What's Going to Kill the House Revival?
Geeks? Shit clothes? Americans? Tinchy Stryder? Let's take a look at the suspects.
Taken from the Twitter account @DisclosureFans
At some point in 2007, a bunch of people realised that they hadn't been laid for the entirety of the four years they'd been listening to dubstep, and fucked off to make something that sounded like the exact opposite of it.
It began life without a name, but pretty soon music hacks realised the jig was up for dubstep because no one wanted to feel like they were trapped in a submarine in the Thames having a panic attack any more, and so "post-dubstep" was born. A few years later, and here we are: with the first British club music built on a 4x4 kick to soundtrack a T4 ident since "Where's Your Head At".
Modern-day house is undoubtedly the movement of the moment, currently occupying a territory somewhere between the internet underground and the stereo of your mum's favourite shop on the high street. Some of its facets have broken through into the mainstream, but the heart of it definitely remains in the "sub" part of culture. "Latch" may have made the top 20, Bashmore might be blowing up on your workplace radio, but if they did another Live Aid tomorrow, nobody from the scene's ready to be up there singing "Let it Be" with Paul McCartney and Emile Sande quite yet.
But they will be soon. And when they are, you'll be sneering at your younger siblings, telling them they're cunts because you saw Benga at DMZ rather than Magnetic Man at Snowbombing, and that you were one of the people sullenly nodding their heads in the first ever Boiler Room stream. You're going to become our era's equivalent of the people who said they liked Green Day "when they were still punk", or Lauryn Hill when she still hated white people, or Juicy J before he became the Chumbawumba of trap.
At some point very soon after that, someone's going to declare this new house revival dead. And when that moment comes, people will start looking around to see who's got its eccy-polluted blood on their hands. So, in case you're wondering who to blame when you're stood at the end of the line for Jamie Jones' sell-out Wembley Arena show, we took a pre-emptive look at who's likely to murder the new house revival.
GETTING A NAME
There's nothing people who love dance music hate more than being pinned down and told what they are. And for good reason – generally, as soon as a scene gets a name, its stylistic tropes ossify, chancers come along to endlessly rip off the formula, people get pissed off with it and it dies.
Take a look at what's happened to the micro-scenes that have been definitively named since dubstep died; a bunch of people wandered off saying they were going to do something called future garage, and were never seen again, like Slavic henchmen choosing the wrong fork in the river and disappearing over the side of a waterfall in the opening scene of a Bond film. Americans once again chose to eschew self-awareness by not calling the horrible noise they think is dance music "frat house", opting for EDM instead – and while that may not be dead yet, its soul was scared from the building a long time ago by wankers in phat pants.
The fact is that "neo-house" will probably change its name again before it inevitably fuses with deep house to form something called "filter-trap", or "snapback techno", or "Eurozone Bass", or some other equally ill-thought out compound genre. If you care about this music at all, you better hope it keeps evolving quicker than journalists can brand it, because giving a scene a name is like christening a baby with a kettle.
"Crossover" doesn't sound like a bad word, and it isn't, if you work for Universal. To the rest of us, however, it means "compromise", "committee" and "test audience". It means "Ed Sheeran is the man to unite the rap game and the folk game". It means Bruno Brookes' HSBC radio.
As talented as they undoubtedly are, there's something about Disclosure that just screams "crossover", whereas many of their peers seem to be content with meekly whispering, "We're alright with some cab money and a few drink tokens, thanks."
First of all, they're disgustingly young. Young to be making hit records in any genre, let alone in a scene that glorifies its veterans – Virgo, Ron Trent, Kenny Dixon Jr, the Belleville Three and so many more the wrong side of 29. And while Disclosure might succumb to the modern-day club cliches of varsity jackets and metaphysical staring competitions in their press shots, they're really more Conor Maynard than Carl Cox in the visual department. I'm not saying they look as much like those little dogs that rich women keep in their handbags as One Direction, but they're not Boddika either.
I'm not the kind of guy who weighs his vinyl and berates Jeff Mills for fluffed mixes, but you can't help but feel that Disclosure are going to be the forefathers of the first real cash-in, crossover sound. We haven't seen the Alice Deejay or DJ Otzi for this scene yet, but it can't be far off, and they'll probably either be Disclosure or sound a lot like them.
Shuffling and the people who build their lives around it have taken a fairly severe (and sometimes just a lil' bit racist?) ripping from a section of real house purists. They claim that shuffling – or "cutting shapes", as it's also known – is aggressive, ostentatious peacocking that just makes people look like pricks. They claim that the perpetrators wear terrible clothes (probably the weightiest part of their argument), and that those ruffnecks who come to clubs to move their feet in time with the music are promoting a "badman mentality". The fact that these people use the term "badman" as a negative tells you all you really need to know about them.
But of all the maligned aspects of the places like Vibe Bar and Can't Stop Won't Stop – backpacker Latin house, live percussion, shutter-shades in the club – shuffling seems the most innocuous. I mean, it's a just a fucking dance, isn't it? If you think a silly dance poses a threat to a whole genre, then how do you explain the continued existence of Caetano Veloso, who has survived not only the Macarena, but the "She Bangs" dance and Las Ketchup as well? Let the shufflers shuffle.
Disclosure, with their boyish looks and catchy choruses, might be the neo-house Nirvana, but the scene's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" moment has come courtesy of Julio Bashmore’s "Au Seve". It’s direct, you can dance to it, it's gonna sound great coming out of car windows this summer and getting rinsed at provincial nightclubs for years to come.
It could be our generation's "Tiger Feet", a retro classic that we'll all be trying to get our gabber-loving kids to stomp along to. On the other hand, it's so infectious that it's probably more likely to replace "Chelsea Dagger" as the track that people "sing" at football matches and "Seven Nation Army" as the tune that Mediterranean teenagers chant when the Eurovision results are revealed (seriously, they do that). Neo-house: coming soon to a stag do near you.
If there's one thing we can all agree that the house resurgence really doesn't need, it's a boyband. Alas, it's now got one in the form of Hot Natured, made up of Jamie Jones, Luca C, Lee Foss and Ali Love (yep, that Toni & Guy-hipster "K Hole" guy who wrote a song about violating our pub's zero tolerance drugs policy). Peddling the kind of sleek, easy-going house that you only usually hear in women's clothes shops, you've got to wonder who would actually listen to Hot Natured out of choice. Having seen the ticket-sales stats for their big show at the Brixton Academy next month, the audience breakdown looks a little like this:
Fifty percent Australians in shutter-shades.
Thirty five percent Italians in shutter-shades and tank tops.
Ten percent men on the press-list who will try to put together a review the next day despite not remembering anything other than meeting some bloke in his 40s desperately seeking out drugs.
Five percent people who’ll turn up wearing comedy afro wigs and spend much of the night trying to get their photo taken with Jamie Jones.
They might look more like staff from the pool-bar at Manumission than the kind of likely lads your gran could get into, but Hot Natured truly are house music's Boyzone.
Situation and location are key when it comes to enjoying dance music. Techno sounds best in dank Teutonic caves, trance sounds best in community gyms, grime sounds best when you've just come out of prison and house sounds best either in sticky floored South London dives or white linen draped Balearic sunset bars. Which is what makes the rise of house-dominated festivals like Bugged Out and Eastern Electrics so baffling. For some, club music is apparently best heard not in a club at all, but stood in a park on a shitty English summer’s day watching Ben UFO trying to rouse a crowd who are far more interested in their phone signal.
That said, going to a nightclub these days usually requires a level of organisation previously reserved for getting tickets to see Shawshank at Secret Cinema, or JLS from the O2 Member's Lounge. Almost every event worth going to sells out way in advance, leaving anyone who isn't either one of those hyper-organised mumsy types or a guestlist ligger home alone with Take Me Out. Though I guess that beats being stuck in an overpriced, over-capacity rave with humanities students on Daz-cut ketamine who treat going to see Oneman like a Brownie excursion to the Brecon Beacons.
One of us has put this case across already, so we won't repeat the horror stories of "molly", "Camp Bisco" and "godstep". All you really need to know is that Americans pose as big a threat to house music in the twenty-teens as Europeans did to rap in the early noughties. Did Jigga shit it when he heard Sway? Did Missy pack it in when she heard Lady Sov's Ordinary Boys collaboration? No. Soon the whole world will regard Deadmau5 in the same way they see Bomfunk MCs: a boorish footnote in musical history that will forever be associated with bad weed and wet dreams.
You think "Au Seve" is annoying now? Wait until Tinchy Stryder hears it and decides that what it really needs is a verse that rhymes "Audi TT" with "Holly Willoughby". There's a long standing tradition of mainstream artists jumping on underground hypes and, as of yet, the new house sound hasn't really been subjected to this.
But as soon as all the biggest producers see their coke intake rise alongside their record sales, you know they're not going to be able to resist that subtle hint from their record company exec that Gary Barlow is a massive Blawan fan. Collaborations always spell the end of a sound, and while we haven't had the big one yet (AlunaGeorge and Disclosure could be the shift), it'll come. Who's it gonna be? I don't know. But I hear that Scuba and Taio Cruz have been in the studio together, so there's that.
When all is done and dusted – when the culprits have been brought before the dance music Nuremberg trial to look into the teary eyes of Levon Vincent and Terrence Parker's grieving families – one thing will be certain: people will be wondering if perhaps the death of guitar music was so greatly exaggerated after all.
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Watch - Donk