Room 2 Manoeuvre: Is it time to chill out?
Acclaimed author and DJ, Dribbler, gives us his offbeat take on how Covid may change the sound of techno.
In these dark Covid times we still have our music. We have the sounds to soothe us, distract and take our minds away from the chaos and uncertainty. We can't dance, but we can still hear and feel. We find solace and grant ourselves space and time in the music. Creatively as much as anything else, we find ourselves at a crossroads.
Is it time to Chill Out?
There are no dancefloors, so no need for bangers. No more stadium crowds immersed in a light show getting covered in cake. No video walls enlarging some five-foot DJ to Godzilla-like proportions, with the resolution just ‘cause people need those insta snaps and selfies, yo.
Out the window goes the need for tracks which fuel the ketamine-ravaged crowds and their attention spans. Gone are the 8-bar DJs who drop the bass, dress up like the Banana Splits and act like they are working miracles.
These days, when you stand outside of the main room (or next to the main-stage field) amongst the poleaxed, collapsing and confused, it simply sounds like the sound system has a limiter that keeps cutting out when the superstars are on. It’s become an experiment in negative space. Joe Claussell, if you’re reading this, YOU HAVE A LOT TO ANSWER FOR!
Joe killed the isolator and graphic in Body and Soul every week. He’s single handedly responsible for every DJ since ’99 thinking they can remaster tracks and work the eq so the mastered products sound better.
I am as guilty as any other of this!
It’s not a limiter, of course, who savages tunes and plays selections that incorporate said-actions - it’s a limited performer. One who craves the drop, one who NEEDS the drop. The most basic and easy-access hands-in-the-air bounce for 8 bars, 16 max. Without the drop they are NOTHING.
Wiser types in the crowd, the longer-in-the-tooth types, have seen them all come and go; the drop, the wobble, the donk, the Capricorn drum rolls, the crescendos and even the never-ending fucking change-the-cd-mate loops. If you’re sitting there wiping your brow and thinking drops are something new, I’ve got five words for ya … Rage Against The fucking Machine.
What we are seeing, and thankfully, is a shift in styles and tastes. Doors opened to other styles and even, god forbid, some real music. Music for the mind and soul is what we need, not music to keep the uppers flowing thru the system. For now, anyway.
Music that hits us with a real-time soundscape of the moment, an epic-like document of these times where the rhythms may be played with, experimental and broken, the time structures complex. This is NOT dancefloor-oriented music. These sounds are way more cerebral, for the heads. They have to be to properly reflect the complexities of life we are experiencing at the moment.
Meditatory sounds give an overwhelming sense of the moment. The music makes you take time out and listen. It has a purposeful manner to it and it seems like there are more hours in the day, when they are purposefully spent. Like time slowing down, a sun slithering slowly behind the horizon. These are like sunset sounds for dark back rooms. For sitting down and experiencing in other ways.
Daytime or night, what’s required is Room 2 music, the deeper sounds, not the ones designed to make you dance. The music maybe shouldn’t get in your face right now, perhaps it should creep up and smack you on the ass.
Let’s hear a resurgence in real electronic music, let’s take this chance to shake off the attention seekers and the abusers of the craft, the clown shows.
Let’s see a resurgence in the musical elements of early-90s UK techno, a warmth and delicateness that pervades a distinct lack of obvious four/four beat structures - a return to the gob-smacking beauty of pure and real techno.
Think Symbols and Instruments, Black Dog/Kirk Degiorgio, mid-90s Berlin sounds from Basic Channel and Rhythm and Sound, but in today's modern landscape. The sounds are analogue, the drums, hi hats and snares shimmer... jazz style. They accentuate and push the rest of the sounds around them. Let’s sit back and let them.
In a bygone era they called it Chill Out music. It just meant it wasn’t main room and dancefloor stuff. For many, “Room 2” was where it was at.
In the Covid era it’s about how it makes you feel as you relax and really listen to it. It’s about emotion and empathy, a oneness, a new unknown and a deeper train of thought for the common person.
It’s the Room 2 phase of raving that lays the pieces around the edge of the jigsaw and lets you fill in the gaps.