The hardcore continuum’s claim to pre-eminence has always been that it’s not just dance music. That’s no slight to dance music, but the truth is that there’s tons of it in the world, all different flavours, and if you fancied shaking your stuff in the noughties then you’d probably have been better off with hip-hop, or dancehall, or that hardy perennial house music. With jungle/garage/grime/dubstep, there’s always been something extra, an X factor that made it “dance music + _____”. The two main things that filled the blank were a) innovation, the idea that no other music around moved faster or mutated wider, and b) a relationship to “the real”, whether that was coded as “street knowledge”, “the dark side”, late capitalism/post-socialist Britain, etc. In the noughties, the danceability element even slipped somewhat: grime was more moshable than groovy, while dubstep could be a bit slow-skank sluggish and head-noddy. But more relevant to this survey is that the pulse of those X-tra factors seemed to grow fainter as the decade proceeded, or at least more indistinct and muddled. […]
This year’s array of post-dubstep sounds are no longer chained to realness but are much more about garish hyper-reality. “Purple”, the buzz-term for the Bristol-based micro-genre created by Joker, Guido and others, is colour rich in psychotropic associations, from Jimi’s Purple Haze to the “purple drank” cough syrup that Dirty South gangsta rappers love to sip.