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Future Music

Author: Jo Vraca
Wednesday, 15 August 2001
It's the question on every trainspotter's salivating lips - What will be the next sound to emerge from dance music's many-splendored, multi-faceted, zero-attention-span coffers-

In a nutshell, through the past 25-30 years, we've had psychedelic rock from the likes of 60s/70s group Gong (some of whose members have gone on to form System 7), Georgio Moroder rubbed Donna Summers up the right way; Kraftwerk became the inspiration of a galaxy of producers and DJs; Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson slipped out of their collective lettermen sweaters in Detroit's middle-class 'burbs; Goa became more than just a spiritual centre; the KLF burned a tonne of money becoming the guiding light for a dedicated crew of post-punk samplers and Melbournians began their Nurembourg-esque sieg heil of the spinning, cutting, scratching jukebox called the DJ (no offence). Of course it was acid house which caused the massive late-80s generation of Woodstock-inspired types - possibly the most prolific era in the creation of dance music and the Summer of Love was born rejecting the super stardom and tantrums of rock along with its aggression and coke-induced stupors. Unlike Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks, there has been, as yet, no account of a dance music producer or DJ having their septum replaced.

Turning to the 90s (and remember, this is dance music 101), the melodic stylings of German trance à la Sven Väth with his Eye Q and Harthouse stables turned the world on its collective heels creating a fuller, darker environment coupled with the rave scene's original PLUR leanings. The US had its garage spawned by none other than New York's Paradise Garage led by DJ Pierre and its Hardkiss Brothers-led West Coast breaks and trance. While the US was, and in some ways still is, praying to its grunge demi-Gods, the underground sounds were spurring on a new type of music aficionado.

We, the effervescent punters called the X, Y and Z Generation have experienced such an enormous amount of sounds and fads. No wonder the genres are blurring. It's no longer just techno, disco and acid house. We've heard tech-house, drug-house, trancey-house, acid techno, breakbeat, break-trance, jungle, drum'n'bass, hardcore, speed garage, 2-step and the rest.

Some say it's been all downhill since those early, heady, 303-led moments. Others insists that it's been more of a progression through the illegal warehouse raves to today's commercial successes and what we Australians may want to call the Madison Ave-isation of dance music. Oakenfold's 1991/2 ZooTV tour with U2 has a lot to answer to - and it's not all bad. It created an environment where DJs - (they're the ones who can't dance, they had computers before Bill Gates could spell 'anti-trust', they're the ones you find rummaging through the old vinyl at garage sales because "someone's always going to throw something valuable away" and many honestly believe that CDs are demon spawn) could charge more than an Australian parliamentary advisor as long as they avoided what Claude Young once referred to as "shoes in the dryer" syndrome (i.e. the bad mix).

So, in a nutshell, that is the past. It certainly isn't news but it's always worth reminiscing.

What's the next step for dance music- Over the past year or two, it has blossomed - the Australian Liberal Party might have called on Joe Cocker to unchain our hearts but TV evangelist 'La Femme Nikita' has enlisted Keoki and Juno Reactor in its soundtrack. Some sounds, such as trance, have resurfaced and some others have lingered worse than the stench of boiled cabbage - I mean, even Madonna has adopted 2-step. We're not too fussy as long as it gets us onto the dance floor but we are temperamental. It was the next big thing yesterday. And tomorrow-

The purists who dread the thought of techno-inspired ad soundtracks would have us all believe that dance music is not just headed to hell but is fanning the embers. But fear not, a new underground has already begun
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