Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That sound: it's the 'DUCK FART'!

"There’s a particular kind of bass sound which really fucks me off... And it’s not specific to dubstep, I hear it across different dance music genres, and it’s a kind of lowest common denominator way of getting people to move. And I can kind of understand the tendency to go there, it’s a complex of frequencies which works on even the shittest soundsystems... And it’s aesthetic decisions, and what it feels it needs to do to translate into as many environments as possible, especially when it’s growing...

Back in the May edition of Wire, Kode9 got as close as any to describing the low-to-mid-range rave-nasty synth sound, in the unedited transcript of his interview with Walmsley. Certainly it has bedevilled hard dance/trance and jungle in particular as a placeholder signifying darkness for the dj/producer but increasingly schlocky function for some tired (older) listeners. Second-generation dubstep producers, now with a dancefloor of students to satisfy, picked up on it, despite the cavernous bass already being a key element, and now the 'step can join those older sounds in having truly generic identity.

"... It’s not even a sonic thing for me, it’s just a pressure, a vibrational physicality, it’s whether the music has a physical presence. Not in auditory sense, whether you’re in a room with an entity, sense. But. the sound that turns me off often seems to have a rocky quality to it, I always associated it in the late 90s with the Virus synth. I was reading a lot of producers talking about this Virus synth, and then listening to the music and hearing, OK, that’s the sound of that synth that people were jumping on. But it’s not just that synth, across genres, some styles of House Music, it’s got a jump-up edge to it. I’ve got various ways of describing it. Duck fart is one, angry pig [SNORTS].. it’s a kind of grunting pig sound... It certainly sounds better in a club situation than it does listening at home. Because clearly the reason people do it is to almost rough up the top end of the bass, so the bass that you hear in an amplified situation isn’t just this rounded sub-bass, but also has this slightly aggressive edge to it. And it does sound much better, and less annoying, on a club situation. Almost like broken glass, or someone’s taken sand paper to this rounded thing, and just made it a bit more sharp, more abrasive...

"It’s definitely got something to do with pumping up the testosterone. And almost universally, people love it..."

So now we nearly have an apt description for the noise, who do we blame? Ed Rush and No U-Turn (please start with 'the Raven' for jump up growling). Or leave it in the hands of Bad Company?
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