Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Old Records: Fragments Of A Debate

Much is currently being made of the relevance of digging for old stuff. This is not to the detriment of the new, rather an act of both rediscovery and research. Today Resident Advisor published a piece on the Berlin-based collective Slow Life, whose modus operandi seems to be one of unhurried evolution. Their oldest collaborators come from Italy, the birthplace of the slow food movement. Significant connection or tenuous link? I’ve yet to read the interview and look forward to doing so, but I have the feeling that the rediscovery of old sounds while relevant to the collective is nothing more than them wanting to do things on their own terms and nothing more.

If music is good it deserves to be heard and shouldn’t be considered as finite. The Slow Life crew seem to be a little bit remote from current trends. This has served them well as far as house and techno is concerned, because although the genres are very malleable, they still work within a very defined structure, which apart from production techniques and the accompanying technology, really hasn’t evolved at the same pace as the composite artistic imagination. The dawn of rave all the way through to the mid-nineties is still viewed as the most fertile period for house and techno by many, but have their been any major developments twenty years on?

There is a polarization of conservative thought on the one hand almost abstract on the other, and a mass of those for whom anything goes holding sway in the middle. And it’s in the centre ground which is by far the most interesting place to be as far as being a DJ is concerned. Others that have been labelled as diggers recently include the likes of Nicolas Lutz, Voigtmann, Binh and Andrew James Gustav. It’s interesting to listen to their sets, all of which are very much the sum of their parts. If that sounds negative it isn’t meant to, it’s just that the music they draw on makes listening a very linear experience. Now I like a groove as much as anyone, but I’d be lying if I said the most interesting mixes I’ve heard are simply a consequence of keeping it locked in the same airspace throughout. Very little stands out for me, but I have the impression that this is the overwhelming objective. To play clandestine music which, once revived goes straight back to the realms of obscurity having unleashed its essence on the unsuspecting. The exact opposite of the northern soul approach, which was to dish up the obscure and flaunt it.

I suppose the only thing left to mention is that most, if not all of these selectors have a strong attachment to vinyl. To the outsider this may feel like they consciously wear their affinity as a badge of honour, inasmuch as the eschewing of anything remotely digital in format reinforces their standing. It doesn’t feel in any way contrived though, because I’ve yet to come across an article or interview in which there is any negativity to CDs or laptops. The irritating vinyl v digital debate never raises its head, which is nice as it could so easily be revived every interview. Not just with these guys, but a load of others too. It’s good that we’ve moved on.

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