Howdy y’all, mad props to Patten for putting this together. Been digging deep into the Dissensus archives lately as part of some research I’m doing and was feeling bummed out over the lack of such a space today as Twitter is no place for earnest discussion. Currently writing a long-form piece on the misleading and constructive myths of the hardcore continuum (HCC), non-mimetic functional dance music (genre science), and the non-scene that has emerged around labels like Timedance, Mistry, Wisdom Teeth, Cold Recordings, and of course Livity/Ytivil (a label who I believe provided a path out of the post-dubstep free-for-all).
Have been going back through all of Simon Reynolds Wire pieces that formed the backbone of the hardcore continuum (and all his writing on the topic for that matter) and was really taken aback by how prescriptive the pieces are in the sense that they often read like attempted interventions into certain trends and directions he didn’t particularly like. To do the topic justice, I’ve been trying to better understand the greater critical context in which he was writing about his country’s own dance music tradition; namely, is there a distinctly British approach to music criticism? Older writer and DJ friends of mine have pointed to the quasi-intellectual nature of Melody Maker alongside opinions that Brits have a certain savior faire when it comes to hype. Any one care to comment on how the British musical critical practice has changed in the past two decades? Realize that’s not a small question, but having grown up only reading Spin and Rolling Stone before moving onto the early music internet in 2002, I know I’m missing certain cultural realities that are hard to know if one didn’t live them.
What has spurred much of my own behavior in the past two years has been the apparent 180 from the mp3 and music blog oversaturation of the late web 1.0/early web 2.0 period (2005-2011) when listening to dubstep meant that you understood what the HCC was to a period where no one has really attempted to give articulation to what the aforementioned labels and artists associated with them are trying to accomplish. Namely, as Facta noted in a chat, no one has really bothered to try and give definition to this dubstep-informed milieu in the way that, say, “lo-fi” has been given credence as a scene, noting that the music he and his peers make almost always gets classed as “techno” and “bass” (the latter is particularly laughable when you think about how insufficient it was becoming as a music descriptor as early as 92). I also personally think that one of the greatest overarching projects for dance music critics today is to interrogate and overturn Reynolds’ conceptual hegemony in the study of dance music as it’s really the only way we’re able to talk about an insanely complex ecosystem of flows and intensities (sorry not sorry).
So yeah, as an American for whom dubstep in 2006 was a gateway into UK dance music and a theorist who cringes at the HCC’s post-Marxist sensibility, I’m curious what y’all think about this axis of artists and why no one has really bothered to give a name to what’s come after post-dubstep (which ran from 2009-2012 in my estimation). Personally, I think the concepts of scenes and genres are woefully outmoded ways of conceptualizing the development of new mutations within the UK genus and what’s so remarkable about this present moment is that we have producers making music for the club who aren’t seeking to make “a Jersey Club” or genre-specific track, something that’s been a defining symptom of everything from jungle through dubstep. Rather, they are engaging with genre structures while seemingly operating at a molecular level to synthesize genres and style and create a space “on the fringes of different styles” (as Batu put it in this interview).
Apologies for the lack of brevity, it’s not a strong suit…but curious what others make of this underdefined zone of innovation.