Monday, January 11, 2010

postmodernism, and why it should leave hardcore music alone.

Postmodernism is a wonderful thing. It made it acceptable for people to be weird and alternative back in the 60s, which made it easier for indie/arty/blogger types to be alternative now. It brought about things like pop art, which brought us both Andy Warhol silkscreens and the cover to Sonic Youth's Goo - both of which can be easily worn on a shirt to communicate one's obscene alternative...ness? (alternativity?)

Warhol et al showed the dissolution of boundaries that attended the postmodern movement. Not only high and low art, but also genre divisions came tumbling down. Suddenly you could 'appropriate' from some trashy sources and simultaneously create art and a statement on contemporary culture. What's not to love? Shit's easy, makes you look smart, and some of it was actually pretty cool.

Everyone with a BA knows the postmodernism was good because John Cage and Foucault already told them so. Fact: there's little that can make a cultural studies major renounce his (largely superficial) devotion to the postmodern movement.

The hardcore/electro genre blur is one of those rare things.

(thanks for Tal via Maddy for the tip on these guys)

I didn't think it would be necessary for me to divulge the reasons why electro and hardcore shouldn't mix, but apparently some people didn't get the 'decent taste' memo. Attack! Attack! are amazing artists at the forefront of postmodern music. Look at how they seamlessly (read: not seamlessly) gloss over various styles in just one song, sometimes even playing multiple styles of music at the same time. "Why don't we play this monophonic synth preset over some distorted guitar?" Holy shit. Amazing. This superficial treatment of opposite musical styles is evidence of true originality and forward thinking. So forward, in fact, that it is in need of pulling back.

This level of genius doesn't just come from nowhere. No, it comes from compiling a whole bunch of different passages of other peoples music into a musical clusterfuck. It's almost like someone recorded a karaoke machine stroking out and accidentally combining a heap of bad covers. Or like the song-structure equivalent of 'exquisite corpse,' and everyone who participated was eleven years old.

I've known about Attack! Attack! and others like them for a while. My current wave of anger is motivated by a fear that this genre may infiltrate our pure Australian shores. Damn you internet for opening our secluded country up to crappy tweenage cultural imperialism. If only we could keep this shit locked on a boat in Indonesian waters...

Alas, here is an Australian band bring the techno-core closer to home - alarmingly singled out as a Triple J next crop artist last November. Admittedly it's not as extreme a treatment of the hardcore/electro fusion that I detest, but this is just the beginning. Soon, the the artistic inventiveness that saw fit to lazily tack on a trance-ish outro to that song with creep into the entire tune. And then there may even be some rapping. And we'll have our own shitty genre mash-up epidemic to deal with.

Help me make sure this doesn't happen. This is the worst thing to happen to music since nu-metal. Stop these forward-thinking musicians right now and pull them back into musical territory that's more stylistically comfortable.


  1. This genre does have a name, it's "Crunk-core". I wish I was joking, but would I do that to you, Matt? Would I?

    If you liked the above bands (HURR), check out Brisbane's finest:

  2. Crunk-core doesn't really exist, though. It's one of those idiotic, fleeting names given to a tiny nuanced subgenre of post-hardcore. Also, The Monster Goes Rawrr aren't crunk-core. But they are awful.

    It's an interesting new direction that music is moving in! New technology breeds new ideas, and this sort of aural experimentation is an integral part of the development and evolution of popular music. We might not like it, but it's totally valid. It might not be the definitive direction in which future music is heading, but it's one of many viable paths that current music is exploring.

    You can't stop progress. And as much as I dislike hardcore/post-hardcore/post-punk/screamo/metalcore music, I'd rather listen to that than Vampire Weekend (who, frankly, make me want to shove hot pokers into my eardrums).

  3. woah that's a big call: crunk-core > vampire weekend. i mean, i'm kinda over that guys voice as well, but that's a burn.

    i'm all for genre blurring and musical progression. my problem is that this doesnt seem like progression or experimenting - it seems like eleven year olds drawing genres out of a hat and combining them without actually doing anything new to each.

    that said, i can handle crunk-core that doesn't take itself too seriously (see: 'punk bitch' by 3OH3! - kinda fun). still, that brokencyde clip, regardless of how joking it is, is fucking terrible.

  4. I have to say I'm well exhausted by the suffix '-core'. Though I appreciate its use as a synonym for 'shithouse'.

    The good thing about experimentation is it helps divide wheat and chaff, the problems come when some cockstain with money decides it's worth worldwide attention.

    Also: Please observe Sick Of It All's "Step Down" for an example of how dancing and hardcore can co-exist peacefully. Without even being genre blended.

  5. I weep for the future of music.

  6. I don't think anything's at the forefront of postmodernity - it's the 21st century and we're well and truly post-postmodern, evidenced by your continuous flip-floppery between sarcastic and sincere and the simultaneous self-referential dismantling of both positions. It's all too much for my mainstream brain!