Blogging here now

I previous blogged for about five years through my writing web site, but my goal to keep matters focused on my various writing projects meant it was hard to talk (write) about those things that interest me most these days, namely, music, or more specifically electronic music.

I follow many forms of music but none so passionately as electronic music in its many (many) forms. I first became conscious of this style of music in 1984 when I was listening to Dick Clark’s syndicated Top 40 countdown show (hey, I was a 13 year old kid in Halifax, Nova Scotia, what the hell else was I going to listen to?). ‘ol Dick made a throw before going into commercial and said breathlessly, “The next band…doesn’t have a drummer!” Then – bam. Commercial. What the hell? How could a band not have a drummer? How would they have kept time? I had to hear what kind of freak-band this was. Was it some kind of baroque chanting? I was fascinated. As it turned out it was Depeche Mode’s “People are People”. Sounded like they had drums to me. I liked the song but not In a life-changing way. I got on with my busy 13 year old life (I expect said busy-ness had something to do with Star Wars or perhaps television. The odds were good). Over the next year I bought some DM albums (cassettes to be precise) and came to love the band but thought little of their instrumentation. Then I picked up Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark’s self-titled debut album and the programmed sounds were so unmistakable (listen to “Almost” and there’s no doubt it’s a drum machine, and a cheap one at that), that I realized I was listening to something different. Over the next couple of years I came across a catalogue from Mute records and started ordering every electronic-sounding artist I could through my local alternative record shop, and then I would browse seedy record stores and poke through the 7″ single racks looking for that artwork that unmistakenly meant synthesizers were used here. Before I knew it was a total electro-geek. The sound spoke to me of an era, but more importantly, conjured a mood, an emotion that captivated me as no other music had before. I started to study the roots of the music (got acquainted with Mr Moog, learned my Kraftwerk, got into my late-70s Bowie, dug into the German and Belgian scenes, got my Ultravox on, learned that the first pop band to use a synth on a record was the Monkees (!) in ’67, and even got my hands on an original 7″ of “Popcorn”). It’s nearly 25 years on and my passion for electronic music has only grown. The growth of the internet meant that I no longer needed the Mute catalogue or the 7″ bins to find my stuff. It meant that I could dig into the staggeringly prolific Swedish synth scene, to discover underground electro bands across the US, it meant that I could bookmark about 250 MySpace pages of various electronic bands in all forms.

I don’t enjoy it all. Some of the harsher industrial scene is lost on me; trance sometimes puts me to sleep and I find techno very, very hit-or-miss. But all-in-all, it keeps calling me back. And I want to talk about it here. New releases, new artists, trends in the business, whatever, I will vent the spleen, as it were on all things electronic, EBM, darkwave, ambient, industrial, synthpop, hybrid, drum-and-bass, and yes, even techno. And everything in between. There’s a huge world of electronic music out there waiting to be discovered, so let’s chat…


One Response to “Blogging here now”

  1. I’m reading Charles. I’m passionate about music too. In fact I’ve diagnosed myself with something called melomania; perhaps you suffer from it, as well.
    I’ve checked out your Best of 2008 entry, and I’m currently, ahem, SHARING some music by a few of the bands you recognized. I’d post my own list of my personal best of 2008, but I only just discovered Crash Test Dummies. I am a listener of whim.

    Happy holidays, and may you have an awesome 2009.

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