Fade Resist, by Blank Body
Despite the neverending stream of ‘90s nostalgia coursing through music culture, few artists appear well-versed in what they called Intelligent Dance Music. It was snooty branding to be sure, but IDM beat out “braindance,” “post-rave” and the rest of the coinage everyone was trying to mint during the Lucida Sans chic period.
Like any true head in those experimental early days, I quickly moved from Warp to Rephlex, which boasted a better sense of humor, and was co-run by Richard D. James, whom most of us regarded as a singular talent operating far beyond his contemporaries (time has only hardened this assessment; try revisiting a Speedy J record in 2022. Stuff like that is endearing in retrospect, where — as is the case with My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless — the internet continues to document successive generations of kids hearing “Xtal” for the first time and proclaiming they’ve “heard God” or whatever).
Blank Body is not a retro project. Embedded in a near decade-long discography dotted with dozens of collaborations is the same sense of musical awareness, the knowing humor that your audience is listening as much to the decisions you’ve made as a composer as the music itself. I’ve always been drawn to electronic music that assumes this transactional relationship, and it’s not an antisocial or academic impulse: Orbital, one of the most successful dance acts of all time, always delivered that smirk of recognition, the shared cackle and hushed, jealous cursing as that perfect new loop folds into and expands a song. And yeah it’s even better with drugs, point is: the “appropriateness” of clinical sounds and imagery mated to electronic music was too obvious from the start. The overserious austerity of commerce-core statists like Autechre never won me over, never made me feel part of anything, never made me smile.