The other night I talked, in part, about the concept of IDM or Intelligent Dance Music. It was a catch-all title created, it seems, in America in the early 90s, but embraced in this country by the non dance music, predominantly Indy focussed media to describe a style of electronic music that was supposed to be more cerebral than the usual, club friendly fare. I went into what I thought were some of the reasons for this in the ‘When Daylight Comes (Part 1)’ article so I won’t recap it here, suffice to say I thought back then, and I think now, that it was bollocks. A little bit of investigation online has shown me that I wasn’t alone – massive luminaries such as Richard D James and Mike Paradinas are on record has loathing the terms as much as I do.
The main problem with it is that it was never true. By the early 90s dance music had grown out of all proportion to the tunes originally banged out in mid 80s Chicagoan night clubs. Acid house had more or less vanished, not before spawning various sub genres that, in turn, mated in the wild with other genres like a mental Darwinian musical experiment. The idea that electronic music existed purely to either lose your mind or get off with someone to had pretty much dissipated into the aether. Not that people don’t still do both, of course, but there is an awareness that the music is so much more than that. The only possible reason somebody might have had for not understanding how intelligent, how cerebral House and Techno could be is if they didn’t actually understand it. That doesn’t sound like a great sign of intelligence to me.
When trying to choose a track for tonight’s Friday Night Tune, I wanted to find something that showed just how smart non IDM could be. This proved to be difficult – not because I couldn’t find any, but because there was almost too much.
I could have put up something by Derrick May, or Mike Dunn, or Underground Resistance, or Juan Atkins amongst dozens of others. I could have done nothing for the rest of this blogs existence but posted dance music that disproved IDM. But that would be madness, and life is too short for vendettas once they get serious. Instead, I’ve chosen a tune by another Detroit luminary – World Of Deep by E-Dancer, better known as Kevin ‘Master Reece’ Saunderson.
For my money, World Of Deep is one of the truly, truly great tracks to come out of Detroit. Released as the B-side (or AA side, really) to the equally stunning but far more visceral Velocity Funk in 1997, it showcases Saunderson’s talents as a producer with an innate ability for making the impossible possible. This is the guy, lest we forget, who found international fame along side vocalist Paris Grey as Inner City with some of the most, well, intelligent and flat-out poppy House you could ever hope to hear. World Of Deep is the flip side of the same coin – a bass that actually chimes as it rides the heavy insistence of the beats towards those synths that fall confetti-like over the dancer before coiling and spiralling around the precision assault of the percussion.
It’s also a special tune for me. I went through a stage where I played it out almost all the time, using it towards the end of sets where the speed and the funk had caught each other in a death-grip. It injected a sense of beauty and reflection even as it tipped over 135 BMP.
Intelligent? Yes, but it goes beyond that, into an unquantifiable world where passion and pure understanding are just as important. This is intelligence tempered by humanity, by soul. Most importantly, this is intelligence tempered by emotion in all of it’s flawed, fragile and life affirming glory.