Wednesday, December 31, 2003
"Perspex Sex" and the housification of electro (slash electrification of house) is part of a broader trend that I would really like to see take flight in 2004. Reynolds predicts that next year will see the fall of mutant disco and microhouse and the rise of nu-beat, hi-nrg and "macrohaus". As I implied in the previous post I'd go further and say that the early nineties are also ripe for the picking (although I've maintained this ever since my early-nineties themed 21st birthday party). I was out at a gay club a few weeks ago where the music was above average in the we-play-more-than-screaming-divas kind of way - a really nice selection of retro-into-modern from the eighties to now.

But what was far away the best and most vibiest track of the evening was Crystal Waters' "100% Pure Love", a great song obviously but above and beyond that the skippy snares sounded marvellous, a laser beam of gorgeously rudimentary machine funk. Delicately programmed snares are pretty much my thing right now: I've been playing and replaying Underground Solution's "Luv Dancing" all week, just for that gorgeous little rhythmic hiccup just before the vocal hook.

But if we're about to embark upon a period of mid-eighties, late-eighties or early-nineties revivalism, I hope it's not at the expense of all the sonic tricks that electroclash and the other "passe" revivals have reintroduced to dancefloors. That said, people who expect electroclash to suddenly vanish from dancefloors under the unslaught of new hipster touchstones are distorting the manner by which dance music - and particularly the staple club sounds we can lazily call "house" - engages with the past. Rather than digest historical influences sequentially, dancefloors tend to accrete them, like layers of sedimented rock. Eventually some layers become indiscernible (and then, after a decent silence, they become ready to stage a comeback), but a snapshot of house music at any given moment in time will reveal a layered topography of a couple of years' worth of ideas.

In keeping with this process, some of the best and most exciting house records of late have emerged from out of the aftermath of French House. It's true that "pure" phased disco is quite often some of the most tedious stuff around now (see again "Make Luv"), but Daft Punk's Discovery has sparked off a miniature tradition of producers trying to make new and interesting sounds using the tools that phased disco left behind. In fact one of the exciting things about French House currently is that it really is a "post"-genre, an overhanging cliff edge that at any moment might break off and send its artists plummetting to... where?

It's the "where?" that is interesting, of course. Archigram's Stooges-biting "Doggystyle" and the Buffalo Bunch's remix of Audio Bullies' "We Don't Care" suggests a switch to muscular minimalism - a metallic, rockish sonic churn that bears no small resemblance to the steroid-pumped hard electro-tech sound of Vitalic. On the pop end, Linus Loves' "The Terrace" sprinkles phased-house glitter-dust all over the central riff from Stevie Nicks' "Stand Back", and the result is halfway between the glorious eighties-cheese of Daft Punk's "Digital Love" and the open-hearted rave E-motionalism of Cosmos's "Take Me With You". These are minor adjustments, of course, which only the minutae-minded could take much notice of, but they are small and subtle pointers to the possibility of something broader happening.

What I would like to see is for all these trends to start engaging and interacting with eachother - electro riffs, phased disco sounds, skippy snares, shuffle beats... and while we're at it, why not early Warp basslines, New Horizons raggatronics, trancey chord progressions, techno grind? If microhouse started off as a paring back of house to its most basic elements, why cannot "macrohaus" be an unabashed celebration of all of house's cheesiest/vibiest components? If we're going to have dancefloor revivals, why should we limit ourselves to one revival at a time?


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