Quite a few years ago now when I was about eight or nine I became taken with the purity and precision of electronic music. I spent many visits at the local public library borrowing to-be classics like Tomita's "Spacewalk", the whole range of Jean Michel Jarre, albums by Vangelis and a stack of other indulgent, organic 70s, 80s ambient electronics. Around this time also a local independent radio station played a show featuring mostly ambient music and I taped a few sessions, combining that with a few doses of free form jazz from the show aired before it.
As CDs became increasingly prevalent, I began to supersede my crusty tape collection with the superior digital upgrades. My first 'electronica' CD was Vangelis' "Soil Festivities" and soon the gamut of Art of Noise followed and before long I had amassed a hearty collection of noodling, chin-stroking music.
A little while after this I met a guy called Steve (who runs this site, coincidentally) who had come from a background in beatbox house, Chicago acid and funky hip-house breakdance. His interest in the more sublime 'techno' was obvious and his influence led me to purchase my very first 'techno' CD, "Aftermath" by Nightmares on Wax, an early Warp record.
I remember the time clearly. I had to work that night and I rushed home and whipped through the tracks, feeling a little cautious and worried at first, the repetitive vocal samples annoying, perhaps? but I was sure that this music was quickly grabbing me. A few days later I was hooked onto something new and exciting. In the past I had searched around desperately for new music but at our local import shop there was a wealth of gems. I would never have to search around for new music again (although this was to be a curse as well!)
As the weeks passed, Steve, myself and a mutual friend called Paul began listening to 808 State. I liked this music. Like some of the other stuff, it was melodic and almost song-like but still alien enough to appreciate and enjoy. The music of the State binded us together to a certain degree and I can remember many times driving around in Paul's car, United State 90 wafting out of the tinny speakers, the rattle of the engine competing for our attention above those seminal, fluid synth tones.
In those early days, Warp Records, 808 State and a handful of chunky, funky rave tunes occupied our headspaces. One bored, sunny day we decided to spray paint 'LFO' on Paul's car and, feeling like kings we drove around Adelaide, LFO bass busting out of those damned speakers. One time I recall driving home from a party with the guys, 8080808 playing into the night and I remember the track's acid bubbles cloying into my sleepy brain.
Of course, more music followed. Detroit - Hawtin, UR, Fuse, Speedy J and the rest. Driving down from our local lookout point one night, FUSE's Substance Abuse playing, my ex-girlfriend declared, as soon as the 'angelic voices' hit the speakers, that she felt "scared." To this day I will never forget that and the effect that the music can have on you.
Several times I found myself drifting off to sleep to radio shows, intricate, moist beats and hollow, echoing, reverbing ambient chords spiralling blissfully into my subconsciousness.
The music, as time went by, changed. Rave, progressive house, trip hop, jungle, drum and bass all came and many are still here. Many, many times have I sat down with Steve and just kicked back and listened to the sounds that we all love, pulled the tracks apart, dissected the breaks, analysed the riffs, nodded wilfully to each other as a particularly pleasing chord kicked in.
I still love the old stuff... Jarre, Tomita, AoN... even Pet Shop Boys, New Order and a whole host of other synth-pop bands. Hell, I even enjoy jazz and funk and it's suprising sometimes how infused jazzy sounds are into even the most militant techno. But that I suppose, is my point... This music is not clinical and heartless. It is the soundtrack of alien worlds, the unknown funk, the rise of the machine. It brings people together.
I have never needed drugs to enhance my
appreciation of any electronica. I have always loved the sound, the look,
the warm hum of dusty synths. Even though it has changed faces many times
and still will, I am sure I will always love it, not only for the sounds
but for the sentiment and the important memories it triggers.