1994 was the year that Orbital played to 40000 people at Glastonbury and propelled dance music to the mainstream (Robin Murray, Clash). It was also the year that Swiss jazz drummer, Jojo Mayer, played with Meshell Ndegeocello at Glastonbury. Being a witness to 40000 people dancing horribly like frogs in a blender must have triggered something deep within his soul. He must have looked at their sweating gurning faces and thought ‘I need to sit facing that for the rest of my career!’. He also must have predicted that musicians would start to turn away from technology as it advances and overtakes their ability to apply themselves to it (10:14).
Back in New York, he started a process of reverse engineering. Creating the sounds that he had heard in electronic music on his drum kit opened up new possibilities and a new form of self-expression. Nerve was born and a regular party night called Prohibited Beatz took dance music back underground. That was until Mayor Giuliani decided that the lives of New York citizens would improve the most if he made it illegal for them to dance in clubs without a cabaret license. Throwing bullets from a gun? Oh, yes that’s permitted. Throwing shapes? Hands up offender! Hands down offender! Now big fish, little fish, big fish, little fish….
Dance music has been on quite a journey over the last 20 odd years. It has been underground and overground more times than the Wombles. It has crossed continents, broken down social barriers and has become so entrenched in mainstream culture that EDM can now sell any brand as explained by James Hall from the Guardian.
Born in the USA, electronic dance music evolved through the deliberate misuse of technology, for example the Roland TB 303 bassline. Originally, its purpose was to simulate a bass guitar. Ultimately it simulated a florescent smiley face and became the defining sound of acccciiiiiiiiddddddd house.(Akhil Kalepu, DJ Techtools)
Dance music and culture then exploded in its entirety in the UK during the bleakest of times. Needing an escape from Thatcher’s Britain, it was time for people to use their own ingenuity and creativity to make it better for themselves and others. 20000 people hugging it out in a field can’t be that wrong. There has never been a bleaker time for humanity according to Noam Chomsky. What with the shock of Brexit and the threat of Trump, it is no surprise there has been a resurgence of dance music and the MDMA is getting stronger (Jim Connolly, BBC).
Although self-medication can be bad, what better antidote to it all than Jojo Mayer and Nerve? Just like the 90s, turning to revolutionary creative and intelligent music may just be the answer. Jazz music that sounds like electronic music and inspired by the likes of Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Photek who, himself, was inspired by Miles Davis.
Goldie invented the concept of ‘timestretching’ where the speed gets faster but the pitch stays the same. Jojo can apparently enter and warp time at his will according to the trailer to his new documentary ‘Changing Time’. It would certainly help with his jet-lag when he brings his band to the UK. Nerve consists of John Davis, bass, Jacob Bergson, keyboards and Aaron Nevezie, sound. Their music blows minds. In real time. Which means it can get gunky so wear a waterproof.