Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Electronic Life

Pop music. Dance music. Techno, electro, etc, etc. There is a fascination with electronic music in our culture that seems to be very particular and relevant. What is it about keyboards, synthesizers, and drum loops that reaches out in a way that guitar and drums simply can't?
Maybe it's the culture that surrounds it. Electronic music is largely perpetuated through the club scene, through booming speakers in college parties, and the vibrating subs of 25 year old males everywhere. Ok, so that's a clique. But a somewhat accurate one. The deep-sounding beats usually mix with shallow-sounding lyrics in the most perfect way, forcing the listener to bob their head or even (after a few shots) head to the dance floor. If hard rock (which will always have a sacred place in my heart) appeases the mind of those who want to openly push the limits and shout their opinions, electronic music appeases the heart of those who want to be undercover subversive. Instead of shouting, head-banging, and moshing with a crowd of people, these particular scoundrels want to throw on their stunner shades and go underground, dancing in the dark under flashing lights while the world outside falls apart.
Maybe THAT is the real appeal of this particular type of music. The invincibility of it all. The listener doesn't have to worry whether or not the drummer, guitarist, and vocalist is too drunk to perform well. In fact, the listener doesn't really have to worry about a live band at all. A live band is almost DETRIMENTAL to electronic music, rather than supportive. Because a live band bespeaks reality, a thing which these beats would rather avoid altogether. The music will go on, regardless of whether or not the creator of the song is even alive or dead. One doesn't even have to listen to enjoy the music, in some cases. Just feeling the bass vibrating against their bones and eardrums is enough for the hair-gelled, nicely dressed, sweatily composed people who are grinding against each other on the dance floor.
And for those who aren't a part of the club scene? For some, electronic music is a lifestyle, not something to enjoy every now and then. Just putting your earphones in and adjusting your iPod to play your favorite pop song is enough to take you away from the bills, deadlines, heartbreak, and monotony of everyday life. It's enough to remind you of your dreams, of the world inside your soul that doesn't REALLY give a shit about good grades or pleasing your parents or waking up early to go to work. That part of you that simply wants to love and move and flow with the river of life itself seems to respond to the timeless, invincible, and limitless possibilities of the production techniques employed today to create sound.
Unlike any other brand of music, electronic music doesn't use real instruments. Not entirely, anyway. Yes, keyboards, synths, and drum pads are involved, not to mention very complicated computer software and recording devices. But none of it is organic sound. There is no acoustic guitar or grand piano with real strings that vibrate, simply IDEAS that can be manifest using speakers. This is the magic of it all, that the IDEA of POSSIBILITY is more important than the reality of what is really there. That the mind itself holds enough power to create art and music and feeling, without having any physical manifestation. In this way, the sound is more organic by not being organic at all.
This is not just a type of music. This is not just a shallow-minded money making tool. Pop music, electronic music, all of it, is a manifestation of mankind's wish for invincibility in a world where we are doomed to never be invincible at all. It is the "average" person's path to being not so average, even if that means simply listening. It is a reminder of the groove that is in us all; the groove we seem to lose track of way too often in this boring planet of ours. It is our way of living, of moving forward and not looking back, of believing in ourselves and in others. It is our way of capturing feelings, emotions, and even moments in time, simply by committing it to the memory of our hearts and minds using drum loops. Maybe if we listen long enough, dance hard enough, and believe strong enough, we will be invincible after all.

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