Friday, August 31, 2012

Another link roundup

1.  Naoise Hefferon helps catch me up on what I've been missing from the Toronto electronic music scene.  It makes perfect sense -- anyone who wants to make a living playing pure techno has already skipped town and isn't coming back, so a bunch of weird hybrid genres pop up to fill the vacuum.  By not being the epicentre for any of electronic music's main genres, Toronto has more freedom to define and develop its own microscenes.  Sometimes it's nice if the city and the music are inexorably linked (e.g. Berlin and Detroit to techno), but on the other hand, up and coming producers don't have to worry about fitting their music into the dominant musical framework that surrounds them.

Nautiluss and Jonah K's haunted, IDM-tinged dubstep make them two artists to watch for sure.  I'm partial to the Jonah K track, possibly because of it's resemblance to Speedy J's classic track "G Spot" from 1995.  Speedy J ... way ahead of his time once again.

2.  Michael Gira is killing it on the interview circuit in the promotion of the new Swans album "The Seer".  If "My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky" was a throwback to the brutal, rhythmic pounding of mid 80's Swans, then "The Seer" recalls the 90's version of the band with its walls of guitar noise and uncomfortable ambiance (although there is ample time given to the scraping and pounding stuff as well over the album's two hour running time.

3.  Orbital and Stephen Hawking at the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics.  To recap: we hear the brilliant "Where Is It Going" from their new album over Hawking's promise of new frontiers opening up in particle physics while the TV commentators say "the stadium transforms into the Large Hadron Collider of CERN".  I certainly didn't expect to hear any of those things during a sports broadcast in my lifetime, not even individually let alone in combination.

4.  Rolling Stone have been going list crazy lately (the sidebars on their website are full of list links) and the US has been going crazy for dance music, put it all together and you get the 30 Greatest EDM Albums of All Time.

The list is a joke, of course.  Unless your experience with EDM either a) begins and ends with Deadmau5 and Skillrex or you b) are old enough to vaguely remember that time in the 90's when a handful of Fatboy Slim and Prodigy videos were in heavy rotation on MTV, then you'll take away nothing from this list other than twisted nightmares of what RS considers canonical about these genres.  The acts that fit into the two groupings above (Skillrex, Deadmau5, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Prodigy) are accorded albums in the canon, whereas everyone else, including the legends who would stand front and centre in any ordinary history of EDM or techno (e.g. Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, Orbital) are represented via compilations.  You know, because unlike Skillrex, apparently none of those acts released a great albums during their 25+ year careers, so you're better off tracking down their greatest hits instead.  There are so many compilations and DJ mixes on this list that you might read it and believe that almost nobody was capable of making a great album in EDM.  Or that all these great DJ's and producers never ventured outside the cradle of their clubs or home studios and everyone stayed in a holding pattern until Moby and Madonna showed them how to turn their ideas into credible albums.

What's more, there are some absolutely bizarre comparisons in the album write ups:

-- '[Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator" gives] EDM its very own version of Chuck Berry's 'Rock and Roll Music'".  ???

-- "If Juan Atkins was ? and the Mysterians, [Jeff] Mills is the Stooges".  ??? Is it just because they're all from Michigan?  

-- "'Block Rockin' Beats' is up there with the riff to the Kinks 'You Really Got Me' in the Ass Kicking Intro canon".  Why is it up there with "You Really Got Me" instead of "Smoke On the Water" or "Sunshine of Your Love"?  Why this random choice?  Were they just picking superstar rock names out of a hat? I suppose they wanted names, any names, that their readers would be sure to recognize, because it's not like they could put anything on the list in its proper context by comparing it to music by other EDM artists.  


Leee said...

I'm getting old, no doubt, because I'm really bothered that "EDM" has become the label du jour to describe dancey bleepy music (maybe some IDM defensive coming out of me here). I actually prefer using "techno" as a catchall, since Detroit is a progenitor of most of the current styles, no?

(I swore once to myself that I'd never get het up about labels, but here I am.)

Barry said...

I don't mind "EDM". I didn't mind "electronica" back in the day either, but that term has some (mostly negative) baggage now, so it's not surprising that they decided to think up a newer, neutral-sounding term.