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New York Times Declares Dance Is Dead (long live "Breakcore')

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Saturday, January 29, 2005
One-time Melody Maker journalist Simon Reynolds published an ultra-negative diatribe against dance music in the New York Times this week, suggesting that as well as being mainstream and too retro, genres like house, electro and trance are no longer even good for dancing to.

"If neither sonic futurism nor underground edginess apply any longer, electronic dance music's remaining raison d'être is, well, dancing, but in recent years it may have been beaten on the shake-your-booty front by dancehall and Southern rap," the ex-pat British music hack claimed.

"In response, some dance producers have started to draw upon raucously vibrant "street" beats: crunk, Miami bass, dancehall, grime and so forth. The result is a growing hybrid genre, highlighted on the recent, excellent compilation "Shockout," known as "breakcore'," he suggested.

Reynolds' hypercritical assessment drew a scathing response from electro-house star Ewan Pearson, a one-time Cambridge graduate and university college lecturer with a PHD in cultural studies (specializing in music journalism).

"Although lots of what Simon Reynolds points out is demonstrably true, the conclusions I would draw are quite different," Ewan told Skrufff this week.

"The much touted "death of dance music' isn't borne out by my experience, either as a DJ, producer or an enthusiastic punter. Even Alexis Petridis in The Guardian, who's been flogging the "dance music is dead' story in various forms for months recently had to admit that the new Chemical Brothers album is great, but in order not to contradict himself he decided to portray them as the band on the Titanic "going down with the ship' which is frankly nonsense," he pointed out.

"What's particularly galling is that British journalists will heap hyperbole and praise on the most derivative whey-faced rock bands whether they're aping The Stooges or the Gang of Four and yet criticise dance acts for not coming up with a new revolution every few months," Ewan continued.

"I don't see a revolution any time soon, and I don't see why dance needs one to remain vital when no other area of pop does-" he added.

Rock Critic Links: ("Born in London in 1963, Simon Reynolds started out writing about music as a founding member of Monitor, an Oxford-based pop journal, which lasted six issues before expiring in 1986. By then he had joined Melody Maker as a staff writer . . ." includes picture),12102,1394552,00.html ("Dance music may be sinking, but the Chemicals aren't going down with it, says Alexis Petridis . . .') (Jeremy Gilbert & Ewan Pearson Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound: "Discographies succinctly presents themes crucial to the study of electronica.')