Total Freedom live in Sao Paulo, Brazil
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What on earth is deconstructed club music?

Understanding the very modern movement that’s reconfiguring dance music’s DNA.
Written by Josh Baines
4 min readPublished on
From aquacrunk to skweee, electronic music’s always had a thing for off-kilter terminology. Spend more than 10 seconds on Boomkat and you’ll likely find swathes of records housed in sections with names that sound scarcely believable. Raggacore? Neurofunk? Deconstructed club music? What on earth is deconstructed club music? And why are you hearing about it in the queue outside the club a Saturday night?
Listen to a 20-track playlist of deconstructed club music below
The answer is simple. Sort of. We’ll get to the “deconstructed” part of the moniker shortly, but before we do that, it’s worth noting that “club music” itself is a vast, broad, and almost worryingly nebulous term, sucking in everything from the bed-squeaking sauciness of Jersey Club to the 808 rumbles of Miami booty bass via the shimmering mutations of UK label Night Slugs in their prime. In fact, it might just be easier to simply think of it as “dance music that isn’t too bothered about what the house and techno and tech-house lot are up to.”
Things change, time moves on and now we’ve all outgrown our New Era snapbacks and Baltimore club blogs, we’re looking for something a bit more reflective of the world as it is today. Enter deconstructed club music. It’s hard to pin down the exact genesis of the term, but it’s been in circulation for a few years, used as a sort of lasso term to describe a disparate, international genus of producers taking club music and turning it avant-garde.
Fatima Al Qadiri

Fatima Al Qadiri

© João Pedro Marnoto / Red Bull Content Pool

A cataclysmic, percussive propulsion that sounds bigger than Jesus when played down in sweaty basement clubs from Dalston to Dresden.
The word “deconstructed” might usually bring to mind stuffy, tweed-clad university professors, but in this context it’s a little more literal. This is club music which has taken an anything goes approach, haphazardly and happily creating a space where DJs and producers can pay homage to nu-metal as readily as they do reggaeton. That’s the deconstructed element, you see – reconfiguring dance music’s DNA while throwing the concept of generic rigidity into the bin.
Percussion is the sonic glue that stops deconstructed club music from spinning off into a million little micro-scenes. Tracks as diverse as Berlin-by-way-of-Kendall producer Neana’s Secret Owner, Kelman Duran’s 1984, Primero, Ultimo or the trance-touching ATB re-rub that is Dinamarca’s absurdly addictive 9PM find themselves united by a common factor: a crashing, a thwacking, a cataclysmic sounding sort of percussive propulsion that sounds bigger than Jesus when played down in sweaty basement clubs from Dalston to Dresden.
In the hands of DJs like Parisian powerhouse Teki Latex, or the aptly-named Total Freedom, the heavy percussive backbone of deconstructed club music forces you to reconfigure your relationship to both dance music and dancing itself. Without the linear 4/4 thud of more traditional dance music, you’ve got to lead with your head as much as your feet.
Head to parties like London’s Acid Fantasy, Leeds’ Come Thru night, or C.I.T.S up in Manchester, and you’ll hear and see exactly what we’re talking about. The sheer diversity of sonic objects weaving in and out of the mix (listen to the Bala Club show on NTS for a taste of just how gloriously all over the place these kind of parties can be) is what makes deconstructed club music so thrilling. At their best, deconstructed records constitute a kind of abrasive music custom built for anxious times, noisily subverting the long-standing notion that clubs should purely operate as spaces for the more mindless end of hedonism.
Imaab live in Miami, Florida

Imaab live in Miami, Florida

© Ian Witlen/Red Bull Content Pool

However, when Kode9 told Red Bull Radio’s Chal Ravens that “in the context of the dancefloor a lot of deconstructed club music is just so self-indulgent,” he might have had a point. There's an argument that the world probably doesn’t need yet another Beyoncé acapella laid over what sounds like GoldenEye gun shots and someone walking over a few dropped pint glasses, hastily mixed into a homemade, gabber-infused edit of Turn Around by Phats & Smalls.
Even then, there’s something thrilling about just how pointedly jarring and dislocating this kind of music can be, and often is. It’s dancefloor-focused experimentation that’s just at home in The Wire as it is Mixmag, and that’s something that should excite us. Thirty years on from the acid house explosion and there’s a certain kind of clubber who finds themselves longing for that DIY ethos, hoping to be moved by something that’s not gone through seventeen stages of refinement. They want an immediacy, an urgency, a vitality. Deconstructed club music might just be the thing they’re after.
Want to hear more cutting-edge club music? Listen to Chal Ravens' Top Flight on Red Bull Radio in the player below.
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