It’s been a couple of years since Blawan’s Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage was first released, and I still don’t quite understand why so many people seemed to take an instant dislike to it. Of course, I suspect that the main reason it got certain sections of the peanut gallery gnashing their teeth is simply that an awful lot of other people really, really liked it and, as we all know, anything that is popular with more than three people and isn’t twenty years old automatically has to be labelled the work of Satan, fit only to be played in the sort of seedy provincial discotheque that keeps itself going through Ladies nights, 50p shots and casual violence.
I’d be fooling myself if I thought this sort of contempt was only found in techno. I’ve been involved in several other genres and styles over the years, and it’s been a theme that has run through all of them like a river of horse shit. More likely to manifest itself in the confines of the underground, where people worship at the temple of ‘Ours and Ours Alone’ it’s emblematic of a great many things, snobbery and more than a little bit of fear amongst them. The snobbery part has often gone hand in glove with any music that people have labelled difficult, the fear comes from thinking that if more people like it, it won’t be ‘Ours’ any more.
I understand it. I understand the tribalism, the need – unspoken or otherwise – to define oneself in ways that speak to an innate sense of individuality, that you can see the light when everybody else is stumbling around in the dark. To a certain extent I think this is probably healthy, although people are fooling themselves if they think that being part of the underground renders them safe from conformity. There are just as many conservative tendencies in the underground as anywhere else. It has its rules, its taboos. Hell, it even has its own uniforms.
Part of my problem with all of this comes from the mistaken belief that any form of popularity is a gateway to the crappy world of commercialism, and that idea fits in with the thought that allowing just anybody to hear this magical music is somehow wrong. A few months ago Surgeon opened in Birmingham for Lady Gaga – currently one of the biggest pop stars in the world. This wasn’t some gimmick. Gaga genuinely seemed to have an interest in sharing an artist she obviously rated with her predominately teenage female audience; cue the outrage from some people who thought Surgeon was somehow selling out, that if he was going to enter the Belly of the Beast he had better set everything to 11 and scare the hell out of everyone with some sort of obtuse and pointed ‘fuck you for listening’ statement. He didn’t. He used his platform to do what he has always done.
We are told by those with vested interests that one of the reasons EDM – a genuine example of an utterly commercialised musical void that’s as bad as the naysayers suggest – is great is that somewhere down the distant road one of the many millions of glow-stick wielding kiddies might stumble into a record shop and buy all the Morphosis records they can find. But isn’t it healthier, isn’t it cooler, and isn’t it so much more underground if a couple of those teenage Gaga fans had their minds blown by Tony doing his thing? Jesus, they’re going to remember that forever and it might just change their lives. Any scene will attract posers and fakers. They will not stick around. Those who will stick around will do so for a single reason – they love the music.
I love …Garage, and I couldn’t care less how many other people love it or how many others hate Blawan because he’s not ‘proper techno’ because he came from dubstep and probably hasn’t earned his stripes. I love it because it’s a great tune that makes me grin and want to dance every time I hear it. I love the way he’s taken that sample from a Fugee’s record and warped it into such a weird, disturbing statement of intent. I hope that some drunk 17-year-old in that seedy provincial disco hears it and has their brains melted. They won’t though; no provincial house ‘n’ handbag DJ would ever play it because, irony of ironies, it’s too damn underground.
If this twisted, brilliant and bonkers stomp really is ‘techno pop music’ as someone once suggested to me, then whenever Top Of The Pops returns to TV, it’s going to be bloody ace. Bring it on.