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Rumble in the jungle: city, place, and uncanny bass

  • Media
  • School Of
  • Arts And Design


While bass powerfully resonates among the cultural discourses, lexicology and marketing of a range of electronic dance music (EDM) styles, little popular music scholarship has paid attention to the subjective, phenomenological and psychophysiological significance of bass in its modulation of intense feelings of pleasure. This article examines the linking in jungle/drum ‘n’ bass culture of bass as a sonic space that produces a powerful sense of jouissance where identity can seem to unravel on the dance floor and an articulation of contemporary urban space as a place of subjective loss and regression. Overlaying Freud’s notion of the uncanny and Kristeva’s signifying space of the chora, I discuss how this fetishisation of bass can be linked to the music’s cultural formation from deindustrialised regions in London and the South-East of England during the early-1990s; its accelerated break-beats and “dark” bass-lines can be seen to inscribe recent rapid social, cultural and environmental transformations in the urban metropolis.

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