Saturday, September 11, 2010
The Complete Club Experience . . .
. . .nowadays takes place at home. It's been a while since I've been out, the last time being in May to catch Miles Sagnia in the basement of the Soul Tree in Cambridge City Centre on a Saturday night, and it wasn't the advertisement for well-patronised underground clubbing that I hoped it would be. That's down to it being in Cambridge more than anything else though, a discerning wasteland for the most part. There are those who try and, to a certain extent manage to pull something off, but by and large it's quite awful. Of course I speak from the standpoint of never having promoted a thing and so not ever having put my money where my mouth is, but it's a young man's game and I'm middle-aged and a family man, but having lived with music all my life I'm not looking for a divorce now.
Thank the lord then that there's absolutely no shortage of good music being released; but I constantly wonder how sustainable it all is. Who gets paid in the world of electronica? With the constant back-scratching that goes on, tracks for free, guest lists so boxed-off that the paid list had to be concocted . .? How many of the staff on Resident Advisor earn a living wage? How many of todays DJs can support themselves? Music in general has, more than ever, become a house of cards built on quicksand, but it survives and I go on ruminating.
House is in a real creative cul-de-sac. Having said that there are strains that are making their presence felt more than others. Jamie Jones' and Lee Foss's Hot Natured project continues to spread its wings and works on many levels, in spite of it being commercial-sounding and hook-laden. There's links to be found with UK Funky and dubstep in the mutual friend they all have in cosmic sleaze. That's a relatively recent development that has taken me completely by surprise. How did it happen? The synthesised pimp-funk of the hot streets of black inner-city USA, particularly those of Southern California finding a home in underground urban British soundscapes? Nothing is sacred, everything is permitted, and good thing too.
A few years ago I'd just about given up on the standard US house blueprint, but now it's back in one of its many mutations it's like minimal never happened, which in fact it didn't. It was only ever a lazy journalistic term to compartmentalise, once more, that druggy, messy, congenital council estate working class Croydon SE London genre tech house. Minimal sounds less proletarian and more decadent. The Wiggle boys would never have toed the line on Ibiza, but they were DC10 before the concept existed. Not that they were the first either. The abstract nature of minimal was/is constantly emphasised by the fact that arguably it's two biggest proponents, Villalobos and Hawtin, hardly ever played what could properly be called minimal sets. They may have made it, but the DJ mind and the producer's mind are often both mutually exclusive sides of the brain, rarely coming into contact. Moreover, the two most talented of the Minus stable, as far as I'm concerned anyway, Magda and Troy Pierce, made their names from trading in funky narcolepsy, and still do brilliantly. The deep house renaissance is still with us, but became generic very quickly. Having said that, when its got an edge it's techno.
And where's the hedonism? Boxed off in vested interests in the VIP lounge. I love this stuff but it is incredibly conservative and as I grow older I'm becoming more critical of it. I remember David Holmes saying he couldn't believe 'I'm Losing Control' was made by a man who had never touched drugs. He felt really affronted by it, and so do I. What's pushing things forward at the moment? One of the most annoying terms of categorisation to appear over the last year or two has been "headfuck techno" used to describe the primitive, stripped down lo-fi trance that the Prologue label has pushed, as well as DJs like Donato Dozzy and Giorgio Gigli. Dozzy has the very nerdy look of the geeky Italian lawyer and it would seem unimaginable that he does anything more excessive than have a couple of martinis during his aperitif. I harbour hope that he takes his pleasure when he can though, even if it is to further scientific research.
So, even though my clubbing days are not completely over but for the most part behind me, (Free Rotation next year I hope), and that I've never seen, and am not really that bothered about seeing the brains behind most of the mixes on my hard drive, I'm still constantly excited about and surprised by new music in all its forms. The cross-pollination of genres/hybridisation of forms never fails to amaze me and always will. I went to Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons for lunch yesterday, spent more money than I've got on haute cuisine, and still had a techno soundtrack running through my head. The hedonistic gene is still very much intact but the complete club experience nowadays is a smorgasbord of choice stimulants with me very much the master of my own destiny. I have long been a paid-up, card carrying member of the two most shat upon groups of people in the UK, clubbers and football fans but, from the comfort of my velour armchair, cradling a glass of Armanac, puffing on a fat one and listening to the latest in the Promo Mixes series, (club concept as well as mix concept perchance?), it's payback time.