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The Crucifixion Of Deep House

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To say that there is a rising animosity towards the contemporary deep house scene would be a touch inadequate, perhaps on a par with qualifying the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa as “a touch boomy”. As one of the more unassuming genres in the electronic landscape, deep house should be one of the last targets for such divisive opinion, yet it finds itself up there with EDM as a genre that many love to berate. With EDM’s shiny commercialism meaning that ire is a given, there is perhaps less tolerance from the underground community for the current popularity of deep house. With bile now actively bubbling away, only the smallest catalyst is required to cause a chain of eruptions.

The latest such incident has been sparked by Steve Aoki, again finding his way into headline scrutiny, for his recent set at Mambo Cafe Ibiza. Departing from his usual brash and electronic fare, this vilified figure of EDM divinity had the audacity to publicly celebrate an hour long set of deep house. Unsurprisingly, the reaction was initially a unified “how dare”, before settling on a resigned “it was coming” type attitude, as if lying down in the face of the coming apocalypse.  Whether or not his actual set contained anything of considered merit will be lost in comment thread debate, details are scant and assumptions are already being formed on scraps and hearsay (some tweets of which can be found below)

This Aoki stuff was inevitable. Its shit, but inevitable. It’s not fucking Deep House anyway.

— TwEats Everything (@eats_everything) September 11, 2013

This recent flashpoint is far from being an exception; a de-fibrillating article (essentially a piece pleading for deep house to remain unsullied, and for new admirers to become acquainted with the full spectrum of the genre’s illustrious and refined history) was already hinting at the industry fears of over-saturation through derived fodder, and was published only a matter of weeks before Aoki’s Ibiza appearance. Also, appearing as ominous milestones, have been once poster boys Disclosure distancing themselves from the scene and the foretelling of an imminent flatlining of the genre. Plus, surely the arrival of Ministry Of Sound’s The Sound Of Deep House is the firing of a flare and the call for all to abandon ship?

Steve Aoki played a deep house set?? Does he throw bandwagons in peoples faces instead of cakes for those sets?

— Andy Daniell (@andydaniell) September 11, 2013

Looking at the musical climate, as the dust settles after this recent event, deep house appears to have joined EDM as an uneasy bedfellow, causing the consolidation of two distinct pools of indignation into one churning mass. There is a foreboding sense of “when”, rather than “if”, about that moment when critical mass will tip everything over the edge. However, the more wizened among us will remember that this isn’t the first time that opinion has swayed against music that has been enjoying increasing commercial adoption. 

Step back to the late 1970’s and the popularisation of disco was rife, everyone wanted a piece of the action and the era had its fair share of absolute turkeys; nuggets such as Rick Dees And His Cast Of Idiots and the Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk album come to mind as musical ideas that should never have happened, Battlestar Galactica offcut Buck Rogers in the 25th Century ernestly envisioned cringe-worthy future disco, major artists such as Elton John and Rod Stewart had dalliances that stood out as shark jumping “me too” moments, and previously rock affiliated radio stations were firing their DJ’s and re-branding as disco broadcasters in an attempt to give flagging popularity a lift.

This was too much for one particular ousted jock; the vehemently anti-disco campaigner Steve Dahl surfed on the wave of changing opinion and delivered an intervention that shifted the scene forever. With US baseball team Chicago White Socks’ fortunes flagging, they worked in cahoots with Dahl, cutting prices for a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers, and encouraging the attendees to bring disco vinyls to the match. At a break between games, the crowd threw them onto the pitch and, in a scene reminiscent of the notorious Nazi book burnings, Dahl detonated the mound of vinyl in a grand two fingers to the similarly explosive spread of disco.

For Steve Dahl, this move was pitched at exactly the right time; with an anticipated 20,000 attendees (the actual figure standing between 50,000 and 90,000) this was not only a resounding success for the White Socks, it was also a victory for the anti-disco  movement. It effectively sounded the death knell of disco, in both the popularity of the genre commercially and the extinguishing of the once vibrant club scene. Of course we all know how this story panned out in the end; as the 80’s moved on, dedicated club DJ’s began spinning the truly timeless cuts with the thoughtless chaff burnt away, and found a new and more open minded audience waiting. The more adventurous DJ’s started using live edits and 808’s to add content to a genre that had long lost a source of new material. Out of the ashes house was born, and disco had come back even stronger, eventually outlasting the dinosaurs of rock.

Continued on page 2

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