The Thrill of Scaffolding
Friday Ephemera

Techno, Annotated

Readers, it’s time to acquaint yourselves with the work of Dr Graham St John, a Research Associate at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies and “an anthropologist of electronic dance music cultures, festivals, and movements.” Dr St John’s scholarly projects include Performing the Country: Culture, Identity and a Post-Settler Landscape, “a study of  contemporary performative contexts for the (re)production of ‘Australianness’ in the wake of recent historical and ecological re-evaluations,” and Making a Noise, Making a Difference: Techno-Punk and Terra-ism. The latter “charts the convergence of post-punk/post-settler logics in the techno-punk development in Australia” and “provides an entry to punk through an analysis of the concept of hardcore in the context of cultural mobilisations which, following more than two centuries of European colonisation, evince desires to make reparations and forge alliances with Indigenous people and landscape.” 

As the texts in question may induce an urge to self-harm, I’ll attempt to convey their profundity with some visual extracts:

Cultural mobilisation 

Above, a “cultural mobilisation.”  

Radical speakers 

Some speakers, radically situated.

Radical Philosophy 

Radical philosophy.

Another Blow to the Hegemon 

Another blow to the Hegemon.


Dr St John’s more recent and even more ambitious project is Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. For the heathens among you who don’t already subscribe, and for whom the terms noisecore and bloghouse are just strange and scary words, the Dancecult journal is,

A platform for interdisciplinary scholarship on the shifting terrain of electronic dance music cultures (EDMCs) worldwide.

Its concerns are of course numerous and deep.

From dancehall to raving, club cultures to sound systems, disco to techno, breakbeat to psytrance, hip hop to dubstep, IDM to noisecore, nortec to bloghouse, global EDMCs are a shifting spectrum of scenes, genres, and aesthetics. What is the role of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion and spirituality in these formations? How does existing critical theory enable understanding of EDMCs, and how might the latter challenge the assumptions of our inherited heuristics? What is the role of the DJ in diverse genres, scenes, subcultures, and/or neotribes?

The journal’s current gems include Media Studies lecturer Dr Hillegonda Rietveld’s Disco’s Revenge: House Music’s Nomadic Memory, an article rendered lofty by obligatory references to Deleuze, Guattari and de Sade, and which “addresses the role of house music as a nomadic archival institution,” one that is “keeping disco alive through a rhizomic assemblage of its affective memory in the third record of the DJ mix.”

Some of you will, I’m sure, feel a strong urge to contribute, thereby helping to expand the boundaries of human knowledge on matters of great and pressing import. Happily, Dancecult is preparing a themed issue, due for publication in April 2012, to which scholarly contributions may be submitted: 

This special edition of Dancecult seeks contributions from scholars of psytrance from all disciplines and methods attending to this genre (or meta-genre) in a period of transition and growing complexity.

“Critical attention” should be paid to the following:

The role of the contemporary psytrance festival,

The continuing significance of the “traveller” (as opposed to “tourist”) pretence or sensibility,


The repression of Goa/psytrance.

If some readers are unfamiliar with the cultural minutiae of raving sub-genres, a brief outline is helpfully provided. It seems that for devotees of psytrance, now is a time of crisis:

In the 2008 edition of Psychedelic Traveller magazine, in an article “The Exodus of Psytrance,” Sam from reported that… “the exodus of artists and dancers is clearly visible. Most primitive cornerstones of psytrance parties have lost half or more of their visitors. Most labels have signed bankruptcy, media companies are struggling if not yet dead, scene workers left for a ‘normal’ job.”

Dark days.

Yet, while psytrance has been buffeted by manifold economic, political and aesthetic crises, it appears to be a hardy and durable phenomenon… In the areas of genre, music production/performance, event production, virtual distribution, pharmacology, it appears that psytrance flourishes amid complexity.

Sweet mercy, the dream still lives.

Now get cracking on that paper. It’s vital work.