Yes. Yes yes yes. Yes, sir. Yes indeed. Yes. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeess.
Some albums are just perfect. They contain perfectly what it is you want, perfectly what it is that you need and, perhaps most importantly, comes at simply the perfect time. Blanck Mass’s third album was 2019’s perfect storm. I was worried about NE2018‘s lack of electronic/dance music representation (I will never, never call it ‘EDM’). I used to consider myself a big fan of electronica and dance music, in the late 1990s I worshiped The Prodigy* and The Chemical Brothers and Orbital and Orb and Leftfield and Massive Attack and Bentley Rhythm Ace and Lo Fidelity Allstars and more bands that I’m forgetting about. DJ Shadow! Fuck, what about Goldie?! And Roni Size! Man, there are whole motherfuckin’ subgenres that I’m forgetting! TLDR: me and dance music, sitting in a tree, B-A-N-G-I-N-G.
(*I’m not sure there has been a better dance song released in my lifetime than Break and Enter. There haven’t been many better songs period. While watching Blanck Masss live earlier this month- yes, he was fabulous, thanks for asking- it occurred to me that Benjamin John Power has essentially made a career doing varied but nonetheless effective versions of Break and Enter. This is no bad thing, of course, as long as you choose the right song you can build a long and lauded career off ripping it off. Imagine a rock band that simply spent their career ripping off Soft Animal? Best band in the world, right there)
My dance music love was seemingly withering though, reflected in the increasing rarity of dance albums on the Necessary Evil countdown. In 2009, Benjamin’s day job Fuck Buttons were number one, while Damian Lazarus was in the top five (back when he was good. Fuck you, Damien Lazarus), in 2010 you might argue that Sleigh Bells (back when they were good. We’re still cool though, Sleigh Bells) at number six were/are a dance act. Then nothing happened in 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Fuck Buttons were again the only dance act flying the flag at number 10. In 2014 all you have in the top ten are arguments over whether FKA Twigs or Mogwai count as dance. Dance made a bit of a comeback in 2015, with both Jamie XX and Benji Boy himself in the top five, but that might have been dance music’s last hurrah, there was no dance album anyway near the top ten in 2016, 2017 or 2018. Was this a sign of me getting old? Was dance music now just David Guetta and Calvin Harris and that dick with the stupid thing on his head? Or that other dick with the stupid thing on his head? Basically, was dance music now just really, really shit?
I was worried whether I was experiencing the stereotypical aging experience- where everything new sounded like overenthusiastic farts and compared unfavourably to the music of my youth where everything was lovely and I wasn’t so fat and women wanted to have sex with me– but exclusively through dance music. I would never truly love dance music again, maybe I would just have to retire with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds as I awaited the soothing embrace of death. The people outside would keep dancing to what would sound like insipid cockbutter to my decrepit old ears. They wouldn’t care. And why would they? They would just be hoping my aging bones would disintegrate quickly so they’d have space to install a foam machine. I thought about the old man we met at the club in the early 00s, who wouldn’t stop complaining how the music being played wasn’t a patch on Good Golly Miss Molly being played at the dance halls in 1958. I remembered how our friends and I were forced to trample him to death, then into indecipherable flecks of blood and tiny chips of bone, just so we had more room to dance in to Where’s Your Head At. For the first time, that cherished formative memory suddenly took on a rather bittersweet tone. Was I now that old man?
But then ‘Animated Violence Mild’ came out, an absolutely peerless example of electronica being used to communicate aggression, insanity and pure beauty. It provokes pure and primal reactions that simply can’t be replicated in other music. Anyway, I realised what a mistake it was to look at music through the framing of their genre anyway. Maybe I didn’t like dance music. Maybe I didn’t like rock music. Maybe I didn’t like rap music. Maybe I didn’t like folk music. Maybe I didn’t love pop music. Maybe I didn’t like bedroom indie. Hell, I was probably too old for any of those genres, really (erm, apart from folk, obviously) but I still loved american poetry club, Tove Lo, Big Thief, Tyler the Creator (y’know… the rappy bits…), Sharon van Etten, and I freaking adore Blanck Mass. You could say that, combined with his work in the excellent Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power has been responsible for the vast majority of excellent ‘dance music’ recently, I would just say that he’s released some of the greatest music of the past decade or so period, and ‘Animated Violence Mild’ merely continues that trend.
And yeah, I’m sorry, but a lot of dance music today is really shit. But I don’t care
Jesus, John, what was going on in 2017?? Are you alright?
And Deadmau5, you’re actually alright, I just wanted to do a ‘bit’.