Sex, Robots, Drugs and James Murphy
Electronica. Music that emphasizes the use of electronic musical instruments or electronic music technology as a central aspect of the sound of the music; can include “dozens of stylistic fusions” ranging from danceable grooves to chill out music meant for headphones. It is a much maligned musical genre, often referred to as ‘soulless’ or too repetitive.
I submit that electronic music can be sexy, warm and even evoke a great sense of nostalgia. It can also be pretentious, silly and ridiculous and date very poorly.
Allmusic.com identifies over 75 different ‘sub-genres’ of electronica, ranging from ‘ambient’ to ‘trip hop’ to ‘techno’ to ‘experimental dub’ to straight ahead ‘house’.
There’s electronica for rock fans (Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Underworld, LCD Soundsystem), stoners (AIR, Future Sound Of London, The Orb, Tangerine Dream), ravers (Primal Scream, Basement Jaxx, Daft Punk), and fans of hip-hop (Massive Attack, Tricky, Coldcut).
And then there are the pioneers of electronica: Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Gary Newman, Brian Eno, Suicide and even David Bowie, to a degree. And although these pioneers above would go on to influence a host of really great bands they also were responsible for some of the most dreadful bands of the last 50 years. The reason people hated the 80’s music scene and overlooked some of the great gems of the decade (some even going so far as to stop buying music. Period) was due to the God awful bandwagon jumpers like The Flock Of Seagulls (who really only used synthesizers to “color” their sound, but who’s haircuts will forever be linked to the worst of that decade), to name but one. I suppose you could say that electronica and/or dance music, as popular as it remains, will always divide the room no matter what decade it is.
Top electronic-based albums, for me, include:
Jean Michelle Jarre: Oxygene
The ORB: UFOFF
Pet Shop Boys: Introspective
Kraftwerk: The Man Machine
OMD: Dazzle Ships
LCD Soundsystem: Sound Of Silver
AIR: Moon Safari
Primal Scream: Screamadelica
Chemical Brothers: Exit Planet Dust
Gary Numan: The Pleasure Principal
KLF: the White Room
Pop Will Eat Itself: The Cure For Sanity