Stott, well, what does having a black guy on the cover, what does that say? Why might actress not do that, for example, and what would happen if Stott put a geeky, paunchy, middle aged white guy sitting in front of the laptop on the cover?

    Exhibit B:

    Exhibit C:

    Exhibit D:

    At least Kompakt had the 'balls' to be white, fey, German etc... when will be done 'respectfully plundering' Africa for signifiers: authentic/afro/primitive/funky/soulful etc... I mean, you know, it's lazy.

    NB: I'm not saying the above releases don't have merit, and I'm not saying they're racist. It's just lazy to piggyback off 'Africa' that way. And says a lot about the absence of audacity, to me. It's not about the djembe and the grass skirt, it's about the laptop and the plugin. And the easyjet. Let's be honest.

  81. But Peter, who says those covers are merely "piggybacking" off Africa? Not to get tripped up in authorial intention, but isn't it possible that they're using those images in critical/inquiring ways? Harmonious Thelonious, after all, are explicitly working with "African" sonorities (and I imagine they would use the scare-quotes as well). And I don't really see T++ as being some kind of colonialist/essentialist. I think it's fine and wise to ask what these kinds of covers might *mean*, but in the context of the music, it doesn't seem quite the same to me as, say, Sascha Dive's blithe (and to my mind, vapid) Black Panther appropriations.

    Also, you missed a great one:

  82. Also, Tyler, why do you think my Stott review is "lame"? Just curious.

  83. There's a pretty obvious distinction between a myth that serves to teach an idea vs. one that serves only to perpetuate a falsehood (especially one that happens to allow people to make lots of $$$). Perhaps my lack of heavy drug use (I've never done E, K, coke, etc., and I don't even really drink either!) has kept me grounded in reality, but I've never had that "this music doesn't really mean what I thought it meant" crash. I've looked on every E'd up PLUR raver as a deluded mess, not someone who "gets" this music. I'm not saying that it's impossible to achieve a higher state of consciousness through this music, quite the opposite in fact. I do believe it is possible, and I've seen it. I do think it has very much to do with the right kinds of records being played, and the right kind of crowd (generally not those on the above mentioned drugs I have not done. I can see pot, alcohol in moderation, and maybe some psychedelic use as a good indication that the crowd is in the right frame of mind...) along with a talented deejay and good soundsystem and space being the truly essential ingredients. It's not mysticism, but it ain't exactly rocket science either!

    I'm not particularly into "narratives" as such, I think that is part of the failure of rock music journalism crossing over into dance land. I do find it valuable to know history, and to be able to play musical connect-the-dots between eras. This is a different thing altogether, tho. I know you guys have called out the Detroit "mythology" card before, but to me there is only one thing that makes Detroit what it is: a steady stream of awesome records, labels, and deejays that are all interconnected.

  84. I can assure you, the thought "Africa" barely registered when I saw Stott's album cover. That is a fantastic image (one I am glad to have seen), that evokes so many more thoughts than the idea of "piggybacking off Arica" encourages. It was, to me, chosen quie thoughtfully, and certainly not infected with the cynicism you have chosen endow upon it. I would even say, that in it's thoughtfulness, it bares no relation to any of the other covers you decided to post, as some kind of evidence.

    I think your approach to this issue has been quite lazy; as I think your term "muddy" is lazy, for what is an excellently produced piece of work. Actually it's not muddy at all, in production terms.

    Isn't your problem with the front cover really just an attempt to subsume it into your over arching belief, that this realease in general, is a cheap attempt at originality? Doesn't this suggest too much predjudice involved in your approach to this release, and not enough critical anlysis? Has this release fallen victim to your current piece of writing? You mentioned it deserved time, have you given it any?

  85. "I'm not particularly into "narratives" as such, I think that is part of the failure of rock music journalism crossing over into dance land."

    Excellent Pipecock.

  86. "to me there is only one thing that makes Detroit what it is: a steady stream of awesome records, labels, and deejays that are all interconnected."

    But dude, that's a narrative!

  87. Just by chance, I came across this quote from Antony on Pitchfork today, and it seems very relevant. I can certainly sympathize with him, and I envy his ability to get off the internet, to a certain degree; I can't really afford to, as it's my livelihood.

    "The Internet might be useful for creating revolution, but all it's creating in the Western world is more passivity, more disconnection. It's a fucking nightmare. When I was 20 years old in New York City, do you think you walked into a coffee shop and saw 40 people staring at $2,000 purchases all made from the same company? And those are all the artists! I talk to young musicians now, and they're just happy to be making records that get released. They don't even consider that, in the old days, they could making a living by selling records. They don't even get paid for their work. All that money just goes to Apple and they're happy to just have people going to their shows. It just took two generations for Apple and similar companies to convince artists they don't deserve to get paid and that they should just be grateful for the tools that Apple is providing us to make our work, as if we need them to make our art. It's very, very fucked up.

    I've stopped using the Internet, basically. I text, but I've whittled that down. I'm trying to just revert to a landline. I don't want to live in computer time. The Internet doesn't care if we've had enough."

  88. It's not a narrative. It's a series of people and artifacts. If you want to impose a story on it, then you're making up something where there was nothing. I don't really care for "waves" as the media has called them, I'm not even really all that interested in the fictions the artists themselves come up with to go with their music (Drexciya, Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, etc). All this is distantly secondary to the power of the records and the skills of the deejays. No story necessary! I find personal details of the artists that perhaps give a bit of insight into their personality, because I think that helps explain their music's personality for people a bit more. That's why I'm a fan of interviews and straight up historically minded dance music texts. I'm not really into the Simon Reynolds style of analysis.

  89. I mean, to my mind, any discussion of "interconnectedness" (or indeed "historically minded... texts") is by definition a kind of narrative. But, hey, that's a perspective I got from my studies that's deeply ingrained. I'm not gonna get hung up on whether or not we agree on what to call it. (But I still say it's a narrative. ;))

  90. @ pipecock: ah, pipecock, I admire your remorseless, relentless 'perspective'. And, btw, 'it's not a narrative, it's a series of people and artifacts'. From what perspective/how are you able to say 'it's a series'? What makes it a set? What makes that set sensible/sensical...? Surely not... storytelling?

    @ PSherb: hmm, yeah, you're totally right, it *is* presumptous of me. Perhaps it is critical/playful. Does at strike you as that though? It's not as if Andy S 'owes me' anything as a fan of his; his directions are a matter for him, that's his creative freedom. I just can't follow him here, and, you know, the way I see it, it's just (sorry, this sounds wanky, but, you know, I'm a bit of a wanker, so...) it is semiotically disingenuous to have a b&w grainy cover with a 'man of African appearance' on the cover, w/ facial scarrings, and then say - but hey, it's not about Africa and all the associated concepts and phantasms that cluster around it. Okay, this is my subjective reading, and, of course, it is no more than that. But that's my reading. And I think Andy got a lot of rope for... well, several of the reasons mentioned in the post. Your authority as a justly respected writer, Philip, is key among them. As is the pitchfork stamp ?prong? of approval. Positioning is interesting, and an important aspect of the way Iisten to and understand music.

    Oh, and exhibit the next:

    @ never really began: my hit count on my player says seven full listens, and I would say that three of them have been close, two on the headphones, one on the speakers.

    It's not 'muddy' in the sense of just, you know, mush, or thoughtless - there's a lot of thought that's gone in to the sound design. It's just that, like a lot of on-trend records (peaking lights springs to mind straight away, Night Jewel also, but I see it elsewhere, I'm happy to name names), AS has deliberately used a lot of techniques to fuck with what would be considered by, you know, a Steely Dan fan, as muddy/low fi/cheap/fucked up/degraded, etc...

    And, you know, I really *tried* to like this record, based on what I'd been told about it/read about it on the interwebz. It was hyped as interesting, important, new, and exciting. I don't think it lacks merit, I just think, you know, it's okay. And, as should be really obvious by now, I think the disjuncture between the recording and its reception says something, more than just my disaffection for this release.

    I like the Peaking Lights record a lot, for example. And the John Maus album, which is retro/pastiche/nostalgia dialled up to eleven. But somehow both are more interesting, creative, engaging to me...

  91. @ pc

    you got me there!

    great post btw, seems to be stimulating alot of discussion, which is always a good thing.

  92. @ none

    & almost everyone else

    time to chime and say, yeah, thank you so much everyone for a really stimulating and interesting discussion so far. I will be offline for a while over the next day or two, so you peepz will have to continue without my further clarification (thank goodness, you say...)

    To re-iterate: thank you, everyone :)

  93. @PC, I thought you might interpret my use of the words like "thoughtful" as being synonymous with contrived. On this we will have to disagree, as I simply don't hear the justification for it being lumped in with the names you mention.

    I don't know anything of the hype surrounding the record (thank god by the sound of it), so this really hasn't affected me. I have simply enjoyed his productions greatly over the years, and feel this album is definitely a continuation of the path he set on "tell me anything" (one of my favorite releases of last year).

    I look forward to reading your praise for John Maus, whom I feel is quite untouchable at the moment.

  94. @ Sherburne & on the Stott, this is from the FACT review:

    “At a time when dub techno is one of the laziest and least inspiring genres in electronic music, one of the brightest people at its peripheries shows just how far into the jungle those borders extend, and it’s one hell of a place to visit. Hopefully you can make it out alive."

  95. great article. I have to say though that I feel the breakcore/hard dnb scenes are pretty original still. In fact its the development of subgenres almost daily where originality is to be found I think.

    I love your article though, both the point of view and the phrasing.

    And you say there's no journalism in music? What's this then?

  96. I read everything and I enjoyed reading them all.

    But this makes me feel soooo glad I'm not the academic type in the slightest, simpleminded even, and when I listen to music it's all simple and rarely too much more than whether it's fascinating to me and makes me want to listen to it again and again.

  97. @frequencies - damn blogger needs threaded comments.

    Really like that idea man. Am trying to get some locals together for a regular music & events review site, would love contributions of reviews of just *ANY* good piece of music.

  98. Interesting read, can't say that I am in complete agreement with everything you've written, but for the most part you hit the nail square.

    To me, electronic music was at it's pinacle about 10 years ago. There was some fantastic music about, an exciting scene, and excellent gigs. Things have slowly gone downhill from there but the causes are pretty obvious.

    MP3s ABSOLUTELY hold some responsibility. It is utterly mind melting why at the same time that people demand HD videos and TV, Blue ray discs etc, the majority of music is listened to in an absolutely terrible format. Probably through some dreadful earbud headphones, probably little White ones....

    without wanting to go too in-depth in the matter, the net result is, from my expeiance, a communal shoulder shrug and "why bother trying" attitude. People no longer put any real value in media, it collects like dust in their hard drives, and as you say, never gets fully explored as it ought. Therefor, the artist and labels are no longer motivated to try create something truly deep or meaningful, it would feel like a wasted effort almost.

    and along the same lines, aside from the debate over music live vs music for listening.. The unfortunate truth is that unless you are one of the lucky minority, making a living from music sales is impossible. It is about making your crust from gigging now, which as you mentioned, is exhausting. Releases are not about wishing to share ideas and show your music to the world, they have become advertisements, promotion for bookings.

    You no longer gig to promote an album, you release an album in order to gig. Not saying if this is good or bad, just fact...

    the way out is somewhat unclear, but I think rests a lot on re evaluating just what music means to all of us. For the listener, it can be the soundtrack for your life, the world you choose to exist in, and the mirror for your emotions. To the artist it is a bold expression of self, what will eventually be their legacy, and how the world will know them.

    If people could admit to themselves just how important music is to them, and to each other, perhaps they could treat it with a little more respect and decorum. Not just flooding their drives with free drivel, but treasuring each piece that they buy, and fully appreciating it's value.

    anyways, I have old fashioned opinions, but to be far, doubt that anyone would read this far down the thread!

    great article, thanks for a good read!

  99. Well Dav, just read this far and I think you're right : More passion is required and more quality vs quantity. Cheers.

  100. @PC - ugh I wish you hadn't brought up the whole "black guy on the cover" thing. Does that really contribute to your overall argument? I'm afraid you lost a little credibility from the start with all that...

  101. I mean - "Djembe and grass skirt"? really??!?

  102. This comment has been removed by the author.

  103. There is so much good music out there if you look closely. I really resonate with a lot of Russ's points... cant quite believe you took the time to write all that but my hat goes off to you.

    Some of you sound like you have too much of a good thing you really do... thats why youre bored perhaps? Take a break, then get on with finding the music that inspires you. That maybe kindles some creative resonse in you! If its what you love, enjoy it. If not, bog off! Simples.

  104. If you haven't heard any great new music this year you're either completely deaf or a massive idiot. There's plenty out there to be enjoyed.

  105. You write like some producers programme, very technical and trying too hard to be cool. Just say what you mean without wrapping it up in cool words to impress your friends

  106. "We shape our tools, and then our tools shape us, and then, somehow, most of us become tools holding tools, tweeting each other about the latest mix tools made on our favourite tools, which we play and send to each other – on our tools. What a bunch of tools. Lonely, needy, compulsive tools."

    Pure, modern poetry. Describes the current culture poignantly. Thank you for such a great post!

  107. how are your observations holding up as 2011 comes to a close?

    Not surprisingly, Kyle Hall and Mount Kimbie are still here.


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