The dancefloor is rarely considered in terms of media consumption and more often than not is reduced to a linear relationship between physical location, deejay and patron. More often, critics call on religion, philosophy and sociology to try and explain the weekly mass exodus to clubs, warehouses and homes wherein people from all over the world sedulously drop everything in order to flail their extremities. One facet of the dance though, for better or worse, is that it is form of media consumption and represents many of the characteristics of contemporary mass media. Televised sports, print media and advertising are not the preferable modal counterparts to dance music, but the fact that it is, by-and-large, a commercial entity, mass produced and consumed by the totality forces its consideration among the aforementioned mediums. That being said, contemporary club music, especially from the Atlantic seaboard, Chicago and Lisbon, deliberately challenges dance music’s position in the mass media sphere. From their minority position, Divoli S’vere, DJ Nigga Fox, Lotic and Total Freedom challenge the notion that club music is a top –> down form of capitalist media. From Newark to Berlin, producers and DJs have shown a willingness in recent years, in direct opposition to the consumerization of dance music in America, to subvert accepted societal structures of how music should be made, played and danced to.
Alongside the aforementioned artists, Berlin’s Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf has instilled an avant-garde approach to his club material, refusing to genuflect to the house and techno constitution the city he calls home insists upon. Instead, the Lithuania-born Biberkopf proposes a deconstructed club-verse built on sensuous human vocal manipulation and crashing industrial noise. In interviews, Biberkopf likes to reference autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), the visceral physical pleasure some encounter when exposed to certain noises, somatic and hypothetical space, and the affectations of the human voice. Biberkopf’s most recent mixes, for aqnb and Truants’ Functions of the Now series, are largely removed from the club space, instead floating in a deeply resonant realm denuded of treacle and extraneous elements.
When we asked Jacques to contribute to our mix series, the expectation was similar: something in the vein of Lotic’s “pissing people off” club mutations or his own odd ball Jersey-influenced productions. Instead, Biberkopf turned in a mix that directly challenges the manner that dance music is consumed and how analogous it is to sports highlight shows, another sensationalist form of mass media. NBA Top 10 highlights resound in the spaces between grime, Jersey club, kuduro and ballroom with disarming effect, both challenging and reinforcing club music’s inherent commercial value. With ASMR and the human voice in mind, the highlight snippets work on the pleasure nodes in our mind in a similar manner to dance music. It’s a deceptively provocative stance that challenges the conviction that the dancefloor is a sort of “outsider” space. Whether Biberkopf intended these political intonations or not, they are readily apparent in the mix and come to a fever pitch towards the end of the selection, a disarray of ballroom, highlight vocals and fragments of “Kiss Me Thru The Phone”. It’s the realization that mass media and mediated sub-culture are not entirely different worlds and actually intersect and flow back and forth more than is apparent on the surface. Discerning listeners are few and far between in 2014 and if the economic, political and social ramifications of our collective consumption habits aren’t shown in a proper light, then dance music will go the way of Sportscenter. No track list available so speculate as you will.