Archive for May, 2007

My ‘Simian Mobile Disco’ flashback

Posted on 22 May, 2007. Filed under: Dance music, Disco, DJ, Electro, electro funk, Electronic Music, electropop, Music | Tags: , , |

Has anyone else born in the late ’70s-early 80s experienced random flashback feelings while listening to any of the new stuff by Simian Mobile Disco? Particularly stuff from their “Attack Decay Sustain Release” album?

A few days ago I heard “I Believe” on the radio. I felt like I was listening to Heaven 17 mixed with Kajagoogoo, with a slightly more dancey feel. I suddenly had flashbacks of sitting in the back of my parent’s car with my white Sony walkman (I was so freakin’ cool), clicking STOP, REWIND, PLAY over and over again just so I could listen to my favourite song at the time repeatedly (this was before I learnt how to record the same song over and over again on to one tape).

Yesterday I was driving along, had the radio going (forgot to put CDs back in after cleaning it out) and next thing I know… “down down baby down down the rollercoaster sweet sweet baby I’ll never let you go…!” I remember playing that game in primary school! It was so cool.

Anyway, talk about retro revival! It was like this group was playing out my childhood. This album definately had their target audience in mind. I’d be interested to see the demographics of people who buy this album.

Grandma grandma, sick in bed! Called the doctor and the doctor said!
Let’s get the rhythm of the head Ding-Dong! Let’s get the rhythm of the head Ding-Dong!
Let’s get the rhythm of the hands Clap-Clap! Let’s get the rhythm of the hands Clap-Clap!
Let’s get the rhythm of the feet Stamp-Stamp! Let’s get the rhythm of the feet Stamp-Stamp!
Let’s get the rhythm of the Hoootdog! Let’s get the rhythm of the Hoootdog!
Put ’em all together and what do you get?!?!

DING-DONG CLAP-CLAP STAMP-STAMP HOOOT-DOG!

Track details: Simian Mobile Disco – I Believe
Simian Mobile Disco – Hotdog

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The GodMOTHER of drum & bass?

Posted on 22 May, 2007. Filed under: beats, Breakbeat, breaks, Dance music, DJ, DnB, Drum'n'Bass, Electronic Music, Electronic Music Artists / DJs, Electronic Music Genres, Electronica, Hardcore, jungle, Music, Techno | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

You know, the more you delve in to the history of different electronic genres, the more suprises you’re likely to find. I love it!

As with most things, electronic music genres are dominated by male artists. I can think of only 4 female’s right off the top of my head, and only 1 of those is probably known throughout the majority of dance music circles (excluding hip hop, rap etc, not that I’d class those as dance).

But I would just like to make special mention here of one. One that has had much more of an impact on electronic music (particularly jungle, drum’n’bass, breaks) than most realise.

The thing with DJs is that they can be hard to keep track of. Particularly in jungle and drum’n’bass, few DJs use their real names. And if they happen to partner up with someone else or enter a new genre, they’ll use a new name (check out the AKA’s for Roni Size and Dillinja, for example).

ANYWAY! The person I want to mention is none other than DJ Rap (aka. Charissa Saverio). If I could be anyone, this is who I’d pick.DJ Rap
Not only is she beautiful (so much so she was approached by CK), but she’s also a fantastic muso, is quite intelligent (almost became a lawyer) AND can sing!

Under her own name (well, the DJ Rap name) she’s produced lots of fantastic music. But under OTHER names, she has produced some tunes that have come to represent a genre and an era.

Anyone who’s had any contact with jungle or oldskool will recognise the tune ‘Spiritual Aura’ (if the name doesn’t ring a bell, the tune certainly will). Remember ‘Tibetan Jungle’? ‘Digable Bass’?

All of these songs are seminal works within their genre, all produced under DJ Rap or the artist name of Engineers Without Fears, of which DJ Rap was half of.

Who was the other half? Well, it was another top talent in their field, Aston Harvey (half of what is otherwise known as The Freestylers).

So next time you’re listening to a track, and something about it reminds you of some other artist, take a squiz at who actually wrote it, and you might just discover yet another alter ego for your hero.

Track Details: Engineers without Fears – Spiritual Aura

If you like that, have a listen to: DJ Rap – Tibetan Jungle
Also try: DJ Rap – Good to be Alive

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Intelligent Dance Music?

Posted on 17 May, 2007. Filed under: braindance, Dance music, DJ, Electro, Electronic art music, Electronic Music, Electronic Music Artists / DJs, Electronic Music Genres, Electronica, experimental, glitch, IDM, intelligent dance music, minimal, Music, Music Genre, Techno | Tags: , , , , , |

Who coined the term “Intelligent Dance Music”?
(sidenote: and what do coins have to do with words?!)

Personally, I think it’s a bit of a misrepresentation of the style.

“Intelligent dance music (commonly known as IDM) is a genre of electronic music derived from dance music of the 1980s and early 1990s which puts an emphasis on novel processing and sequencing. Music referred to as IDM is generally abstract, and may range from soft ambient textures to more abrasive noise.”

What is the “intelligent” part referring to? I’ve seen one definition of it saying that it’s music that moves not only the body, but the mind too. I’ve also read within a sentence of that quote that IDM is “typically, very difficult to dance to”. So it doesn’t move the body, but it does the mind?

This style of music is often very difficult to process by mainstream listeners. I know the first time I heard Aphex Twin, I was kinda freaked out. And Bjork (both of whom were once or are placed within the genre of IDM).

Actually, I think I just answered my own question.
If we look back over the artists who were placed within the IDM genre, you see that alot of them pioneered new styles and/or techniques in the electronic field.

Also, the term ‘mainstream’ usually refers to something that appeals to the lowest common social denominator, so it makes sense that ‘mainstream’ listeners would find it difficult to listen to.

I liked this quote…

“A loaded term meant to distinguish electronic music of the ’90s and later that’s equally comfortable on the dancefloor as in the living room, IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) eventually acquired a good deal of negative publicity, not least among the legion of dance producers and fans whose exclusion from the community prompted the question of whether they produced stupid dance music.” — All Music Guide

Alot of the IDM I’ve heard over time has been quite ‘avant-garde’ – something new and a little… out there? Maybe the original IDM-ers used the term IDM as a protection when first releasing their music to the electronic massive.

“Man, that’s some warped, mixed up sheet right there.”
“Nah man, that’s Intelligent Dance Music.”
“Oh, then that was well wikkid brah!”

“As the idiom developed, the music became more and more about the novelty of certain sounds and treatments, ridiculously trivial aspects like tempo and choice of samples, and the public personae of the makers. It became a race to novelty. I find that kind of evolution beneath triviality. It is a decorative, not substantive, evolution.” — Journalist and Electrical Audio recording engineer Steve Albini

IDM has also been referred to as “Braindance”, and I think that kind of fits the style more. Or maybe “Brainseizure”.

But then again, it could just all be down to marketing.

“I hate IDM and its elitist champions. It makes the music sound so much more than it actually is. It’s a label invented by PR companies who need catchphrases. I like sounds, but hate what people attach to sounds.” — Kid 606

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Come to Aphex Twin!

Posted on 17 May, 2007. Filed under: Ambient, beats, breaks, chillout, Dance music, DJ, DnB, Down Tempo, downtempo, Drum&Bass, Drum'n'Bass, Electro, Electronic art music, Electronic Music, Electronic Music Artists / DJs, Electronic Music Genres, experimental, House, house music, IDM, industrial, Music, Music Genre, Psychedelic trance, psytechno, psytrance, rave, Techno | Tags: , , , , , |

Have you ever had one of those days, where everything that comes up on your playlist reminds you of one particular artist? Like…
“oh, that beat reminds me of artist X”.
“Hey that sound reminds me of artist X”.
“Wait, I’m sure artist X has a few tunes like that”.

Well, over this last weekend alot of the tunes I’ve been listening to seem to remind me of (that wacky Irish camper himself) Aphex Twin. Yet I haven’t listened to one actual Aphex Twin song in months!
Richard David James - Aphex Twin

What I have been listening to though is a variety of jungle, hardcore, drum’n’bass, ambient and psytrance. Could it really be that Aphex Twin sounds like all of these?

One of the artists I listened to was Boards of Canada. They have that kind of ambient, IDM, experimental feel to them. And they are all words that you can definately apply to Aphex Twin (Selected Ambient Works?).

I also listened to some of The Knife, that Swedish synthpop pair who have some pretty warped sounds, with hints of mainstreaminess. Hmm, also Aphex Twin-ey (Richard D. James?).

And finally, there was some good ol’ Infected Mushroom. To me, there are some very similar beats, rhythms and mix-ups between the two.

You know, I think I may even go so far as to say, a journey through Aphex Twin is a journey through a vast array of electronic music styles.

Track Details: Aphex Twin – Window Licker
Track Details: Boards of Canada – Dayvan Cowboy
Track Details: The Knife – Like a Pen

If you like those, try: Aphex Twin – Digeridoo
Aphex Twin – Polynomial-C
Boards of Canada – Music is Math
Boards of Canada – Kid for Today
The Knife – We Share Our Mother’s Health
The Knife – Heartbeats

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Minor – the key to my heart

Posted on 16 May, 2007. Filed under: dark ambient, dark electro, dark progressive house, dark psytrance, darkcore, darkstep, darkwave, DnB, Drum&Bass, Drum'n'Bass, Electronic Music |

I adore minor keys. They’re not discordant or jarring. They’re just… more melancholy? Darker?

I’ve been trying to quantify what it is that gets me about them. I studied music for almost a decade, but I still can’t say exactly what it is. So (as per usual) I went snooping around the net looking for someone else to say it for me.

“In the German theory by or derived from Hugo Riemann, the minor mode is considered the inverse of the major mode, an upside down major scale based on (theoretical) undertones rather than (actual) overtones (harmonics).
Minor scales are sometimes said to have a more interesting, possibly sadder sound than plain major scales. The minor mode, with its variable sixth and seventh degrees, offers nine notes, in C: C-D-Eflat-F-G-Aflat-A-Bflat-B, over the major mode’s seven, in C: C-D-E-F-G-A-B. The interval strength, or lowest possible location in the harmonic series, and thus consonance and “stability”, of minor triads is less than that of major, which interprets major as more “stable”, a major triad being found in the 4th, 5th, and 6th harmonics of a pitch, while the minor being the 10th, 12th, and 15th. This may explain the Picardy third, the use of a major tonic chord at the very end of a composition in minor, since it would be more stable and thus conclusive.”

Yes, couldn’t have put it better myself!

I will make one generalisation though. The majority of dark-genre songs (ie. dark drum’n’bass, dark breakbeat etc) are based on minor keys. The majority of happy or uplifting genre songs are based on major keys.

I’ll find some and show you soon!

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Elgar Gets a Make-Over

Posted on 8 May, 2007. Filed under: beats, Dance music, DJ, Electronic Music, Electronic Music Artists / DJs, Music, remix, Techno |

On the weekend I went to a symphony with my Dad. The main attraction for me (apart from one of the cellists – teehee) was Vaughan Williams’ ‘Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis’.

The “headlining” piece was actually Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’. This was, ofcourse, towards the end of the concert, and by that stage I was getting a little drowsy. Well, did that change when they started this!

If any of you are familiar with the first movement of ‘Enigma Variations’, you’ll know why my interest was piqued.

If any of you are familiar with Rob Dougan’s ‘Clubbed to Death’, that’s why my interest was piqued!

The string theme used in the beginning of (and throughout) ‘Clubbed to Death’ is none other than the ‘Enigma Variation’ theme. Rob D just added some sexy bass lines and synthetic sounds.

Why I didn’t pick this up before the concert, I’ll never know. But I’m glad I didn’t, as it was a great suprise! I’m sure there were lots of other under 35yo (or Matrix fans) in the audience who agreed.

Anyway, hearing this piece got me thinking. Out of all my favourite classical pieces, which one would be most awesome to remix?

And how does one go about remixing an old song? Do you take out the theme from the original, think of a beat you like, then work it in? Or do you think about how you want the song to feel and then go from there?

Another question, is it harder to remix an established piece of music (particularly if it’s well written), than starting from scratch? The style and movement of it is already so intrenched by it’s genre, wouldn’t it be difficult to break away from that?

Track details: Edward Elgar – Enigma Variations
Track details: Rob Dougan – Clubbed to Death

If you like that, try: The Prodigy – Mozart Remix

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