Monday, September 6, 2010

the next instalment of the series "And They Say There's No Such Thing As the Hardcore Continuum!"

instalment #5


from
Joe Muggs profile of Terror Danjah, in the Wire, August 2010

"The music you first have sex to stays with you for life. And for me that's Jungle. Wherever I go, I always heave that in the back of my head, some Roni Size or V Recordings-style tune, fast and furious"--Terror Danjah.... He is now in demand as a founder of Grime and inspiration for dubstep, but from his very first sexual explorations and DJ gigs to the "Mentasm" and "Amen" sounds in his new Planet Mu EP, Power Grid, that Junglist impulse has indeed always been with him. A bashment fan from primary school age, Terror Danjah was 12 when Jungle began to emerge in 1992. He became hooked, and started DJing the following year as the sound found its footing... he felt at home among the constantly shifting and overlapping crews, cliques and radio stations of the Jungle scene. "in 1995, me and D Double landed a show on Future FM through a mate of mine, Tempo, who at the time had an MC called Footsie, so you can see the connection [D Double and Footside would later form Newham Generals]. "

20 comments:

Joe Muggs said...

I don't like internet cliches like "facepalm" but honestly Simon!

Later in the interview TD says how he never liked garage... What does that say for the continuum?

Also I have never said there is no such thing as a hardcore continuum, only that it should not be privileged and fetishised as separate and better than the jazz, house, b-boy, industrial and other continua that run through rave music. The extended Zed Bias interview I'll be putting up soon illustrates this quite well, I feel :)

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

When I interviewed Terror he said that after making jungle but never putting any tracks out, just some dubplates:

"I did two garage tunes and they blew up so I decided to stick with that. In 2002 I did "Firecracker" b/w "Highly Inflammable" on Solid City." (That was Teebone's label and associated with the transitional sound of garage rap, Pay As U Go Cartel etc.)

Which makes Terror's trajectory even more archetypally nuum -- jungle > UKG > grime.

As for Zed Bias, I'm sure he has a fascinatingly variegated journey through music, but for the nuumologist the bit that really counts is where he converges with the continuum. And -- funnily enough -- the only things he's done that have any impact were the 2step era tunes like "Neighbourhood" on ur-nuum label Locked On.

>I have never said there is no >such thing as a hardcore continuum

Nah, you're backpedalling here, rewriting recent history. You have disputed, derided, and even, in one of your more histrionic moments, denounced the nuum (as somehow damaging to music!). But as the Terror Danjah feature illustrated, on other occasions you will go along with the narrative when it suits your purposes, e.g. giving some spine and substance to a journalistic piece.

Oh for sure, you've not been quite as blatantly two-faced and hypocritical as that other feller...

Nothing personal, just pointing out the (self-)contradictions!

Joe Muggs said...

With respect, what a load of balls.

That IS insulting and personal, and completely fabricated. Your deliberate and misleading selective quoting is insulting and personal, and your accusation of backpedalling (i.e. lying) is insulting and personal.

Do I need to give you documentary proof AGAIN that from the very beginning of this discussion I have never cast doubt on the usefulness of the theory of a hardcore continuum that links rave, jungle, garage, grime, dubstep etc?

Let me spell it out again: of course there is a continuum that links those musics. It is a very, very important thread through UK and global music, and before it was devalued by dogma was once a great name for a musical tendency.

What I take issue with is:

a) "The Nuum©" as doctrinal, dogmatic, totemic, proprietary BRANDING - which is what it has become. (and don't get me started on "Ardkore©")

b) the Stalinist revisionist denial of house, broken beat, pop etc as being just as intrinsic to the musical continuua of London and beyond as the macho, blacker-than-thou, more-council-estate-than-thou Sacred Nuum Elements© - despite quotes like that from Wiley which you so proudly wave around as proof your purist Nuumism© yet contradicts it completely, and despite every piece of evidence that, say, the garage scene owed as much to house as it ever did to rave and jungle... I mean, the number of garage artists I have heard cite Phil Asher and even DiY as vital influences on creating the UK sound which fed into the "Sunday Scene" where UKG was born increases week-on-week, yet say this to a Nuum General© and they practically go into meltdown.

c) the demented ontology of the crypto-transcendentalist insistence that The Nuum© is "a thing", a spatio temporal OBJECT that is "as real as Australia". I mean come on, seriously - this is schizophrenic talk. It's like tripping kids at a party clinging onto a teapot that they've named "The Thwibble" and are convinced is "the answer". It IS real! It IS!

d) the patronising insistence that this Good Honest Working Class Music must exist within its own boundaries of influence, free of gentrifying influences of things like jazz or hippie music. It's OK for critics to sit there with their limited boxed facsimile editions of academic tape music from the 50s or Sun Ra rarities, but suggest that kids in Plaistow might have influence beyond The Ardkore© Nuum© and it's clutch-your-pearls-and-shriek time.

It's all just silly TBH and until you dug it all up yet again with this frenzy of misquoting over a year after everyone involved decided they had better things to do, it was clear that nobody really gives two hoots for The Nuum©.

Had I not stumbled on this while searching for something completely else I wouldn't be giving two hoots about it now either. It's done, it's over. The Nuum© is a once-interesting idea that got wanked raw and is no longer useful to anyone. Move on. Or if you can't, then at least leave me out of it.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

Don't have time to deal with all of the nonsense here, some of which immediately contradicts your professed acceptance of the hardcore continuum concept.

but this one in particular is way way off-base: the alleged house music "denial"

near the start of my 1999 piece on 2step, I have this:

“Truthfully, Jungle stemmed from House music. It has a reggae influence, but it’s still House,” MC Navigator from Jungle pirate Kool FM insisted back in 1994. Three years later, Jungle returned to the source, when its rude bwoy spirit and rhythmic science violently possessed the body of Garage (the most soulful and songful form of House), in the process creating a new London scene, ‘Speed Garage’."

And then later:

"If Jungle really did stem from House, as Navigator claimed, the true continuity between the two genres is not rhythmic or textural: it’s the use of vocals (almost always absent in Techno). At a rough guesstimate, maybe two thirds of Hardcore/Jungle anthems between 1991–94 relied on sampled diva vocals as primary hooks. Producers lifted them from old House or R&B classics, or from CDs packed with a capellas recorded specifically for sampling... When techstep achieved dominance in 1996, vocal samples began to disappear from drum ’n’ bass. But the House/Hardcore/Jungle continuum of diva-worship didn’t end, it just branched sideways into Speed Garage."

and then you have my later vocal support for bassline house, aka speed garage Mk 2...

and in the FACT talk and subsequent essays, I talk about the four cornerstones of the nuum as hip hop, reggae, house and techno, or refer to "the four-way collision of house/reggae/techno/hip hop" in the UK in the early 90s

so really, you are just making stuff up aren't you Joe?

To me the way to look at what is essential in the history of this music culture, which seems to be disintegrating now under various pressures, is to think about what elements you could remove and it would more or less be the same, and what are the fundamental building blocks. You couldn't remove house, or hip hop, or reggae, or techno, and have anything like the same evolution. But these other "continua" you claim are equally important -- jazz, industrial -- are much more tangential. They pop up as flavours at different stages, yet disappear for long stretches. And they do not function as primary rhythmic building blocks, or as motors of musical change, to anything like the extent that the house, techno, reggae, hip hop influences do.

your comment about Nuum as "brand" is revealing.

That's what it's about really isn't it?. Neither you nor Hancox really at heart dispute the existence of the thing. It's the name itself, and the fact that it's associated with a person, that bugs you. This series "And They Say there's No Such Thing as the Hardcore Continuum" is me having a little wry mischievous fun with the fact that the hardcore continuum makes all these public appearances in disguise. Certain people will enumerate all the core constituents of the concept, reel out the accumulated received wisdom, but they're at great pains not to use the term itself. Sometimes they'll use the colorless and virtually meaningless term "UK bass".

"Brand" is awfully revealing, because what you and Hancox wanna do is literally rebrand. You want to keep the product but change the name. You don't want to reject the tradition of all that great music, indeed you need to be able to invoke it when writing about some new IDM-ish act, to give it some glory by association. In terms of the music you make most of your living writing about, you remain absolutely wedded to that tradition in all kinds of ways. Yet neither of you have been able to come up with a new way of looking at the music. So the idea is, let's continue business as usual, but have a new sign at the front of the store.

Joe Muggs said...

Who's rebranding? What "new sign" exactly?

Like I say, this whole thing is silly. It doesn't actually MATTER any more whether "The Nuum©" OR "the hardcore continuum" exist, spatio-temporally, platonically or otherwise. The music has not been RE-branded - it has just DE-branded itself. It escapes containment, that's what's great about it. Its multiple identities remain multiple, whichever "sign is above the door".

As I say, the discussion was over more than a year ago until this flurry of defensiveness against the perceived barbarians at the gate. You can cling to the magic totemic phrase or you can let it go. It doesn't matter. There are more important things in music than whether we all agree to use the magic words or not. Now if you'll excuse me I have to write 10,000 words on why Hauntology is better than Post Post Dubstep but not as good as Ill Wave.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

Outing yourself as a hippie there Joe --"It's all music maaaan", can't be contained, lay off the pigeonholes/categories/divisions, etc

That's what real criticism is about. Pattern recognition. And also value judgements, definitive assessments of worth. If it has any guts to it, criticism will make a case for some music being better than other music--more advanced, or adventurous, or challenging, or timely, or resonant, or thrilling, or spiritually uplifting, or... whatever axis of value you favor. Not just individual pieces of music, or individual musicians-- sometimes a case can and should be made for whole genres, or musical formations, as better objects of one's attention, energy, time, money, etc, than others.

Yeah, riiiiiight - you don't give "two hoots", it's silly, none of this matters, you've got much MUCH better things to do. That's why you're penning a series of carefully formatted, obsessively rewritten micro-essays in my comments box.

As for the "everybody's moved on", it seems to me that, rather ironically, the concept of the hardcore continuum has achieved much greater currency since you and the other guys attempted to knock it down. That backfired big time: way more people know about it than before. Christ, Geeneus knows the term and thinks that it accurately describes how things went down (http://energyflashbysimonreynolds.blogspot.com/2010/09/brand-new-instalment-of-series-and-say.html). And why wouldn't he? It's common sense.

I object to the word "defensive". I am aggressive. Aggressively calling people out on their bullshit.

Joe Muggs said...

Uh uh.

Deliberate misreading again.

It's not "it's all music man" - quite the opposite: if I don't want to adhere to your doctrine, it's because I want to be able to differentiate between strands and NOT be stuck with this monolithic collapsing of so many different stories into one Critically Approved one. You're the one forcing far too much into one mystical category.

"Christ, Geeneus knows the term"??? Could that be any more patronising? Why would Geeneus NOT know what critics are writing? Can he not read or something? I think that little bit speaks for itself more clearly than anything else in this discussion.

But you're going in circles here. Again. Yes, the "hardcore continuum" - the fact that there is a lineage between certain genres - is discussed and uncontroversial, as I have said from day one. It's just a vague descriptive term, barely more specific than "rave music". But start breaking it down to anyone outside a certain critical micro-clusterfuck as The Nuum© and explaining why house, broken beat, etc etc are excluded for it (despite being played by same DJs for same crowds on same radio stations) and see how far you get with it then.

I don't know how many times I can say this: "hardcore continuum" = uncontroversial, not-particularly-complicated, reasonable bit of journalism from back in the day which has become a truism. "London pirate music keeps changing but is in certain respects the same". Great.

"The Nuum©" = pseudo-mystical, proprietary, exclusionist, heirarchical toss.

It's cultism, and arguing against it seems to get no more interactive response than taking issue with a Scientologist on Tottenham Court Road. I guess I should just leave you to twitch your internet curtains looking out for articles by heretics and be done with it.

---------

But to return to the original point of your post one more time, your reading of my TD quote is STILL ludicrously wide of the mark. His friends told him to make garage tunes, he didn't; he made tunes that were in that tempo but to him "a mix of jungle and hip hop". As far as he was concerned they WEREN'T GARAGE. He bypassed garage. Garage was not a part of the continuum of his music.

You can nitpick each time someone provides a story or quote that doesn't adhere to your rule all you like, but how many exceptions to your rule do you need before your rule (and let's not pretend - your rule is what you want it to be) ceases to be a rule?

Joe Muggs said...

p.s. Harrumphing "and they say..." on your owwn blog is aggression, alright: PASSIVE aggression. As I say, it was coincidence that I found it.

If you are really going to "aggressively" accuse someone of lying, perhaps you should do it somewhere where people other than your own circle will actually hear you.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

You're clutching at straws here Joe, and to be honest sounding a bit demented, from the imagined insult to Geeneus, to this pseudo-distinction between Hardcore Continuum and Nuum.

Re. house, as I said before in this comments box, and for well over a decade now, clearly it's a major strand of the continuum's sound-stream. But what always interests me most is the mutation that the continuum applies to the house source. So for instance, I'm much more excited by New Horizon's twisted only-in-London take on 4/4 house, than some of the other early 1996-98 garage that was much closer to USG than UKG. To put that another way: there is this track by Gant, "All Night Long", that is really really nice, but it's the flipside, the 187 Lockdown remix of "Sound Bwoy Burial" that actually sounds like a new genre of music birthing itself in front of your ears. Much the same applies to funky: the stuff that sounds like, well, funky house ain't so interesting to me, but when it gets more rhythmically jagged, etc, is when my ears prick up. It is almost like there is a natural point of equilibrium that is the hardcore continuum's center where the music is unpolished, jagged, tracky, where there's diva samples but not necessarily songs, and where MC-ing plays a prominent role. The music replenishes itself every several years by dipping back into the house source, but it always seems to "want" to go back to the ruffage/MC-oriented zone.

Broken beat---it's hard for me to see where's there been a campaign to vilify and exclude this music! After an attempt to explore it circa 2001, I've barely mentioned the genre. An objective view, I think, would deem it to be adjacent to the continuum, in the same way that nu skool breaks was (but whether anyone would even say that if 4 Hero weren't involved, who knows?).I've listened to hundreds of pirate radio tapes from '98 to the late Noughties -- UK garage, 2step, grime, dubstep--and I've never heard had any DJ drop anything remotely close to broken beat. The same applies to going to garage et al clubs.

I think broken beat is its own kettle of fish really. It's not my bag particularly, but that's OK, there's loads of things that aren't my bag going on in London dance culture, and UK dance generally. But here's two further crucial points: there are plenty of dance things that ARE my bag (big beat, gabba, psy-trance for a minute back there) that were not part of this particular continuum either. And there are things that came out of the hardcore continuum that I only partially dig. Dubstep I've always blown hot and cold on, and funky--well I've gradually warmed to it, but still not crazy for it. What people don't get is that the sociocultural analysis and the fan/taste opinions are not necessarily completely in synch. They don't have to be.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

You seem to oscillate between a nutty overestimation of the power of critical words (as if e.g. broken beat could somehow be "hurt" by being "excluded") and a flailing attempt to assert that none of this actually matters. These two polarised responses seem linked.

I've never thought these discussions have any effect on the actual music, its evolution etc-- as I say, I was surprised to see Geeneus knew the term, because until a few years ago it was an esoteric concept that only a few blogs and discussion boards bandied about. (As I said, the anti-HCC push has actually disseminated the concept much more widely -- so cheers for that). But equally, an attempt to understand history and assess what was at stake in a movement is totally worth doing and not trivial.

That said, this "And they Say" series is a bit of fun strictly for the hardcore. I doubt if a wider audience would really be interested. It would be great to get paid to show you guys up, but let's be real!

Joe Muggs said...

Oh dude you're just pulling this stuff out of the air. You're putting things in quotes that I never said. You are either hallucinating or taking the piss.

No of course "the nuuuuuuuum debate" doesn't matter. And much as you may gloat about its "currency", the phrase itself remains all but meaningless, no more than a cute journalistic observation whose bones were picked dry a very, very long time ago. The only reason I've responded at all is because I'm pretty irate that you are still sniping away hyper-defensively so damn long after everyone else let it go. Can you not understand how that could be more than a little irritating?

Please, please, please: move on.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

Highly strung fellow, that Joe Muggs.

Joe Muggs said...

.....and we're back full circle to the arch, snippy digs. Très elegant.

C'mon Simon, you're better than this.

Move on.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

>"Better than this"

That's kind of you to say. Actually I'm versatile: I'll take the piss, when it's called for, and other times, I'll construct a grand sociomusicological narrative, when that's called for.

Jeepers, for someone who's "moved on", you sure are sticking around trying to have the last word!

If I was your shrink, I would diagnose the repeated exhortations to "move on" as expressive of your own deep desire to "move on". After all, the kind of music you write about day in and day out must constantly bring to mind the hardcore continuum. I don't actually write about that music, professionally, hardly ever these days. I've been up to other stuff. At the same time, just for fun, or because I'll have a new thought, I will return now and then to this area. It's a work in progress.

Joe Muggs said...

You're flailing.

I'm flattered you are willing to exert the mental energy to fantasise about psychoanalysing me, along with fantasising things I'm supposed to have said, but seriously - shush now and stop embarrassing yourself.

Get back to your Animal Collective albums and the rest of that neo-Melody Maker mimsiness, and leave the rest of us to enjoy the good stuff. Cheers.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

Talking of psychoanalysis, you really should read Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence. It's a sort of Oedipal theory of how creativity works. To escape the oppressive influence of the dead precursor, the successor poet has to willfully misread the ancestor's work, to find or create "gaps" in it.

What's that thing you love to quote? "I must make my own system or be a slave to another man's"--something like that. Poking imaginary holes in another's construction is not the same as building your own. You're still at the stubborn misreading stage. And unfortunately in this case the precursor poet isn't dead, but still around to dissect your queerly motivated distortions and bizarre projections.

Joe Muggs said...

Yechh, that's actually a bit icky as well as just wrong.

Let's look at this again:

YOU started this weird thing.

YOU brought up an old grudge, 18 months after everyone else involved had got deeply bored and lost interest.

YOU publicly took paragraphs of those people's work out of context, deliberately misinterpreted those, started actually making stuff up about those people, then got hoity-toity when one of those people took you up on it and started flinging insults and yet more completely fabricated quotes.

Yet somehow you have turned this into it meaning that person has some quasi-sexual obsession with you.

I guess I admire the brass neck it takes to do that, but um, it's a bit wrong.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

Not at all.

My "And They Say There's No Such Thing As The Hardcore Continuum!" series, the one that has got you so protractedly hot under the collar, is a bit of fun. I came across quotes that struck me as ironically undermining certain writers loudly professed stances, often appearing in those writer's own work. So I presented them without any comment whatsoever. Let the reader draw their own conclusions. I'm not going to reproduce the entirety of the article they come from, who would wade through that...

In response, you started depositing a series of bizarrely thin-skinned comments in my box, increasingly abusive in tone.

I tried reason.

I tried taking the piss, thinking maybe you'd piss off.

Things is, you're in my comments box. I'm not in yours. I hardly ever bother to reply to things written on blogs about me. It would be too time-consuming, frankly.

But if you're in my comments box being wildly off-base and insulting, yeah I will engage.

BTW, where are these made-up quotes? You mean the apostrophes around "hurt" in the comment about broken beat? That is obviously scare quotes not an actual quote.

Joe Muggs said...

Oh give over.

At the very best, and by your own admission, you decided to rake over an old argument for you and your cronies to snigger at ("a bit of fun strictly for the hardcore"). You know damn well that by doing that and by your choice of targets you were making deliberate digs at individuals. And if someone's having a dig, I deserve the right to have a dig right back - "just a bit of fun" of my own, if you like.

The thing is, Simon, you may well get slagged off on blogs on a regular basis, but I'm not used to it, and especially not from "respected" writers who should know better - so apologies if I appear to be thin skinned but frankly you're just being a bit of a berk here. Dress that up all you like by calling me mental or whipping up melodramatic Freudian fantasies, but you're being a berk, trying to wind people up, and I'm calling you out on it. The rest is just gas.

Or maybe this is all some conceptual joke on your part? Maybe your deciding to dig up dead and buried arguments is a form of particularly crass Hauntology? Yes, I'll read it as that and we can all have "a bit of a laugh". Super.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

Well, I did grow up in Berkhamsted.

Ciao for now, Joe.