So much of what we consume on a daily basis is either the past or whats presently popular repackaged, very little is genuinely innovative. When we look at music and in particular electronic music this cyclical regurgitating of ideas happens on an unprecedented scale. Therefore can ‘Pastiche’ be forward thinking or is it just lazy?
Lets take Paul Woolford‘s most recent alias ‘Special Request‘ as a case in point. As Special Request Woolfords music is often touted as drawing direct influence from the days of pirate radio and early dance culture, in particular early 90’s Rave. In order to draw a historical comparison we need to consider two factors, the music itself and the culture surrounding it.
Most of us are too young to have been a part of rave culture, however in 2013 Red Bull Music Academy celebrated 30 years of dance music with their epic Red Bull Revolutions party. BBB were invited to that party and had the honour of interviewing many of dance musics key protagonists, past and present, the abiding sentiment, much like Punk before it, was of a subversive anti establishment movement high on energy and innovation. Furthermore, unlike Punk, even the instruments were subversive with drum machines and syntheziser’s replacing the need for traditional musicians and instruments. So where does this leave ‘Special Request’?
Well firstly in terms of a direct comparison you’d have to say Special Requests work is not as innovative as the era of time its drawing reference from and it certainly doesn’t have the subversive energy of the culture that surrounded those early records. Unfortunately if your aim is to recreate the past you are never truly going to be able to capture the essence of what made it great as it is often a combination of many factors unique to that particular time in history. For example when Roland released the 808, 303, 909 etc they were not designed with electronic musicians in mind, they were originally manufactured as a demo tool for studio musicians, meaning the music those early electronic producers created was truly innovative. So is Special Request just trying to recreate the past?
Often work of a backward facing nature can be perceived as a lazy remake of someone else’s ideas, however whilst Special Request very much takes its references from the past it is important to note that those references have been brought into a modern context. As a result when listening or dancing to the music you at no point feel it is trying to recreate past glories, leaving you to simple enjoy it as a new and exciting body of work, and here lies the key. Pastiche doesn’t have to come off as a lazy re-hash of ideas as long as you reference, but dont try to be the past, imagine what your opinion of Daniel Craig’s James Bond would be if he wore 70’s clothes and still fought henchmen that resembled Doctor Evil?
Special Request – Modern Warfare (EPs 1-3) XL Recordings