Thoughts on deaccelerating the hardcore continuum via tempo rerouting and reimagined kinetics.
The article is inspired by a recent social media post (6 June 2023) from DJ CC: DISCO! in which the artist states they have been finding it hard to play themselves; a sentiment informed by “the bro’s yelling at me to play harder and faster”. This statement, echoed by others throughout the industry, incites pervasive strains of hypermasculinity, social media asphyxiation and our increased dependency upon instant pop-amine gratification. These agents are interconnected and co-dependent, influencing, fuelling and affirming one another like any culture keen to refract itself through a tense and saturated medium. Through my observations of a perceived audience member to one of a performer, I have witnessed the way in which these musicks and behaviours agitate the moorings of a space, particularly when it has just been activated. This feels sad and unfortunate because neglecting the depressed, atmospheric and lower tempos of club scapes embodies the reason we should descend upon play spaces; to explore absence, tension and desire and how these can influence our kinetics in highly imaginative and ambiguous ways. The inability to warm up per se leaves us with the inability to re-route the rigidity that is often strewn across our bodies outside of these play spaces. Apostrophising with a hip opener or punctuating with a moisturised body ripple feels essential to challenge the extrapolations of incessant, fiendish progress and as someone I recently connected with on Hinge affirmed: “The world is so hard, so fast, so masculine, it’s all go go go, do do do!”
The “Rok School Moment”
This line is taken from DJ Eris Drew while manipulating turntables, as only Eris can, at her first ever solo set in the Netherlands. A wee way through Eris’ set, one of the decks skidded to a halt while the record was in mid-flight. Eris feeling invigorated by the crowd spurring and urging her on, scratched in “Rok Skool” at 112BPM, something she had never emitted to then watch the dance floor utterly explode in rapture. For Eris it proved a salient reminder of “how little tempo matters; it’s about the energy in the track and the openness of the dancers and the DJ responding to the moment”. Eris’ reflection upon this at first anxious dilemma transforms into one of the most powerful tempo rerouting experiences for the dancers and as Musicologist Dr Edith Van Dyck states, encourages ‘tempo entrainment’: the way our bodies can seamlessly respond to and lock into external rhythms changes and pressures. To me this puts forward a question to the participants, are you rummaging for tempo or harnessing the rush?
I fancy fast musicks. I love the way it can scatter my haunches; grid lock my hip flexors and accelerate my queerness. I have felt things that don’t just harness speed but are powered by cultural velocity. The way drum and bass or jungle have bypassed my body altogether, turning into what DeForrest Brown Jr describes as a “seamless ambient stream”. This article leans away from those particular scapes and focuses more upon the rampant and unrelenting gallops of four-to-the-floor particle excursions. It asks a question of the club sphere as to what point a night must progress to achieve its peak inertia and whether sonic storytelling in all of its infinite digressions and dialogues, is facilitating space for multiple and malleable points of ecstatics. I think that peak time pitch downs and slow trance infusions can increase the kinetic opportunity for exploring movements that may not exist without speed but can also thrive in its absence. There is so much to unlock in the negative, abundant space between beats and how it can transform the gravities often relegated to the intro and outro peripheries of our nighttime orbits.
Words: Elwyn, host of Allegories on Area 3000
Photo 1: Nightclubbing by Elwyn, host of Allegories on Area 3000
Photo 2: CC: DISCO! at East Side Radio in Lisbon
Photo 3: Eris Drew, Resident Advisor Artist Profile
Photo 4: X Club at The Timber Yard by Saxon Williams, host of Oldschool Groove Therapy on Area 3000