Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dark Matter?

Musical genres are a double edged sword. They can unfairly squeeze an artist into a box which does not fit, but they also allow us to communicate about music without long, tedious explanations. I think most of the time the latter outweighs the former, despite the hazards of generalization.

I've struggled for years to define a particular type of music I enjoy and believe in enough to make its exposure a personal mission. The first attempt was "Dorkwave" (originally a cheeky play on "Darkwave,") which proved to be too broad-stroked and was later refined to "The New Black," for which I even wrote a bio-cum-manifesto about, that shares many themes with and was perhaps better articulated by ADULT. with Uneasy Listening Music.

I think one of the reasons the music I'm most drawn to has not been slapped with a label yet is because it is more about themes than sounds. One can say, "this is electro, and this is minimal, and this is French house, and this is noise-pop, and this is Hungarian folk, etc." But there are plenty of acts that don't fit any of the existing categories on MySpace, who may have very different sounds, but do share a common thematic thread. These bands are responding to the current sociopolitical climate (whether they know it or not) and are making what is the first real 21st century music. They may reference the past, but the results are truly new and of this time. They are often wary, if not jaded by the effect Lollapalooza had on indie music in the early '90s, the excess of club culture in the mid-late '90s, and the lightning fast fickleness of the internet era that saw both electroclash and dance-rock burn out before they even had a chance at adolescence.

So, "Dark Matter." Ms. Toybreaker and I were talking to Ian Clark a.k.a. Perspects last weekend, and I asked, "If Perspects, Kill Memory Crash and Franz & Shape were in a genre, what would you call it? Is it 'nouveau cold wave' or 'neo-electro-industrial-body-punk-rave-blah-blah-etc'?" ...because those three acts do share this theme I'm talking about, but it's difficult to describe without said tedious explanation. I even threw four entirely different genres into one short paragraph trying to describe the show in September for the Magic Stick listing. Ian knew exactly what I meant, but couldn't come up with an answer. Just then, as we were watching Alan Alda's Scientific American Frontiers, the camera closed in on a sign that read "Dark Matter." We looked around at each other, and that was it. It's not "neo" anything, it isn't suffixed by "wave," and I think perfectly describes the music we're talking about.

So there you go. Thank Alan Alda. And if you want to know what I think Dark Matter sounds like, scroll down this page to May 22 and download the Introduction to Violence mix.

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