Culture, Music, Nonsense

Who do you think you are kidding?


Disruption, abstraction, subversiveness, outsider, challenging preconceptions, fucking things up and just plain old weird. Terms, ideas and narratives that never stop being appealing. And why shouldn’t they be? Music needs to evolve, needs to break boundaries and challenge its listener. Experimentation is the cornerstone of many great musical movements. Techno music as a form is quite abstract, even though it may not seem that way now that is so engrained in the modern musical landscape.

Recently there has been a strong focus on the collision of noise / experimental and techno / club music, of artists coming in from the outside to, as they believe subvert the norms, to disrupt the dance floor. There was the recent RA interview with Via App and an older interview with Total Freedom that was revelling in how these artists were deconstructing the club – or so they thought. We have quotes from Matrixxman, who makes perfunctory and, to my ears, in no way ground breaking techno talking about how  “My whole approach is distinctly subversive at its core”. Via App’s music, going on the tracks supplied with the RA piece, were hazily off kilter techno tracks, they sounded like someone who comes from a vaguely experimental background but then just kinda firing some kick drums underneath the music. Nothing about what these type of artists are doing is in any way challenging or ground breaking – We’ve seen it all before. At its best its some perfectly acceptable and enjoyable electronica, at worst its juvenile art school nonsense – Total Freedom stopping music when people dance at his parties is laughably trite grandstanding you’d expect from a 17 year old.

One act that keeps cropping up in my thoughts when I see these narratives is Autechre. They are an outfit that many so-called experimental artists who want to flirt with the dancefloor, but still think they are above it’s seemingly simple pursuits, love to name check. And Autechre have genuinely challenged the systems and structures of dance music in a long standing ever evolving career. But you know why they are so good at it, and why they are genuinely important, is because those guys know dance music. They understand it, they understand its rules, its limitations and where you go from there. If they want they can make a powerful and invigorating piece of techno club music, many coming in from the left of field couldn’t do this, thats why so much of it can sound half arsed. It’s why most of it isn’t nearly as subversive or genuinely challenging  for those of us properly embedded in this culture. And I think the narrative needs to be dropped, because you aren’t fooling us any more.


  1. Never heard an Actress track I didn’t find effing annoying. He’s A#1 poster boy for this sort of business.

    The fact that these numpties get any traction when there are artists like Surgeon, Regis, and Mika Vainio just goes to show that there’s a new audience that discovers techno every year and they’ll fall for the things that have already been done to death as though they’re brand new.

    The new Vaino + Vigroux “Peau Froide Leger Soleil” is fantastic, and makes all these other guys look pretentious and lightweight.

  2. + I saw Autechre in Chicago recently, and people were dancing even though there was no regular beat. They have the authority and depth to command dancing. It ends up lookig a bit like a petit mal seizure, but it’s still dancing. THAT’S being subversive.

  3. Kenny says:

    Yeah, Vaino was someone who was also on my mind as I wrote this, but I just decided to leave it to using one act as an example.

  4. Dave says:

    Well said mate! Agree 110%

  5. Wowheyday says:


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