It’s common to think of dance music as thoroughly synthetic. Its imagery is of the dancefloor – with lasers, strobes, LEDs – or of digital visuals. Our subjective experience is of enclosed spaces, from airport to taxi to rave to party. Even at most festivals still, any connection to the earth beneath our feet and the landscape around us is heavily mediated by artificial structures and electronic sound. Many subsections of our culture turn that artificiality into their entire aesthetic, generating intense sci-fi otherworldliness whether utopian or dystopian, or celebrating the urban environment of concrete, glass, tarmac and steel.

 


[Photo credits Kate Carr]

 

But, as the philosopher Timothy Morton has suggested, maybe we need “ecological thought” that doesn’t separate off an abstracted “nature” from the more synthetic human world. Can dance music break through that barrier and make YOU feel part of nature? Environmental and natural sounds have always been a part of both electronic experimentation and the dancefloor experience after all. From Edgard Varèse trying to conjure the sound of empty landscapes from tape manipulations in 1954’s Déserts through David Mancuso playing the sound of thunderstorms to the LSD infused dancers at The Loft, from birdsong and wind in Balearic and chillout to the halo of rainfall and fire crackle that surrounds Burial’s productions, the natural world has seeped into our experiences of music, whether that be academic, hedonistic, subcultural or populist.

But something new is afoot in the 21st century. All of those strands of past music – academic, hedonistic etc. – are available to us all, and so is the technology to use their lessons more easily than ever before. We’re in an era now where talking sound design is as commonplace as beat programming. Think of what IDM and electronica artists like Matthew Herbert investigating the power of sound as environmental data, or Mira Calix’s insect orchestras: the ability to do this kind of work is available to all with minimal equipment now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Photo credits Dimiioniatis @ Draaimolen Festival]


[Professor David Rothenberg]

Think of Local Guide album by North Sea Dialect on Glasgow’s Numbers, examining Scotland’s natural and artificial soundscape. Or superstar DJ Tom Middleton’s researching the cognitive effects of natural sounds for his Sleep Better project. Or maverick producer Actress replicating natural processes like wood warping in his own electronic sounds. Or what about our own panellist: Dominik Eulberg, who from 2004’s Flora and Fauna album right through to this year’s Mannigfaltig has used minimal techno as a vehicle to put out ideas about the landscape, ecology and his own obsession: birdwatching. Or Heleen Blanken’s VJ and light sculptures bringing the natural world inside clubland. Or Neel’s Voices From The Lake project with Donato Dozzy – as the name suggests – allowing the natural world to speak. We can’t wait to hear their personal stories of how they use nature as their main source of inspiration at ADE Green 2019.

This is what our culture is capable of. Dance music might well be self-regarding and hedonistic, but it is also capable of looking outwards and bringing the outside world in. And if we are to broaden our imaginations to find creative ways to deal with the crises we find ourselves in, that’s exactly what we need to be doing.

This panel is inspired by Timberland’s “Nature Needs Heroes” campaign. Timberland, as an outdoor lifestyle brand, is acutely aware of the need for connection with nature in our urban environments. They are working with ADE Green to promote discussion and thought around this. The brand has also committed to plant 50 Million trees over the next five years. As part of this hook-up, All ADE Green ticket holders and ADE delegates are offered a twenty percent discount on Timberland products in their Amsterdam stores (Leidsestraat, Kalverstraat & Hartenstraat) on presentation of their wristbands.

Tickets for ADE Green on October 18th can be purchased here.