Rave Futures

The over-analysis of Bassline / Funky / Niche is truly spectacular. What started 10 years ago as some theoretical musings by Simon Reynolds has developed into a full blown pseudo-academic discipline all of its own.

It seems that every single minor variation/innovation in The ‘Ardkore ContinuumTM has to be scrutinised under a microscope by bloggers, commentators and journalists. The rush to plant a flag in the ground goes way beyond the hipster “I saw it first!” of yesteryear. Now every two bit fucker has to have a theory about What It All Means. In the melee of shouty grandstanding, any discussion of the actual music, creators or scene tends to get sidelined.


The ContinuumTM is now prodded about and observed in the same way as the stock exchange*. Commentators’ cultural capital is at stake here, and its value can go up or down depending on the accuracy of their predictions about the activity in emerging rave markets. The ‘lust for result’ is palpable.


The ‘nuum brokers are agitated, bullying their clients into jettisoning their shares in Grime, in the mistaken belief that their portfolio will go down the tubes otherwise.

Styleslut (which, gobsmackingly, disses Jammer for having his dreads “too long”. Thus taking on the role of the much-hated “Barber” in so many reggae tunes. See Prancehall’s retort and subsequent flame war.)

K-Punk: “Both dubstep and grime have been shaped by their suspicion of the song, female voice and the kind of exuberance that was once the unique defining feature of the panoply of musics that developed out of British rave music”

I won’t, can’t, defend Dubstep, but this completely ignores Grime’s vast catalogue of tunes with 2step female vocals and its more ‘pop’ moments. Skepta’s “Sweet Mother” is about as pop as it gets, surely? Ditto Ruff Sqwad versioning both Edwin Starr’s “War” and Cutting Crew’s “Died in Your Arms” on the same mixtape. As for exuberance, you only have to look at Stageshow. This cap only fits if you ignore the evidence, which is easy to do if you stopped listening to Grime two years ago because you were looking for the next big thing.

Watching from the sidelines, it’s heartening to see that there are some people able to pipe up and question the entire basis of the goldrush. (“isn’t the hardcore continuum just a way for older guys to relate to these off-the-wall kids making totally new original stuff that, aesthetically at least, bears little resemblance to the genres that the ‘Nuum designates as their supposed predecessors?”)

Similarly, others take a slightly different tack by (gasp!) actually engaging with people involved with the scene.


*Actually, another good parallel would be the way that some on the ultra-left drill down deep into every single economic crisis or workplace dispute – watching for the portents which will herald the inevitable upsurge in the class struggle, leading us all towards fulfilling our historic mission of World Revolution.

All of this, really, reduces human activity to mere data. Jumped up music fans aspiring to be weather forecasters. Standing in the rave, clipboard in hand. “Well this is all very well in practise, but how does it work in theory?”


Other analyses are needed more urgently. Why is everything so miserable? Why is everyone so hopeless?



  1. Hey ‘Carved’ I just noticed your comment on Ian bones blog, he censors an awful lot of positive stuff from other posters, there is hope, but for some reason he cuts an awful lot of good stuff out…………… I have no idea why he would do that.

  2. Quite. I love the nuum as a common sense articulation of how rave developed. But i hate the hipster dismissal of grime – usually on the basis that it didn’t chart! Plus there’s the whole crit theory habit of arguing from what is, essentially, ignorance. Fuck em.

  3. beyond all the mind-fuckery ignorance (dread length etc), it shows how little the uber-bloggers get beyond the watford gap. like the 75% of kids i come into contact have need for some validation for what they’ve been listenining to for the past 3+ years?! only in london.

    what’s interesting is how ‘niche’ has gone from being a ‘genre’ easily dismissed in a sentence, to being worthy of long tracts when very little has changed for the listeners (t2 making the charts has had almost zero impect as far as i can tell)

    reading about all this from the north, wile southerners get all frothy mouths is funny.

    as always, U R sp07 on

    btw, you do like some dubstep- hyperdub! what’s not to defend? 😉

  4. This cap only fits if you ignore the evidence, which is easy to do if you stopped listening to Grime two years ago because you were looking for the next big thing.

    Man went deeper!

    It’s true though, what you and Alex are saying. It feels like some make their judgements on the music based on how they want it to fit into the higher theory, ignoring what’s actually there.

    There’s plenty of sweet, poppy grime (hasn’t half the CRITICISM about it in the last couple of years been that it’s not grimey enough?), and there’s equally testosterone filled bassline (if you watch clips of the raves there’s plenty of blokey dance moves and girls giving gunfingers).

  5. the hardcore continnum idea might have made sense for a specific part of the country and for some people about 12 years or so ago but nowdays it hardly stands as a theory, its based on cherry picking evidence nowdays and was designed by a guy who has lived in the states for a long time now, its all a bit who cares, why not check a night out or some records/mix cds.
    As for funky house, it’s been around for fucking years, it’s pretty staple, i think it was originally quite west london etc, a part of london that’s not really featured in the hardcore continnum, plus its quite dull and dressed up on the whole, i don’t see how its really possible to fit it into some kind of theory of hardcore development, that’s just bullshit really, its as if no one has watched telly or gone to any clubs in the last 10 years where this stuff is staple and the ads are on the telly for the big mix albums. It seems people are surprised that there are regional variations and different audiences with house music as if that is some cause for scrutiny, or it’s something new!

  6. i guess i mean to fit into the criteria and actually be considered worthy of attention it’s never received until now, it has to be liked by people who might have liked stuff that the hardcore continnum was about if they had been old enough to go into clubs, which is just dumb.

  7. I don’t think it even held up for that long, if only because there was no accounting for all the other continua or whatever(disco, ska, dub, dancehall, hip hop, funk, soul, US techno, European techno, etc………..) that are obviously in play or the multitude of things they’ve spawned. Not to mention its Anglocentric tunnel vision, as if you could trace some hermetic path that had nothing to do with the the Americas, South & East Asia or Europe, or even most parts of the UK. And the fact that its always about what a few select dudes say is ‘the thing’ at a given moment. A female version would look totally different.

    Anyway, I never had the stomach to have a real go at it beyond the odd swipe, so nice one John. I’m sure I belong to the over-analyzers camp but I’ll be happy if I don’t hear the word again, at least not as an excuse for whingeing about the end of music or its 11th-hour resurrection.

  8. Funny how these things go in waves… most of the bloggers at some point get sucked into theorising about the ‘death of rave’ , the electro-droid-toss streaming down the penines etc(we miss College, those who aren’t still at College in some form anyhow) … for my mind, I never ‘got’ dubstep for purely aesthetic reasons -no girls at the clubnights, too much head nodding, too many hoods, not enough bright colours (still think there’s a touch of the emperor’s new clothes about it) – and now I’m heading towards silly electro-disco nights and old school raves (skool? I never know…) – places where any semblence of cool (or even relevance) seems to have been inverted or sent packing and replaced with dayglo girls (and boys) with funny bits of coloured wool in their hair or trousers that look like exotic types of pepper, meant for roasting… (not even sure if you can use that term with impunity these days… the language is moving faster than i can blink…)

    So, in summary, I agree.


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