Wednesday, February 28

What's Intelligent?

So, Simon Reynolds and gang are slowly drifting away from the hauntology discussion and beginning to riff on "hipster metal." I have noticed an increased metal presence on the intertubes lately, but I really don't feel like it's a full-fledged phenomenon at this point. Most of the discourse appears to revolve around the band Sunn O))) and the occurrence of one influential DJ mixing metal with dubstep. What really caught my attention was Reynolds connecting "hipster metal" to something he calls "intelligent drum'n'bass." Now I can't help but think of "hipster metal" as "intelligent metal." I am, of course, influenced by my own too-long immersion in IDM, or "intelligent dance music." The IDM tag stirred up plenty of discussion, with most people ultimately agreeing that it was a bad genre name, but feeling stuck with it anyway. As soon as you stick "intelligent" in front of something, aren't you implying that the genre is inherently "stupid," yet you are going to be enlightened and fix it? In the case of IDM, the fixing arrived in the form of an increasingly nerdy prog approach (some felt that IDM was the new prog), until the genre collapsed in on itself and the component bits scattered to the wind. So if there is such a thing as intelligent metal (can we call it intelligent black metal, or IBM?), maybe we can look forward to the same artistic trajectory. Autechre have already worked with Hafler Trio. Can an Autechre/Sunn O))) collaboration be far behind?

To be honest, I have almost no knowledge of metal. When I hear Sunn O))), although I can sense the metal references, the first thing that comes to my mind is dark ambient and goth--something more akin to Lustmord maybe. Of course, Sunn O))) use guitars, so they're more likely to get a free pass from indie hipsters. And yet, hasn't there always been a close connection between goth and metal? Look at a band like Sisters of Mercy, who sounded very metal in their early days, and whose last album was chock full of metal riffs. Are Sunn O))) intelligent goth rock (IGR)? How about intelligent dark ambient (IDA)?

1 comment:

Colin said...

I kind of like the term IDM nowadays - mainly because it's of questionable intelligence as you say, it's not particularly danceable and many would question whether it's all that musical. What's not to like about a genre name that entirely fails to describe the subject it's applied to?