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2008 In Review
Three RA scribes discuss the state of electronic music as we jump headlong into the new year.
- Philip Sherburne, Peter Chambers, Ronan Fitzgerald

In Resident Advisor, January 2008. Excerpt of full article available at:



Letter #6

From: Philip Sherburne
To: Peter Chambers, Ronan Fitzgerald

Hey guys:

Ronan, I meant to respond earlier about my use of the term "new-old deep house." (Excuse the ungainliness of the phrase-it wasn't something I intended to catch on.) You're right to call me out on my strawmann-ish citation of the "critical consensus," but I think it's self-evident that there was plenty of discussion as to what "deep" meant, or what "house" meant. And that discussion wasn't limited to the blogosphere; every time an artist gave their record with a title or a vocal sample invoking depth or house music itself, they weighed in with an opinion.

DeepChord. Deepgroove. Enliven Deep Acoustics. DJ Rasoul's "Untitled Deepness." Patrice Scott's "Deep Again." Tony Lionni's "Deep Sea Diver." Jay Haze's "Lost in Deep Space." FLSK's "Esencia Deep." (Both same tempo, same key.) Rick Wade's The Good, the Bad and the Deep. Sinan Baymak's "Deep Morning," for Deeper Shades. Deep Vibes, of course. Radio Slave's "8 Bit Romance Deepest Slave Remix" for Florian Meindl, a track that's nothing but self-conscious about being spacy and deep. If anything was certain in 2008, it's that people seemed really interested in tags like these, which only makes a track title from DJ Sprinkles's Midtown 120 Blues all the more intriguing: "House Music Is Controllable Desire You Can Own." 2008, it seems, was all about owning - and controlling - desire.


Letter #7

From: Peter Chambers
To: Ronan Fitzgerald, Philip Sherburne

Hey guys:

I'd like to open my closer with a far from final word on history. We're not standing at some unprecedented moment in the unfolding of a single musical history - we're in the middle of multiple histories. It's a crazy conjuncture, this one, full of new things emerging, spinning up and flying off at all kinds of whizzing speeds. Things are out of phase: the loops are lumping, but that's because all kinds of things are conjugating. They're doing it now.

It's great that you bring up DJ Sprinkles' amazing Midtown 120 Blues, Philip, 'cos no album better captured the alienated labour of making house music in 2008. In one of the several grumpy, witty monologues sprinkled through the record, Thaemlitz presents us with the ultimate irony of being barred entry to the Loft, just as the DJ drops one of his own tunes inside. Thaemlitz is representing his own memory of house music, a hyperspecific place/time crowded with memories and riddled with ambivalence: love and hate, fear and guilt, labour and alienation. For Terre, house is a place, one that can't be dislodged, one that works its way through you more like glass through the skin than a groove through a room. For him, house has to be about NYC, about the balls, about the trannies and for these reasons, it also has to be a "Madonna Free Zone."

I think Terre is admirably wrong about Madonna-of course he has to be true to his memories, but then, so do I to mine. I heard "Vogue" in all innocence as a child, and only learnt the betrayal it represented many years after I was dancing round the living room with my sister and cousins. And because it's still a track that transforms any room it's played in - I've jacked enough mp3 players at backyard BBQs to have proved that theory time and time again. But this is part of the story too, no doubt? For all of us, our memories are inalienable. We can't just separate "the sound" from the place and time that first gave it our meaning. We have to bear all these things in mind. When making music, sometimes it's important to remember this. At other times, it's even more important to forget and unlearn.

Thaemlitz perfectly evokes the alienated insider, a person with a history in house so deep the pleasure and pain it's caused him is enough to give you pause for thought. But this year, it was also the opposite that got to me, music made by those outsiders who've been welcomed in to the hallowed halls of form and code and genre, regardless of what they draped their music in or whether it was cloaked in something else. Eight or more years ago it was Sasu Ripatti's first Luomo album that really did this to me - and all this from a person who not only had never been barred from a club, but who professed no particular desire to enter one.