Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Internal Empire

It can be difficult to quantify exactly how much influence one area has over your life. I like to think of myself as a bit of a renaissance man, only in the sense that I like and am actively interested in a diverse range of different things. From football, food, film, literature, art, hedonism, politics, current affairs to music, it can sometimes be difficult to focus on one thing, and maybe that's why I have never been involved in any of these things to the degree that I really want to be; it's been difficult to find the time free of distractions and now I've got kids, even more so. No matter, there's always the time to change, and that's in the offing. 

The worse thing though is not really having the opportunity much these days to discuss and debate the finer points of what you hold dear. "But that's what the Internet is made for" I hear you say. Agreed, but the lack of thoughtful argument is frightening. It's there in spades of course, but it's dwarfed by bullshit and I really don't have the time or the inclination to start wading through it. I suppose that's why the blog was set up in the first place, to negate that necessity for engagement on the terms of others, but I'm getting bored and maybe it's time for a change.

I met with Harry Sword the other day. Harry writes for Little White Earbuds and The Quietus and has been a friend since we both had radio shows at 209 Radio in Cambridge. He still has a show on Cambridge 105 to which I recently contributed a guest mix. Anyway, one of the many topics that we squeezed into the thirdy or so minutes we chatted for was the lack of humour in much of the writing and coverage that accompanies electronic music. The principle sites, we concluded, are a little too serious and rigorous almost for the sake of being so. This isn't the fault of the artists at all, not necessarily the writers either who probably feel constricted by circumstance and pressure. I remember Kris Wadsworth and Omar S interviews on RA where comments drawing attention to the language used by the interviewees were full of righteous indignation. I remember it creeping into printed media a long time ago. One incident that sticks in the mind is that of a Jockey Slut review of Kenny Dixon Junior's epic prince-sampling release 'You Can Dance If You Want To' a double 12" the four labels of which are pictures of naked girls. I could be wrong but I'm sure the reviewer in question drew attention to this and said that it detracted from the overall quality of the release to have said photos there.

Electronic/Dance music journalism needs to stop taking itself so seriously and remember why it was there in the first place. The focus is the dance floor, without which there wouldn't really be much of a reference point and we'd all be sitting at home chin-stroking, internalising our instinct and whinging about the weather. There's always a time and a place for intellectualisation, it's always very interesting to read what someone genuinely thinks about something, eloquently put or not. The gobbledygook that infests a lot of reviewing (to which I have no problem owning up to myself) is perfectly acceptable a lot of the time. How else is a writer supposed to accomplish an undertaking, more often than not written for free, without having to wade through exhaustive amounts of reference material in order to cross-reference and add foundation to an argument? In addition you've got the much - maligned scoring system, which creates more problems than it solves and which I've never seen the point of, except to save readers the chore of actually reading the review,  to take the edge off a particularly bad write-up, or to deliberately court controversy . . .

I suppose that's what blogs are for though, innit?

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