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crizon
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I am listening to electronica for several years now (not exclusively) and I thought I offer a few songs and artists that deserve a little more credit and show that electronic music is more than techno and trance.

Actually I don't consider house, trance, techno and dance to be electronica. Other people might disagree, but IMO electronica differs greatly from other branches of electronic music.

I think it's best to illustrate my point with an example. Let's take a primary rock and the founder of "trip-hop" DJ Shadow.

DJ Shadow - Midnight in a perfect world

DJ Shadow - Building Steam with a Grain of Salt

Both from his genius album Endtroducing back in 1996.

As you can see with these few examples it is hard to find a coherent style to describe electronica. Often times you will find artists jumping through styles heavily on the same album. Now I think it is save to say that DJ Shadow's music was influenced by Hiphop (dj'ing), but he defiantly developed his own thing and I would consider him to be the founding father of electronica.

Sadly his latest Albums have been a great disappointment for me though.

Another heavyweight in this field is RJD2 and IMO close to his style Wax Tailor

(my personal favorite)

Both Wax Tailor and RJD2, like DJ Shadow, have their roots in Hiphop, but I think they moved further away than Shadow and by now it clearly is it's own genre.

An example of a great more recent artist is Quantic (my favorite electronica artist), that can be put in the sub-category nu-jazz, which is (big surprise) influenced by jazz.

Quantic - Transatlantic

Another more recent great artist that could must be named is Bonobo. Tends to be slower and more melodic than others.

Bonobo - Silver

Bonbo - Dinosaurs

Some other songs that I have to mention in this "category":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q5wcrqBBOU

Mr Scruff - Midnight Feast

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVjgRlto8PI

Blockhead - The Strain

Blockhead - Carnivores Unite

opgave - writing with silver

A sub-genre that seems to be the most well-know is trip-hop with artists like massive attack and portishead and it is more than just a hip-hop beat and singing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yftOy8kz7aE

Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8us3432lh4M&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzm1DY3hJL8&feature=related

A less well-known but equally great trip-hop artist is Alif Tree

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VkLR4ccpRQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69NHutGwwbg&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-MFXFas6F8&feature=related

Of course this was just a tiny part of what is out there on electronic music that goes under the radar. The only thing that I think can be found in all electronic music is some sort of a beat (but I do know a few exceptions). So if you don't like beats at all, you won't like electronic music.

Anyways just wanted to try to give you a (maybe) new perspective on electronic music and to show that it is not just house and techno. I hope you maybe found something that you liked :D

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I love techno/trance/electronica!! I heard of DJ Shadow, but not any of the others. I'll have to check them out.

My personal favorite is Kraftwerk. Their music is *very* different from any modern electronic music, but they invented the entire genre. They developed techno back in the 1970's, which I think was pretty visionary back then. Also, a lot of modern, mainstream music (rap/r&:D use Kraftwerk songs for the instrumentals.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
I've just recently been getting into some indie/electronic music. I love M83 and Of Montreal, as well as Manitoba/Caribou. Animal Collective's latest stuff is very loop-based as well. I've always been interested in kraftwerk and portishead but never gotten into them.

Woah. Person after my own tastes. I've met of Montreal before at a gig in their hometown, they're great live (incidentally oM is from Georgia, not Canada).

Animal Collective...ahh. "We Tigers", "College", and "Peacebone" have to be my three favorites.

Another electronic group worth noting: Ladytron. YYYs new album is very synth-heavy as well.

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Alright, I'm sure to spark a debate with this somewhat flip comment. I listened to a few of these, since you didn't actually give me any reasons in writing about why this music has more to offer than I might think (I assume an ostensible "obvious" sort of definition is what you were after.)

My first thought was "meh" It's fine. It's catchy. It has a beat you can tap your foot to. It's the elevator music of Gen Y. Don't get me wrong. I think it's fine, in a very specific context (I had XM Chill on in the radio last week in fact while driving to work, and I have a few Rhapsody channels like this bookmarked).

However, if I find myself actually focusing on the music itself, as I would to listen to a symphony or a nice improve jazz set, then I find it dull and boring. After about 20 minutes of it in the car last week, I found myself thinking, gosh, this reminds me of the sort of context that my grandfather used to have easy listening on in the car when he drove -- to have something on in the background that sounds vaguely familiar to some genre of music I like, but for which any single element of is entirely non-descript -- familiar, but not quite memorable.

Metaphorically to me as a listener, I find it a lot like an artistic color study, or like a stitching sampler. Something that the artist uses to build his ear, or practice his technique, but which in and of itself is not really a work.

There. I said it. Let the flames begin. :)

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There's all sorts of good music, Kendall. You can't compare electronica to most jazz or a symphony because you would never listen to all of that music while you were in the same mood. You should judge electronica against other electronica, or "beat driven" music, or maybe even atmospheric music. Hmm... maybe atmospheric music would be a bridge between a symphony and an electronica song.

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There's all sorts of good music, Kendall. You can't compare electronica to most jazz or a symphony because you would never listen to all of that music while you were in the same mood. You should judge electronica against other electronica, or "beat driven" music, or maybe even atmospheric music. Hmm... maybe atmospheric music would be a bridge between a symphony and an electronica song.

I agree that there is all sort of good music, James. But that does not mean that all genre's of music are necessarily good nor that they cannot be compared to each other. Comparing this genre to others is completely appropriate - specifically because of their difference in effect on mood.

It may be true that I use a particular genre of music to achieve a particular end, for example to put myself in a particular mood, but that doesn't necessarily correlate to it's esthetic value.

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Comparing this genre to others is completely appropriate - specifically because of their difference in effect on mood.
What I meant was that some types of music are only appropriate for certain moods. I can't listen to piano music unless I'm already mellowed out because I'll get bored. Likewise, electronica is almost impossible when I'm all relaxed. I agree that music can put you in moods, too, but that almost only happens with me as putting me in the general mood I was in when I listened to it at a prior time. Also, when I listen, I seek music to match my mood.

You're right, some music as a whole is not as good as others, but I'm not convinced it's because the genre itself is bad. Would you be able to put them in a hierarchy? And how would you base it? Rap is the most reprehensible genre I can think of (barely music at all), and these days hiphop, too, but even those genres have some real gems. Had that culture latched onto something else, rap and hiphop might have really been something. Similarly, I don't think many DJs know much about music, based on what I've heard. Most house music is very similar, and really boring. But they sure as hell know a lot about levels of sound, types of sound and beats.

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I'm a fan of electronic music as well. I can understand Kendall's sentiment. I enjoy listening to electronic music just for fun basically. When I want something simple and fun I listen to techno, when I want something inspiring and uplifting I'll listen to a symphony. Something more complex like a symphony commands your attention, where electronic music is more casual. You can keep it on in the background while in the car, or doing a routine task etc.

Of course, there is a lot of very bad electronica as well. I can't stand the kind that degenerates into unintelligible noises or repetitive speaking. (There was actually one from the UK that was just a cut-up of an Obama speech)

I have a lastFM account although I haven't used it in for some time. One of my favs is

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I'm a fan of electronic music as well. I can understand Kendall's sentiment. I enjoy listening to electronic music just for fun basically. When I want something simple and fun I listen to techno, when I want something inspiring and uplifting I'll listen to a symphony. Something more complex like a symphony commands your attention, where electronic music is more casual. You can keep it on in the background while in the car, or doing a routine task etc.

Of course, there is a lot of very bad electronica as well. I can't stand the kind that degenerates into unintelligible noises or repetitive speaking. (There was actually one from the UK that was just a cut-up of an Obama speech)

I have a lastFM account although I haven't used it in for some time. One of my favs is

Calling electronic music 'simple and fun' does a disservice to the genius, talent and creativity that goes into a lot of it. Perhaps some you guys have only listened to mainstream electronic music. There are many sub-genre's and undiscovered beauties of the electronic music world that perhaps have escaped your ears for lack of looking.

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Would you mind sharing?

Right now I'm listening to theflashbulb while I code. This is quite simply astonishingly genius music. Much more than just electronica though, eclectic mastermind. These City Lights is an awesome track.

http://www.theflashbulb.net/

http://www.myspace.com/bennjordan

Edited by Axiomatic
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Calling electronic music 'simple and fun' does a disservice to the genius, talent and creativity that goes into a lot of it. Perhaps some you guys have only listened to mainstream electronic music. There are many sub-genre's and undiscovered beauties of the electronic music world that perhaps have escaped your ears for lack of looking.

So what is it that makes the "genius, talent and creativity" and why is such genius and talent so undiscovered? That of course was the original intent of the challenge. Just asserting it is so doesn't make it so. I'm trying to see if someone will simply articulate the difference.

Yes, I listened to the links. They sound a bit more sophisticated, but other than that, there isn't much difference. A little more jazzy perhaps. If you can articulate it, I'm all ears.

It's not that I have an issue with anyone who likes the music. Hell, I like the music. But when people assert genius, well then I'm interested in how they arrive at it.

Rand didn't suggest that music was aesthetically subjective. She simply said that there isn't a science of music's cause and effect by which to judge. So the question is why is this music "genius"?

Edited by KendallJ
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So what is it that makes the "genius, talent and creativity" and why is such genius and talent so undiscovered? That of course was the original intent of the challenge. Just asserting it is so doesn't make it so. I'm trying to see if someone will simply articulate the difference.

Yes, I listened to the links. They sound a bit more sophisticated, but other than that, there isn't much difference. If you can articulate it, I'm all ears.

Part of why I like this particular artists is his sense of life and obvious dedication to the perfection of his original sound, blending many different styles, instruments, genre's and beats into a melody that achieves the atmosphere which he intends to communicate to perfection.

I cannot believe anyone would deny the genius of this man's music. I wonder if he is throwing pearls to swine much of the time and perhaps that is why he is relatively 'undiscovered'.

Saying that this is just a 'bit more sophisticated' is the understatement of the year as far as I'm concerned.

Edited by Axiomatic
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Part of why I like this particular artists is his sense of life and obvious dedication to the perfection of his original sound, blending many different styles, instruments, genre's and beats into a melody that achieves the atmosphere which he intends to communicate to perfection.

And this is so vacuous a statement as to be applicable to anyone you might consider. You need to know his intent, and the atmosphere which he intends to acheive. Do you have evidence for that? Do you have some evidence that the composers of "mainstream" have somehow failed to acheive their desired atmosphere?

I cannot believe anyone would deny the genius of this man's music. I wonder if he is throwing pearls to swine much of the time and perhaps that is why he is relatively 'undiscovered'.

Saying that this is just a 'bit more sophisticated' is the understatement of the year as far as I'm concerned.

And this is argument from intimidation. It amounts to "it's obvious. if you don't see it, you must be swine."

Look you don't have to get defensive. If you've got some sort of reason to characterize it as genius. I'd like to hear it. If you don't, then saying you just like it is not a bad thing.

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And this is so vacuous a statement as to be applicable to anyone you might consider. You need to know his intent, and the atmosphere which he intends to acheive. Do you have evidence for that? Do you have some evidence that the composers of "mainstream" have somehow failed to acheive their desired atmosphere?

And this is argument from intimidation. It amounts to "it's obvious. if you don't see it, you must be swine."

Look you don't have to get defensive. If you've got some sort of reason to characterize it as genius. I'd like to hear it. If you don't, then saying you just like it is not a bad thing.

OK, I know the intent and the atmosphere that he 'intends' to achieve because one can have insight into the nature of a thing through observation. A creation cannot be separate from its creator, no?

I never said anything about mainstream composers failing or achieving anything.

I gave my reasons for characterizing this music as genius.

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I agree that there is all sort of good music, James. But that does not mean that all genre's of music are necessarily good nor that they cannot be compared to each other. Comparing this genre to others is completely appropriate - specifically because of their difference in effect on mood.

It may be true that I use a particular genre of music to achieve a particular end, for example to put myself in a particular mood, but that doesn't necessarily correlate to it's esthetic value.

What mood in particular? This is a matter of purpose. What method are you using to judge these genres? I’d like to quote Ayn Rand on this:

Until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined, no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music . . .

No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it’s every man for himself—and only for himself.

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What method are you using to judge these genres?

The method I used is to generate empirical observations of both the mood required to want to listen to the music and the mood it evoked.

It's odd that I'm the one getting the questions regarding judgment since the advocates of the genre are the ones who seem to be that there is good and bad electronica, and don't seem to give criteria based upon anything.

The interesting conversation is around what makes it good or bad, and what basis do you use for determining that judgement. I haven't suggested that there is a right or wrong about it. I simply gave some differeing observations.

I usually find that many people hide behind Rand's statements as a method of not having to analyze the music at all, i.e. of subjectivism. She certainly is right that it's every man for himself. That doesn't mean that whatever you like will turn out to be good. It just means that for now. I'm interested in what makes it good, objetcively speaking. i.e. what can you point to besides some murky intent to distinguish both between and among genres.

Do you think that what she meant by the statement is that you can like anything you damn well please and not think about why you like it, i.e. of not having to deal with even a bit of thinking about what that "conceptual vocabulary" might consist of? That when asked you should simply say "it's not for you to judge. I like it"? It seems to me that to bring up music in a philosophical forum is to be open to the idea of having to think about why it is that you like something, even if the answer cannot be completely judged.

I'll cease and desist now. Obviously, no one is interested in that conversation.

OK, I know the intent and the atmosphere that he 'intends' to achieve because one can have insight into the nature of a thing through observation. A creation cannot be separate from its creator, no?

I never said anything about mainstream composers failing or achieving anything.

One can determine the result of a particular piece of music by the end product, but one cannot determine if it meets someone's intent. How do you suggest that be done?

You suggested that there is genius here, but that maybe I had been listening to "mainstream" electonica, implying there is a lesser degree there. If this is your standard for judging then it would seem that either your standard must enable you to distinguish between the two, or you have a different standard which you did not reveal.

Having a way to judge means something. If you assert to me that I must not have been listening to the right form of the music, then it seems you should be able to distinguish between the two in some manner. Don't you think so? The criteria you provided cannot do that, unless you have some method you'd like to show. They are your claims. I'm just asking you to substantiate them.

Edited by KendallJ
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I'll cease and desist now. Obviously, no one is interested in that conversation.
But, that's quite a conversation you're asking for. Personally, I think my best guesses as to what makes music this or that are still missing something major, but I couldn't say what. When I was a teenager actually studying music, I noticed that songs which teachers deemed perfect for form and structure, or chord progression, or umbrellas under umbrellas of measure progression, or whatever in technical terms, could not possibly have become popular like a Coldplay song. Almost all theory behind music has been based off of classical composers like Bach and Mozart. I know I don't like the "technical perfect" as much as Coldplay, either.

There are loads of things I look for in music that get me interested, and sets of things depending on mood, too. Maybe people are so easy to go subjective on you because music is all about mood, which is kind of subjective itself.

I wouldn't call anything I've heard in electronica or house music "genius." The closest I've heard to an actual song, as opposed to DJ set, is Massive Attack. I think at very best, electronic-driven music has some interesting level variations, and sometimes interesting beats. But that can be really fun to listen to, so sometimes I do.

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Thinking that electronic music is necessarily beat-driven, and that this stereotypical aspect of the genre must be the focus of any good electronic music, is partially why the young genre is so incredibly frowned upon. There are, in fact, brilliant examples of computer music, whose mathematical and engineering characteristics impress and surprise everyone from ordinary music fans to mathematicians and electrical engineers. Electronic music, contrary to the general discussion found here, actually possesses great potential to achieve the goal of beautifully representing metaphysical realizations without ever coming close to driving a beat or even establishing a pulse.

As far as electronic music is concerned, the best examples of the genre are probably not even found in IDM acts such as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and that whole ilk, as they are merely a wonderfully prodigious offshoot of a generally boring trait of electronic music as a whole. While I admit that these are great examples of musicians, I believe that electronic music's true romantic and genius direction is being headed by sound artists like Fennesz, Tim Hecker, and Zavoloka. There is truly nothing more representative of selective metaphysical artistic realization than the manner in which these composers so perfectly blend the line between synthesized and organic instrumentation. The atmosphere that this instills in the listener is something that not even traditional classical music can come close to rivalling. Its results are so precisely metaphysical, in fact, that it is nearly impossible to distinguish at times whether or not the source of a particular sound is synthesized or recorded!

If we are to follow Ayn Rand's ideas regarding the best kind of art, I believe that this type of sound design / composition would be the most conducive to her ideals, and thus represents the best that electronic music has to offer.

By the way, first time poster, long time objectivist! I'm loving it here already...

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  • 7 months later...

The Noisecontroller's Astral 2009

the "climax" begins at 2:00 minutes and sets itself towards the end.

I find it beautiful. I can tell that there's three different bass kicks and I can't comprehend how many different notes are in the melody.

Techno music makes me feel empowered, strong, and the adrenaline reaffirms that. Tchaikovsky just moves me emotionally, but techno breaks me down into a rhythmic dance that follows the bass kicks every step, regardless of few situations.

I love it.

Edited by Egosum—
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