Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Modes of Music, pt 1



~ NB Please click on the image above for a close-up of the Difference Engine ~

Last week, in the wake of my contentious post on 'dance music', I've been continuing to think about how we understand electronic musics of different kinds.

One of the things that fell by the wayside in the comments section of that post was that, at heart, what I was trying to do was to de-naturalise a given, to suggest that the dominant mode by which electronic music is currently understood (as dance music) is a historical phenomenon – not timeless, natural, proper, or inevitable.

With this in mind, I contacted some people I know (RS, AF, AC, TH - anonymity retained on the request of some, imposed on all for uniformity): these are people who are all avid music lovers, music makers, peddlers of opinions and interpretations, and passionate listeners to electronic music.... but they're also people who, I think, have never been primarily interested in electronic music's dance music modes (with exceptions).

So, to clarify some of my arguments, to bring in some of theirs, and to think a little more (and a little differently) about what so many of you appeared to be soooo keen to talk about, I sent them questionnaires.

The responses were fascinating... and long. So for digestability's sake, I've split 'em up into four parts. This, the part one, asks basic/fundamental questions about electronic music (dance music is pt II). Okay, here goes:

~ NB: I would appreciate it if you would read slowly and carefully, and try to get the sympathetic 'gist' of what people are saying... I don't want to be drawn in to a flame war with someone who has read a sentence, become angry, and gone straight for the comments section... simpatico, simpatico ~

1) What do you think about when I say 'electronic music'? What is electronic music about? What does it explore... using what tools and methods? What would you say are its histories, its innovations, its developments?

RS:
I see electronic music simply as "music produced electronically" - ie - using instruments other than acoustic or analogue (including electrified acoustic) instruments - computers, drum machines, samplers, sequencers, midi etc.

I think because of the inherent restrictions in early electronic music technology electronic music grew initially with a high level of repetition (of both rhythms and sounds) which I think led to a new way of looking at music - suddenly it was extremely *easy* to produce an identical loop (something very difficult with acoustic instruments) and this influenced general music composition.

AF:
Jeez, you sneak in a lot of questions under 1)! Electronic music, at its best, is concerned with creating sound. That is, it is a means to manipulating the compression of air (through speakers or headphones) to affect a particular reaction with the listener, as opposed to reproducing a live musical event. Recordings of classical music, the most extreme opposite, steadfastly refuse to 'pollute' a live recording with input from the studio. The studio is transparent. If only some inspired bastard would do a studio version of Rimsky-Korsakov!

Of course, ever since music was recorded and played back, there has been a tension between purely reproducing, with the greatest fidelity possible, a live musical event, and producing an aesthetically pleasing sound. Electronic music is concerned with the latter. (Which is why I think 'live' electronic sets are disingenuous - the live event is a reproduction of the recording, which inverses the chicken-and-egg order of performance and recording).

AC:
Electronic music is music made by electronic (transistor powered) as opposed to electric (tube stuff like guitars, basses and early keyboards that needed tube amps) music generators.

Electronic music is about many things for many people. Having fun, annoying neighbours/family, being seriously into technology, programming, exploring space, taking drugs, being cool, innovation, mimicking the contemporary urban sound environment and probably heaps of other stuff too.

Electronic music is interesting in its history in that it seems to have roots in more places (geographical), styles and genres than a lot of other genres. Its comparatively easy to say where rock, funk, classical, pop or lots of other genres come from. Electronic music seems to have become a tag attached to a sound in the 80s but there were heaps of people from different geographical places and musical backgrounds (Cage, Kraftwerk, 'Scratch' Perry, dare I say Joy Division?) who perhaps didn't identify as electronic music who were considered the forefathers of the genre by self described electronic musicians of later generations.

TH:
Literally, and without being disingenuous, music that's electronic. Tools and methods: I suppose synths and computers spring to mind, particularly these days where pretty much anyone can set themselves up with a little home studio. What's it about? I think you can say in general those making electronic music are more interested in sound than somebody picking up a guitar; for all that the two strands have converged, I'd say rock music is still more lyrically-based than electronic music; it's more about getting the words across, whereas electronic music is less concerned with this and more concerned with the possibilities of sound.

Its innovations are manifold; synth pop in the '80s and the rise of commercial dance music in the late '80s/early '90s expanded pop music beyond the guitar/bass/drums format - and over the last 10 years, a lot of those innovations have now been reabsorbed into guitar music. And there's also the proto-electronica of the '60s and '70s, which was astonishingly innovative and ahead of its time.

2) What are the contexts and sites proper to the production and reception of electronic music? Where does electronic music happen? Where do people listen to it?


RS:
Anywhere else other music happens - ie - everywhere that there are people. And electricity. I don't think it's appropriate to speak of "proper" sites when it comes to any musical form, but that's just me.

AF:
The means of production, for me, are unimportant. It's a means to an end, which is the entire point. In some senses, I would consider Radiohead's (awesome, awesome) In Rainbows, as electronic music because, as you said in reference to Sly and the Family Stone, the studio is the instrument.

I listen to electronic music with headphones on my own, and find any other way kinda weird. While genres of music are inherently social (eg folk, hip hop, telling stories, messages with the music there to engage) electronic music needs the quiet to appreciate the intellectual appeal of its inherent abstraction. A night club is possibly the worst venue because the music is relegated to be on par with the wallpaper. If its loud enough, you can't socialise anyway, so why pretend? If want to socialise, then to a pub w/ a jukebox. Harsh, I know, but I think electronic music blindly follows the tradition of live music (which is exactly what it is not) uncritically. The 12k thing in Japan you told me about sounds intriguing. If any public broadcast of electronic music is appropriate, it would be some kind of installation, rather than a club.

Okay, the one or two times I've done the drugs and clubbing thing it was fun, but you could put the Chemical Brothers on and I would have enjoyed it. Nup, electronic music is for downtime, maybe the washing up, headphones, and you listen to it.

AC:
The word 'proper' should not be used in conjuction with any kind of music let alone something as young electronic music. Proper suggests a right and wrong dichotomy. Personal Computers are probably simultaneously the most common sites for both the production and reception of electronic music. Electronic music happens in bedrooms, studios, clubs and raves.

TH:
I think the picture here is more diverse than it used to be. Whereas once the majority of electronic music listeners would have listened to it in a club, that's not necessarily the case any more. Club culture is clearly still an important part of electronic music, but it's not the only part - Portishead's Dummy and Air's Moon Safari
soundtracked every mid-'90s yuppie dinner party.

3) What are your favourite works of electronic music? What is it about them that you love?

RS:
Bjork - "hyperballad" (actually my first strong memory of a piece of electronic that had any effect on me at all)
- The Ricardo Villalobos stuff you've given me recently
- Likewise the Donnacha Costello pieces, especially "Together is the New Alone"
- M83 - "dead seas..." album
- I'd actually like to put Kate Bush "running up that hill" in this list as another example. And while I'm at it, the original "Doctor Who" theme music.

The common element seems to be a focus on slow melodic development, repetition, and an almost incidental use of "electronics" - all the pieces I like would be inherently valuable pieces of composition if they were played on regular "analogue" instruments.

AF:
Vlad Delay/Uusitalo, Mouse on Mars, Villalobos, Frank Bretschneider, Andreas Tilliander, Gas, Rhythm & Sound - nothing within the last five years, I fear. All because of the complexity of their compositions, the quality and uniqueness of their production and the enigmatic imagination of their vision.

I should add that imagination and abstraction is, for me, the major appeal of electronic music. Where you're not limited to the restrictions of an instrument and anything that can be expressed in a soundwave is possible, it's a true blank canvass.

AC:
Model 500, Night Drive
Kraftwerk, anything
Carl Craig, More songs about...
Frankie Knuckles, Traxx Classics
KLF, Chill Out
POLE

Great electronic music utilises sounds that are 'new' or unfamiliar to the listener. The chief excitement in listening to electronic music is marvelling at all the indescribable sounds that you hear coming from the record. All of the above introduced me to sounds that I was previously unfamiliar with. Model 500 and Frankie Knuckles were also very funky.

TH:
Massive Attack's Blue Lines (the track in particular, as well as the album): Minimalism. Subtlety. The sense of space in the music.
Casiotone For The PAinfully Alone's Twinkle Echo: The DIY idea of using shitty cheap keyboards, the lyrics, the fact that this is electronic music and almost kinda folk music at the same time
The Doctor Who theme: for creating this crazy other-worldly sound with
tape loops and simple analogue synths
Chromatics' In The City: more minimalism and space, and a glacial synth sound

32 comments:

  1. We're meant to listen to these schmucks? Kate Bush? Radiohead? For fucks sake! I hope subsequent sections are less boring and self obsessed.

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  2. @ anonymous: unlike your comment, which was, of course, just glittering with insight and information... you're abusing the openness of the comments section, and you're doing it anonymously:

    boring, and cowardly too.

    NB for all comment([h]at)ers:

    If you comment, it means you too are blogging, you should know that. You are also imposing demands on your readers... you presume we're supposed to listen to you, too.

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  3. Your contributors here are also anonymous. I don't have a google account sorry. I do enjoy your blog, for the most part, but I agree with Will Lynch and his comment about frequent 'hot air', all too prevalent here. If these chaps are such electronic music afficionados how is it that Villalobos, Costello, etc. are all new to them? Perhaps their positions will become clearer in future posts, as this story certainly has potential, but so far it's embarassingly amateurish, even for a blog.

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  4. @anomynous: where did any of the answers suggest that ricardo, costello etc. were new to them?

    and how is it amateurish, just out of interest?

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  5. - The Ricardo Villalobos stuff you've given me recently
    - Likewise the Donnacha Costello pieces, especially "Together is the New Alone"

    Amateurish in that none of the responses have been in the least way original, thought provoking, or interesting. The same can be said of most of the artists they claim to be inspired by. One of them states that they remain indiffierent to anything produced in the last 5 years - that seems to indicate a particularly closed, and jaded, way of listening, in line with PC's own confession. What is needed from this post is more positivity, openness, excitement - so far it seems largely to be echoing the cynicism of the last post, somethign I'm sure is PC doesn't intend.

    Much has happened in electronic music in the past 5 years worth getting excited about, and not just in 'dance music'. As commented on in the previous post, classical electronic music is a good place to start - few drugs, attentive audiences, comfortable surroundings, great sound systems. Stockhausen's 'Cosmic Pulses', the last thing he released while alive, is vivid, brash, awe-inspiring music. Goodiepal is another artist bored with present circumstances but making efforts to change it. Haswell and Hecker's 'Blackest Ever Black', The Caretaker, the fringes of the hadcore continuum malarkey, all wonderful, new things, worth celebrating, and that's the tip of the iceberg. It's disheartening to read what looks set to be a long, wordy article by contributors inspired by Massive Attack, Bjork, and the margin pushers of yesteryear.

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  6. @ anonymous:

    If you'd actually read the post carefully and sympathetically - as I'd asked - you'd note that at least one of the respondents is particularly interested in the interface between classical music and electronic music...

    ...you would also note a tone of excitement for electronic music of different kinds, past and present...

    ...and this goes for me, too... I cannot for the life of me understand how a person – whoever you are, and you don't need a google account to let us know that, actually - who reads my work and this blog could think that I was in any way jaded about what's out there musically.

    ...it seems like you've come to this piece in order to have your prejudices confirmed... and haven't been disappointed...

    ...you're simply not reading with an open eye/ear... I don't see why I or anyone else here should engage you, so I won't after this post.

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  7. @anomynous:

    re:
    - The Ricardo Villalobos stuff you've given me recently
    - Likewise the Donnacha Costello pieces, especially "Together is the New Alone"

    Neither of those quotes suggest either artists are "new to them" as you say. rather it suggest they enjoy the newer work of those artists.

    It seems your initial gripe with the interviewees is that alone....so you missed the meaning entirely.

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  8. NB on the newness of the RV: I gave that particular person a copy of Vasco pt I last year, when it came out, the first time anyone - even Mr Anonymous - would have had a chance to listen to it.

    ...NB the broader current that anon seems to be arguing for is one that is actually anti-opinion:

    Who, precisely, is allowed to have opinions?

    Professionals?

    And for the rest of us, the appropriate response to music seems to be

    "positivity, openness, excitement"

    in the absence of any critical perspective.

    Boosting, in a word.

    NB: the unwitting irony of this position is that it is, of course, presented as STRONG opinion (in a blog).

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  9. Dan, formerly anon.May 5, 2009 at 12:03 PM

    This remains an empty, vapid story , yet to offer anything of value, but I await greater things from the subsequent posts.

    Excitement and positivity do not equal boostering, and your site is frequently very good at offering gateways to interesting new music, just not in these fluffy opinion pieces.

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  10. Further, namedropping Cage and Rimsky-Korsakov does not constitue a particular interest in the interface between classical and electronic music. The comparison to classical recording modes is also inaccurate - contemporary classical recording involves painstaking studio work, just that such tricks are kept hidden.

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  11. @ Dan:

    You are very 'anti' this post... yet you want to engage...

    ...I would say: consider what flak like this does, what it is asking. As I'm reading it, you're asking SSGs to 'shut up with the opinions and give us some music'.

    ...you do this with opinions (ie, while blogging, and blogging in an editorialising mode), but you do so without laying your cards on the table, so to speak. Dan is a three letter word.

    So

    ...first of all, tell me about yourself:

    how long have you been listening to electronic music?

    When did you feel entitled to offer your opinions - in a way that isn't 'amateurish'?

    What are valid opinions? Are we to regard your comments in this section as valid opinions?

    What qualities would you say are essential to add 'value' to a post?

    Would this include the valid opinions of people who were not amateurs?

    As someone who has passed beyond the threshold of an amateur (as you appear to have done, by positing opinions), do you reserve the right to regard other people's examples as name-dropping while offering your own names as interesting descriptions that add value to a debate?

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  12. Fair enough.

    I apologise for my rash assaults on your site. I don't merely want the music, I actually prefer reading the opinions, but they too often drift off into jaded whine. This post has the potential to be quite interesting, I just feel that what has been said thus far has been disappointing and obvious. I'll refrain from future criticism until I'm willing to back it up and put my money where my mouth is.

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  13. PC, i'm gonna keep an open mind, but this isn't the most convincing start.

    i have to agree with dan here.

    dunno if he's the one interested in classical/electronic music, but AF takes some polemical positions, which don't seem backed up by requisite knowledge of the music.

    "night club is possibly the worst venue because the music is relegated to be on par with the wallpaper... Harsh, I know, but I think electronic music blindly follows the tradition of live music (which is exactly what it is not) uncritically. The 12k thing in Japan you told me about sounds intriguing."

    Is he referring to taylor deupree's 12k? because you'd have a hard time convincing me 12k doesn't follow tradition uncritically. several of those releases are a tired continuation of musique concrete without the rigor. 12k's been around over ten years; how does AF not know of them and be so bold to make such claims?

    "electronic music is concerned with... producing an aesthetically pleasing sound...I think 'live' electronic sets are disingenuous - the live event is a reproduction of the recording, which inverses the chicken-and-egg order of performance and recording)"

    what a bunch of contrived bullshit. go ahead, please tell us indeed why goodiepal's music is disingenuous, since it is very much performance-based.

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  14. i do however appreciate taylor deupree's field recording twitter. i think it may make for an interesting project.

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  15. @ Araki: AF was referring to a very specific event that 12k ran at Roppongi Hills Information Centre in 2003. It was a sound installation using these weird electrostatic speakers that looked like daleks, and there was plastic that had been applied to the wall to ceiling windows that refracted the lights of the passing cars into different colours... that's all.

    In defence of AF on other two counts (and part of why I think it's interesting):

    AF sees clubs as one of the worst possible sites for electronic music, which for him is about close listening to a recording of carefully designed sounds (designed to be produced and listened to as recordings in quiet environments)

    ~ this is interesting in that, anecdotally, AF's opinion seems to resonate with what I know of a lot of listeners who listen to electronic music but have never been into clubbing ~

    ...the performance aspect relates, for him, to the fact that 'live PA' performances are often simply re-assemblies of pre-made recordings... of course there is a spectrum here, but would you be able to say that 'live PA' is as live as, say, a small jazz group playing an improv?

    ~NB: it didn't take a hermeneutic genius to mine these ideas out of what AF was saying. Araki, I wonder if you read through the answers very carefully?

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  16. NB can I just say I'm pretty tired of this really combative, antagonistic, hostile vibe that people have put forth in the comments so far.

    I'm going to disengage by unsubscribing from the comments for two days or so and leave the ideas-making (not just comment[h]ating) to other people.

    ...Hope this wasn't a total waste of my time.

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  17. So Part II is dance music, huh? Let me guess: it's too repetitive for them and they don't like it.

    How absolutely fascinating.

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  18. As Morrissey once said, "It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate/It takes guts to be gentle and kind."

    And it's even easier when you do it anonymously over the internet, innit?

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  19. minimal sausages, maximal convolution

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  20. yay! i'm not alone in my adoration of "hounds of love". some of kates other albums are good, but hounds is really something special.

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  21. @ PC:
    I don't think this was a waste of your time at all. Though the most vocal bunch in the comments section are usually people throwing reactionary hate, that's not at all how everyone feels. I love the whole spectrum of SSG content and pieces such as this make for really thought provoking reading.

    Even if some might find your friends' responses pedestrian, this is an opinion piece- and that's what they're giving- opinions.
    I also get the impression that some of your interview subjects may not be in the same group of blogosphere EDM aficionados as many of the readers here. Sometimes I get the impression that in this endless search for cool, people in the blogosphere get their sense of perspective a little bit skewed.
    For example I would say Kid A is one of my favorite pieces of electronic music (note that the question was about electronic music, not dance music). That doesn't mean I've never heard of Donnacha Costello. It means Kid A is a fucking great album, whether or not it's a "cool" thing to say that anymore.

    In addition we're all subject to forces of time and place and access to music. Maybe the person who doesn't like electronic music from the last five years just hasn't heard pieces that are to their liking. Perhaps they stopped clubbing. Perhaps they don't have time to search the net and learn about new stuff coming out. I would recommend to that person (based on some stuff they do like) that they might want to check out:


    Intrusion- The Seduction of Silence
    Kangding Ray- Autumne Fold
    Byetone- Death of a Typographer
    Alva Noto's new albums
    Honig's Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band
    Francesco Tristano-Auricle/Bio/On
    Carl Craig & Moritz's Recomposed Album
    Move D & Benjamin Brunn's Songs From the Beehive


    All from within the last year. All thorough in their design and deliberate in their structure. And (I think) all excellent.


    Anyway- back to the post-
    PC: Despite your warning in the preface to the article I think many of the commentators thus far have come across something in the article which they oversimplified and then immediately launched into a diatribe about.

    It might help cut down on future angry reaction posts if you put some brackets in the article after the "The Ricardo Villalobos stuff you've given me recently" part and mention what that stuff is.
    Just for the sake of preventing the inevitable "This guy has never heard of Villalobos!? Then his opinion means nothing to me!" comments.
    Cuz you know there will be more...

    -Brad-

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  22. "...the performance aspect relates, for him, to the fact that 'live PA' performances are often simply re-assemblies of pre-made recordings... of course there is a spectrum here, but would you be able to say that 'live PA' is as live as, say, a small jazz group playing an improv?"
    yes.  helge sten (deathprod) is an integral part of improve band supersilent. He plays samples and a whole lot else. The premise is the same as a “live pa.”
    “~NB: it didn't take a hermeneutic genius to mine these ideas out of what AF was saying. Araki, I wonder if you read through the answers very carefully?”
    take a look back at what AF posted. how are we supposed to know what the12k comment was in reference to? or what AF means by "live"? No where does it say "live PA." that's a failure to communicate. Why are you blaming the reader for not missing an idea that's not clearly articulated?
    PC, I resent your comment. You're asking us to do close readings of the text, but AF's opining without clarification of his position and without provision of evidence to support his claims.  maybe you don't need that context since you know him, but your readers need convincing. so do us a favor next time and contextualize, rather than presume we're all lazy readers. Writing has value only to the extent that it succeeds in communicating ideas to readers. Each sentence must convince the reader to persevere.
    In these comments conversations, we're looking to polish an idea expressed in a post, and polishing should heed reader comments, especially what they don't get. we're never gonna get anywhere if your interview is not communicating what it intends to in the first place. We're certainly never gonna get anywhere with an editor who doesn't give his readers the benefit of the doubt.

    You're a smart dude. i'm wondering why i even need to be writing this. alas it's come to this.

    that said...
    if AF is willing to take the stance that "'live PA' performances are often simply re-assemblies of pre-made recordings," then i'll bring up some examples of 12k artists, which happen to be japanese, like fourcolor, minamo, sawako, who all take signal-processing-based approaches to making music, that is, approaches that don't “merely re-assemble previously sourced sounds”. however, this doesn't necessarily mean the music they make is any better or more valid than electronic dance music. Hundreds if not thousands of musicians do this (many of them badly), just as hundreds if not thousands of people play a bunch of loops on Live (many of them badly).
    looking at his favs list in the next section (“Vlad Delay/Uusitalo, Mouse on Mars, Villalobos, Frank Bretschneider, Andreas Tilliander, Gas, Rhythm & Sound - nothing within the last five years”, I fear”), i'm left scratching my head. I see the usual suspects of mille plateaux. I don't see xennakis, la monte young, bernard parmegiani, tod dockstadter, asmus tietchens, david berhman, et al... the musicians people who are a part of mille plateaux are indebted to.

    "NB can I just say I'm pretty tired of this really combative, antagonistic, hostile vibe that people have put forth in the comments so far."
    If you perceive my response as “ combative, antagonistic, hostile,” then what are you guys doing in the first place? your interviewee is making polemics, and your framing of the post is dialectic. Did you expect that people wouldn't challenge these points?

    i'm looking forward to the rest of the posts, btw. you're not wasting your time, but you obviously did open up a can of worms.

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  23. 1. I think there are a lot of implications to AF's final sentence in (1). I lost my train of thought when I started thinking about records being chopped into samples, turned into a track, and then played as one record in a whole set.

    2. When dance music is excluded, I agree mostly with the headphone philosophy. I don't necessarily need headphones, but I need to be paying attention. Playing Pole or Murcof as background music strips it of all meaning because you can't hear the details in the sound. I think this is a major reason for the resistance of most of the public to electronic music, in the IDM (sorry...) sense.

    If I can put a piece of non-dance electronic music on and do the dishes or browse the web or whatever, I'd usually admit that it's just as much some other genre of music. The new Dorian Concept album, for example - obviously electronic, but really works just as well if you call it hip hop.

    3. I'm probably one of a handful of people to be really into clubbing without drugs (I mean serious clubs where there's a decent proportion of the crowd there for the music). I can say positively, without a doubt that there is something to be gained by listening to music loud, in a large space, with other people. You cannot recreate that environment or the emotions involved with headphones. Listening to Alva Noto or Kangding Ray in a club would probably still be very, very interesting, even with no dancing. "Installation" would then be exactly the right word, though. That's very well put.

    4. Chill out, people. Try less hard to be right.

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  24. Nothing against the music they've praised though PC - who could argue with Villalobos or Carl Craig? - and more against what they've left out -

    No American R&B, hip-hop, jungle, dubstep... One of them even apologises for having heard nothing that excited him/her in the last five years! Come on, of course people on the blog are going to be upset with that one!

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  25. hehe. .hey . PC.. the drunks have arrived! ..axe comments that don't get the point initially. you can't argue with these with these BIG/UGLY opinions.. pah! delete! ..they miss the point .

    .this was going to be good .. a four part bit on last weeks comments .. NICE EFFORT! thankyou!
    .

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  26. @ all more recent comments: just logged back after a self-imposed 'no look, no touch' policy for 48 hours. Thanks very much for the recent comments, I feel like it's not a total waste.

    As for the pt 2, I'll edit the responses for clarity to avoid some of the issues with phrasing.

    pt 3 is a concept piece to think of ways for looking for new spaces...

    ...but I'm gonna chill for a while, make a nice cup of tea, and put on my headphones, and listen to some good, new music.

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  27. I think this discussion is actually more interesting than the text being discussed in it.

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  28. The one guy who talks about the floor as being the worst environment to listen to this music, seems to me to have completely missed out on a large aspect of electronic music. If he thinks socializing only involves talking, that seems very narrow. Perhaps he could chuck a few people my way, for I very rarely socialize with people when I talk to them.

    The dance floor is a beautiful and lonely place. Most of us spend our lives looking for things which we have in common, that unite us, and waste hours talking about it. Dance music is platform of certainty, somewhere people feel safe to express themselves, you know came before, you know what will come next, 4/4. You can dissolve in it, or assert yourself. I could expand...

    Also, what is this idea that it can't be live? That seems obviously wrong, when someone plays a synth on stage, how is that not live? I saw Cobblestone Jazz do a live version of India In Me, it utterly blew me away, it was played with little fidelity. Perhaps I have missed the point?

    Regards what defines it, I think futurism is a large part. I think obviously it using electronics to make music, and that is it simple put. Of course we could then speculate further, as ever when we don't fully understand we impose meaning. So I would say, it explores the unknown, it speculates, and it often does it rather paradoxically using the certainty of 4/4.

    It's differs from the usual instruments in one marked way. Unless you are an engineer, you have very little knowledge of how the sound is produced, what goes on behind the buttons and knobs. This uncertainty again allows exploration and experimentation. When one looks at a guitar, one knows exactly what is going on, same for other classical instruments.

    Perhaps there is a uniting theme to this post, I tend to think it has a lot to do with certainty, doubt, unknown and exploration. Very important to me, is also the idea of Shamelessness. To me it is a shameless music, that tends not to lie, it shamelessly manipulates you. Rock music is tired, and full of lies and deception (I am a scorned ex rock fan). Who wants to be deceived anymore than we have to be? We spend our lives being deceived.

    Apologies for the messy speculation, no doubt it contradicts, please correct me. I guess the applies mostly to my thoughts on 4/4.

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  29. @ Oliver: wow, interesting comments, lots of thoughts there.

    ...what do you think makes rock music deceptive "full of lies and deception" while dance music is truth... and truth is shameless, somehow?

    ...I wonder about that...

    ...also, the dancefloor can be a place of freedom, but it is often also a place of conformity. Anyone who's ever felt self-conscious about their dancing, or tried to move in some other ways, would find this out very quickly with the looks designed to police and re-place the 'individual' back into their groove.

    ...sometimes it's unity, but sometimes it's a bunch of dividuals with nothing in common but their proximity and their following of the instruction of the beat.

    ...of course this can be a way to break free, but we can also become slaves to the rhythm,

    ...and we can also slavishly follow the instructions that the music and the pied piper/DJ gives us... watch people's behaviour at any big box corporate rave event - it is actually one of the most incredibly conformist spaces imaginable.

    ...we've talked about the death of chill-out rooms on SSGs before on this tip: what could not be incorporated within profitable clubbing/raving was slowly erased... nobody buying drinks, nobody obeying the call of the floor, no profit, no boom boom, and always the chance of overdose in the corner... think of the liability!

    ...of course every situation is brimming with possibilities...

    ...but many situations are dominated by a certain apparatus, a certain set of habits, and a proportion of people very, very eager to police anyone who steps out of them (eject this man, he's pelvic thrusting! 'It's called jacking..' You're damned right, it's disgusting...' ...)

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  30. It is difficult, to fully express my idea is narrow column, so forgive if it jumps around and is a little incoherent. Whenever your trying to flesh something out for the first time, both your ignorance and inconsistencies are painfully obvious.

    PC I think you understand the situation perfectly, when you use the word Slavish, dance is Slavish. It is so obvious in its attempts to manipulate the listener, the programmed beat does away with any idea that it is anything other than slaves following instructions. But it does not try to mask this, it exploits it, this is partly what I mean by Shameless. In doing so it uses the part of the mind that leads you to distraction, and lets the other part focus and explore. While your body is freaking out, like the malfunctioning robot it is, your mind is freed. I suppose you could say it it is a rather practical music. Good dance music provides better platforms and employs better techniques for exploration. Perhaps this is a way we can discern between good and bad dance music.

    I was reading somewhere the other day, that teachers should encourage their kids to click pens, for it allows the mind the concentrate, by distracting one part of the brain.

    Anyway, I love your Pied Piper example, it made me think. Does he not come to town and save the children from the deception of the towns people? Don't they dance of happily after him. Coincidence? Probably, but a funny thought.

    I guess you could say the slavery and freedom of different sides of the same coin. I feel that slaves are in the best position to find freedom, as they know where they are, everyone else has just forgotten the sound of the chains they are dragging around their feet. So I guess, through it's obvious and shameless manipulation of the slave, dance music frees you. That's where the best producers come in, once the platform is set up, how well do they stimulate you.

    Dance music, made by black Americans, descended from slaves, still social slaves, and also Germans pretending to be robots. I am going slave crazy here, I have to stop this wild speculation.

    The self conscious floors you talk of are awful, what I describe is obviously conditional and affected by the crowd, with it's agendas and it ability to leave them behind. The dance floor is a place where the idea of the individual and the mass really gets strange.

    I have more to say regards your rock queries, but I thought I would let you approach what I have written here first. I'm not sure I would say it is truth, but more towards the idea that it is does not profess to know the truth, it manipulates obviously and shamelessly.

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  31. A moratorium should be put on the phrase "glacial synth sound"

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  32. your contentious post about dance music wasn't contentious, it was just wrong and shit and insulting

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Say something constructive, bitte. Or if you're gonna take a swipe, at least sharpen your nails.

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