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12/18/2004: "indiana (drop the bass!)"

Dim shot of the second room at the late Volume. Danger bass!

So I'm in the middle of nowhere in Indiana--working on a story that has nothing to do with music-- about an hour or so from Indianapolis, the closest city. There are endless rows of corn and little houses. The roads are flat, flat, flat. I don't think I've ever seen land so flat. At night it's completely quiet--unnervingly quiet, but I suppose you get used to it. If I ever wanted to escape life in New York, and the relentless push and pull of music trends and music writing and everything else, this would be it, it would seem.

Imagine my surprise, then, to go to a little party in a sleepy Indiana suburb with a bunch of people I'd never met before in my life, and hear that unmistakable schaffel beat in the kitchen. I almost choked on the casserole I was eating. "Hang on, I know this -- what is this you're listening to?" I asked. "Oh, this? Some guy called Sascha Funke."

The people in Indiana that I had met had built their own speakers and a 12-foot-long bass cannon fashioned out of cheap PVC tubing and subwoofers, and were pumping microhouse and house and ragga-jungle and hip-hop and dub through it. We had intense conversations about bass. They talked technical about how to maximize bass response, and how to get bass to sound as detailed and powerful as possible for as little money as possible. We played heavy dub through the bass cannon and the floor seemed like it was boiling. The sound quality was better than any New York bar or club by miles and miles. They played "Fire (Urban Shakedown remix)" through the bass cannon at top volume and my heart went flying into somewhere in my throat--it was so beautiful to be so fully immersed in thick, deep sound, to melt into the rolling sine waves of low-end and thrilling avalanches of snare drums and literally feel every note vibrating through my chest. Ditto with the Kompakt stuff they had on their stereo--Reinhard Voigt, especially, sounded friggin' awesome firing through the bass cannon at warp speed.

Then today at a record store in Lafayette, Indiana--that doubles as a store that sells pretty stones and jewelry, random books, and hippie incense--I scoped out the rows of vinyl and there were entire thick sections for Perlon, Playhouse, etc--I felt like I was in Berlin at Hard Wax! The 12"s of Speichers 1 through 23! (I bought the very first one, just cuz I don't have it.) The Ricardo Villalobos Alcachofa DJ tools 12"? Who's buying these records out here in small-town Indiana? I query the kindly gray-haired record store clerk, and he says he has no idea; he doesn't know anything about "the techno section." There are no DJ nights out here, or clubs, or any dance scene to be found. We're in the Midwest, yeah, but this ain't Chicago or Detroit, or even Indianapolis. There's a little punk scene here, and some punk kids. You can hear crickets chirping at night here. Endless highway. Open land. No people as far as the eye can see.

Feel the vibe, people. You can't escape this music, even if you try.

Replies: 19 Comments

Mpls. Wisconsin. These costal kids got no clue what brews and bubbles in the Middle West, taste in beats...

Dave said @ 12/22/2004 02:51 PM EST

send me an email already, josh, you bastard.

geeta said @ 12/22/2004 01:01 AM EST

i thought the moral of the story was that students everywhere like marginal things, geeta. i'm not sure if that helps or makes it worse, ha.

josh said @ 12/22/2004 12:34 AM EST

haha! YES!!

i could totally see a superpitcher remix of 'sweet child o' mine,' actually. take me down to schaffel city.

geeta said @ 12/21/2004 01:49 AM EST

haha do you think Axl will try to get M. Mayer to produce *Chinese Democracy* now?

Matos W.K. said @ 12/21/2004 12:43 AM EST

hi geeta, it's tom from lafayette. bored, googled you for kicks. :) unfortunately, a few german house albums does not a metropolis make. lafayette is a college town, but for some reason (lack of music school? lead poisoning?) there is nil happening here culturally. glad we could share our little stash of bass with you.

tom said @ 12/20/2004 07:16 PM EST

yeah that stuff is everywhere. On a trip to Iowa City back in like 2001 or so I caught up with all the Kompakt stuff I couldn't find in Chicago. Rulin'.

hstencil said @ 12/20/2004 06:27 PM EST

i mentioned my lafayette indiana-as-dance-music-paradise idea to a certain editor of mine and he goes "you know why, right? axl rose is from lafayette!"

it all makes sense now.

geeta said @ 12/20/2004 06:10 PM EST

Purdue Sucks! Go Big Red!

Lafayatte may have the Schaeffel beat but Bloomington is the home of John Mellencamp & the Aaronoff beat.

Anthony said @ 12/20/2004 05:53 PM EST

the point is not 'duh, there are lots of students in west lafayette' (i KNOW that--i was writing a story about purdue university and about graduate school, even); it's more 'holy shit this stuff from cologne really IS all over the place! it's not nearly as marginal as some of us seem to think it is!' and you know what? i'm glad! end of story.

geeta said @ 12/20/2004 05:39 PM EST

There's 30,000+ college students and tons of international grad students. And there are DJ nights, but everything is shut down for break.

jocelyn ILXor in Lafayette said @ 12/20/2004 02:26 PM EST

Not be surprised? Pah. I'd be surprised if I found that kind of action in my old home town AND YES I KNOW DAMNED WELL about Long Island's role in the American post-disco musical life. Hell, it'd surprise me if it was happening where I live now and I live in UES Manhattan fer crying out tears.

Michael Daddino said @ 12/20/2004 12:50 PM EST

josh!! i didn't know you still read my blog!

send me an email yo

ilx reunion!!

geeta said @ 12/20/2004 12:35 AM EST

yeah, what stencil said, yo. there should be nothing to be surprised about here.

josh said @ 12/20/2004 12:04 AM EST

well, Mpls is a big city. but yeah, the Midwest rave/post-rave scene is totally fierce; it's not something that those kids take for granted or is, like, so last week the way it is in NYC. one more reason the Midwest is the greatest place on earth (not like I'm about to move back, ahem).

Matos W.K. said @ 12/19/2004 09:42 PM EST

haha i've been to minneapolis though! it's huge compared to where i was in indiana! this was the sticks, and their record store (record store, singular...there was maybe one other one in the entire town) was better than other music + kim's combined

the midwest roolz!

geeta said @ 12/19/2004 08:11 PM EST

well, DUH! I could have told you that the Midwest is all up in this shit. (Minneapolis and all, y'know)

Matos W.K. said @ 12/19/2004 07:06 PM EST

visit Bloomington if you get a chance! It rocks!

Anthony said @ 12/19/2004 01:08 PM EST

Lafayette is a college town, so this doesn't surprise me actually.

hstencil said @ 12/19/2004 01:14 AM EST

email me

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