What comes to mind when I say the words “dance music”? If you’re familiar with the current trends of the music industry, then your first mental images may very well include electronic DJs (meaning DJs that spin electronic music, not electrically-powered robot DJs), underground raves, and massive throngs of people jumping up and down. But this is only this decade’s version of dance music. If we travel back through the history of music, we pass by the synthpop of the 1980s, we say hello to the rise of disco in the ’70s, and we predate the birth of rock and roll as we settle down in the early 1900s. Imagine the scene in America at the turn of the 20th century. The European tradition of ballroom dancing had carried over into American culture, but the sudden rise of jazz out of the South soon took the world by storm. Before anyone knew what was happening, big bands and swing music became the new craze sweeping across the nation, and artists like Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Glenn Miller became household names.
Now, swing music was all well and good, but that died away many decades ago, didn’t it? Well no, that’s not entirely true (certainly not if Brian Setzer has anything to say about it). As I talked about in my post several months ago on Nekta, an artist going by the name of Parov Stelar is generally credited as the pioneer of the latest swing revival movement, this time fusing it with modern electronic music to form a brand new fusion of genres: electro swing.
Okay, so I think it’s about time I ventured over to the heavier side of music. I’m not always in the mood to listen to something aggressive and/or with heavy distortion, but when I am, I’m ready to RAGE. Throughout many of the formative years of my youth, I satisfied this desire by listening to heavy metal music – everything from Dream Theater to Periphery, from Avenged Sevenfold to Sum 41 (my punk rock phase directly preceded the heavy metal phase). Once I started going to college, I was exposed to heavy electronic bass music (Zomboy comes to mind), which fulfilled the same need for chest-pounding, head-banging jams. Having established all of that history, you can imagine my delight when I first discovered The Algorithm, the musical lovechild of metal and dubstep. I can say, without a doubt, that Rémi Gallego (the man behind the moniker) has one of the most unique sounds that I’ve ever been exposed to. Basically, he combines modern djent metal breakdowns with experimental glitch electronica, and throws an ample helping of dubstep wobbles in there for good measure. Okay, now read that sentence again. Intrigued yet? Let’s continue then.
Building a bridge between heavy metal music and electronica is a daring move, no question. Although you certainly have the potential to appeal to two huge audiences instead of one, you also run the risk of polarizing the entire playing field. Mashing together two styles with entirely separate fan bases may lead to both groups rejecting you. I could definitely see such a thing happening, but only if the artist wasn’t very well-versed in both styles. One listen to Polymorphic Code (The Algorithm’s first and only studio album), and it’s obvious that we’re dealing with a highly skilled musician.
Album artwork for The Science of How Things Unfold
When I feature music on this site, I frequently refer to albums as “listening experiences” as opposed to just a collection of tracks. I think this is an important distinction to make – music is created as an art to appreciate, enjoy, and be inspired by, not just a utility to be consumed and discarded. Different artists aim to create different types of these “experiences” with their music. In the case of Ben Lukas Boysen, his new album Gravity was created as a deeply personal, meditative experience. Brian Setzer’s The Dirty Boogie was more of an upbeat swing experience to inspire dancing and grooving. This is a foundational aspect of music, and part of what makes it so beautiful: incredible diversity in both style and intent. So today, we’ll be looking at an artist with a whole new philosophy behind his music. That artist is David Krantz, more commonly known as Futexture.
Futexture is one of those artists who is able to make electronic music sound like a true extension of his mind and body, as if he were playing it in real time like any other instrumentalist. This is a remarkable achievement, considering the challenges that “robot music” has posed to its innovators when compared to traditional live musicianship. With Futexture, however, there is no lack of creativity or authenticity. None of his music sounds like a groove that’s been copied and pasted several times in succession. I have this mental image of artists like this creating and manipulating their music with their mind, willing each individual sound or timbre to move in correlation with the others. Although that may seem like an idealistic notion (or is it?), the point here is that Futexture’s sounds completely natural, enough so to inspire such a lofty vision.
I’ve got to say that one of my favorite things about the current music industry is this strong resurgence of jam band music and culture that’s been going on for the past several years. As someone who wishes they had been alive to witness the explosion of psychedelic rock, progressive rock, and the jam band scene in the ’60s and ’70s, I am extremely happy about the genre’s relatively unimpeded longevity. After the Grateful Dead’s disbandment in 1995 as a result of guitarist and frontman Jerry Garcia’s death, the band Phish stepped in to fill the gap. Although they never achieved quite the amount of success and popularity that the Dead had, they certainly helped to keep the scene alive for the next decade. They were also an integral part of the rise of large-scale music festivals in the modern era. If you think about all of the festivals that host yearly events now – Bonnaroo, Coachella, Camp Bisco, Rootwire, Lightning in a Bottle, All Good, Wakarusa – the list goes on and on.
Dopapod is a group that is quickly rising to the forefront of the jam band scene. Born in 2007, they recently released their third studio album, Redivider, on 12/21/12. The entire record was recorded in a barn at Tyrone Farm, a solar powered farm in Pomfret, Connecticut. Despite the fact that it was released less than a year after their previous album, Drawn Onward (side note: if you haven’t picked up on this yet, the band really likes palindromes), there is nothing about Redivider that gives away any sense of rushed preparation. As a matter of fact, the entire thing is pure, musical gold.
The best part about music blogging is, as you might have guessed, listening to the music. Of course it is, why else would anyone start a music blog? Even so, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of searching for new music, going through album after album. When consuming music at such a rapid pace, it can be hard for things to have a truly lasting effect. That being said, I live for the times when I connect with an album on a much deeper level – when everything else fades away into the background as the music surrounds me and brings about intense personal revelation. It is for these beautiful moments that I invest so much time and effort into searching for new music, connecting with new artists, and helping to expose new audiences to their amazing potential. Thus, I take it as my solemn duty to extend to you an amazing opportunity.
It is one that I, myself, took advantage of just yesterday. It is the opportunity to let go of the world for just forty minutes or so, and be transported into the realm of Ben Lukas Boysen. He has been making music under the name Hecq for many years now, specializing in sound design and electronic composition. He has done a lot of work in the past writing music for commercials, with clients such as BMW, Greenpeace, Lacoste, and MTV. On his website, he states that his main idea behind each new project is “moving away from music and sound as a product and perceive every project as a customizable and individual challenge.” He strives to find a way of make each project unique and to achieve the strongest emotional impact in everything that he does. Anyone who is familiar with his work as Hecq can confirm that he follows up on these words with incredible music.
I always love it when two musicians who have both put in the time developing their individual careers and finding success with their respective projects decide to come together to create a collaborative album. We saw this a few days ago with Storm Corrosion, the joint endeavor of Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt. Today, I’ve got another such project, just released about a month ago on Kscope, a sub-label of Snapper Music which specializes in “post-progressive” music. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Wisdom of Crowds, an album released by Bruce Soord and Jonas Renkse.
Bruce Soord is most popularly known for his role as the founder and creative mastermind behind The Pineapple Thief. Started in 1999, The Pineapple Thief has released nine studio albums over a thirteen-year career, including the most recent record, All the Wars. The group has become well-known in indie and progressive rock circles as a result of their unique stylistic crossovers between the two styles.