Philip Sherburne at Frieze explores "a new futurism in dance music"
He starts by looking at the surfeit of retro-activity and recreativity in dance - Aphex's flood of vintage and vintage-sounding electronica, the instrumental grime trend - then identifies "wormholes" that have "begun to open up, leading to points unknown", suggesting - tentatively that there are "signs of a new kind of electronic music, one which couldn’t be confused for that of any other decade"
Evidence - FKA Twigs album LP1, Arca's Xen ("insectoid chatter, banshee wails and viscous keyboard tones"), Lotic and his comrades in the Berlin-based Janus collective....
"On Lotic’s recent Heterocetera EP (2014), he freezes gunshots in time and space like a digital-era Eadweard Muybridge, while undulating metallic drones scan as the sonic equivalents of Frank Gehry’s non-Euclidean buildings"
.... and also the weirder edge of the PC Music zone:
" Felicita, a PC Music affiliate whose 2014 EP Frenemies swims in Chipmunked Sprechstimme, seasick slide-whistle melodies and winch-driven clatterbeats, establishing an uneasy truce between nonsense and sensory overload that recalls Ryan Trecartin’s soundtracks at their most nightmarishly psychedelic"
Phil concedes that these moves are not "entirely without precedent. Arca’s Xen carries within it textural and rhythmic echoes of Harold Budd, digital dancehall and Purple Rain-era Prince. Lotic’s music interpolates the gelatinous riff at the heart of Masters at Work’s ‘The Ha Dance’ (1991), a ballroom staple, with the melancholy pings of mid-1990s Autechre and Black Dog Productions."
Yet "even when certain elements of the music have clearly traceable lineages, nothing about the final product sounds quite like anything that has come before..... At their most extreme, they can convey, at least upon initial listens, the same sort of brain-rearranging rush that accompanied a first encounter with jungle or grime.... As beats come undone from conventional timekeeping and notes twist in the artificial winds, the brain struggles to catch up; you can practically feel new paths being blazed through your cortex, new neural networks congealing around unfamiliar tropes."
Sherburne points to a key rogue factor behind the weirdness: queer theory, trans sensibility, a sense of the body as "malleable, grotesquely beautiful and fundamentally post-natural".
Cross reference perhaps with works like Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity by (the late)
José Esteban Muñoz, who wrote that "queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing”....
or Judith Halberstam's work on queer temporality (In a Queer Time and Place) which explores the idea that "queer temporality destabilizes linear time and challenges the prescribed heterosexual narrative" (which arguably underpins ideas of progress, growth, (re)production, moving-forward, etc, and identifies retro-campy decadence with "sterility" and immaturity)
or Elizabeth Freeman's "temporal drag" and "queer asynchronies" in Time Binds
earlier thoughts of mine on Arca and Phil's first broaching of the "something new's happening" idea when reviewing Xen for Pitchfork