Friday, February 20, 2015

Proto? Retro!

The Quietus interview Mumdance and Logos on their new collaborative album Proto

"Released on... Pinch's Tectonic label, the record is knowingly and intentionally indebted to the rave music of the pair's formative years, old happy hardcore, gabber and jungle tapes dating back to the early-to-mid 1990s. The influence of the early Warp signings that defined Sheffield's storied bleep techno sound - records such as Sweet Exorcist's 'Testone', Forgemasters' 'Track With No Name' and LFO's seminal 'LFO' - can also be picked out on tracks such as 'Move Your Body', 'Border Drone' and 'Dance Energy (89 Mix)' (the title of which recalls the BBC Two "youth" programme that curiously co-opted elements of rave culture just a short time after Thatcher's establishment had finished knocking several shades of shit out of those involved in the early explosion of illegal raves)."

Isn't it about time people moved on to the dubstep revival or something?  Retrorave and tru-nu junglizm, it's kinda been done. Double done. 

I mean, it's nearly seven years since Where Were U in '92?.... 

"Despite not experiencing that early rave and acid house period first hand, it's impossible not to be drawn in as the pair share anecdotes about first raves and recount their discovery of the gabber, hardcore and jungle that has fascinated them enough to build an entire studio around realising those influences.

Mumdance: "So, we've spent quite a bit of time and money building up what is essentially a 90s rave studio and that's how we like to build tunes because it's a really important sound to us."

Now that is some serious retro bizniz right there - that is Jack White level attention to detail and correct process. A studio purpose-built for doing it the authentic bygone-rave-way!

"Proto, though, is not something rooted in the past, but a record that feels as forward-looking and futuristic as the genres that inspired it sounded on first discovery."

Really? How could that be the case?  Such an assertion requires a tad more elaboration, I feel.

Mumdance: "There's this aesthetic that runs through it in the way that's it been mixed down and how we've produced it all. That's the one constant, so obviously it references a lot of sounds but the mix-downs and the hardware that we used on it all, because we wanted it to have the colour of old hardcore and jungle for the sole reason that that's what we grew up with".

As a historical exercise, it's quite interesting I suppose as it pinpoints a point where a lot of things - Belgian and German hardbanging techno, early breakbeat, the Brooklyn proto-gabba, UK acid-shrieker tunes, the harder things out of Detroit (like early Plus 8) ,stuff that in a year or two would ultimately be trance etc - were all jumbled together and tended to be thought of simply as "techno".

As Logos puts it: "I was really interested in the link as well between Belgian and US techno in the early days and people like Lenny Dee with his releases for labels like Nu Groove. That linked for me with hardcore, like Manix, 4hero, people like that. It's quite interesting because, at that time, techno, hardcore, rave were all quite mixed up and what later became that kind of polyrhythmic techno that Jeff Mills played and the industrial sound hadn't really emerged yet, but you could hear it coming through very early on."

The title "Legion" seems like a nod to PCP and Dance Ecstasy 2001.

But what about this concept of harking back yet still futuristic?  How do you throwback and push forward simultaneously?

Mumdance:  "I think it was important for us to use old technology but make sure we were looking forward. But, when we talk about the future, it's not in a sense of 'we are the future', but more that the music we're referencing was obsessed with the future and we're big science fiction fans"

So, not "we bring you the phuture, the phuture, the phuture" ,... but "we bring you the past's idea of the phuture, the phuture, the phuture" 

Strange days we living through...

And to think there's people who don't understand why I wrote Retromania....  

Postscript: downloaded the album from eMusic, as I knew I would...  It's really well-done. As recreativity goes, very creative. But the point about its pointlessness stands.  And can a record really be slammin' and elegaic at the same time? Serious question.


Timh Gabriele said...

not sure if you've written on this before, but what are your thoughts on their "weightless" stuff? I haven't dug deep enough to explore whether it's supposed to be used in a club or not, but it's an interesting- if ultimately novel- concept; beat music stripped of the beats


I am surprised you can't predict my reaction to "weightless" - it's very predictable!

dissatisfaction with its lack of weight is partly what's propelled me onto this current spate of garage rap nostalgia and soon enough grimestalgia -


i think Wiley did the beatless beat thing first - isn't that what his Devil Mixes were? that would have been over ten years ago!