skykicking: “Skykicking taking a slight issue with my comments on neophiolia”

“Now I like Paul’s writing a lot…”

Why thank you. You’re pretty good yourself. Though I’m not as good as Eden, which is a source of endless irritation to me, but there you go: he has talent and I’m a middlebrow hack. Matt TWANBOC’s a proper writer too, at the moment he almost can’t be bothered, leaving sentences unstructured and all that, yet he still pisses on almost everyone else.

“… and he seems to know his garage…”

I knew about garage for a while but I left London almost two years ago and you just can’t keep track away from the pirates. I just listen to my old Dem2 records and occasionally make up CDs for my wife. She loves 2step (after ages of being bored by music after the birth of our baby) and would love to go out dancing to it. But of course, you can’t.

“… but to me this smacks of building a strawman. I haven’t seen anyone complaining about how crappy golden age 2-step (and it was a golden age!) is compared to grime. ”

Create straw men? Moi? 😉

But no, there’s at least a semi-serious point here. I detect in the current dissing of classical UKG (and for that matter the cultural revisionism, that has consigned mid-nineties techno to the bin of un-hipness) in favour of grime, a premise that grime is good BECAUSE it’s new. And this raises my hackles in a profound way. Yes, I distinguish between what I object to, and the current appreciation of grime on its own merits (for reasons of invention and of dialectical development (its antecedence in hardcore etc.). This is of course absolutely fine.

However I perceive a susceptibility to novelty for its own sake. And this to me is suspect. It’s just commodification, where a culture articulates an ideology that desecrates last years’ forms simply because they are no longer freshly minted. Which means that people who like last year’s thing are branded conservative when they simply like a different trope. An example, which I want to qualify in a moment. While I partly enjoyed Reynolds’ put down of, IIRC, Spoony, who was saying he wanted to put on nights for that minority of people who preferred the old 2step and soul-inspired 4-beat sounds of ’97 to ’99, I was also disturbed that the basis of his criticism was that Spoony should simply be embracing the new. As afar as I could tell, Spoony should like and promite Grime simply because it was NEW.

Now, I actually hesitate before citing this example, because I do not want to be seen as dissing Reynolds, for whom I do of course have great respect and affection. And I owe him a ragga mix CD. And it was an off-the-cuff comment (something which I have FWIW encouraged in him) and not a major issue in any event.

Furthermore I do appreciate the value of POP: of the creative power of churn (shades of Schumpeter’s gales of creative destruction here). At one level — what I would see as a child-like level — the desire for novelty for its own sake can be enjoyable. And no, I’m not saying that everyone should be making and listening to 99-vintage UKG. [It should be 95 techno crossed with ragga! ;-)]

But his comment can be taken as an indication of a sort of knee-jerk disowning of UKG and older musics simply because they’re old. Techno, house, and of course more than any other genre, breakbeat, all suffer from this phenomenon as well. (BTW in the main body of their work this anti-historicism is something that Reynolds and Matt TWANBOC emphatically do not suffer from – quite the reverse. You read Reynolds and you constantly get allusions to previous musics, and by no means only to hipseter forms. And TWANBOC’s knowledge of and articulation of the merits all kinds of older, neglected musics is legendeary – though his comments on Hardfloor cut deep, I’m telling you, DEEP!! 😉

So I detect this attitude not so much in Reynolds et al, but I still think it occurs as a basic assumption (an ideology) throughout contemporary discussion of dance musics. And what really makes me look at it with – well, not horror, more a kind of amused dismay – is my perception of my first and last musical love, reggae. Cos for as long as I’ve known and loved reggae, which is well over 25 years now, it has changed in revolutionary ways yet for me it’s kind of stayed the same. Every element from its history has always had a currency. I mean this both in terms of modern forms recycling older ones, and in terms of older tracks being re-released or versioned. Yes, reggae is perhaps the most volatile form on the planet but the old has never been ignored. (The few weeks old – now that’s another matter!)

I suppose at the root of this is what I perceive to be the hipster’s horror of cheesiness, and everyone has different tolerances for formaggio. But I just think in a world where you can dance – I mean really dance, without any irony – to Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, with absolute joy, 20 years ago, now, and 20 years in the future, there’s room for people to get down to unfashionable UK Garage.

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