Monday, February 4, 2013

the filth and the fury

Joe Muggs defends brostep and heavy metal wobble

I heartily concur

Never understood why people got bothered by people taking their shirts off, getting rowdy, (b)rocking out

It's a rave

Meant to be sweaty, crazy, out of control

It's rave music

Meant to be mad-noise, bludgeoning, full-spectrum dominance of the sensorium, verging on an endurance test




Strange how these battle lines endlessly reconstitute themselves...



that Claire Morgan Jones piece is from over 20 years ago, and it's the same syndrome... the "new heavy metal" argument, the recoiling from "boys bass and bother"

as discussed in greater depth in my Masculine Pressure essay from 2009,  an early adopter of the  pro-bro stance...


7 comments:

droid said...

Something that I think is often overlooked in this debate is that it's not so much about the domination of masculine over feminine elements that causes the problem, it's the restriction of variety and the inherent dullness that the 'metallisation' of a genre produces.

We've seen it all before with D+B. The rhythmic template gets reduced to more basic forms (dubstep had a head start there). The new, simpler formula appeals to a larger cohort of people (lets face it, normally, white & young) outside the original audience, the simpler tunes sell so they become dominant, things continue to be dumbed down and any variety in the scene just leaks away until you are, left with a lumpen rock beat (literally in the case of dubstep) which allows the space for the electronic equivalent of guitar solos. This is not (IMO) the same thing as masculine elements dominating a genre for a time, that's all part of the ebb and flow: darkside/artcore, ragga/intelligent of a scene, this is about the structural elements of the genre itself warping.

Yes, you can argue that the most popular/accessible strain of a genre will always come to dominate, that variety and innovation always leach out regardless, but it's strange that the end result always seems to sound like someone playing a guitar solo over the beat from 'we will rock you'. That entire genres of music where 'swing' and 'funk' are inherent in their DNA end up reduced to a lowest common denominator that just happens to match up exactly with the safest, least funky and most conservative kind of popular music in existence.

Appalling article by Joe btw. Probably the worst thing I've ever seen from him. Not helped by FACT chopping it up into tiny polemical boxes. Maybe there's a decent defence of brostep, but that's not it.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

I think it's one of his best. What's wrong with having a piece divided in bullet points?

Point taken re. sameyness, but any kind of music is samey if you're not into it.

Frinstance, I'm not that into metal of the post-Slayer era, so a lot of black, death, etc feels samey to me.

Frinstance, funky -- not feeling it that much, so it seems a lot more repetitious rhythmically than it does to someone besotted like Finney.

There's an inverse ratio between how little you're invested in a sound, and the extent to which the generic features assume prominence. And a ratio between how much you're invested in a sound and the extent to which you are conscious of subtleties, small but significant variations, etc. So with metal i just don't discern the slight inflections of blast beats, Satan-retching-down-the-toilet-of-Hell vocals etc

but yeah what you're talking about can happen - e.g. even for a convert such as me, the sheer overload of amen + raggasample tunes in 1994 got a little oppressive. And D&B post-1997, yes true

droid said...

There's nothing necessarily wrong with bullet points per se, but I think in this case the format reduced any credible points Joe might have had into throwaway tabloid provocations.

Also, the only reason I can think of to format an article this way is to force readers to reload a page ,hence upping the ad views, hence making FACT a few more pennies for each read.

Of course, the deeper you're in the more you make of minor differences and subtleties - that goes without saying, but with D+B in particular, the template went from 36 million shades of (rhythmic) colour, to black and white in the space of a couple of years, and nearly everything since then has been drawn in shades of grey.

Dubstep, admittedly, never had the same rhythmic variety, but there was a period between 07-09, when wobble started getting big in the UK, where you also had a plurality of other influences ranging from garage to house, to the classic one drop reggae template, to UK digi-roots and techno coming through. Obviously that was never going to last, but that doesn't mean it was ever destined to be dominated by the lowest common denominator.

So, no objections here to brocking, out, to raving, to maximalist cheesy hardcore pressure. It's the idea that in order to brock out you have to rock out that I have a problem with. That lumpen brostep and pendulum era D+B represents some kind of exemplar of masculine pressure rather than a corrupted mutant offspring.

droid said...

Sorry to spout even more banalities, but to elaborate - I dont think that that the aesthetics of overdrive, distortion, 'bang your head off a speaker' rock were ever a big part of rave/hardcore. Sure, there was plenty of dark and nasty (and badly produced) stuff out there. Slammin Vinyl maybe came close, Citadel of Chaos and a few others... but even with amen anthems dominating jungle for 94 and much of 95, I dont think that it was until 96/97, when tunes like 'Unofficial ghost' came along that the idea of moshing at a rave became conceivable.

All that said, nothing good lasts forever, and I guess if you're going to settle on a formula, then it may as well be one that shifts units - a lesson that Joe and FACT seem to have taken on board too ;).

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

well, 4 Hero told me that at Rage, at the height of Belgian sound, it could get like it was near enough slam dancing on the floor

that whole Belgian/Mentasmic/Dominator moment was pretty overdriven, bombastic, heavy metallic

re the 91 Sound, caspar pound at rising high talked of "it's the rock of the future"

also the No U Turn / techstep moment, that was bludgeoning and bombastic -- Nico used to put the basslines through an electric guitar's distortion unit, that's how the No U Turn sound

grime is pretty pogo-y at times

i think it's one end of the nuum spectrum -- the other end of it is speed garage and 2step where it's very sensual and housey and R&B - bass and treble but not so much the mid-freqs

droid said...

Belgium and the Mentasm is the obvious example, though I think it was generally crazier and more disorienting when deployed by the likes of 4 Hero.

Casper Pound was kind of the Tony Wilson of rave though wasn't he? Not really sure if there's much in the Rising High catalogue that really exemplifies the idea - plus reading back on that quote I think he's talking more about an attitude than an aesthetic.

Agreed on No U-Turn. They were the forerunners of the sound in D+B. Emotif too - Trace with those massive fuzzy riff laden tunes like skyscraper and the mutant revisited.

I guess Im probably just being horribly inarticulate as usual. Im not denying the existence of the masculine, aggressive impulse in the nuum, Im just saying that it's incarnation as a hard rock substitute, with the objective sonic qualities of rhythm as back beat, all mid range, all riffs, was not a big factor in hardcore and it isnt the zenith of that impulse,

Anyway, Im sure you have a book to write or something. Thanks for the thoughts.

Dafydd Crisp said...

In my opinion Joe missed out on an important aspect of the filth vs deepness debate. For many people I honestly don't believe that their inclination to 'diss' the filth sounds comes from a purely aesthetic standpoint. If anything, this argument over whether filth is actually dubstep is a bit of a red herring, as the cliche goes.

The issues aren't so much about the sound itself, its more the way the sound has been exploited. Dubstep, from its earliest conception, at least in my mind, has always been a community thing. DJ's swapping tracks, producers working with each other and going to nights just to hear their tracks on a system. I was too young at the time to experience the very beginnings of dubstep, but from what has been said the reason dubstep emerged with so much energy is the community aspect of it. In my mind it mirrors the emergence of punk in the late 70's. Kids were able to get cracked copies of software and start their own scene. They started to have an influence on their own music. All this was advanced by an energy of, I wouldn't say naivety, but the letting go of expectations. This bleeds into the sounds that were being produced.When listening to earlier dubstep tracks I get this wonderful image in my head of the way the tracks are produced. There is something beautifully tactile about that sound. It feels like you are able to take it apart, and then put it back together just to see how it works.

With dubstep becoming a household name this quality was lost. Skrillex tracks are impenetrable. The glossy, shiny production means that any sense of 'realness' is gone. There is no doubt he is a technically gifted producer, but his releases, in my mind, just sound like the shiny pop you hear in the charts. Impenetrable. I suppose it would be like making a sculpture out of stainless steel and leaving it out in the sun. Yeah, sure it was a complicated structure to construct, it's size meant that clever engineering techniques had to be used to get it installed. But the sun shines so brilliantly off it that it makes it almost un-visible to the naked eye. No longer can you appreciate the textures, the contours and shapes, or the unique quirks and imperfections of its form that make it unique.

So going back to this community idea, filth (nowadays) represents a sleek production style that makes it so much harder to relate to. Which is why there is so much hate for it among some circles. Not only that but the filth sound has also been co-opted by the mainstream that the original 'underground' dubstep was trying to resist. Who in their right minds would align themselves with a sound that has been used by Britney Spears and countless other pop acts?

Anyways, thought I would add my thoughts to the conversation seeing as Ive been thinking about this for a while. I wish I could write more but this comment box is bloody tiny and makes editing almost impossible.

Daf