Interview Date: May 3, 2012 @8pm EDT
A Highly Recommended Listen!
Special Guest: Harold Budd is an American composer and poet who is known for his soft pedal piano style and his ground-breaking projects. In this podcast we talk about the album “By the Dawn’s Early Light”, the photo of “The Captive White Boy, Santiago McKinn” (Photo below), the story behind the David Sylvian produced album “Avalon Sutra” and working with his friends, John Foxx (formally of Ultravox), Robin Guthrie, plus his view of the piano and much more.
Big Noise of Electronica
We wanted to showcase some of the big names of electronica, of course, as is often the case, many of the artists were creating music before the label was invented and applied, and many are rankled by the label, but we’re using the term to showcase some of the figures that pushed the frontier using digital instruments and methods. This is, by no means an exhaustive list, but take a look and familiarize yourself if you’re unfamiliar with the names. There’s so much that falls under the electronica banner – whole genres, sub-genres, as well as performers. A lot of it gets derided, sometimes rightfully so; to be fair, there’s bad music everywhere, but electronica sometimes gets attacked with absolute vitriol. Especially with the resurgence in the popularity of folksinger/songwriters, adherents of folk or the like sometimes try to prove their passion and love by attacking what they see as the opposite musical form. Most often it’s a mistake, really. Electronica has made a more profound and encompassing impact in music in general than one might think – even in the folksinger/songwriter genre. To realize this, dig into some of the figures under the banner. These performers are icons of the field who shaped the face of music. You might want to explore a few of them, the experience might just be mind expanding. To not do so, and continue to criticise would just be willful ignorance.
He has to be mentioned. The forefather of electronica. Everyone else mentioned here can trace their roots back to him. Without him, things would be very different. You might say, without him there would have been a great void.
The band that launched a thousand ships. Literally, bands that list Kraftwerk as an influence number into the thousands. Kraftwerk has sparked whole genres of music that have an everlasting foundation in the history of music. “Autobahn,” “Computer World,” “Tour de France”
Another progenitor, simply put. His popularity really seems to be growing exponentially, but he was active since the early 1970`s. Thoughtful and artistic; there`s so much that could be said about him, and so much has already, and in the most glowing praise. His influence is everywhere in music (and meta-music – like computer sounds) Pushing boundries, birthing genres, if you listen to music, you’ve heard his input. If you haven’t taken an active look into his music and influence, do so. Initiates might start with “Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy,” “Nerve Net,” “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” (with David Byrne)
Few artists who produce such experimental work enjoy such widespread appreciation. Each release of hers influences and shapes the music of others. She’s utterly original, her creativity and artistic flair is completely unrestrained and overflows. Plus, she helps to bring notoriety to Iceland and it’s dedication to music; few contemporary music fans haven’t heard of her. Start with “Debut,” “Homogenic,” “Biophilia”
Boards of Canada
Actually a band from Scotland – named after the film board of Canada and their love of the educational nature documentaries. Boards of Canada, produced a distinctive sound by blending analogue samples (including samples of the documentaries from the Film Board of Canada) and instruments into a downtempo electronica style, producing a rich, warm sound, often described as nostalgic. Since their release of “Music has the Right to Children,” their influence on electronica was impossible to miss. Other first picks “Geogaddi,” “The Campfire Headphase”
Leaders in the “Big Beat” branded electronica. They gained a massive following; it would be nearly ten years before a single of theirs wouldn’t land in the top 40. They construct their albums like a set, starting hard, peaking, and then bringing it down towards the end. “Exit Planet Dust,” “Dig Your Own Hole,” “Further”
Another artist that hates the genre his music gets pigeonholed into, but for Aphex Twin, and his numerous pseudonyms, it’s a legitimate issue because his music truly transcends stereotypes. Aphex Twin has been described by “The Guardian” in the UK as “the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music.”1 With certainty, if you’ve heard his music, you’ve taken notice of it, regardless of what opinion it impressed. “Come to Daddy,” “Richard D. James Album”
Named “the Progenitors of Trip-Hop,” for many, their “Mezzanine” is a landmark album. Besides Mezzanine, look for “Blue Lines,” and “100th Window” They simply have to be heard.
This band earned their spot as the other side of Trip-Hop royalty, despite their aversion to the spotlight and almost completely shying away from the media, they sold records by reputation. “Dummy,” “Portishead,” “Third”
Founded by Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty. Paterson is one of the fathers of ambient house and known for his sense of humour and mischievousness (which sometimes plays out in his use of samples). “Bicycles & Tricycles,” “U.F.Orb,” “Orbus Terrarum”
Of course, the artist known for his soft pedal piano style, but iconoclastic, and hates the limitation of classification. He’s dedicated and painstakingly involved in the nuance of every sound. Eno/Budd with Lanois “The Pearl,”
Seminal figures in “Krautrock” – a derisive UK label, and they would probably protest electronica as well, but they implement a large degree of electronics in their music. They developed their electronic sound literally from the ground up, making their own transistor organ back when transistors were beginning to take over tubes. Apparently, this organ is still in use. Besides that, they spend just as much effort meticulously shaping their sound in the studio. They may be a rough introduction, but they’re a fascinating band. Look for “Faust”, “Faust IV” and Faust & Dälek’s “Derbe Respect, Alder” Plus their compilation of others’ remixes of their work, “Freispiel” is a great purchase.
Largely influenced by Detroit DJ, The Electrifying Mojo, Atkins and his friends, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson developed Techno. The label gets misused often, but these people are the progenitors of the true style. Atkins produced work under several different monikers, but look into what he’s done; there’s a great deal of thought behind it, and his influence is broad and ongoing. I doubt he`ll really get all the credit he`s due. It’s a shame, but it’s another example that Detroit fails to recognize the importance of the music that comes out of it’s own city. Check out Cyclotron’s “Clear,” Atkins “The Berlin Sessions” Model 500 “Deep Space”
Known as being more experimental than his contemporaries, he charted with “Rounds,” and since then has remixed, and improvised with a long list of notable musicians. Besides “Rounds” look for “My Angel Rocks Back and Forth,” and “There is Love in You.”
I’ve been reaching out to the Ambient/Electronica community to tell them about my “GTV Ambient series” and to ask them if they would help me spread the word. The response has been very positive and overwhelming in fact. I also came across some artists that I thought deserved mention here.
Vladimir Hirsch -
Czech composer, instrumentalist and sound alchemist, integrating contemporary classical, industrial and dark ambient music. His style is characterized by polymodality and using digital technique to enhance sonic means of expression. He is the founding member and leader of Aghiatrias, Skrol, Zygote and various other projects. He was also a member (keyboard player and vocalist) of the 80’s experimental post-punk group Der Marabu. He is expecting two re-released albums later this month:
Missa Armata (1999) is based on standard liturgical elements. The album however avoids using verbal singing of appropriate text as it is not a Mass itself, but rather, a narrative about the communication between its contentand the listeners’ state of mind. Parallel to this, the album expresses a fictional war story, where adversaries are forced to participate in a worship together. The composition is strict and uncompromising, demonstrating a highly structured industrial sound combined with classical instrumentation and choirs, achingly electrifying noises and power-electronic force and energy. Approx. time 44 min.
Invocationes (2001) is a cycle of 4 ritualistic musical prayers. The project is – both thematically and in means of expression – significantly related to Missa Armata, but the overall character structurally aims more towards dark ambient. The compositions have a deep ambience with immersive emotional perceptions, without sparing any intensity and urgency. Listeners are drawn inside an introspective journey within a tempestous and submerged world together. Approx. time 34 min.
Richard Bone began his professional musical career by creating soundtracks and scores for off-Broadway companies working in experimental theater. In 1979 he released with his band Bone the single Pirate the Islands/Headlines Have It before joining the legendary new-wave band Shox Lumania in 1981. Richard then recorded a 7″ entitled Digital Days/Alien Girl independently and was subsequently signed to the UK based label Survival Records where he released several LPs, EPs, singles and contributed to various compilation albums. His 1983 single Joy of Radiation reached #1 on the Hong Kong dance music charts. Richard started the label Quirkworks Laboratory Discs in 1991 allowing him freedom to create music of a more experimental nature and retain control of his musical direction. Since then Richard has released over twenty-five recordings of new material, several collaborations and contributed to many compilations. Of the new material recordings, three quickly rose to the #1 placement on industry charts and those three, along with several others, have also received numerous other honors. Recent projects have included a May 2011 release that featured remixes of selected tracks of Richard’s music assembled by Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi entitled Adaptors, and a July 2011 release of new material entitled XesseX. A recording in progress of all new material is expected be released late 2012 on the AD Music label and a future biographical book devoted to Richard’s life and musical career is also still a possibility.http://www.richardbone.com/
Murat Ses was founding member, composer, keyboard, harmonica, and saz player of the group ‘Mogollar’, which was a trendsetter and one of the sound architects in modern Eurasian folk music. He is the creator of a unique musical style called ‘Anadolu Pop’ in the 70’s that’s still played in Turkey. One of his legendary compositions is e.g. Legend of Mount Ararat (Agri Dagi Efsanesi)!!! He’s a member of SACEM in France. His LP ‘Danses et Rythmes de la Turquie d’hier à aujourd’hui’ was awarded Grand Prix du Disque by the Charles Cros Academie in Paris, France (1971). That award-winning album is probably one of the first world music albums except for Africa in its genre and from a region with a very complex music tradition. Nearly all of the music on that album is Murat’s compositions and/or his arrangements from authentic Anatolian music. His music of 60s and 70s is still en vogue. A great number of record companies all over the world prefer to pick up his compositions and traditional arrangements to hint to Turkey’s music of 60s and 70s. Sometimes as bootleg! Murat’s Psychedelic music based on Anatolian ethnic musical structures is a gorgeous example for the mentioned era of Turkey’s and region’s music history. He has broad live experience and wrote numerous scores for film, TV, and documentaries. He is member of Artists Without Frontiers and voting member of The Recording Academy (Grammy Awards) in Los Angeles.
Composer, poet and producer of electronic music who combines electronic sounds with live prepared instruments. Collaborates with musicians, choreographers, artists, forming a new media and performance artists, as well as painters, poets, and writers. “Glimmer” (2011) is a natural effect of Jacaszek’s constant search for new, chamber, electroacustic form of music. Subtle, almost unfinished, vanishing electronic parts are completed by sounds of harpsichord (Małgorzata Skotnicka), bass clarinet (Andrzej Wojciechowski), and metalophone (Jacaszek). Musical harmony and tones of “Glimmer” recalls baroque chamber music. But clarinet, metalophone and characteristic electronic phrases gives Jacaszek’s music fresh, unique form, bringing him close to contemporary artists such as Ben Frost, Colleen or Tim Hecker. Check this out: