Electronic Music Introductions..discuss

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Zen Butler, Jun 27, 2002.

  1. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    I have been fortunate to be part of some great Classical music discussions, in the general sense and it has seemed to have spawned a few sub-threads so...Electronic fans,
    I was first exposed to electronic music at the age 10 or 11, with David Bowie's Low , which I'm sure many of you know, Brian Eno produced. I would like to discuss anything electronic fromIDM, Drum n' Bass, Ambient, Jungle, Soundtracks(electronic) etc.
    Some of the openers: the pioneering Brian Eno, Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream , the everchanging face of Steve Roach the playful Drum n' Bass of Goldie, DJ Roni Size the thick, landscapes of Vangelis etc.
    Electronic Music IMO is a force, that we must at least acknowledge, and please if you dislike it, please tell us why?
    Post your suggestions, DID's, I'd be interested to know what you guys like...
     
  2. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    I first got hooked into electronic music with Jean-Michel Jarre's "Oxygene", then Wendy Carlos's renditions of Bach in her original "Switched-On Bach". I've still got a bunch of their 12-inchers. I've been lifelong fans of both of these pioneers since. Jean-Michel Jarre puts on spectacular concerts. So far, I've only seen a few of them on television, one day I hope to see one live. (Not often mentioned trivia: Jean-Michel Jarre's father is Maurice Jarre, the composer for "Lawrence of Arabia".)

    Yes, Vangelis is great, though I haven't followed his releases as closely. I love his "Direct" disc though and get great pleasure from performing his "Hymn" and "Theme from 'Missing'" on piano.

    With regard to the electronic acts in vogue today, I most enjoy The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy (looking forward to their newest release).
     
  3. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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  4. andrew markworthy

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    Electronic music has of course a rather longer history than J-M Jarre, Walter/Wendy Carlos et al. Perhaps the most obvious place to start is the work of Stockhausen, who was producing major works of electronic music back in the 1950s. Personally I can't stand the stuff (it's not based on normal musical scales and I can't discern any sort of beauty in it), so I'm afraid recommended recordings, etc, are not something I could address.

    The earliest pioneers of pop electronic music is arguably Walter/Wendy Carlos [in case you're wondering why I call the composer this - he started life as Walter Carlos, under which name he originally recorded Switched on Bach, and then changed sex at a later date]. Carlos's fame is really in that he showed that the then-new Moog synthesiser could be used for 'serious' music. The album to have is Switched on Bach. Note that there are two versions - the original and a newer version made for Telarc. Both are okay. Some of the other albums (The Well-Tempered Synthesiser, the Brandenburg Concerti, etc) are a matter of personal taste - some find them insightful, others rather kitsch (however, almost everyone likes the music he did for Clockwork Orange - again be aware that the original soundtrack album contains a lot of stuff which isn't Carlos's stuff). I'd advise listening before you buy. One slightly unusual piece by Carlos is worth checking out. It's a double album called Sonic Seasonings. It's what might be called the first ambient album, mixing synthsiser noises and melodies with natural sounds. Again, listen before buying.

    A few years after Switched on Bach, Jean-Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream opened up a new avenue in electronic pop. Until then, synthesiser music had sounded fairly 'clean-cut' (and ideal for composers like Bach), but they created much richer textures. Jarre's music is solidly aimed at accessible AOR (no sin in this, of course, unless you're a teenager with a closed mind), whereas TD were more experimental, and much of their music is the result of free-form improvisation. I've seen Jarre and TD in concert, and both were interesting, but curiously, both left me emotionally unmoved.

    Kraftwerk are perhaps *the* greatest exponents of electronic pop and I seriously believe they are the equal of the Beatles in their own way. Any electronic dance music which has followed is a footnote on their work. Black American groups adopted the ideas to a black music idiom, but at heart it's still the basic format that Kraftwerk established. All their work from Autobahn onwards is brilliant, and if you've not encountered their stuff, then listen to the albums in chronological order (be sure to get hold of 'Tour de France', a single which was never incorporated into an album).

    An honourable mention should be made for Yellow Magic Orchestra, a Japanese group (including Ryuichi Sakamoto) who were highly influential on 80s electro-pop bands. Certainly their influence was far greater than their record sales in the West.

    In spite of this eulogy, I must confess that I'm not hugely keen on the electro music of the last decade or so. Several reasons:

    (a) melody was sacrificed for repetitious four to the floor beats (I know this is ideal for dancing, but it's crap to listen to)

    (b) am I the only one who thinks that repeating the same verbal phrase again and again in a song is annoying rather than hypnotic?

    (c) I really don't like black music, and most electro music these days is based on it. Please don't impute a racist comment in this - I just don't like the harmonic progressions used in most black music, pure and simple.

    The only even vaguely modern electro group I like are the Pet Shop Boys, who are I guess a lot more famous in Europe than in the USA.
     
  5. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    nice post andrew!
    i love electronic music! everything from 80's to ambient to techno. if it involves a keyboard, i'm all for it. i have to give all the credit to the first a flock of seagulls album - my sister hated it and gave me her cassette! i was hooked!
    my random thoughts on the world of electronica:
    i must agree that kraftwerk were true pioneers - the stuff the did was so innovative, especially for their time. i can still listen to tour de france over and over.
    i'm also a pretty big fan of yello - they have the same innovative feel as kraftwerk, but the musical style is very different. forget oh yeah...they have lots of better songs.
    my all time favorite is depeche mode - nobody does it better. although they ventured into the world of analog (i still remember crackin' up with my friends when they busted out with a guitar and drum-set on the stage) i still consider them the electronic kings! give "violator" a whirl...you won't be disappointed.
    lest we forget new order - my second favorite group of all time. not really sure if you can call them electronic though...although "low life" is pretty electronicky.
    how about saint etienne? definitely electonic based. very soothing female vocal lead. their best-of is a great place to start, otherwise check out "foxbase alpha" - their best album.
    for more up-tempo stuff, all the usual suspects apply: underworld ("second toughest in the infants"), the crystal method ("vegas"), chemical brothers ("surrender"); the orb, bt, etc. all great artists for that genre
    i'm sure there's more i could post, but you get the picture.
    i do agree that some of todays stuff is too repetitive. i've got some song where the first three minutes is all the same, slow-building, looped sample. ugh!
    it's so overdone that it really takes something special to make it stand out.
     
  6. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    Vegas is actually Crystal Method , great album , both great break(big)-beat bands along with Propellerheads
     
  7. David R. Hendrickson

    David R. Hendrickson Stunt Coordinator

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  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    ah..my bad zen. i'll correct my post - thanks for the heads-up! "beaucoup fish" is the only one i don't have, so i'm glad to hear it's a good album...i'll definitely be picking it up!
    dead can dance are also great...i've got a few of their cds. but their best of is a really great primer.
    slightly off-topic, but if you like dcd, you should also check out this mortal coil - one of my top 5 bands.
    i was going to go home last night and lookup my collection...i've got a bunch of electronic stuff, but can never remember who. of course i forgot...
     
  9. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    darnit zen! stop correcting me! [​IMG] [​IMG]
    of course, you're right. this mortal coil is technically not a band, but a collaboration of artists...aren't they mainly from the 4ad label?
    anyway, sorry to hijack the thread...back to the topic at hand! [​IMG]
     
  11. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    Let's not forget that Vangelis composed the score to "Blade Runner". I picked up the latest release of the soundtrack a few years ago that includes a number of tracks never before released including the main title (though his 'Themes' cd included it). Interspersed is dialogue from the film that jogs memories. Very nice!

    Other soundtrack tidbits. Maurice Jarre (perhaps influenced by his son, Jean-Michel) dabbled in a largely (if not entirely) synthesizer soundtrack to SolarBabies (with Jami Gertz). I don't know if Maurice Jarre has done any other electronic work since.
     
  12. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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  13. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    ha! you may be right...yet again!
    i'm gld you guys brought up vangelis' "themes". i had a friend who had that cd - we used to play it all the time. i loved it...may have to go get it now...darn you all! [​IMG]
     
  14. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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  15. Raine Linton

    Raine Linton Stunt Coordinator

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    My first electronic music experience came in 1965 or 66 when Dick Hyman put out a 45 called "The Minataur". I was the only person that I found to like it. From there it exploded to TD and Ashra Tempel and more. Now, I'm fortunate to live just blocks away from Eurock and I hope to shout that electronic music is alive and well. If you can pick up Ashok "The Electric Eyes of Man" and hear the best stuff you've heard in years!!
    Raine
     
  16. David R. Hendrickson

    David R. Hendrickson Stunt Coordinator

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    definately a turning point, but i don't think i'd say TD in nature. i've been listening to the few TD CD's i have and they're missing something. to me they just don't have any substance. no depth like Vangelis.
    maybe i'm not being fair though. i only own 4 TD cd's:
    Best Of...The Blue Years
    Tyranny Of Beauty
    Risky Business soundtrack (Love On A Real Train is ok)
    Dreaming On Danforth Avenue (live)
    campared to the 35+ Vangelis cd's i have and maybe 15-20 of Mike Oldfield...
    i guess they're just a little mellow for my tastes... [​IMG]
     
  17. Stefan A

    Stefan A Second Unit

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    From skimming through the thread I guess this is not what you are talking about, but I though i'd chime in. There are some 20th century "classical" composers who have composed electronic music. Like Edgar Varese. Check out his Poem Electronique. Also, Stockhausen. There are many other composers of this type, but I have not thought about it in a few years so the names escape me.
     
  18. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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  19. Andrew Chong

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    Ted, the first time I listened to Vangelis's 'Themes', I managed to borrow it from the library on cassette tape. I played it many times then often to accompany my studying. A few years later I found it at HMV on CD for $9.99 CDN. I have no doubt that you should be able to find it for a similar price now considering this compilation is quite old (1989).

    Zen, I picked up 'Antarctica' at about the same time I picked up 'Themes'. I think I listened to it once back then, apart from the main theme, it didn't strike a chord (pun unintended) with me; ought to listen to it again soon. I wonder how the film is.
     
  20. JasonK

    JasonK Supporting Actor

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    Great topic. I'm currently reading a book called The Ambient Century (author's name escapes me...) which has discussion similar to this.

    Since I haven't seen his name here yet, what about Richard D. James? Aphex Twin is the electronic act that has impressed me the most.

    The Richard D. James album is an outstanding example of jungle/drill/drum-and-bass music done beautifully. I love all of his albums, really. To paraphrase the Onion's AV Club, Aphex Twin has an internal logic that escapes other electronic music acts. (They cited Squarepusher.)

     

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