Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Rush Rush to the Yale

I noticed something quite strange in the summer of 2006... house was back.
Maybe I'd been locked away for a a while, but it seemed what for so long was a dirty word and the scourge of every trendy night's musical policy, had suddenly leaped to the forefront of every DJ and faux celeb DJ's playlist! 

It had a few new names and a few new branches to the family tree, but whether dressed up as nu-electro or minimal techno it was house no doubt. The undeniable 4:4 beat was pounding through every East London venue, from skinny jeaned pubs to it's spiritual home in grotty warehouses. I was taken aback. Maybe we can thank people like soulwax for introducing festival goers to the cheap trickery and cheeky delight of banging away to a filtered beat and bass line, or maybe we can thank channel 4's skins for their portrayal of sexy young things lost in the pursuit of hedonism. But as I swigged on a warm can of larger, that I had seen someone hide at a party in a warehouse/work unit/living space, I couldn't help looking out at the 'raving' (another dirty word that's rejoined our vocabulary) hordes with curiosity. How did this happen?

If you go back 10 years to the same locations, you'd be hard pressed to find a flyer touting house, unless it was dressed up in a media friendly way to appease the clued up cool clubbers. To get away with playing house music of any derivative you'd have to first insert an excuse / explanation beforehand. Cue, 'deep', 'jazzy', 'Latin' and 'nu'! Yes these media savvy young things weren't going to get their combat trousers and latest fat Nike Airs dirty for just any musical genre. It had to be the latest (or the most old skoolest) hip hop, breakbeat, drum 'n' bass, eclectic beats out there. House was for the Sharon and Tracys that they'd left behind in the home counties, along with their Mum's chintzy guest room.

A worthy nod of exception goes to the South London swagger of Ross Allen, who delighted in introducing them to some 4:4 delights via the Filter records label. He was also one of the only DJ's at the time who could beat mix a varied box of records together, leaving others' worn out excuses about musical purity looking pretty poor in comparison. But I digress.

Maybe in this homogenised world, where the high street is quick to jump on fashion trends, information leaps around at light speed, people publish their opinions before thinking (ahem), and nothing is given time to grow and develop before it's plastered as yesterdays news on some blog, house is the only music fitting? There's no complicated dance steps, no real need to know about the music or it's rich history, there's not a very committed uniform to follow and it rarely has any social commentary to think about. Do the Secretsundaze and mulletovers owe their success to mediocrity? Where hipsters and suits rub shoulders on the dance floor, looking for a new brand of validation to make their lives seem cool and special, along with a bump of ket to add an edge to their dull antics.

Or maybe people have learnt from their pretensions, and look back in horror at their now irrelevant music collection and fashion mistakes. Maybe the so called Sharon and Tracys had it right all along? Don't get stuck in the kitchen talking about the influence of Coltrane on modern music, hoping you'll seem deep and get a snog. Get out on the dance floor and actually get a snog! House music woke people from their various musical tribes and injected some much needed FUN into their lives, and now it seems to have shaken them alive again!   

1 comment:

  1. Good post dude. I remember my love of house music at university more or less lead to my sexuality being questioned by my friends. Or I was suspected of being a member of a sports society. Masters at Work? Kerri Chandler? Did I really like both Let Me Down Easy and it's remixed version Needin U by David Morales? I probably listened to them while drinking Smirnoff Ice and making moves on Debbie from the Hockey team. Or Derek from the rugby team. Real men listened to Fabio N Grooverider, Black Star, Broken Beat. Ok so Photek did a house music album with Robert Owens, but we'll let that slide. Five years later and they all had every David Mancuso compilation and talked about Larry Levan and Giorgio Moroder like they were their gay and dotty Italian uncles respectively. Funny how time changes a situation... Keep up the good work cabron. O