Friday, January 22, 2010

i started this talking about how nuum-zone was one of the things worth believing in during the Noughties. that the music compelled you to work out what it represented , to dig out the buried credo, the unwritten manifesto. the affect of belief came first, caused by the sheer power of the music, and then --if you were of that inclination--it compelled you to attempt to articulate the nature of that power, its implications and resonances.

yet I'd have to say that by the end of the decade I really found myself approaching nuum-not-nuum sounds pretty much as a pleasure-principled agnostic. and in fact no longer looking for the music's concealed articles of faith actually frees me up to enjoy the music more. which is ironic,maybe, but entirely logical. belief often goes hand in hand with excessive expectations, leading to disappointment and frustration.

from hardcore through to grime, it really felt like something was unfolding. now I don't get the same sense of teleology, a destiny manifesting itself. which means i tune into the transmissions and take pleasure where i find it.

and that includes being bemused-amused. for instance, what does it mean that one of the year's most beloved post-dubstep tunes, Darkstar's "Aidy's Girl Is A Computer," sounds like it could be by Crystal Castles? (I like Crystal Castles, a LOT, so no diss there… but they are hardly a group that would ever get respect in dubstep quarters). equally, what should we conclude from "Hyph Mngo" becoming a smash on the Sasha-style progressive scene, i.e. the most consistently boring, anemic dance genre of the last 20 years? Or how about "Future Garage", which isn't really futuristic at all, since rhythmically picks up where Dem 2 left off with "Grunge Dub"?

And here's another: Silkie, not sure if he's "future garage" (someone on youtube called him "Futuristic Step"), i rather like his stuff (this is pretty exciting, the MC's over-the-topness certainly helps, even if he overstates the case rather). "Grunge Dub" again comes to mind... with some Viktor Duplaix "broken r&b"/Giant Step circa 2001 vibes... some liquid funk/logical progression luxe-goo (but the reference points drifted forward a bit from Seventies to Eighties, hence the title "80s Baby")... HOWEVER, while kinda digging this stuff I couldn't help
chuckling at this sequence of comments under another Silkie youtube:


"this tune belongs in 3009 AD"

"Silkie channeled the great George Duke and Billy Cobham on this one... I feel like I'm listening to future jazz fusion everytime I hear this.... :D"

so one dude thinks this is music from the 30th Century, a millenium hence... and another hears George Duke and Billy bloody Cobham on it!

Yeah so the long and the short of it is: nuum-not-nuum proving to be fertile in fine sounds but also fecund in bullshit

the more serious ah philosophical doubt i have about nuum-not-nuum is the same as ever, and mild, in the sense that it doesn't exactly trouble me but more i find it disconcerting to hear people talking the same "there's no rules anymore/the walls are down" talk last heard in the mid-90s... don't they realise that when a genre can assimilate everything, it ceases to be anything in particular?

in such circumstances you couldn't really expect there to be a buried credo for extracting. a credo implies rules, and the new rules of the game are "anything goes"-- an anti-credo perhaps, not so much nu-IDM as nu-illbient. the post-post-rave equivalent of Fukuyama's "The End of History". belief wouldn't come into it, then. and certainly when you read the people who follow all the nuum-not-nuum shifts very closely, they describe them in this detailed way, but they never ascribe anything to them.

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