Monday, September 24, 2018

when the old sounds newer than the new

two philosophically suspect but undeniable banging tunes from Pearsall's mix of "new old skool"

mix-rationale in full here


"If we’re honest, most of the tracks on this mix betray precisely no influence from musical developments of the last 20+ years, something that, to me, brings up many interesting questions.
"This is because the original hardcore rave sound arose in a musical, social and political context that is very different from the one we experience today, a whole confluence of events that cannot be recreated. It also can’t be ignored that the scene was like a huge hive mind focused on relentless change and innovation – the speed of change was breathtaking, and probably without much parallel in recent musical history....
"So it’s an interesting paradox with tracks like the ones I’ve selected for this mix, in that they are very consciously imitating a moment in time when musicians were desperately trying not to imitate, but to innovate and to keep progressing. It’s a bit like modern guitar bands still reaching for that classic garage punk sound, in a sense.
"But the question is: does it matter? If the music sounds good, if it is fun and gets people dancing, who cares if it was made in 1992 in a studio in Hertfordshire stacked high with primitive synths and samplers or in 2018 in a bedroom in the Netherlands on a laptop loaded with soft synths?
I guess for me it doesn’t really matter. (Otherwise I wouldn’t be spending so much money buying this stuff on vinyl, duh).
And I don’t think it really matters for the artists or labels, either – sometimes music is just there to be enjoyed, so maybe I should shut up, stop overthinking things, and have some fun, right?"


Pearsall said...

Thanks Simon!

I was wondering if you could expand on the 'philosophically suspect' line instead of leaving it hanging out there?


well it's exactly what you talk about in your mix-text - going back to a moment when the music was about not going back, but surging forward

it's the same as all those post-punk revivalists in the early 2000s

they were reactivating the sonic substance of postpunk, rather than the operating principles of postpunk

so they would bring back the not-very-good-guitarist trying to sound like Nile Rodgers and producing something thrillingly scrapy and scratchy and angular thing

whereas the postpunk-in-spirit thing to do would have been to respond to what grime or crunk or then-current R&B were doing and come with some hamfisted-yet-compelling twist on that

it's like the trad jazz people in England in the early Fifties, deciding that they prefer the wild dance energy of New Orleans hot jazz of the 1920s, as opposed to the current state of jazz that its internal dialectic of evolution had produced

you can see why they prefer it - how it functioned for them in a Fifties Britain of grey austerity and rationing and restraint, as a release (they used to have All Night Raves, the trad jazz people)

but ultimately it's a regressive move - or at least a dead end for the music.

but i'm only really extrapolating on what you wrote in that text and what you know at heart

which is not say that these jungle-replicas and hardcore-reenactments are not great fun - certainly they are something that i'm too weak to resist

but i know it's weakness

in ate said...

From a critical viewpoint obviously there is much less to write about with revival sounds rather than original sounds, apart from why perhaps there seems to be an ever increasing amount of hankering for that particular period. But, you say it's a weakness Simon, but surely you can forgive yourself for listening as fan of the sound rather than with your critic hat on. Certainly in my case, i find that the classic rave sound gives me a emotional sustenance and support that other music just can't provide (apart from detroit techno). It reminds me a bit of something I've noticed with family members and friends within the London community of lapsed Jews. That quite often they return to the synagogue after traumatic life events as a source of comfort and connection to something they grew up with even though they don't believe anymore. We know the rave dream is no more and even back then it was a chimera but that doesn't mean the dream or the memory of the dream, can't still inspire. Just enjoy enjoying it Simon!


that's a nice idea - rave as religion, as comfort food, as your home base, replenishing, giving it succour

i do tend to think though that with the rave-remakes (as with any other retro pastiche of an earlier sound that i love - eg. garage punk) that there is some impalpable lack in the music

impossible to put your finger on but i think - perhaps mystically - that it is some kind of aura of historicity - the imprint of the Zeitgeist or something

something to do with the fact that these were sounds happening for the very first time

those particular tunes i highlighted in the Pearsall mix get very very very close to the feeling that i get from an actual 92-93 tune.... almost as the makers, by a combination of extreme exactness of reproduction and some kind of willed projection of self back through time, have channeled the spirit of the lost golden age and poured it into their creation

Unknown said...

I think a big problem with a lot of the newer stuff (not necessarily those on the mix) is that they all use the same samples as they did in 1992. There doesn't seem to be that passion to track down and put in "new" samples.

There's still room in the music for something to be surprising, but for a lot of the tracks you know exactly what the format is going to be, what samples are going to be used and what the sounds are going to be.

It's recreating the sound, but not the vibe.