Many of the new musical trends that seemed at the beginning of 2008 to herald a new direction for electronic music are now looking tired, and over-saturated by poor sound-a-likes. The ultra distorted Justice and Ed Banger crew seem to be running out of steam, with their latest compilation, Ed Rec Vol 3, featuring only one real standout track – DJ Medhi’s 'Pocket Piano', an acid house/ disco exploration of just how beautiful a song one man could make with a piano. Justice’s popularity rose to the point that even a television appearance in the Simpsons didn’t seem out of the question.
Throughout 2008, a new trend seemed to be replacing this whole sound, a sound that has been heralded as global/gutter bass by many. It embodies bits of electro, house, Baltimore club, dubstep, hip hop, rap, and lots of bass. Labels such as Mad Decent and Trouble & Bass championed it, with nights like Night Slugs in London leading the movement, with artists like Drop The Lime, Mumdance, L Vis 1990, Herve, Sinden and many others forming the frontrunners. The key to this Global Bass movement seemed to be that any genre of electronic music was ripe to be sampled and imitated, creating a melting pot of styles. Other countries than the US and the UK even got in on the act, with DJ Mujava, whose hit Township Funk hailed from Africa, and ruled dancefloors in 2008, and Buraka Som Sistema whose Portuguese style of house music, branded as ‘Kuduro’, won them a signing with Fabric for their debut album.
For those that didn’t embrace this new ‘bass’ movement, a more techno/minimal orientated sound was also on the rise – with DJs like Brodinski and Erol Alkan championing it, and producers like Popof and Style of Eye destroying dancefloors the world over. This more techey sound spread to other genres as well – with producers like Shackleton, Appleblim and the whole Skull Disco crowd making dubstep with a more minimaley/techey feel. Appleblim’s ‘Vansan’ seemed to set “a techno orientated trend that pushed the genre in a new direction”. This new direction was further cemented by each and every Skull Disco release – first Ricardo Villalobos remixed Shackleton, and then Shackleton remixed Villalobos’ 'Minimoonstar'. Even electroclash producers like Tiga tried their hand at a more techey feel, with tracks like 'Mind Dimension'.
The Skull Disco label was not the only one to go in a new direction. Dubstep, which was once largely a united front, seems now to have split into many different groups and styles. Skream, Benga, Coki and Caspa’s wobbly ‘thugstep’, the techno sound I alluded to above, and another group that was labeled by many critics as ‘wonky’. Made up of producers like Ikonika, Zombie, Joker, Rustie, Starkey, and championed by Kode 9’s Hyperdub label, some of the most exciting dubstep releases of 2008 came from this group – Zombie’s 'Strange Fruit', Joker’s 'Gully Brook Lane', Ikonika’s 'Please' – all of these saw massive approval from a wide range of DJs. This style, first championed by Kode 9 and Flying Lotus on their one off Rinse FM Show from Late 2007. A particular highlight for me from the whole ‘wonky’ crew was Joker’s collaboration with Rustie ‘Play Doh’, full of squealing synths and full fat square wave bass. Big things are in store for this whole group of producers in 2009, but we can only hope that someone thinks up a better name for the movement.
Flying Lotus and Kode 9’s Rinse FM show was not the only one to pioneer a new musical movement in 2008. Marcus Nasty and Mak10’s September mix for Rinse FM was said by many critics to be the moment ‘funky’ happened. “UK funky is a style of modern electronic dance music related to UK garage that is influenced by latin music. It mixes traditional UKG beats, bass loops and synths with latin percussion and contemporary R&B-style vocals.” Again, this new movement was based on a combination of many genres – grime, funky, tribal house, bassline, garage. The primary exponents of funky are Geneeus, Mak 10, Supa D, Crazy Cousins and Marcus Nasty, and it has replaced bassline, garage and RnB in many clubs as the music for the average punter. This must in part be to its dual nature – one side is what some critics have described as “chardonnay music” – cheap and fizzy, frivolous, popular with both girls and boys, an alternative to bassline. However, grittier, more hard edged and more minimal strains of funky are beginning to appear – Donaeo’s 'African Warrior' being a prime example. For a guide to whats big in Funky, FACT’s Kiran Sande ‘We don’t do boring’ did a funky special at the tail end of 2008.
Disco also saw a resurgence in 2008, with disco nights springing up all over the country, and labels like Italians Do It Better, DFA and Phantasy championing the new disco sound. Artists like Joakim, the Emperor Machine, Fan Death, Hercules and Love Affair, Riton, Aeroplane, In Flagranti and Juan Maclean were the most popular. In a horrible parody of nu rave, some took to calling this new trend nu disco… For an hour long guide to the new (note the spelling…) disco trend, Erol Alkan’s podcast Disco 3000, serves as a perfect introduction.
Regardless of whether you listened to any of these new musical trends in 2008, 2009 will only see them getting better and popular, so why not try something a bit different, and explore the options.
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