Electronic Music and The Mainstream
You may, or may not, remember way back when this blog first started, I mentioned that perhaps from time to time I would have guest articles from other people. Well, today is the first of those. This piece was written by my good friend Weeks – he’s a connoisseur of electronic music, and a rabid Aphex Twin fan, but don’t hate him for that, give the article a read…
Electronic Music and The Mainstream – by Weeks.
I’m not so much referring to electronic music that appears in the mainstream, because as far as I’m concerned there isn’t any proper electronic music in the mainstream. Nor am I referring to dance music, as that is concerned with, well, dancing, more than the electronic medium with which it’s created.
So, I’m referring to the likes of; Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Orbital, Autechre, DJ Shadow, Luke Vibert, DJ Food, etc and why these bands and artists are never in the mainstream. I started thinking about this when reading a post in FIZIKZ’s last.fm group about how electronic music is, on the whole, conspicuously missing from rateyourmusic.com‘s top 1000.
Obviously, being a huge electronica fan, I am a little biased. But I cannot for the life of me work out how anyone couldn’t appreciate works such as In Sides by Orbital or Endtroducting by DJ Shadow. I’m thankfully aware I’m not a complete freak; I’ve met countless people, on the internet and the “other place”, who also appreciate the same artists as I do. But in no way do these people make up the mainstream. They need to be sought out. They are the sort of people who are normally found plugged into their portable music players with a dreamy and content look on their faces, and sometimes they come together in various drum’n’bass or turntabalism nights that appear about once a month in local nightclubs (sometimes less if you live in the arse-end of nowhere, which I do).
A while back, I read a 2006 predictions article on kuro5hin which predicted electronic music will “come back to fill the void.” That statement asks two questions: Firstly, was it ever here? We had Depeche Mode, but that seems a world away from the complex electronic arrangements of the aforementioned artists. Secondly, will it ever reach a mainstream audience? BBC News once had an article pertaining how a large proportion of the population have difficulty following complex pieces of music – something I experienced when I started to listen to classical music, which ceased after prolonged exposure. If that is true, it begs the question will the populous as a whole ever give electronic music enough of a chance? Will it remain a niche market, along side classical music and jazz, or will it, as the kuro5hin article states, break on through to the other side? Thoughts?
Interesting thoughts there from Señor Weeks. I personally think there are many factors as to why we never see much electronic music in the mainstream. Firstly there are strict rules on releasing a single in the charts, like; the track cannot be any longer than about 3m20s. Don’t find many BOC, Aphex Twin, or Orbital tracks that are bang on that length, it’s either far shorter or much, much, longer. But mainly, the charts are all about making money and making it quickly. The big-wigs have found tried and tested methods to maximise profits – get a catchy beat/bassline (usually ripped off from a classic song), then get a good looking person to sing some catchy lyrics over the top and have them dance half naked in the video. After that, they just have to make sure it gets played on the tv and radio at least 30 times a day, and hey presto! There’s never much in the charts with artistic integrity. Just my thoughts anyway.
In other news, Tru Thoughts have tickled my fancy. Apparently they have some new releases; The Broken Keys – Gravity, Quantic – An Announcement To Answer, and Alice Russell – Under The Munka Moon II. The Broken Keys is the name for the collaborative project between Nostalgia 77 and Natural Self, this promises to be hella jazzy and is out now. The new LP from Quantic took over 18 months to make and was recorded mostly via a laptop at various locations around the globe, this is meant to demonstrate the next step in the Quantic sound, deeper, and mature like a fine wine. Lastly, Alice Russell is back with Under The Munka Moon II – this is 13 tracks worth of wicked covers, collaborations, and remixes with artists such as; DJ Vadim, Bonobo, Nostalgia 77, Natural Self, and TM Juke. I believe this one is due out shortly. Cant wait to get my grubby little hands on all three. Anyway, I’ll leave you with a track…
Boards of Canada – Happy Cycling
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 29th July.
Don’t forget to leave some comments with regards to Weeks’ article, I know he’ll be very interested to hear other peoples’ views on the topic. If ever you have something you’d like to share, or you’ve recently been to a festival and fancy doing a write-up, give me a shout as I would like to put that sort of stuff up on the blog. Bye for now!