Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Now we’re haunting hardcore

The garages and the jungle have been ghost-tracked for years now by whole genres (dubstep) or artists’ whole oeuvre (Burial) but more and producers are going further back - to the hardcore days - for hauntologist inspiration, or just plain homaging the era or using its dynamics to make new output.

First we have post-dubstep producer Zomby coming out with an album of hardcore styles for Werk, and happy being blatant about it (it’s a pride thing, knowledge of the era) with his Where Were You in 92. Do you like rave mate? Boomkat asks in its exhortation to buy. Yes, mate. This adds to unknown northern producer Hate’s two twelves of wicked hardcore styles.

The pre-jungle breakbeats as reevaluated do seem to have a lot more shapeshifting rhythmic potential than we gave them credit for, like the slippery eel style of Blame’s Music Takes you or 2 Bad Mice’s rmx of Tronik house’s otherwise dodgy Straight Outta Hell. This is acknowleged in Hate’s productions, especially Darkcore and Justice. So although Mark has Terminator as No 1 in his jungle top 20, it could equally be the last of the great hardcore records. Those elusive beats don’t quite escape terra firma the way amen breaks released themselves from the urban grid.

So these postmodern takes get put in the dubstep and grime section in the online record ships for want of any other places/that's where the buyers are usually trawling, and it seems that the former's love of a well crafted beat means that these once derided synthetic, functional breaks can be appreciated for what they are/were, as trip-hop's now are again too.

For me, the potential buyer who lived the breakbeat hardcore dream in the southeast and London, it’s a dilemma. Shall I get these tunes and revel in the appropriation and appreciation, bigging myself up in the process. After all they’re generally well done, traversing the scene’s main elements of bouncing pianos, hoover riffs, the dark vs the light and the generally excitable evocation of the e and whiz high. Ah yes, but the opportunities for the sonic-cultural revelling in an all back to mine (let alone outside) are restricted – and this will simply prove good iPod fodder or I’ll give it the odd play in the attic, with the amp volume on 4 in case the kids wake. I’m wary of the need not to buy these for the sake of it, whether on 12, CD or quick and easy download. And with predictable parasitical inertia, I can’t quite see me taking the record bag off the hook to go back out and share in getting this thing out there. Still do collect a reasonable amount of music though, just like to keep it diverse although there is often a Nookie or a Manix in there just in case of the call. (I could go on even further about the role of the old dance music fan still collecting dance music when set and settings militate against it, but I do genuinely get satisfaction in the ability to make up new mixes, or just collections of playlists, and doing the old burn for mates the same way they pass on shit to me. That process is still vital even if it isn’t rave juice).

Hardcore never went away for me (the same way my electro tapes get played with perhaps unjustified regularity), but I am not quite sure what to make of these contemporary takes, simply because sonically they’re so faithful to the 15-year-old+ genre. Even though this music, once proud for being always forward-looking, will have a good try, it’s impossible to recreate the overall milieu.
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