Where's the revolution?27 Jan 2016
I was reading this essay [The privileged are taking over the arts] by Stuart Maconie the other day [TL/DR - If you’re working class then your glittering career as a Rock Star is increasingly unlikely] and it chimed with something else I’d been thinking of, did I miss the music that’ll define the naughties, and more importantly, WTF is going on with this decade?
I kinda agree and disagree with what Stuart’s saying in his piece. If you want to survive as a pure musician post University, then yeah, without bags of cash - supportive parents, a publishing deal, a.n.other thing - then you’re going to be on the poverty line pretty damn fast. But hasn’t that always been the case? Were aspiring musos in the ’70s any better off? I don’t honestly know, but my guess is: no, not a lot. Of course, if they did “make it” then selling 10 million black vinyl discs would ruffle their bank balances quite nicely. Streaming isn’t going to pay for a flash car any time soon, whereas that back catalogue of folk music will just get a 180 gram re-press in 30 years times. If you’re in a band then the number of venues never seems to go up, and if you’re of the electronica variety, well, good luck navigating the Beatport charts. There’re only so many of us DJs that’ll jump in to buy your stuff.
Despite this, from what I can tell it’s cheaper than ever to make music. You don’t need physical instruments, you can do exactly what we were all doing in the 90s: sample the shit out of everything and arrange it! Except now it’ll sound good (8bit samples? 24 track mixer? Pffft) and you can do the arrangements on your phone! Bing, insta-hit! Get that shit to the You Tubes! Er. Or not…
I think Stuart’s right to point out that gentrification is happening, or will. Art schools struggling for funding is a disaster - people being priced out of any form of further education scares the shit out of me - but I wonder if there’s not been a bigger hit to culture than mainstream pop and rock being the province of the seemingly ‘posh’.
I think of the 70s and I think of punk as a reaction to prog rock, and how that brief hot flash ripped up the rule book and set the stage for the 80s. Which then takes too much coke and goes mental in all sorts of directions. Bleep-bloop synth-pop navigating through a neo-prog diversion to romanticism, all the way back down to Stock Aitken and Waterman churning out plastic barbies.
The 90s brings a bag of disco biscuits and an abundance of fields. Suddenly we have House, Techno, Hardcore begets Jungle begets Drum n Bass begets Breaks begets Prog Breaks begets… Four to the floor for every type of room. Brit Pop storms on. Grunge storms off.
It’s was a continuous evolutionary explosion to my ears, but when I think about it, did it start slowing down? Sure, the naughties give us Dub Step and Grime, but I’m struggling to see much past that point that matches the sort of revolution you can point to in previous decades. Or at least, of the pace and vibrancy. (Sub-genres is as sub-genres does, after all. We’ll never run out of little boxes to put things in…)
Is it a function of technology making it easier to make music? The network effect? The fact that there’s ‘too much’ music available (there isn’t)? Or not enough? Or have I hit that age point where if it was happening, it’d just be white noise and I’d ignore it. Possibly…
Or are kids just not arsed?
When I was a teenager I hated that ‘dress up’ night club thing we were all forced to do. Town centre venues siphoning in every cunt from miles around. Fucking meat markets with over priced beer, shit music and fights over whether you looked at some stupid tart. It was a joy to discover the rave and actually go to a venue to, you know, enjoy the music and have some fucking fun. Every spoke to everyone. Friends were made. Ebeneezer was a real Goode geeza. Even the house parties were pretty fucking special. I look through my facebook feed now and see the same skinny ties I used to love in the 80s, spray on jeans, and nightclubs with fucking disco balls. It makes me sigh a bit, but that’s fine. I don’t have to go to those clubs as there’re still plenty of sweat boxes playing all night Techno.
What I am waiting for though is the next ‘thing’. What is it? Come on 201X, blow my fucking ears off. I know I’ll be too old to get in to where ever you’re playing it, but I can still listen. What the fuck am I going to look back on and say “yeah, that was 201X”. I’m struggling to define the naughties by it’s music, and that’s just depressing.