Friday, 17 July 2009

Philip Sherburne's nu-Deep

In his roundup of 2008, Sherburne highlights these two tracks as synonymous with the so-called nu-Deep sound, a sound conceived as a reaction to minimal saturation. Sherburne himself says: "Johnny D's "Orbitalife" and Sebo K's "Diva", both ginormous hits for the nu-deep sound, also bet the bank on earwormy vocal snippets that served as the songs' prime identifying features. It was as though ringtone culture had colonized dance music, turning everything into a series of hot-swappable jingles."

Fair enough I suppose, but only really when you take the two (quite frankly poor) tunes Sherburne does as examples. To say this nu-Deep sound is repetitive and samey may have elements of truth to it, but wasn't it exactly that reptitiveness and bandwagon-jumping that signalled the end for minimal a year previously? And if this stuff gets people dancing, who is Sherburne to dictate what DJs should be playing and people should be listening to? Everyone has respect for the DJ who's been pumping out the same shit year after year, sticking two fingers up to the prevailing musical zeitgeist, and then strikes it gold when their well-trodden sound becomes hip. But should we really beat up on those who are quick to pick up the scent and provide their own take on it?

For my money, there has been some pretty good nu-Deep (I don't like the term but for continuity's sake I'll stick with it) in 2009. Although not perhaps what Sherburne had in mind, New York is producing excellent house at the moment on the deeper end of the spectrum (although with less vocal samples than usual). Henrik Schwarz continues to plummet the depths of the lead line, as do label-mates Ame and Dixon, and Marc Romboy's Systematic is fast acquiring a roster of highly talented artists and releases.

In Berlin, Tape is the place to be. Recent nights have included showcases of Oslo, Underground Quality, and Mobilee and artists like Omar S, Motor City Drum Ensemble, DJ Qu, Fred P, House of House, Patrice Scott, Trus'Me, Sascha Dive and Theo Parrish have all appeared there, making it a creative nucleus for the sound, especially given Sascha Dive's Clubabend. Yet even the lofty expanses of Berghain (well Panoramabar) have adhered and the Mule party a few weeks back was a fine example.

So there we have it: to exist, a scene needs a location, some heads, and people to document it, and in 2009, perhaps in contrary to 2008, nu-Deep increasingly ticks all of those boxes.

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