The indie dance movement is having its hey-day right about now. The fusion of punk, rock, disco, new wave and electronic body music has fuelled a modern crusade of catchy, infectious and intelligent tunes. As with all EDM nowadays, this means you can come across a lot of tripe out there. Generally speaking, though, as party music goes, Nu-Disco and other forms of indie dance are pretty fun.
And fun is the name of the game! Even though old-school disco has been roundly thrashed and criticized ever since it went out, the truth remains that it’s supremely danceable. Just check out any wedding reception. It’s like human bodies go on automatic as soon as the disco starts – fingers start snapping, toes tapping, heads jiggling, shoulders shimmying . . . onto the floor!
Nu-Disco – the term “nu” being used to distinguish itself from the earlier era – is all that and more. Influenced by the European italo-disco movement of the late 1970s and 80s, Nu-Disco features synthesized rhythms and easy beats, often with a psychedelic twist. Vocals are optional.
Indie dance has been distinguished from Nu-Disco by its somewhat darker, harsher sound, but the differences are pretty negligible. Whatever the case, the result is EDM that encourages boogying!
Although each song runs the risk of becoming singularly repetitive, Nu-Disco’s melodic structure is appealing to most regular folks (I mean those not obsessed with the high-minded intricacies of one particular EDM genre). What’s nice is that Nu-Disco has stolen some of the attention-grabbing techniques of trip hop and acid house, mixing them with the warmth and accessibility of popular club culture. You get “real” instruments like horns and guitars backed up by vocoders and synths, and there’s a soulful element that gets you feeling.
Feeling what? Well, it depends.
The best thing about the whole genre of indie dance is its creative variety. Listening to a top 10 list of must-hear songs on Beatport, there isn’t an overload of sameness. Everyone in my generation grew up listening to disco and new wave, and everyone’s coming out with a different interpretation. Bands like Aeroplane sound like someone vacuumed up Air, Franz Ferdinand, James Brown and a host of early 80s glam rock, then dumped the contents onto a motherboard. Creative. Distinct. Awesome.
Other acts follow the electroclash tradition, which burgeons from Eff-You punk music like Peaches, adding a smoother, danceable house-style element. Think Fischerspooner, Spalding Rockwell and Tiga. Some of them insert rap lyrics, which I find tiresome and uninspiring – but each to her own.
What will keep this genre alive and experimenting for years to come are the feel-good rhythms and anthem-like chord progressions. That’s what people loved about italo-disco, too, way back in the past. Even though the lyrics didn’t make a whole lot of sense, people loved it just for its unrelenting happiness. It’s the same thing with indie dance and Nu-Disco – a genre more about experimenting and creating good vibes than about getting super complicated. When music offers great beats for dancing, as well as warm original melodies, it’s guaranteed to bring on the fun.