December 16, 2004



Greetings, it's Felizitas, back from the oral surgeon. Don't call it a comeback, it's just two gotdamned extractions and a world of pain, spelled v-i-c-o-d-i-n (though that is not as legend would have it a contraction of "Viking" and "Odin," even if that would seem quite logical. Boy am I happy about this Goo Goo Dolls cover of "Give A Little Bit," and now want The Verve Pipe to reappear with "The Logical Song."

By the way, wasn't "Give A Little Bit" the fugly beige G*P sweater theme song a couple years ago, with Liz Phair amongst others doing the damn thing? Do jackass literock songs have to pass through an Express Advertising Phase before they can be resurrected as Sop 40 subsmashes? Is Baba O'Reilly ripe for a remake now that it's the theme of CSI: Sinise? Well, Dave Pirner, what are you waiting for? A girl can wonder...)

Anyway, back to the propositions, getting odder as they go:

It can be difficult to distinguish social content from sonic form.

Here's one little example. It would seem that "IDM" (that would be "Intelligent Dance Music," if you've been busy dealing with something else for a little) is all sonic formalism at its most distillated edge.

Ahh, but something rankles. Something almost always rankles with genre names, and in this case it's the case of the excluded, as in, well, what's the unintelligent dance music that allows this name to have meaning? Now it would be very lovely to pretend the answer was "techno," or "disco," but I'm having trouble really buying it. This could be because I am sort of old, and remember the material roots of techno: hucking around with turntable and sampler. I remember that early turntable/sampler music—that would be rap—was not only denounced ad endlessleam as unintelligent, but was in fact explained at some length to not be music at all. That was the main thing that high-SAT-scoring white-ass gatekeepers said back in the day (and if you would leave your coast for a fortnight you would discover that lots of people still manage to think this).

And then one day, fucking around with a turntable and a sampler turned out to be music, and even art. That was just about, uh, er, exactly when the youthier high-SAT-scoring white-ass gatekeepers started recording and performing with said instruments-now-though-they-weren't-instruments-last-year. The addition of "intelligent" and "music" to the category of original music composed and performed largely through cut'n'paste reproduction strategies is the history of the bleaching and bourgeosification of the tradition, and meanwhile I am still waiting for something as intelligent or musical from Sean O'Hagan (or Squarepusher or Shadow) as "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel." As for "dance," don't make me laff, it hurts my jaw.

There is a social content to IDM—produced entirely by the drama between sonic composition/production technics and the name itself!—and that social content is racism, and particularly the racism that takes the form of the most traditional, desecratory narrative of denial, recuperation, piracy and despoilage one could imagine, one that's been played out not just in artistic genre but in, hmm, the history of colonization?

Please recall I am simply developing a theory of genre, and how one might think about what's content and what's form, not trying to disrespect the undoubtledly substantial artistic contributions of the Aphex Twin.

Posted by at December 16, 2004 12:55 PM | TrackBack