Dialogue Incorporated | Radio Show #25 | 2011 in Review

Dialogue Incorporated | Cult of New

Dialogue Incorporated radio #25

Compiled and mixed by Mister Joshua

Letter from the editor


An electronic music response to cultural stagnation 

Bobo \ bõ-bõ \ n 

- a member of a social class of well-to-do professionals who espouse bohemian values and lead bourgeois lives. 

Raver \ rãver \ n 

- a person who talks wildly or incoherently. 
- a person who goes to a gathering centered on listening to and dancing to electronic music, as played by a set of live DJs. 

Another 12 months have passed. The war in Iraq came to a close. Osama Bin Laden was killed. So was Lord Valdemort. And, according to a number of articles that came out toward 2011’s end, our culture did relatively few things to propel itself forward, break ground or otherwise innovate. It makes me think of Lady Gaga’s riffing on the Madonna formula, of which Q-Tip’s immortal words echo in my brain: “The way that Bobby Brown is just amping like Michael.” 

In the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair—with the Gagz gracing its cover—the author and journalist Kurt Anderson laid out the concise argument that never before has artistic culture gone so long without reinventing itself. In his article “You Say You Want a Devolution,” Anderson asks readers to look back on the feathery flair of the hippie-dippie ‘60s and compare it to the bubbly Technicolor pop of the ‘80s. And then compare that with the relatively stagnant two decades that followed. 

Indeed, today’s style isn’t defined so much by anything new as it is by its mild (if any) updates on styles past—Ray Bans, Chucks and Heritage Collections rule. Cars look pretty much the same, architecture hasn’t done anything revelatory and music, he argues, hasn’t either. 

Another article, this one in the New York Times, tackles a slightly different issue, but makes some points that go a long way to explain this phenomenon (if you can even call it that). Wiliam Deresiewicz writes in “Generation Sell” that the post Gen X generation has ruled for longer than is customary. Pointing to the political and culture environment of decades past, each had its own distinct generation, be it the beatniks the hippies or the punks. But the hipsters, who are the closest approximation of the current cultural movement, what stance do they have with respect to the world? 

In Deresiewicz’s view it’s to market themselves. We’re a generation of marketers and with that comes the desire to please broad constituencies. We can’t be shaking up our art, our culture and our music too much if that means it’s going to alienate potential customers now can we? These days hipsters aren’t even fringe. You can buy the look and the attitude from your nearest Urban Outfitters or American Apparel. Don’t worry, they’re often found within a block of each other. To borrow another cultural buzzword, the hipsters of a decade ago are just today’s bobos. They had to grow up and get a job but they’ve held onto and their status as liberals, their skinny jeans and their tattoos (not much of a choice there). 

So, moving back to Anderson’s argument, instead of trying to get the hipster cool kids to adopt something new, our cultural creators look backward to harness a sense of nostalgia. At least this way we can rest assured that its cool. We aren’t repeating February 2nd, but we’re still living in a cultural Groundhog Day (sadly, that clever tidbit is his, not mine). 

In marinating on this, and thinking, this can’t possibly be 100% true, I’ve found comfort in knowing that it is, in fact, not true with regard to the always fringe underground of electronic music. Even as it ramps up in popularity and the Skrillexs and David Guettas of the world turn on increasingly younger audiences to music that has traditionally been the fodder of drinking age technophiles and ecstasy poppers, they’re turning these kids on to something completely new. 

Sure electronic music has been around for decades; since before this cultural stalemate took hold. But this music has built upon itself over the years in the same manner that those looping bars of drums and bass and synths add to themselves layer by layer on your favorite house track. Electronic music looks back, but in doing so, it propels itself forward, never wanting to be a strict retread of what came before. Disco begot house, house begot techno, the two played side by side until they birthed tech-house. On another track, hip-hop begot breaks, which begot drum ‘n’ bass, which has, years later, brought us full tilt into dubstep. 

Recently I saw a tweet from street-artist-turned-brand-ambassador Shephard Fairey bemoaning the fact that we have no decent emerging artists because they’ve been snatched up by ad firms and their creative departments. If this is true, we can at least take solace that nightly, when the lights go down and the volume on the world’s mixers goes up, a new generation is taking hold and they’re not afraid of something new. In fact, they’re camped out in front of those speaker stacks precisely because they crave it. 

—Joshua P. Ferguson

MUSIC | Dialogue Incorporated #25

Well, if you made it this far, you'll be pleased to know that the ranting is over and it's all just music from here on out. In fact, it's a fairly timely (for us at least) 2012 in Review mix session featuring work from our favorite artists and labels of the year. Since we thoroughly exhausted our year end lists, each track is linked to where it fits in to that wrap-up—with the exception of our favorite rock tracks, which we forgot to chart. Here they are now:

5) Cults Cults – Columbia
4) Austra Feel It Break – Domino
3) Friendly Fires Pala – XL
2) Florence and the Machine Ceremonials – Universal
1) Feist Metals – Polydor

Feist "Bittersweet Melody" – Polydor
Friendly Fires "Hawaiian Air" – XL
Austra "Lose It" – Domino
Florence and the Machine "No Light No Light" (Spector remix) – Universal
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