On Defending Disco

Disco rules hard. When I say disco, I don’t want you thinking of Donna Summer and the Village People. They’ve got no funk, no real mojo. When I say disco, I’m strictly speaking of the kind of music that will get you out of your seat.Let me start out with some background about this music. Disco’s birth was in Europe, but it found a rich environment for its own evolution in New York and Philadelphia. Disco was a reaction by New York City’s gays, as well as black and Latino heterosexuals, against both the domination of rock and the demonization of dance music.

So how do we get from 1976 to 2010? Well, an album to check out for examples that reveal the uniform underlying tendencies of disco is SH-01. It was released in 1997 by Soundhack. Each of their 12”s focused on extracting loops from various disco tracks from 1978 through 1980. The tracks work very well as DJ tools for layering on top of other songs or for further distillation.

And there you have it: In a very well-articulated LP you can see the lineage from which Afrojack, Daft Punk, Hot Chip, A-track, Mr. Oizo, and Louis La Roche are coming. Of course, that doesn’t take into account melodic tendencies, but that’s because that defines what sub-genres a particular song will fall into. Those distinctions are what bring about deep-house, fidget house, and nü disco.

Let’s bust out of bounds for a while. Who’s hot on the dance floor these days? Skrillex. His latest release, Scary Monster & Nice Sprites, takes us one step closer to a genre-less music platform. His potent mixture of melodic progressions and deafening drops has allowed him to ravage the Beatport charts with dubstep chunes, which rarely ever chart. Check out the following two tracks. “What is Light, Where is Laughter (Skrillex Remix)” by Twin Atlantic serves as a good introduction to dubstep-infused drum to synth and indie rock lovers. The second, “Seventeen (Skrillex Remix)” by Casxio is for you lovers of fidget dance tracks like MSTRKFT.

-Juan Fernandez