Academics explore jungle and techno

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The Independent Online
UNIVERSITIES HAVE declared drum'n'bass, techno, house and garage subjects of serious academic study.

Nineteen research academics and one club owner will gather in a lecture theatre at Leeds University tomorrow to interpret the oeuvre of rapper Tricky, deconstruct the Prodigy and debate the "formation of value judgements" among jungle DJs.

A symposium will hear Dr Hillegonda Rietveld, a senior lecturer at South Bank University, discuss the identity of club, garage and house, while a Sheffield University research fellow, Nichola Dibben, is planning to examine the "normative man and machine relationship" in the recent work of Spooky That Subliminal Kid.

The two-day conference will also try to interpret the cultural significance of "Smack My Bitch Up" by the Prodigy, assess whether "four to the floor" techno answers critiques of contemporary culture and consider the underground dance scene in Sydney.

The organisers have also planned a Friday night field trip to allow a little practical criticism on the dance floor of a Leeds nightclub.

The conference organiser, Dr Steve Sweeney-Turner, a lecturer in music at Leeds University, said he wanted to examine the development of dance culture in the 10 years since the first illegal raves were organised in the late 1980s, fuelled by the dance drug, ecstasy.

Dr Sweeney-Turner, who organised a symposium on Britpop last year, explained that he will be trying to "map the various forms of ambivalence and deviance which underpin Tricky's work" at the conference.

He said: "There's no way of avoiding it. It is the music of Britain in 1998.

"It's the 10th anniversary of the summer of love in 1988 and it's important because the Manchester scene exploded around 10 years ago as well and gave us the starting point for everything we have had during the 1990s.

"This is not just about music. We have sociologists, cultural studies specialists, as well as diehard musicologists."