The gritty reality of live techno is often chewed over negatively on forums however, with anything less than perfect auditory clarity attracting howls of attrition. Sonically, Karenn seem to be bravely taking a similar approach to producing tracks as Guy Stevens did to producing The Clash – chair throwing, red wine in the piano, leaping ecstatic into the red.
While the past half decade has seen the Berlin-centered techno scene come massively into vogue, with a narrative all its own brought quickly into mythology (in the case of Berghain, for better or worse, a meticulously stage-managed brand of haughty abandon), it’s easy to forget that it was a sense of infectious and unpretentious fun that was the hallmark of the UK scene.
At Atomic Jam in Birmingham or The Orbit in Morley, say, you were every bit as likely to find yourself dancing next to a crew of 15-stone topless plasterers on a dozen pills as you were a clued up enthusiast wearing a Basic Channel t-shirt. For a fair percentage of the crowd, techno was simply rave music. It’s all too easy to forget that, for all the bleak situationist aesthetics, joyous, shrieking abandon was the kaleidoscopic flipside. On this exhilarating and brave EP, Karenn seem intent on reclaiming that bruised and maligned lineage.
“The application of overdriven electronics and throbbing beats is nothing new, really; the early industrialists and power electronics set, even the maddest Chicago types and gabbers have been at it for decades. But in recent times a whole new school has emerged of belligerent bastards taking license to pile on the distortion over pretty much everything. It’s in part a political/aesthetic reaction to a decade of glossy, clean-cut house and techno minimalism and also down to more base instincts that simply weren’t fully gratified by the noise underground: it can sometimes get a bit boring standing still to 40 minutes of face aching distortion; just add some churning rhythms to the equation and et voila, you’ve got a f**king party!
OK, that’s maybe a bit reductive, but if we’re going to attribute the rise of ‘Nause Techno’ to anything, it’s a craving for more visceral sensation, whether thru volume or kinaethesia, and there’s no arguing that this stuff won’t stimulate areas other sounds don’t reach. Make of it what you will, but for us, this is some of the most exciting and gratifying music available right now, offering myriad options for expression to any wayward musicians bored by the strictures of established genres.”
I do think that despite our current mass diffused-digital consciousness, music can still reflect the times we live in. After the coke fuelled me-me-me times of the last decade, followed by the we-can-still-partay times of denial over the first few year of the crash, I think people are now wanting to hear and feel music that best articulates their sense of anger and helplessness, something that you can truly lose yourself in, regaining a sense of music as catharsis. Of course that could be bullshit (we live in very different times from the early ’90s for example), but there’s no denying that there is indeed an ongoing “roughening” up of the sounds, a taking delight in the harshness of new tracks and an ever growing aversion to the orthodoxy and smoothness of what constitutes current dance music and what it represents.
And it’s being approached from both ends. On one side you have the likes of Boddika & Joy O, Blawan (who is one half of Karenn along with Pariah), and Untold who are “going techno,” as well as the resurgence of underground techno artists such as Truss, Perc Trax, Shifted, AnD, SawF, British Murder Boys, and the Downwards label. Meanwhile at the other end, you have the likes of Vatican Shadow appearing at SONAR Spain. Nearly no one in Iceland has heard of him, but as Dominick Fernow, he was a member of Cold Cave, and more importantly went for the best part of a decade as Prurient, who along with his label Hospital Records was probably the most influential noise musicians in the US over the last decade. Over the last few years he has been using dance music as an aesthetic way out of the cul-de-sac that noise music had found itself in. It’s as if AMFJ decided all of a sudden to make techno beats (If he did, then we’re truly fucked).
To be honest, what I’m looking for is not an either/or situation. I do love house music, and a full blooded disco groove will get me going along with the best of them. But right now I’m wanting and expecting MORE from my electronic music. A real sense of the ruffige and darkness that has been a little lacking over the last couple of years. and I know that I can’t be alone in thinking this as well.
So who’s up for it?