Electronic music has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings in the early 20th century. It began with a desire to use the evolving technology of the time period to create increasingly innovative sounds. This new kind of music, known as musique concrète, was approached mostly as a sandbox for experimentation, rather than as a tool for augmenting popular music. It wasn’t until the late ’60s and early ’70s that electronic music itself began to be popularized. The Moog synthesizer was featured prominently in bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, and Genesis. New Wave and synthpop music began to rise in the commercial market. In the club scene, disco music became hugely popular, followed by techno and house music.
Why is any of this important? Because by understanding the history, we can see the remarkable journey that electronic music has undertaken since its genesis almost a century ago. In the past few years, modern rave culture has exploded and the scene is stronger than ever. As a result, its influence has begun to permeate throughout many other musical genres. Not only is there house, trance, and dubstep, but also styles like electro swing, chiptunes, and even folktronica (what?).
The point of all this rambling is that the rapid evolution of electronic music as a genre has led to the development of some extremely innovative and diverse artists. A prime example of such an artist is Jonathan Paulsen, more commonly known as PrototypeRaptor. Aside from having an absolutely brilliant moniker, Paulsen is the very definition of electronic music innovator. I’ve been personally following his work for over a year now, and he has continued to amaze me with each new release. PrototypeRaptor builds upon now-popular styles of electronica, including electro house, dubstep, glitch, and downtempo, to create his own unique blend of musical goodness. With the release of his newest album, Nostalgiarithm, he has proven that he is capable of executing any and all of these styles in a way that not only does justice to his roots, but also establishes an authoritative precedent for generations of producers to come after him.
I always have a soft spot for albums that are composed with the intent of being a single, cohesive musical creation. Such is the case with Nostalgiarithm. In the words of PrototypeRaptor himself, “It’s about the ‘downswing’ of a night on the town, starting at peak hour with uptempo ‘club’ tracks and progressing down through more chilled out vibes until finally it passes out in the early morning.” In a genre of music that is most commonly associated with dancing, debauchery, and non-stop energy, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear how PrototypeRaptor takes the traditional definition of electronic dance music and gives it a more mature spin.
When the album starts out with “Timeless,” it is clear that we do indeed start at the beginning of the night, when the energy is at its highest point. Although the first few tracks may be “club”-oriented, they have an easily identifiable element of creative ingenuity that causes them to stand out from the mass of tracks released by DJs daily. To be more specific, you can immediately tell that Jonathan Paulsen comes from a background of formal music education – he began studying music at the age of 13 and went to the University of Oklahoma to study music composition. His songs are catchy, yet musically complex at the same time. This has always been the case with music; my mind regresses to the first time I heard “Drive Hard,” a track released on his SoundCloud back in 2011 which draws on the glitchy-electro house influence of artists like Mord Fustang to create an energetic masterpiece of sound.
The first taste that we get of the morning’s tranquility on Nostalgiarithm is on the third song, appropriately named “9-Bit Sunrise.” After several more bouncy house tracks, we find ourselves entranced by “Futureperfect,” an intriguing blend of house music and chiller electronica vibes. From there, we travel through the cavernous landscape of deep house, eventually awakening the “Titan of the Deep” and getting a sudden blast of dubstep, PrototypeRaptor style. As the album draws to a close, the heavy bass music turns more melodic with “Further,” one of my personal favorites off of the album. At last, it concludes with a perfectly serene ending, “4:30am.” As the beautifully-produced downtempo finally fades away into silence, one cannot help but reflect with immense satisfaction on the completeness of the musical pilgrimage upon which they just embarked.
It is with great pleasure that I present to you, dear reader, this amazing album by the one and only PrototypeRaptor. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have, and I urge you to support the artist by purchasing his music. Regardless, it is remarkably inspiring to study the works of such creative individuals, and it is reassuring to know that the evolution of music is stronger than ever in these modern reincarnations of Bach, Beethoven, and the rest of the boys.