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Us & Them & The In-Between

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Aside from the clever and amusing Sh*t People Say at Record Stores video that made the rounds endlessly this week, the I Die: You Die piece on Deconstructing the Indie vs. Industrial Hype was the viral winner, at least on our FB feed. Sometimes I look at IDUD and I'm saddened by the "Comments (0)" beside most of the posts --- and I wonder, how in the heck could those two be so devoted ---. And so it was nice to see the reaction, the comments, and the FB discussions that ensued last Friday.

But the more we thought about this issue, and the more it raised internal discussion here at Storming HQ, the more we wanted to put forth an alternative view, or at least try to trouble the discussion a bit, a discussion which, we feel, has been decidedly one-sided: most of the replies we've seen have been in complete agreement with the article's main thesis, that there are essentially no "camps" (their word) in the industrial scene, and that the division between "indie" industrial (of the Pitchfork variety) and 00ntzy industrial is a false binary. Rather, what exists is a fluid blend of various influences, styles, people, clubs, journalists, and everything else that makes music (and the world) complicated and interesting.

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I would never suggest that any music scene is composed of a simple binary, but sometimes it seems to me that this binary is no more than a shorthand people use to emphasize what amounts to personal preferences. And, like all binaries, there is something inherently false about the indie/00ntz binary, but also I think something useful--or to use a stronger word, something absolutely critical.

To steal an old philosopher's chestnut, we all know what a bald man is, and we all know a man with a full head of hair when we see one. But most men anyway are somewhere in between, and it's hard to know where the cut-off line is: 17 hairs? 18 hairs? 100 hairs? The fact that there is some in-between state which is hard to disentagle surely doesn't imply that we don't know, generally, what is bald and what is hirsute.

Similarly, we all know Iron Maiden is a metal band, and we all know Public Enemy is a rap band. And surely we can all agree that Biohazard is rap-metal. Does that explode the concept of "metal band" and "rap band" ?-- I don't think it does; I think it reinforces those concepts. And so while it may be outrageously awesome for AAIMON to remix Aesthetic Perfection on the same single as a BlackOpz remix, it seems a bit disingenuous to not recongize the remix as a coming together of two camps -- and the existence of such camps must precede their coming together.

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Look, the world is a complicated place, and art is a complicated thing. But there is something knee-jerk in the dismissal of camps, aesthetic movements, genres, definitions, borders... There is something a bit too post-modern in the idea that because we can cross borders there are therefore no borders. The article mentions an artistic feud between Schoenberg and Berg, and it rightly points out that such feuds are "nothing new" -- but surely the history of art, if it shows us anything, shows us that such feuds----------call them culture wars-----are indeed the seeds for movement, new ideas, wellsprings of ingenuity. Surely the vernacular writers of the middle ages fought a long battle with the traditional Latin scribes -- yes, the realists were more or less kicking Wordsworth into his grave (they could have started earlier) --- and what were the manifestos of the early 20th century other than loud statements of the form "THIS IS HOW IT'S DONE."

None of this produces better people or better art, but one wonders if there even would be art without some notion of us and them.

We probably all owe it to Youth Code for starting this discussion, and so it's only appropriate to give them the last word, which I'm stealing here from their Facebook page. If you can honestly read this and tell me that this kind of passion isn't the fire in the belly of an artist waiting to tear the world a new a**hole, then I suppose we will have to agree to disagree.

"the [sound] that's stripping away the bullshit that the last decade or so (with a few exceptions) has piled up on it. The one that's getting people from outside and inside "the scene" excited again. I'm in Youth Code, but don't think I'm being cocky. Being a new band, I know we have a lot of room for improvement. But as a whole what's stirring in the underground is getting people pumped. You can be bitter about it if you want. But what's the point?"

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