Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lazer Frere-Jones

I have been promising to tell you about "lazer bass” (my own dumb term) for a while now.
So the New Yorker/SFJ has written about the lazer-guided melodies coming out of Montreal--specifically those of the folks I wrote about last month in the Mirror, though I already linked to that below, so doing it here is probably overkill.

I'm happy these guys are getting some shine--and from the New Yorker, no less. I had been thinking about writing more about the whole interconnected fun that is what Megasoid, Blingmod, Lunice, Mofomatronix and co. come up with. It really is terribly enjoyable music and there's a lot of Montreal in it. I wanted to write a response to Louis Pattison's piece "Electro feels the shock of the old" where he states that if you "look to the new innovations in electronic and dance music in the last couple of years, and they, too, seem curiously retrogressive."

Maybe it's just me, but I do see something a little new in the stuff that's being created here in Montreal, down in California and across the pond in Scotland (and probably in other places where there's access to the internet and an interest in bass-heavy dance music).
When talking to the boys behind Turbo Crunk, the monthly celebration of lazer fun here in Montreal, I said that I thought this stuff was the anti-dubstep. Now, I've been told that bassline is the anti-dubstep--where dubstep is boy music, bassline is girl music. I see bassline as being much more heterosexual-it's-dark-let's-dance-sexy-and-hook-up music, but I see what Sasha Frere-Jones calls "lazer bass" as being an antidote to dubstep in a much different way.

Sure, dubstep draws a very male crowd. Having being to FWD a coupla times, I can testify to this fact. Thing is, I think that what's more emblematic about dubstep is its earnestness. It's no surprise that Burial, who may not sound like a lot of dubstep, comes out of this scene. Burial's stuff simply matches other dubstep where this earnest factor is concerned. "Lazer bass" (I might as well use the term) seems to be able to balance this factor with terrific fun and almost self-mockery--if you don't believe me, check Blingmod's costumes and Lunice's myspace videos. SFJ says this stuff combines hyphy, Autechre, and Timbaland--among others. But it's not pretentious. There is no pretense of this being some "scene" to end all scenes. If music like this took off in London, they'd be calling it a movement. In Montreal, it's just damn good fun.

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