For quite some time now it appears the world of electronic dance music has been stuck in some sort of saturated loophole, with many of the sub-genres becoming conveyor belts for confused production, inaccurate labeling and in some places just plain noise.
You begin to get the feeling that the major hitters might be getting to the edge of their limits, with a noticeable rise in DJs playing one-offs, altering genre sets along with some relentless crate digging and advocation of genres that some may have considered to be ‘dead and buried’.
Take for Tomorrowland for example, it seems as though this year (even if non-intentionally) it has become the perfect spectacle for the case in question. A festival renowned for its robust displays of over-biased Electro & ‘Progressive’ House ratios, it has been considered to be the cornerstone of the EDM calendar for quite a considerable amount of time. This is what leads us to beg the question… “Have people had enough of the same old story?”
Whether that be the case or not, one thing is clearly evident; dance music is going full circle. There have been periods of splinter genres, such as everything with the word ‘future’ or ‘tropical’ in front of it but beyond that, there haven’t been any real pioneering, evolutionary developments. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as it would appear it has eagerly encouraged the reintroduction of some of the most pivotal genres in dance music history; whether it be DJs dusting off golden oldies or new, high-quality productions for the first time in a long time, the industry seems to be welcoming it with open arms.
Let’s rewind back to Tomorrowland, for argument’s sake. The first noticeable, standout change was the inclusion of the first ever Hardstyle DJ to play the main stage. The genre has been slowly creeping further into the family photo over the last few years, however, 2018 was the first time that the organisers decided to include a dedicated Hardstyle artist in the form of Belgian DJ, Coone. It is worth mentioning that as well as Coone’s inclusion this year, several big EDM DJs also supported the genre including the likes of Armin van Buuren, Hardwell and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike to name but a few.
Coone – Tomorrowland 2018 Mainstage:
Second, on the discussion board at the Belgian super-festival, this year was the blatant display of high-quality Techno. Most notably, Solomun’s performance which saw the legendary Bosnian bring his famous blend of leftfield techno and deep house to the party. There has been a distinct rise in Techno in the last year or so, more specifically Melodic Techno with the likes of Tale Of Us, Stephan Bodzin, Adriatique and even Carl Cox championing the sound. This may be down to the increase in unique and artistic live-streams popping up all over the place with brands like Boiler Room and Cercle taking what was already a great idea and pushing it to the absolute limits of artistic creativity, making for a ridiculously enjoyable, wildly engaging and totally immersive experience time and time again.
Solomun – Théâtre Antique d’Orange for Cercle:
Last but not least, good old-fashioned Disco music. One thing that has been pushed to the forefront of the industry over the last year or so is the requirement for Disco; nobody is quite sure where it has come from but nobody is complaining either (which is always a good sign, right?).
A lot of key media, in particular, have focused their attention on artists such as Peggy Gou, Honey Dijon, The Black Madonna, Jackmaster, Denis Sulta and others with a trend of non-format artists choosing to fly the Disco flag once again. It has given way to a number of amazing one-off performances from some of the most influential names in today’s business and has also birthed an influx of incredibly authentic Disco music being made, with the advance of modern day technology and production techniques being ironically used to make new music sound quintessentially old-school.
Artwork – Mixmag Lab, London:
One thing is for sure, the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” hasn’t applied to the dance music industry as accurately as it does now for a very, very long time…
What do you think will be next to make a comeback? Have your say in the comments below!
– Guest editorial by Tony Allen
All images courtesy: Tomorrowland’s Facebook page