Several times i’ve started to write a critique of the UK journalistic conceit of a ‘hardcore continuum’, but stopped. If you haven’t heard the term, cease reading now & save yourself some mental space. Word.

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I mention it here because, along with Word-the-Cat, BokBok just summed up all I would have said in this excellent post:

“I’m not normally one to be so dismissive, but isn’t the hardcore continuum just a way for older guys to relate to these off-the-wall kids making totally new original stuff that, aesthetically at least, bears little resemblance to the genres that the ‘Nuum designates as their supposed predecessors.”

Yes, it is.

To clarify: the ‘continuum’ notion is one among several that can supply a useful general overview of UK electronica/club migration patterns.

But more often than not, it gets used as a conservative canon in drag. In these cases, it’s a rather blatant attempt by critics to secure their formerly-relevant areas of specialization as the proper ones, usually by employing offensively reductionist binaries, rigid historicization & classification, and an (alarmist) overvaluing of drugs’ role in musical subcultures. Moves which alow them to import the same old interpretive frameworks, suppressing the wonder of unwieldy new variables to deliver the same old answers.

I don’t have time for stuff like this so i never wrote the post, but this week a few people wrote it for me…

note: I’ve read all the post-structuralists in K-Punk’s toolkit, and it strikes me as bizarrely inappropriate that he invokes Luce Irigaray in a “nuum” article reinforcing simplistic MALE vs FEMALE readings/classifications of club music. Écriture féminine his Fact piece is not. Even if the mistake presents itself as homage to another writer’s refried ideas.

As Chris says in his great continuum critique: “music is music, everything is everything (reductive yes, but liberating in its absolute reduction). we don’t need to map our own binaries onto music (screwface/smiley face — masculine/feminine — skunk/MDMA). music takes you past that.”

And I just saw John Eden’s hilarious, spot-on piece at Uncarved.

Re: actually talking to bassline producers, the mighty Dexplicit will stop by my WFMU show next week to drop an exclusive mix session, which we’ll follow up with an interview.


  1. Skewer them dj rupture!

    I think the funniest part of K-Punks article is that he thinks that there is any significant number of people suffering from ‘serotonin depletion’ due to taking too much ecstacy in the current generation of his precious continuum.

    Sorry dude, you’re old. No one I know takes ecstacy any more besides southern rappers and hyphy kids in the bay. The idea that grime is some response to MDMA induced serotonin lack is ridiculous. If we are making drug based analsyses I’d say you must have been smoking crack when you wrote your article.

  2. Since when is historicism “rigid”? Claims like this make little sense coming from someone like Rupture. The basslines in “Bassline” were so played out by Garage in years past, that I find them anything but “innovative”.

    I guess cultural amnesia is ever the hipster thing these days.

    “For critcs to secure their formerly relevent area of specialization” is a wasteman thing to say. Scholarship this blog is decidedly not.

  3. anonymous dunno (welcome bak) – historicism is rigid when continuum enthusiasts use it shoehorn musical cultural polyphony into a narrow template of this-begat-that. The most immediate example of “rigid historicism” is K-Punk stuffing grime and dubstep together into a ‘yang’ in the intro paragraph of his Fact piece. (his ignoring of grime & dubstep’s many substantive differences, i suppose you could call this “hipster cultural amnesia” if you wanted, although i wouldnt phrase it like that.)

    and yes, you agree with a lot of people who are quick to subsume bassline into garage, deriding any claims to its newness. the fact that it has a new genre name around which debates about its newness or innovative aspects exists is proof of said existence — in the process of arguing *against* ‘bassline’ as something new, you allocate it discursive space and help usher it further into existence as just that.

    plus, just check the london shops… the bassline section which wasn’t there in years past is steadily growing…

  4. i mean ‘alarmist’. that style of assuming drugs’ importance in first assumes that large numbers of key figures are taking drugs & being influenced by them artistically in similar ways, so i consider it ‘alarmist’, as it fantasizes a ‘youth subculture gone wild’ thing where entire scenes flock from one drug to the next and all their music decisions are heavily determined by X Y & Z effects of those drugzzzzz.

    Can you imagine critics trying to attribute stylistic shifts in music to alcohol consumption? booze are so common, there is no alarm raised

    even something like the purple syrup of DJ Screw in Houston, while tons of rappers and producers talk about that culture, the sound is *also* influenced by the hot humid heavy climate (the same climate of Kingston dub) and the urban sprawl freeway systems that puts folks in their cars, slow, driving slow or stuck in traffic, plus a ton of other stuff — so while focusing on drugs in that case is valid, even then they need to be considered alongside all sorts of other valid non-narcotic influences. so when folks just focus on the drugs, i call those folks ‘alarmist’

    strangely enough, i wouldnt mind seeing the drug-centric criticism mode spread to government:: cocaine & booze the drugs of Capitol Hill (U.S.)!!, so obviously reflected in their violent, destructive, empty unsustainable confidence, etc etc.


  5. D & B was seen as “the future of music” by critics back in the day, and now it (more or less) makes me wanna sleep, or vomit.

  6. …I do agree that K-punk’s article was pretty bad, yet somehow still more imaginative than a lot of the other writing I’ve read on the subject.

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