Saturday, July 26, 2008

Simon Reynolds continues his ongoing meditations about locality and deterritorialization in electronic / dance music. Well worth reading.

I've been trying "Funky House" : the alleged new sound of London which is melodic, "feminine" and sexy in contrast to Grime's aggressive masculinity and Dubstep's nerdy, doped masculinity. (And, of course, is an alternative to the wonderful hardcore baroque stylings of Northern "niche /bassline house".)

"Funky House" seems to have congealed out of some very bland, globalized house sound. Last year people were talking about "wine bar music". This year, though, some smart commentators are taking notice. That may be because the London magic is working again. London is big enough to juggle multiple popular trends at the same time, and yet liberal enough to allow them to subtly affect each other and push things forward. I don't really like the driving soca-beat that seems to be becoming part of the new genre. Certainly it doesn't make me want to move the way that 2-step garage did. But the music has definitely evolved beyond yawn-inspiring A.N.Other house. The same elements (in fact, I'm sure the same singers) that fed speed-garage and then 2-step are flooding in.

Yet it's staying distinctive. The afro-beat, caribbean influences are definitely going to be strong. In fact, lush jazzy, even Brazilian, vibes could be a fixture. And this gives a very different feel from 2-step.

(Of course, these are often been the kiss-of-death for a genre. But has funky been born innoculated against it from birth? Given its wine-bar parentage, maybe the immune system is already proof against the disease? Could funky be the genre that triumphs over the curse of Bossa Nova? :-) )

Of course, funky is nowhere near as awesomely impressive as bassline house on first listening ... it is just bland and easy-listening house. I am still more enamored of niche.

And yet there is the sense of possibility here.

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