Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Wonky 2: Kinaesthetic analysis.

A sketch of an even more specific theory of dance music might want to focus in greater detail upon the former part of the term, the “dance” element itself. In a recent thread on the Dissensus message board on Juke music, what was most fascinating was the embedded youtube videos of the dancing itself. One way out of, or complication between perhaps, tyrannical GUT theorising and dull empirical micro-trend spotting would be to think dance music as primarily a kind of programming system, a machine itself, operating upon the bodies of the dancers, and engaged in a kind of dialectical feedback relationality with the music. In speculative realist terms the “object” in question is no longer merely the music, (which as we know is merely a part, an important part but a part nonetheless, of the whole) but its interactions with specific kinaesthetic bodily motion and forms. Some of the best of Simon Reynolds writing has certainly touched upon this approach in the past (thinking of his UK Garage piece with its descriptions of alarming hurky/jerky dance moves). Dance music sets up a series of potentials (within the rhythmic matrix it presents) for dancers to lock into or ignore- which via the DJ as mediator (between producers and dancers) achieves a kind of fluidity of feedback- which tunes excite the dancefloor the most? The true innovation then might be seen to be the range or vocabulary of new moves (in a sense forms of kinetic subjectivation) made possible by the beat structures and textures of the particular music. I’ve yet to attend any wonky raves (sure to bring down the ire of the empiricist branches of the anti HCC contingent no doubt) though I attended many in Dubstep’s golden era- where a lot of the initial excitement was working out how precisely to move to this new music… lock in at 69bpm with a slow head bob shifting from foot to fit in a low skanking motion, or fit into the hi-hat patterns at 138bpm, limbs flailing? Wonky as dancefloor experience intrigues because the more club-bound aspects of the sound seem to be fitting in at a dubstep-like tempo (and hence can be legitimately deemed to be in some senses post-dubstep). Do the de-quantised drums and lurid synthetic lead lines inculcate a new vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of bodily motion?

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