Scott Wilson explores the increasing confusion surrounding the term “underground” in relation to dance music, taking in recent releases from Slackk, Palms Trax, D’Marc Cantu and more.
Scott Wilson looks at heat-warped kosmische, sweaty deep house, precise, cooling electronics and alternative takes on dub for hot summer’s nights in this month’s Scratching The Surface.
This edition of Scratching the Surface sees Scott Wilson cast his ears over some of the more severe movements in techno over the past few months.
A few months ago I wrote that this year had been characterised by a lack of major narratives in underground dance music. Nowhere is this more evident than in the arena of what we call bass music, the genre formerly known as post-dubstep, whose early years seemed to be dominated by a clutch of producers releasing on Night Slugs, R&S, Hemlock, Hotflush and Hessle Audio who have increasingly been copied by a younger generation. Arguably bass music’s biggest change in 2012 was that it became a major commercial force; as divisive as his album Personality was, nobody could deny that Scuba and his Hotflush imprint are major brands now; Disclosure came out of nowhere to offer a bright, accessible take on the genre that cracked the British top 40, and even Ministry Of Sound released a compilation called Future Bass. As a term, however, bass is one that many writers (this one included) still feel reluctant to use with any degree of certainty, and the likes of Scuba and Disclosure encapsulate why this is so; although the musical inspiration for these artists may have started with dubstep or garage, you’d really struggle to describe the music they make as anything other than a strain of house music, and to call it “bass” feels like a fallacy.
Tuning into Hessle Audio’s Rinse FM show last Thursday, I was surprised to hear “Shut In”, a track from Austin Cesear’s recent (and excellent) album on Public Information. As it reached its end Ben UFO acknowledged the track (and his preceding selections) as “outsider dance”, and offering shoutouts not to the Swamp81 axis or the Hemlock family, but to Will Bankhead and The Trilogy Tapes crew, Bill Kouligas and the PAN massive, and anyone who had seen Hieroglyphic Being and Oneohtrix Point Never in London over the preceding weeks.
FACT Magazine’s Tom Lea recently made the point in his review of Jam City’s Classical Curves that the “popular misconception amongst techno producers right now is that releasing music on a hand-stamped white label is somehow taking the form back to basics… but its current position at the height of techno fashion seems to miss the point – the best techno has always been synonymous with imagery”.
“There are bands that have been acting ruthlessly in the shadow for years, in a completely confidential manner, then one day chance (but does chance exist?) makes you find one of their recordings, listen to it, and at that moment you could kick yourself for not having discovered these soundscapes earlier and you try to find all of them.”
The third instalment in our Scratching The Surface series sees Scott Wilson investigate the raw strands of electronic music emanating from the Livity Sound, Clone, Skudge, Spargel Trax and Third Ear camps in recent weeks. Scroll down to listen to a mix Scott has compiled to accompany the piece.
Aaron Coultate explores some of Europe’s far-flung electronic music outposts in the latest instalment of Scratching The Surface. Artists and labels from Norway, Greece, Estonia and Russia all feature.
Here we launch the first instalment of a new regular feature entitled Scratching The Surface. Each month one of the Juno Plus scribes will look through the most intriguing vinyl releases and give a selection of under-the-radar missives some richly deserved column inches. First up is our Deputy Editor Tony Poland.