Imagine a genre supposedly born in in the mountains on the Indo-Nepal border, communicating the aesthetic and spiritual sublimeness of rock climbing, becoming the soundtrack to an international rock climber-clubber subculture in Canada and Argentina and eventually morphing into a passionate avant-garde movement in Japan: it exists and is called gorge.
Exactly a year since we officially introduced our last genre, Shamstep, it is high time to return to doing what Generation Bass was originally created for: introducing cutting edge dance flavours from around the world to URL music enthusiasts. But at the same time, 2015 was the year in going into the music history chronicles as the year in which genres as a whole were officially dead. Most probably killed by cyber-deconstructionism. What could have been bandwagons just some years before were now all destined to prematurely popping out of existence, like soap bubbles. That makes it extra shameful that we totally slept on gorge when it was hot, back in 2012, when we were too busy pushing moombahton and 3ball. But now the genre, once a completely separate, ungoogleable bastion of secrecy is now slowly creeping into wider attention with artists such as Kazuki Koga (Canada), whose Salathé Wall EP for the Apothecary compositions label, introduced the mysterious percussive sound into the avant-garde club movement. So if there is any right moment to introduce a genre so long after it’s beginnings, it is now.
Gorge, best described as an experimental electronic interpretation of Nepalese folk percussion, is vaguely defined by its own inside conventions and legends. The sound can range from very distorted and noisy, to organic and minimalistic, from straightforward rhythms to complex experimental patterns and from downtempo to uptempo. Still gorge has, if such thing exist at all, a strong signature that makes the genre recognisable. According to gorge originator Himalayan Giant DJ Nanga in an interview from 2013, if you make gorge, apply the Gorge Public Licence:
- Use Toms
- Whenever you feel that a track that you make might me gorge, it is already gorge
- Never ever call it ‘art’
I’m fascinated by why ‘never calling it art’ is such an important part of gorge. I suppose it’s because ‘art’ implicates human mastery and control, whereas the whole idea of gorge is precisely to embody ‘the sublime’ which escapes and resists human control. Not culture but nature, the impersonal, relentless magnificence embodied by the rocks, refusing to be conquered and tamed by humans trying to climb them.
In the words of DJ Nanga, gorge is ‘rock music’ in the most litteral sense. It is the “sound of a rock, sound of water that beats the rock, sound of a mountain held by the rock.” And according to DJ Fhuck TheChipping, gorge “is not a human expression, Gorge only has the hardness of the rocks. Can you survive?” Accordingly, producers making gorge aren’t called ‘artists’ but ‘bootists’: they don’t craft their own sound, but climb them. And perhaps that is – in the wake of aesthetic trends like xenopunk that are reflecting on non-human sublimeness against an increasingly artificial world tailored for human comfort – why gorge is more relevant than ever in 2016!
The newest EP of Hanali (Tokio), one of the leading figures in the Japanese gorge movement
And the promotion video for Hanali‘s 『ROCK MUSIC』 EP from 2013
Hanali is not a DJ but a live electronic musician who performs gorge by on-the-spot improvisation
A gorge tune from the very early days (2008) from the further unknown DJ Kinabalu
And another selection of Japanese gorge from 2014, by the Kyoto based label Terminal Explosion
Gorge from US based bootists, ‘the United GORGE Bootists of America’, released in april this year, featuring less industrial noise and much more crossovers with electronic genres like techno, avant-garde club, ambient, kuduro and more
Kazuki Koga‘s grand EP for Apothecary Compositions, which we supported before, blending gorge with juke & footwork
Kazuki Koga performing his EP alleingehen live
In the Japanese electronic underground, juke & gorge appears to be a powerful combination to blend together on club nights.
The most important artist who brought gorge into the internet-underground last year is seapunk OG Ultrademon who was inspired by Kazuki Koga and announced to make a gorge EP last year as a tribute to his cousin who died ice climbing. This EP was materialised via a his side project Thiefist, released via the gorge.in label & platform.
According to Japanese gorge specialists HiBiKi MaMeShiBa and Mr. Ishii these are two tracks, one from the British industrial band SLAB! (1987), the other (1969) from the German experimental krautrock band Organisation (Kraftwerk before they started Kraftwerk)
And here a fresh EP from this year’s most active and passionate gorge bootist, Indus Bonze, who asks the question whether gorge is dead or alive…
…but, to speak in the spirit of DJ Nanga: gorge is never dead nor alive. Gorge is the water crashing down from the rocks, with with no beginning and no end. Gorge is the rumble of the elements when the rocks were formed. Gorge was there long before us and will be there long after we are gone. Gorge is eternal.