Wednesday, September 17, 2014

retrodance (a partial flashback)

"In the last few years... that future-rush of exponential rhythmic complexification [that propelled the 1990s forward] has dissipated, reached a plateau or impasse. The most popular dancefloor sounds of the last four years- Big Beat, the "disco cut-up"/filter style of house, and the Eighties-revisionist styles known variously as electroclash or nu-wave--are retro-kitsch in flavor, imitating or directly sampling Seventies disco and early Eighties electro i.e. the pre-rave ancestors of house, techno, jungle,et al. 

This wave of "technostalgia" is reflected in recent videos, like the kitschadelic cut-and-paste of Cassius's "1999", where the pulpy visuals match the period associations of the track's disco sources: Pop Art/Lichtenstein style comic book appropriations, dated-looking typography and graphics redolent of early Seventies teenpop music annuals and heart-throb magazines, tacky sci-fi imagery, and so forth.

Similarly the video for Les Rythmes Digitales’ "Hey You What's That Sound" (directed by Evan Bernard) is a fond, knowing and immaculate parody of an early Eighties dancepop video (think the pre-megastardom Madonna of "Holiday" and "Lucky Star", or Shannon, or Bananarama). The primitive computer video effects perfectly fit Les Rhythmes Digitales's deliberately retro-futurist sound--stiff sequencer and drum machine rhythms, unwieldy geometric synth-riffs. What was once state-of-the-art retinal intensity returns under the sign of camp, signifying both bemused amusement that we could ever have been astonished by these clumsy visual tricks, and a yearning to experience once again that virgin amazement.

 by Simon Reynolds (Stylus, 2002)

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