What do you call it when the right kinds of people come together in the right set of circumstances? Luck? Chemistry? Fate? Psychobabble? A contrived opening to an online article?
All good answers, but history shows that something special can happen if the timing and the situation is right – something greater than the sum of its parts. Think of the Renaissance, (re)born in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries. Think of Harlem in the 1920s, Detroit in the late-’50s (hello, Motown), Liverpool (by way of Hamburg) less than a decade later, and London and Manchester in the early ’90s, where Britpop took root before sweeping the globe through the likes of Blur, The Verve, Supergrass and, of course, Oasis.
More recently, with cities getting bigger and more diverse, communities have provided the breeding ground for cultural shifts and trends. Take the hipsters in Berlin, the yogis in San Francisco, or a migratory group of teenage girls who were like… and then he was like… and then I was like… (we didn’t say the cultural shift had to be a good one).
Music, it seems, is particularly susceptible to identifiably local influences. And so it was that the West London folk scene begat the kind of neo-folk style that gave rise to bands like Mumford and Sons, and the Bristol party scene spawned the phenomenon that is Dubstep.
Closer to home it’s Melbourne – in particular the clubbing scene in Melbourne – that’s putting a new sub-genre on the map, appropriately dubbed ‘Melbourne Sound’. It may not yet be in quite the same influential league as the Harlem Renaissance (after all, electronic sub-genres rise and fall faster than a clubber’s heart rate), but it sure is getting a lot of hype at the moment.
Producer and music blogger Mike Day, who runs bass music website Dubstep Democracy describes Melbourne Sound as ‘a slower version of psy-trance [also hugely popular in Melbourne] with a grimier, “dubbier” sound. It’s influenced by the Dutch scene, which it shares a lot of similarities with. In terms of BPM [beats per minute], the structure is often 128 BPM – and a lot of people refer to it as “bounce” – because once you hear it, that’s the way most people dance to it.’
The best example of Melbourne Sound is probably Ode to Oi, a track by TJR. Have a listen here, and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
It’s not just our AFL-loving, alley-bar-hopping Melbournite mates getting into this sub-genre of electronic music, either – it’s making waves all over the world (and you don’t even have to know where Federation Square is to be a Melbourne Sound producer)
Ministry of Sound recently released a compilation entitled This is… Melbourne Bangers, a compilation of the best and brightest of this (until recently) underground club scene.
Not that everyone’s a fan. One critic made a tongue-in-cheek tutorial on just how to create the sound. Highlights include: ‘Don’t forget to add s**tloads of white noise to hide your sh**ty mixing skills.’
Ah, electronic music. It’s nothing if not divisive.