Word The Cat

Word the Cat

binaries deposed (on the bed or on the dresser or even out of doors)

Posted by Chris on January 11, 2008 at 1:44 pm  

140bpm reductionism here.

This idea of the ‘hardcore continuum‘ (post-rave permutations) in uk music has been coming up a lot recently. I wasn’t sure if it even bore comment up til now, but it won’t go to bed so here goes:

I’ve always been suspicious of people who write about music (myself included), and more suspicious of people who write about music professionally (disclaimer: this isn’t meant vindictively). When writers erect enclosures around ‘their’ patch it is for reasons that have more to do with the way they perceive themselves than anything in the object they’re describing. It’s very hard to have a problem with this because all description is a dialogue between object and describer. However, it does grate when these descriptions are presented as gospel and when, by virtue of being taken as gospel, they start to become accurate – in other words when people start thinking in those terms and create objects which match that understanding. A blatant example (which non-UK readers might not be familiar with) is Nathan Barley – a send-up of trendy east London culture which gave unimaginative scenesters the perfect template for their scene. In dubstep this might mean making a tune that references 93 hardcore – which is great and all, but not if it’s exhaustive – that’s just too easy, and boring.

BokBok writes:

“I’m not normally one to be so dismissive, but isn’t the hardcore continuum just a way for older guys to relate to these off-the-wall kids making totally new original stuff that, aesthetically at least, bears little resemblance to the genres that the ‘Nuum designates as their supposed predecessors.”

I suppose the crux of this is – why should we care which other genres dubstep/bassline/grime/funky find themselves sitting next to? For professional writers the answer is simple: ‘because I get paid to tell people this’. and in many ways more power to them if they can persuade someone to pay them to do this – I just wish people didn’t listen so intently.

The best and worst bit in the ‘FACT’ (watch that name) piece linked above is where k-punk writes:

“Much like 2-step before it but in many ways more emphatically, the ‘feminine pressure’ of bassline is reminiscent of feminist theoretician Luce Irigaray’s claim that women have sex organs ‘just about everywhere’. The cartoon body implied by bassline is contour-less and polymorphous, lacking in specific erogenous zones because entirely given over to a diffuse eroticism.”

I like this description a lot – but why make it specifically feminine? Music and music writing as constructive rather than reductive.

music is music, everything is everything (reductive yes, but liberating in its absolute reduction). we don’t need to map our own binaries onto music (screwface/smiley face — masculine/feminine — skunk/MDMA). music takes you past that.


(image: ‘Emergence’ by Ala Ebtekar)


  • Comment by bok on January 12, 2008 at 2:19 am

nice post man

  • Comment by subVerse on January 14, 2008 at 12:22 am

agreed. thanks for that

  • Comment by callan on January 16, 2008 at 9:33 am

why all of a sudden is everyone discussing this and rejecting it all at once? Is this a blogger’s coup against Simon Reynolds?

  • Comment by Chris on January 16, 2008 at 1:03 pm

well – its something i’ve heard mentioned for a while now – then i saw bokbok’s post (which I guess is what prompted john eden too, judging by the fact his and my posts popped up w/in 10 minutes of each other). bokbok’s post was inspired by the FACT magazine piece. then /rupture drew on all 4. the idea of a/the hardcore continuum didn’t drop out of the blue though – I know its been picked apart on the dissensus board as well as informing the way UK music journalists have been writing for a while.

as for a coup – I don’t want to assume Reynolds’ seat/throne (I’m being facetious – I’m sure he doesn’t own a throne). bokbok praises Reynolds in his post too…

my point is to guard against grand musical narratives that define themselves by exclusion. I’m not interested in a slanging match.

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