Germans do not get crunk. I learned this firsthand February 2002 in Cologne in a lavish labyrinth of a club located three stories underground. Cloistered with my friend Laura, six Jägermeister and Coke's shared between us, I indulged the inclination to hunch up on my old high school crush in true Southern style.
First taking to Laura's ass like it was the opposite charge to my magnetic ... pole, I then tried to grind Lambada-like on her leg -- until she turned around to peel me off in what I thought was mock indignation. But when she hissed pointedly that we shouldn't move like what to me seemed normal or we'd get stares, I really noticed the trim, prim Germans were all slightly standoffish. Nowhere throughout the writhing crowd were hands roving and nasties bumping. That's when I realized Germans do not get crunk.
How is it, then, that equal parts of the music that got me sprung in 2005 originated from Germany as it did, say, Baltimore or the A-T-L? At least there's a common dip-to-the-hip that runs from Miami bass/electro through crunk and into B'more club and on to reggaeton, baile funk, etc.
I talk a lot -- or a lot of shit -- about clubs and clubbers in this column, yet I realize sometimes I don't talk enough about the music. So I'm briefly balancing that. The year that was 2005 was the year small sounds made it big. If it wasn't the serrated simplicity of crunk, it was Bankhead's ring tone-ready snap music. If it wasn't Baltimore's unrelenting sonic artillery called club, it was the mesmeric melancholic of German electro-house/ketaminimal/whathaveyou. Yet all these forms share a percolating yearning, a gaping maw hungry for nervy melodic oscillation and cleft percussion. It's all people trying to think outside the box with the same boxes, and finding a lot in common. What is reggaeton but Puerto Rican reggae cobbled from tinny machine ticks and blurting synths familiar to fans of Lil Jon, M.I.A., Rod Lee and Tiefschwarz alike? All these tracks say as much about movements as they do movement because they lead me to think it's the last gasp of indigenous music. And that's not a bad thing.
As cultural rifts mend and hungry iPods ache for musical morsels, international producers will have to cast their nets wider to keep tracks drawn out without being drawn thin. Idiosyncrasy will not be submerged, but with digital tools now within anyone's reach, there's no reason blend won't continue to be the trend. I see a global tide of tonality washing up amid lap-pop blip-hop with electro-folk and micro-funk mixes in surround sound. And why not? Local clubbing could use more than just a swift kick drum to the ass. I, for one, have been waiting for more globally minded dancefloors as chimerical as they are crowded.
Germans do not get crunk. Yet.
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