And now for something completely different…
That’s “Olympians,” off the album Tarot Sport by the two-man British electronic group Fuck Buttons. (According to Wikipedia, they were looking for a name that would be both “playful and abrasive.” Mission accomplished, gents.)
Now, I’m not a connoisseur of the electronic genre by any means. Even calling it “the electronic genre” seems silly, since we’re talking about a vast array of music here. But when I love it, I really love it.
Particularly when you’re dealing with something like “Olympians,” the length, repetition and progressive layering can result in an especially meditative experience. A pleasant drug trip without all the messy side-effects. I first came across the genre while hanging with some of my computer-geek (in the best possible sense) friends in late high school and early college. We’d be sitting amongst half-built computers, screens, weird lighting and scattered hardware while they programmed or we hooked up the Playstation. The music, always in the background, seemed well-suited to that world of bits and Platonic Forms. And while a lot of electronic musicians rely on beats and samples, a good amount of them – arguably the most dedicated, like Fuck Buttons – will turn to manipulating the actual electric signal producing the sound. It’s a remarkably elemental form of music-making.
In a different vein you have someone like Dan Deacon, who employs the same means but leans towards the absurdist in his style. I mean, just look at this video.
It’s called “Crystal Cat” and is from an album entitled Spiderman of the Rings. So that gives you some idea of where he’s coming from. “Wham City” and “Snake Mistakes,” off the same album, are also very good.
“Crystal Cat” actually has a particular emotional resonance for me. During my last year in Austin – which I of course did not realize was one of the happier times in my life until it was well over – the Alamo Drafthouse used this song over its preview of summer film events. Since I spent a lot of time in that theater, this song sort of became the soundtrack for that slice of my life.
Finally, I’ll throw in some Moby, which I’m sure is a pretty quick way to piss off people who really are connoisseurs of electronic music. But I’ll defend him on these simple grounds; if I ever tried my hand at electronic music, I think my work would probably turn out similar to his. (In style and concept, as opposed to quality.) And not because I thought it was great art, but simply because I’d enjoy it. And whatever else you may say about him, I think Moby clearly loves what he does. Though he may ride the line between electronic and pop, even when he falls completely over into pop territory – think “South Side” or “Beautiful” – it’s still good pop.
So here’s “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad,” definitely one of my favorites. This is the actual music video, incidentally.
And for a bonus, here’s a remix of the same by Ferry Corsten. Sometimes trance is too dance-music-ish for my tastes, but I thought this track was a real gem.