The term future garage is bandied around a lot these days and opinion in the blogosphere as to its validity as a genre seems to be divided. There’s a certain school of thought that questions the need for the prefix; why future garage, runs the argument, why not just garage? Its a valid question but I don’t think Whistla, the producer and dj who champions it on a regular basis, was making any great claim to be reinventing garage for a new generation when he coined the term. Like most sub-genres it was probably more of an attempt to re-establish innovation and adventure in a genre that had gone a bit stale, deflated by the two-a-penny disposable tracks that were flooding the market in much the same way that veteren dub steppas are scratching their heads for a new direction as their heritage is hijacked by that horrible screechy shit which passes for dubstep these days.
It’s hardto argue with Whistla and the sub.fm crew who are responsible for opening up the underground to some of the best electronica of the last decade. (If you’re unfamiliar with the genre look no further than Whistla’s introductory soundcloud mix for a heads-up) There’s no doubt though that rather than being a new sound for the late noughties it is simply a continuation of what the UK has always done so well – dark, melodic leftfield electronica – the ‘ hardcore continuum’ as Simon Reynolds put it, with its own nuances and habits to subtly distinguish it from its predecessors. These two tracks are a good illustration. Both nailed-on classics; one from 2009 and often heralded as one of the finest examples of future garage and one from 97, when a short-lived genre known as speed garage was ripping up Ibiza and London clubland. Which is which though? If you had no knowledge of either of them, I’m not sure you’d be able to tell. But they’d both rock a dancefloor big time, both now and then, for sure.