May 27, 2005

Kevin Saunderson interview

On May 25, Metrotimes (Detroit's weekly alternative) published an interesting interview with Kevin Saunderson. He talks about his family life but also about how he met the other Belleville guys: “I came out of a different background, going back to New York when I was an underage kid and sneaking into the Paradise Garage or The Loft. I was into Earth, Wind & Fire and Chaka Khan, and those guys were very European in their taste, with some Prince and Parliament-Funkadelic mixed in.”

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May 18, 2005

A 1984 view of electronic music

A book from 1984
"The New Music"

This is a book published in Spain in 1984. The title is "The new music: from industrial to techno-pop", written by Adolfo Marín, who was closely related to the industrial scene in Spain at that time. Not a bad scene, by the way, with people like Aviador Dro, Macromassa and, of course, Esplendor Geométrico (whose music inspired Autechre at some point): the grandparents of Oscar Mulero and Cristian Varela.

The book traces the history of electronic music, from martenot-waves to krautrock to Depeche. The most interesting parts are interviews with Schulze, Schnitzler and Kraftwerk ("we are closer to electronic funk than to rock"). There are some things that look strange from a contemporary point of view. For instance, there is not a single mention to black artists (with the exception of M. Mooney, lead singer of Can before Suzuki joined the group) and there is little interest in rhythm. No Detroit, no House, no clubbing, no DJing (we are in 1984). The rock-and-roll model was unchallenged, even in avant-garde circles. At most, some artists laughed of that model (The Residents, Devo) but were actually trapped inside it.

The end of the book, after revisiting it last week, left me a bittersweet feeling. The latest pages are devoted to artists that promised a lot but delivered nothing. Many of them were de-technified or absorbed into the pop-rock circus. There was a depressing, dark, after-punk feeling in most of them. Others were stuck in a pretentious, pseudo-avant-garde junk (Laurie Anderson, my god!). No fun, no dance, few rhythm. It is clear to me that african-american people from the Great Lakes saved the day, but that history belongs to another book...

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May 05, 2005

maximinimalism: John Tejada - Logic Memory Center

Tejada proves that minimal and maximal are not contradictory. Both qualities coexist in this wonderful work by one of the most interesting creators in electronic music nowadays. They even coexist in the same track.
Listen in iTMS
To test by yourself this apparent contradiction, listen to "Unit B1656" or "Possessive Patterns" and try to follow the multiple layers of micromelodies that Tejada organizes. Your head will spin from one line to other, in a listening experience that reminds the pixelation of a Bach fugue. Certainly, too much minimal creates a maximal.

Of course, Tejada is not the only techno artist that dominates this maximinimal or minimaximal connection. Jeff Mills comes to mind pretty easily. But in this work, John Tejada does it so brilliantly and explicitly that I can't imagine how someone could call his music "repetitive".

The negative point in this work, for me, are the singed tracks (very Depechy, by the way). When someone sings lyrics in techno tracks like these, the listening experience described above breaks. Singing is so "foreground" that distracts the listener from the wonderful "backgrounds". It forces the listener to look at the tree in front of him instead of looking to the forest behind. But the forest is still there and electronic music lovers will surely find it and enjoy each bit of it.

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