Genre Deep Dive: Deconstructed Club Music

If the world of music were a vast landscape, deconstructed club music would be its wild frontier – exhilarating, unpredictable, and constantly pushing the boundaries. This emerging genre tears apart the structure we know of traditional music, reassembling it into something entirely unexpected and new.

Deconstructed club music is a revolution, it’s artists like Arca, Eartheater, and Colloboh, whose daring compositions and innovative techniques are shaking up the scene.

Join us as we journey through the genre’s vibrant history, give a nod to its noteworthy influences, and bring the future into focus with the rising talents in this new sonic movement. We will also provide a closer look at how this fascinating genre is reflected in contemporary music festivals.

Deconstructed club music – you may know it as post-club or even as deconstructed music – is a bold experimentation within the vast landscape of electronic dance music. It’s characterized by its commitment to a post-modernist approach and its tendency towards a raw, sometimes dystopian, tone.

It’s a genre that boldly steps away from typical club music styles. It’s not uncommon for artists of this genre to disregard traditional four-on-the-floor rhythm patterns or any semblance of a stable tempo, opting instead to mix diverse or even abrasive sources to create a unique soundscape.

The unmistakable hallmark of deconstructed club music lies in its powerfully kinetic sound patterns, reminiscent of the post-industrial era. Sounds of perseverance and tenacity expressed as energetic metallic chords or staccato beats mimic the rawness of life, akin to broken glass shards or echoing gunfire.

This genre doesn’t shy away from its assertion – it’s extravagant. The cataclysmic sound waves and ceaseless rhythm disruption, coupled with a deliberate absence of tonality, lend it a rampantly unyielding sonic landscape.

Let’s start with the history. Born out of the cross-pollination of various underground scenes, such as experimental electronic, sound art, industrial, and noise, deconstructed club music turns conventional music norms on their head, breaking down structure and reforming it into something entirely new and unexpected.

Unbound by traditional codes or compositional layouts, this genre is all about pushing boundaries and venturing into uncharted sonic territories.

Diving deeper into its origins, you’ll find that the roots of this unique music genre can be traced back to the 2000s (though plenty of earlier examples can be found that are related to the genre). It emerged as a response to the homogeneous and predictable trends of mainstream music, introducing a refreshing change with its abstract forms and innovative sounds.

Characterized by a ‘chaos meets harmony’ aesthetic, early pioneers of the genre focused on dissecting traditional musical elements and unparalleled sound layering, which challenged the status quo, provoked thought, and resulted in the birth of a completely new music experience.

Emerging from parties known as GHE20G0TH1K in New York in 2009, the new genre called deconstructed club was formed. Housed in Brooklyn and Manhattan warehouses, these gathering spots served as the stomping ground for punks, voguers, and fashion enthusiasts, drastically changing the face of the city’s nightclub culture within a year.

The foundation of this deconstructed club genre was made possible by the chaotic yet inspirational fusion of CDJs and DJ sets, shaping the way for producers to experiment and redefine dance-floor music norms.

The DJ’s MP3’s used at GHE20G0TH1K had a distinctive, grainy texture that resonated through large sound systems, eventually becoming a defining characteristic of their aesthetic. Every member of this collective represented different backgrounds, yet these distinct cultures were weaved into their music, creating a rich blend of Jersey club, Baltimore, footwork, grime, and ballroom music with a touch of house and techno.

Heavily influenced by vogue and bearing an intrinsic LGBTQ identity, the deconstructed club genre has been deeply intertwined with NYC’s underground and alternate queer nightlife scene.

Genre-pioneering artists from the labels Fade to Mind and Keysound should not be overlooked. These artists infused rebooted ballroom/vogue house, Jersey club, and the instrumental grime’s new wave with a crisp, high-tech shine, earning them a noteworthy spot in the genre’s history.

It wasn’t until the mid-2010s that the term ‘deconstructed club’ started gaining traction, used broadly to categorize a diverse, international group of producers striving to push the thresholds of club music whilst exploring avant-garde.

Moving onto the influences, these have been eclectic and diverse. No genre grows in isolation, and deconstructed club music can count various music movements as its forerunners. Specifically, authentic sounds from global traditions, dubstep’s wobble, grime’s biting lyrics, reggaeton’s energetic beats, and the experimental ethos of IDM and glitch have all significantly shaped this new musical form.

Digging deeper into the influences, one can’t ignore the role that the evolution of technology has played. As music production saw a transition from analog to digital, it gave birth to a new horizon of sound experimentations.

The accessibility to unprecedented production tools led to a surge of innovative techniques that can be heard in the layers of complex sounds and abstract rhythms in deconstructed club music. It’s the amalgamation of this technological prowess with traditional sounds that gives this genre its unique bounce.

Also, the cultural paradigm shifts have had a profound impact on this genre. The rise of globalization and the internet age gave musicians access to a diverse set of sounds and ideas from around the world. These new influences, blending with the changing societal fabric, seeped into the genre, giving it a distinct flair.

Arguably, the massive dance culture of the 80s and 90s also had a role to play. As DJing and club culture became more mainstream, it paved the way for more experimental subgenres like deconstructed club to flourish. DJs stripping down traditional club tunes to their barebones and reconstructing them into something novel can be seen as an extension of the experimental nature of that era.

And who is making waves in this space today? Here, we spotlight three artists you ought to know. Arca is widely regarded as a pioneer, with futuristic soundscapes and song structures that twist and turn in mesmerizing patterns.

There’s also Eartheater, a multi-instrumentalist known for her sound’s dramatic shifts, which can glide from ethereal to abrasive within a single track.

And let’s not forget Colloboh. This emerging artist exemplifies the global nature of the genre, hailing from Nigeria and infusing West African influences into his tracks, thus pushing the envelope of what deconstructed club music can be. Through these artists, the genre manifests as a continuously evolving sonic landscape with limitless potential.

As with any fledgling genre, the influence of deconstructed club music has started to resonate in music festivals, too — a testament to the genre’s growing popularity.

Events like Berlin’s CTM Festival or New York’s Elsewhere are opening up their stages for these ground-breaking artists, as they recognize that this is where the future of music is heading.

So the next time you are at a festival, and you hear an unusual beat or an intricately woven sound tapestry, pause and listen. It might just be deconstructed club music, the disruptor changing the rhythm of the club scene one track at a time.

Perhaps the best way to experience the thrills of deconstructed club music is at a live event, where the unexpected twists and turns that characterize the genre come alive in the most palpable way. Take for instance, the festival that has come to epitomize the spirit of deconstructed club – Unsound Festival. Held annually in Krakow, Poland, the festival offers a vibrant display of the genre’s top talents, serving as a mecca for deconstructed club enthusiasts.

As you embark on this montage of sound, remember to open your mind and let the music guide you through paths unexplored. Because deconstructed club music isn’t just a genre—it is an experience…an experiment…and an electrifying journey of discovery.

Cory Watson



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