So there you are, at a house party on a Saturday night. You've smashed four of your six beers. You're feeling good. You might, at some point, maybe, speak to someone you've never met before. Everyone's having a good time. The squad are shining, someone said, "nice shirt mate," as they walked passed and you're pretty sure they weren't massively taking the piss. You got paid two days ago. This is it. This is the life you've always wanted. If Carlsberg did...well, no, because you're actually drinking Carlsberg now and you've remembered why you never normally drink Carlsberg. Still, all is good. Until it happens. Until the moment you'd been dreading becomes a reality. Someone asks you about the music that's playing.
You panic. you stutter, you sweat profusely. You know nothing. They now know you know nothing. You've fucked it. You've royally fucked it.
You make a French exit and stare out of the night bus window, tears in your eyes, lump in your throat, awash with regret. Here, it'll be alright mate, don't worry about it too much. Look, we'll let you in on something here. Print this off, stick it in your back pocket, and keep it on you during any and all social interactions. Sorted.
AMBIENTArtists to mention: Brian Eno, Stars of the Lid, the hum of a fridge.
What to say: "Ambient is something that means everything and nothing at once. Ambient can be the sound of a washing machine in the final spasms of a cycle. Ambient can be Tangerine Dream's beautifully glacial experimentations in the limits what music is, and what music should be. Ambient pauses the world, and traps us within the icy confines of its blue-hued sound, making us voluntary pupae in its musical cocoon. IMHO."
What not to say: "Is that the sound of a pair of whales shagging?"
BALEARICArtists to mention: Leo Mas, Mike Francis, Status Quo.
What to say: "The thing about balearic is, right, that balearic is a state of mind. If you think it's balearic, then it probably is balearic. That's the joy of it, the beauty of it. Got a skin, mate? I just ran out earlier. Yeah, Phil Collins was quite sick!"
What not to say: "Is this "Atmosphere" by Russ Abbott?"
CLUBArtists to mention: Rushmore, Nadus, Zig and Zag.
What to say: "This current wave of club producers are seamlessly blending music, fashion and graphic design in ways that are endlessly innovative and intriguing."
What not to say: "Mum, why has this man in a very, very, very expensive tracksuit played "The Ha Dance" for two hours straight?"
DEEP HOUSEArtists to mention: Kerri Chandler, Ron Trent, Disclosure.
What to say: "The whole is it deep house or isn't it deep house thing is something that a true deep house head doesn't care about. Sure, you could say that the resurgence in deep house has resulted in a glut of largely dull records that stick to the same safe percussive paths, mine the same diving bell tones, share the same lush synth pads playing the same downward chord progressions, and share the same doleful female vocals—but if it's got some soul, it's a goal."
What not to say: "You heard the new Dale Howard EP mate? Absolutely banging!"
DUBSTEPArtists to mention: Mala, Burial, Kode9, Flux Pavillion.
What to say: "The UK's last true subculture, before dubstep was turned into bro-step it was the dark and devastating sound of soundsystem culture meeting 2-step, brewed in the farthest corners of South London."
What not to say: "Wobble," "drop," or "Rusko."
FOOTWORKArtists to mention: DJ Rashad, DJ Paypal, Michael Flatley.
What to say: "The great thing about footwork is just how tied to place and circumstance it is. It's grown from juke, and in tandem with choreography, has become a hugely important youth culture in Chicago over the past couple of decades."
What not to say: "This sounds like someone falling down the stairs...and not in a good way!"
HOUSEArtists to mention: Omar S, Jeremy Underground, DJ Otzi.
What to say: "You see, house is a feeling that no one can understand, really, unless you're deep into the vibe of house. House is an uncontrollable desire to jack your body. And, as I told you before, this is our house and our house music. And in every house, you understand, there is a keeper. And, in this house, the keeper is Jack."
What not to say: "Strictly Rhythm? More like Strictly Come Dancing!!!!!!!!11!"
ITALO-DISCOArtists to mention: Clio, Kano, Chico.
What to say: "The beauty of Italo is its shamelessness: this is music as raw and emotional and naked as you'll ever hear. It's the sound of unabashed desire and wanton heartbreak. It's exhilaratingly direct, punching through the skein of irony most of us wear like a veil."
What not to say: "Did he really just sing, "Hey, how old are you/where is your harbour?"
TECHNOArtists to mention: Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Robert Hood, Hot Chip.
What to say: "Of course, the word 'techno' can envelope everyone from Carl Craig to Rødhåd, but if you want to understand its roots, you need to return to Detroit, where the Belleville Three constructed the sounds of an electronic future and changed club culture forever."
What not to say: "It's a bit repetitive."
UK GARAGEArtists to mention: MJ Cole, Zed Bias, The Stig.
What to say: "Where high-end fashion met low-level rhythms, it's the sound of London at the turn of the century that would spawn grime, dub-step and UK funky in its wake."
What not to say: "Have you seen People Just Do Nothing?"