Friday Early Afternoon Jukebox: Ignored For No Good Reason


Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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60 Responses

  1. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    I’ll always identify Radiohead with my son. I needn’t tell you I love him beyond words and I can’t listen to Radiohead now without seeing him in my mind’s eye. Over time, I’m pretty sure he also made off with all my Brian Eno and King Crimson albums.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    My trajectory with them has been a bit different.

    I am a bit older than Sam; Pablo Honey came out when I was in college. I saw Radiohead open for Belly (!) in a tiny club on that tour, and they just blew them away. The biggest round applause Belly got, was when Thom came back out and sang a duet with Tanya Donnelly.

    I still maintain as I did at the time that Pablo Honey is a much better record than its reputation suggests, synthesizing strains of 80’s Brit postpunk/indie (U2, Smiths, Bunnymen, etc.) with concurrent Amerindie guitar-mangling roar (Dino Jr./Sonic Youth/Husker Du) and the Brit Shoegazers that that trio in turn inspired (MBV, Lush, Swervedriver). It just sat at a nexus of some great guitar rock, and if it wasn’t wholly original, it was still textured & melodic and Yorke had a powerful voice. The triptych of ‘Prove Yrself/I Can’t/Lurgee’ near the end of the record was as good as any guitar rock that year.

    Both the My Iron Lung EP and The Bends were both terrific expansions/refinements of the debut. I saw them a second time when they were touring ‘The Bends’ opening for REM on the ‘Monster’ tour (a record I hated with a passion, despite loving IRS-era REM with all my heart; I snuck into the concert using a $5 planetarium Pink Floyd laser-light show ticket, on the theory that all Ticketmaster tickets looked the same – this was back before laser-scanning the tickets became commonplace) and they were again phenomenal.

    But ‘OK Computer’, considered by many their masterwork, leaves me cold still, with the exception of ‘Let Down’. The album just seems largely tuneless to me.

    I came back to them on Kid A, which I like quite a bit, though if you had heard any early Warp records, a lot of it was again not wholly original; but as noted, ‘Idioteque’ is pretty stunning.

    I even have this fan-made like 8-disc bootleg release (seriously, this person put *crazy* effort into making the thing, using all-black-CDRs, inserts printed on vellum paper etc.) that compiles all the early demos, live tracks, covers, radio appearances – stuff from before they even had a record deal. A lo-fi cover of ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ that made it onto quite a few of my mixtapes as a side-end-filler.

    So I was definitely a ‘fan’ at one point. 🙂

    But of their work since then, I have become at best a casual fan. I have most (except for ‘King Of Limbs’) of the subsequent records but have come to find them so emotionally limited (how many songs about alienated consumerist paranoia do I need?) that I can only take the band in small doses now.

    In many ways, I feel about Radiohead (and Arcade Fire, for that matter) the way I think many of my contemporaries felt about U2 in the eighties (and heck, even now) – the brilliance of a lot of the music is irrationally hard for me to enjoy due to the (in all likelihood incorrect) personal perception of the band as self-important & humorless (and if I am in the wrong mood Thom’s voice can just drive me up the wall now – as powerful and pretty as it is, there are times when it just sounds like a whine to me now).Report

  3. Avatar joey jo jo says:

    I like RH because of their changes over time. They made a conscious choice to explore other directions after OK computer and as a result, disappointed fans who wanted to continue on the guitarish driven OKC path.
    I’m not a Pablo Honey fan (with the exception of Blow out). Radiohead aren’t really fans of it either, especially Creep. The crunching guitar riff right before the chorus was an attempt by Johnny Greenwood to sabotage the song that they kept in the recording. The one hit wonder aspect haunted them a bit and they refused to play it live for a long period. Not many PH songs get played live. After time they made their peace with Creep and you see it from time to time now.
    RH’s live performances (seen 7 of them) are outstanding. Just thinking about the red rocks show I saw make the hair stand up on my arms. I like the vid you posted but I think that the National Anthem performance from the same 2000 SNL episode is outstanding. Love the fuzz bass. You have the interplay between Johnny and Ed. Johnny samples the radio and plays the ondes martenot (one of the first electronic instruments). Ed’s work on the guitar plays off and compliments Johnny’s work. Thom does some beatboxing and his “jump” at the end to signal the horn section to stop is high-larious.

    This version (without horns) is excellent as well.

    I’ve made my peace and eliminated my expectations about what they will put out going forward.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to joey jo jo says:

      Am I the only one that thinks ‘National Anthem’ (which *is* a pretty rockin’ tune, BTW) owes more than a bit to Morphine?Report

      • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Glyph says:

        Yes. Totally. The first time I listed to Kid A I remember remarking to my girlfriend at the time, “I really liked that song that had the horn section and sounded like Morphine”. Last week I watched Wild Things and realized I missed Morphine a lot as they did a lot of the music for that movie.Report

      • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Glyph says:

        from what I read, the inspiration for the horn parts was Charles Mingus.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to joey jo jo says:

          It’s not just the horns, it’s that bass that sounds like a pattern Sandman would play.

          And in case it’s not clear, I listen to a lot of electronic music too…it’s not their move away from guitars that lost me.

          It’s just that in tone/mood, so much of RH’s music seems similar to me now.

          Joy Division only made 2 real (real depressing) records, whereas New Order got to play with a much wider emotional palette, which is why despite JD’s immense influence and as much as I love them, to me NO is the better band (also, saying this always makes the ‘St. Ian’-worshipper’s heads explode, another benefit).Report

          • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Glyph says:

            i get that re: bass pattern. i read somewhere that thom came up with the bass line in their high school days and it is thom playing it on the album.
            i also get that it sounds similar to you. i take each new one as it comes, mine the songs i like from each and eschew the rest.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    @Glyph: You’re not alone in that thought.

    Umphrey’s McGee does a dynamite cover of ‘National Anthem’. (skip a bit, Brother Maynard, along to 2:38 or so for the RH version) .Report

  5. Avatar Sam says:

    Do both “Idioteque” and “Electioneering” stand out against the rest of what is contained on their albums? I’ve had that accusation leveled at me before – “You only love the songs that don’t sound like the rest of the record!” – but I’ve never really accepted it. You guys seem intensely knowledgeable on this subject.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Sam says:

      ‘Idioteque’ stands out against not only that record, but the rest of their records and most everybody else’s too (possibly excepting Underworld’s). That jittery electronic paranoia (so danceable, yet so apocalyptically foreboding!) is pretty unique.Report

    • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Sam says:

      that’s a decent argument, but it presumes that all the songs must be uniform or that was their intent. it’s a stronger argument for idioteque than electioneering for me.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Sam says:

      RE: ‘intensely knowledgeable’ – I feel about rock music the way you feel about cast iron, or some of the people here feel about sports. Collecting it, listening to it, going to shows, reading about it, arguing about it with other obsessives in person and occasionally on blogs, has been my main hobby/source of entertainment my whole adult life. I have roadtripped. I have flown. I have planned trips and vacation destinations around concerts.

      My friend and I recently tried to judge how many live performances we have seen, and we came up with an extremely conservative lifetime estimate of 1000-1500 shows attended *at *minimum. While this estimate includes a percentage of electronic and hip-hop shows, it excluded things like classical or jazz performances (too few to make much difference in the numbers). It also rounded the timeframe to 20 years to make the math easy, though the true timeframe is a few years longer than that (I went to scattered concerts a couple years before I got serious, and the frequency has tapered off in recent years since having kids, so chose to exclude these years).

      So, you want to argue something like batting averages, I am not your guy.

      But you want to argue rock music, with a special focus on punk/postpunk and its variants & descendents, I’m always up. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Which reminds me – I should have put this on your cast iron post 🙂

        • Avatar Sam in reply to Glyph says:

          I hope I haven’t come off as too much of a madman about cast iron. I have a skillet, a sauce pan with a top, and a massive roaster/souppot/something. I found what I needed and haven’t subsequently added. I dare say that your relationship with live music far outpaces my relationship with cast iron. Which is an impressive and commendable thing.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Sam says:

            Honestly, it’s been an expensive habit. I really had the collector bug bad for a while too, it really got cluttered up around here, just stacks and stacks of CDs and records I couldn’t put anywhere, frankly some of it I hadn’t even really had time to devote to listening to it.

            I sold a bunch of stuff off, starting with duplicates (when you reach a certain point sometimes you can’t remember that you already have something, plus my wife had some of the same stuff I did) and the aforementioned ‘what the heck even IS this?’ records, using the money to buy a massive redundant digital storage system, and got the physical media back down to where it all fit in my shelving (some of which I built myself).

            So yeah, I am better than I used to be, and unfortunately I am starting to experience that thing that happens to everyone, where your tastes ossify and nothing new is as good as the stuff you used to listen to. And I hate it. The other trap you can fall into which is even worse, is being so busy ‘contextualizing’ a new song or record, picking out the influences and predecessors and homages and musical/stylistic links, that you are no longer really ‘hearing’ the thing. Your head is engaged to the exclusion of your heart, which is where it needs to ultimately hit. I struggle with this a lot now.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph says:

        “That jittery electronic paranoia (so danceable, yet so apocalyptically foreboding!) is pretty unique.”

        not if you’re familiar with the warp records catalogue of the 90s. it’s not a bad song, i suppose, but radiohead is a not my thing kinda thing.Report

        • Avatar dhex in reply to dhex says:

          edit: i just realized the original essay makes that same exact point so, uh, nevermind.

          getting pushed off of bands by their fanbase may or may not be tragic, or at least unfortunate, but i think this sticks out as an exception rather than a rule. how many bands have a fanbase that mirrors their outward artistic/”artistic” expression? quite a few.Report

          • Avatar Sam in reply to dhex says:


            I’d like to understand your question: are you asking which bands have fanbases so ravenous as to make liking them difficult? Or something else?Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Sam says:

              don’t say Rush don’t say Rush don’t say RushReport

              • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph says:

                actually, until that insane kerfluffle over here, i’d never have thought of rush as having a rabid fanbase, much less a “leave brittney alone!” one.

                “I’d like to understand your question: are you asking which bands have fanbases so ravenous as to make liking them difficult? Or something else?”

                no, i was phrasing poorly but thinking more in terms of that the rabid fanbase of a lot of “cult” bands are often an accurate way to, for lack of a better word, judge a book by its cover. it’s not infallible of course, but the insane clown posse sounds like a photograph of juggalos looks. that’s an extreme (and extremely easy) example, as the music basically created the fanbase’s aesthetic, but i think the general rule holds for a lot of acts and scenes.

                i look at it this way – there’s only so many hours in the day. there’s more music being created now – and listened to – than at any other time in human history. there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours of music you would really enjoy that you will die without hearing, and will never know about. such is life. you gotta make room for what you can, and sometimes a popped collar or overly pushy evangelist will drive you away in favor of different waters. otherwise you end up second guessing your, uh, “aesthetic radar” constantly. it’s not really the same thing as being open-minded, but more like being (mildly) paranoid about a potential loss of pleasure.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

                I’m with dhex on this one and would go further. I have in the past and still do today soemtimes refuse to listen to artists due to their having a stupid name or artwork.

                There was *always* too much to ever hear it all, and the internet has only made that problem worse. We all must have filters, even completely random & arbitrary ones, to keep our heads above water.

                But sometimes it is a shame. I know lots of people who wouldn’t give The Cure the time of day due to the rabid goth fanbase – but Robert Smith was one of the best, most versatile pop songwriters of the 80’s (and no slouch as a guitarist nor when it came to producing as well).Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

          Yeah, I shoulda been more clear – what makes Idioteque (mostly) unique is the pairing of the Warp-esque music with Yorke’s paranoid vocal (though as noted, Underworld did this first and frequently).

          Warp records back in the day generally weren’t big on the vox, often sticking instead with the sound of ‘machines singing to themselves’. I liked the fact that say Autechre or Aphex could trigger emotions for which we really don’t have names. It really did sound sometimes like you were listening to the thoughts/feelings of some alien intelligence.

          You ever buy an Autechre single, take it home, slap it on the turntable and wonder if it was supposed to be at 33 or 45? I have at least one where I think I never really figured it out; I just chose to treat it as though I had gotten twice the songs for the price, since it was interesting at either speed.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

          dhex, since it sounds like you and I listened/listen to some of the same stuff in the electronic arena (I still need to pick up some Shackleton), how do you feel about the recent 4AD forays into kind of goth-poppy electronic stuff? I kind of like the Grimes ‘Visions’ record, and I just got the Purity Ring record, which sort of splits the difference between Grimes and Telefon Tel Aviv’s ‘Map of What is Effortless’ (or maybe Dntel’s ‘Life is Full of Possibilities’).Report

          • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph says:

            seefeel, among others, was big on that. i mean, heck, trip hop was this idea; there was a lot of weirder trip hop/idm mashup in nyc in the late 90s and early 2000s that really ran this idea into the ground. (neotropic quickly comes to mind, though my mind hates me for this now)

            but like some people have a very punchable face, i’ve always found yorke to have a very punchable voice, so i am indeed quite biased.

            “You ever buy an Autechre single, take it home, slap it on the turntable and wonder if it was supposed to be at 33 or 45? I have at least one where I think I never really figured it out; I just chose to treat it as though I had gotten twice the songs for the price, since it was interesting at either speed.”

            was it envane? i could see that working at either speed. a while back i made a mixtape of idm-ish stuff i liked at half or three quarters speeds – it mostly worked very well.

            as for the 4ad revival, my first response was that it seemed so weird to see such a specific thing resurrected by people who were born around the time of it’s dying…but it’s really no odder than anything else. so why not goth? girls with partially shaved heads are pretty, and it’s hard to look bad in black if it’s leveraged correctly. everyone is on a reunion tour these days, nothing ever dies, etc etc (simon reynolds lays out a good case for why this is so in his book “retromania”).

            i like zola jesus and could do without the rest of that stuff, but i was never really into 4ad’s thing for the most part. grimes mostly reminds me of cyndi lauper without being particularly good at singing.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

              I get you on Yorke. His voice didn’t always have that effect on me, and on occasion I can still enjoy it in small doses, but sometimes now it makes me lunge for the ‘skip’ button.

              Yeah, Seefeel was pretty good. Some of that Grimes record is Prince too. There’s one song that straight-up has the ‘Doves’ rhythm. She better hope His Purple Litigious One never notices.

              I like Zola Jesus too, she has a powerful set of pipes (have you seen her in person? She’s teeny.) She maybe just needs some collaborators to push her harder, she’s still no Siouxsie. But maybe nobody is, except for Ms. Sioux.

              I haven’t read ‘Retromania’ (though I have encountered plenty of arguments about its thesis online) but Reynolds’ ‘Rip It Up And Start Again’ was pretty decent.

              I’ll have to dig that Autechre record out and see which one it is. This being Autechre, I doubt it had the title on the sleeve (probably some sort of abstract geometric design), and even if it did, I doubt it is in anything resembling English.Report

              • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph says:

                zola jesus was pretty good the one time i saw her live, and i think conatus was a step in the right direction. and the cover art was flawless. i see where the siouxsie comparisons come from, but i think that’s more of a grouping on fashion rather than singing style, etc.

                i do wonder what would happen if someone set her up with andrew weatherall, though. that would be a good production pairing. and outside of the video for “night”, most of the videos she’s done are horrendous. (“vessel” was 30% there, but the fx were terrible.)

                i do heartily recommend retromania, though i tend to disagree with reynolds and his arch uk critical theory-ness on almost all issues of taste and most issues of critique. he’s very interesting to read, and in this book i actually tend to agree with him more than not. i think it’s a good stab at explaining a rather central cultural current (the availability of everything, in short) without being too moralizing about it.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

                OOOOOH, Weatherall.

                As long as we are wishing and he’s producing, maybe she could get F**k Buttons (this is a family blog, after all) to collaborate on the music with her. Weatherall did his usual great job on their last one, it was a real step up from their first I thought.

                You think the Siouxsie thing is just fashion? Huh, I thought that before I ever saw what she looked like at all, her voice definitely has that ice-queen with deep vibrato thing going on. Loves me some Banshees, so it’s not a bad thing.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                If you watched the Olympic opening ceremony, you’d have heard two bits of FB: Surf Solar and Olympians.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Blaise, it never ceases to amaze me that in addition to the rest of your lengthy resume as I have gleaned it from comments here – world traveler, former missionary and soldier, intelligence & geopolitics expert, musician, cook, master coder, history and languages autodidact, and I am sure I am forgetting something else – you somehow manage to find time to keep up with current semi-experimental electronic/noise music as well. I seem to recall some other comment thread where you were talking about some Warp act – B0C, maybe.

                You truly are in the running for the position of



              • Avatar dhex in reply to BlaiseP says:

                fish buttons!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I’ve been messing about with synthesizers and sequencers since they were first invented. Unlike my fossilised peers whose heads remain firmly ensconced in the 60s and 70s, I continue to believe in the perennial power of new music to keep the world alive:

                At midnight on the Emperor’s pavement flit
                Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
                Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
                Where blood-begotten spirits come
                And all complexities of fury leave,
                Dying into a dance,
                An agony of trance,
                An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.

                Astraddle on the dolphin’s mire and blood,
                Spirit after Spirit! The smithies break the flood.
                The golden smithies of the Emperor!
                Marbles of the dancing floor
                Break bitter furies of complexity,
                Those images that yet
                Fresh images beget,
                That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.

                Music is constantly reinventing itself. I’m greatly pleased and amused to see the old 8-bit sound chips making a reappearance, albeit now in fat samples. Makes me glad I saved all my old synths, though most of my interesting patches are also reduced to samples.

                Long before trance or deep house or D+B, there was this. None of my friends got it but my kids did. It’s still appearing in samples today.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Around the 3-minute mark, when everything else drops out leaving just the ‘drums’ as the most prominent voice – it’s interesting how rhythmically close that sounds to the early drum & bass stuff.

                It is a shame that jungle/drum & bass burned itself out so quickly, at its best it could be really exciting, but there just were too many artists out there content to just pitch-shift & repetitively loop a single sample and call it a day (Roni Size – ugh); plus it inadvertently lent itself particularly well to co-option by advertising (sounds exciting, yet has no vocals to distract from the sales pitch).

                In general a lot of the exciting developments in electronic music, which prides itself more than most genres on innovation, burn brightly but briefly, before they are quickly absorbed into the larger music lexicon, thence to be used sparingly as ‘spices’ for more traditional or popular song forms.Report

              • Avatar dhex in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “It is a shame that jungle/drum & bass burned itself out so quickly, at its best it could be really exciting, but there just were too many artists out there content to just pitch-shift & repetitively loop a single sample and call it a day (Roni Size – ugh); plus it inadvertently lent itself particularly well to co-option by advertising (sounds exciting, yet has no vocals to distract from the sales pitch).”

                i actually think roni size’s middle name is ugh, legally.

                on the plus side it gave us breakcore, which was far, far, far, far more fun.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I’ve been toying with an idea for a while now, working with a Linux box, building a low-latency kernel for music programming, confining myself to extremely small samples, used almost like MIDI voices. Brian Eno has been working with generative music for many years now but I have a few of my own ideas on the subject.

                Many people find computer music annoying: anything based on drum machine is only an elaborate bit of ungraceful clockwork. Dance music clung to it and we still see its Ecstasy-addled grin everywhere, case in point that that demented prophet of mediocrity Paul Oakenfold.

                Any idiot with a copy of ProTools thinks he can make music. Glomming a single James Brown lick and pasting 300 copies of it is just being stupid in the no-stupid zone. Look at all those brain-dead jackasses who criticised DJ Shadow when he started walking away from all-sampling.

                Music has outgrown the pair of turntables. I want to build a tool with more heart, an organic thing.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I was afraid I was totally at sea when you mentioned ‘breakcore’ but from what I can see online it appears to be related to gabber and ATR-type stuff, so I am not totally unfamiliar.

                But w/r/t gabber at least (which my German friend was really into for a while, he took me along to a couple club nights there) speed for the sake of speed always seemed like a stylistic dead-end to me.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

                ‘Many people find computer music annoying: anything based on drum machine is only an elaborate bit of ungraceful clockwork.’

                Blaise, being a musician maybe you can answer this: why is it that I like computer music (I don’t mind the sound of clocks/machines singing themselves to sleep) and I like rock music, but I usually dislike attempts to interbreed the two (with rare exceptions)?

                My theory is, if it is synthetic, keep it synthetic; I don’t mind if you want to use a human voice or *some* traditional acoustic instrumentation for accents or melody or contrast, but otherwise, keep it artificial and more importantly, make full use of that artificiality – screw with it to the nth to generate textures & tones and timbres and rhythms never before heard naturally; alternately, patiently strip them down past a normal human’s tolerances (see: Plastikman, who I loved).

                If it’s rock, keep it human – don’t stick a drum machine in there because it’s trendy or easy – remove that swing that a human drummer (even one that is only marginally competent) brings, and the whole song usually just gets the life sucked out of it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I have a theory about why the clockwork music and the human musicians can’t work together. More Yeats:

                A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
                Breathless mouths may summon;
                I hail the superhuman;
                I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.
                Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
                More miracle than bird or handiwork,
                Planted on the star-lit golden bough,
                Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
                Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
                In glory of changeless metal
                Common bird or petal
                And all complexities of mire or blood.

                Robert Fripp once said “Honour necessity”. When life gives you wonderful new timbres that come in ticks and tocks, write New Wave music and wear plastic uniforms and put flowerpots on your head and dance like robots and call yourself Devo. Rik Ocasek wrote all those great tunes for the Cars and Greg Hawkes made all the interesting tick-tock noises. Sold a bunch of records.

                Beethoven’s the first composer to put numeric tempi on his scores. When told of a successful concert of his music in Berlin, he attributed its success to the metronome.

                Drummers hate click tracks. That’s because they’re usually not as good as they think they are. Take a real drummer from the old-school tradition, Charlie Watts, listen close, ragged as hell, but he’s on time and on target for 1, every damned measure, there comes that stinky old foot on the bass pedal. And that’s why he’s Charlie Watts and nobody else is.

                But someone like Bill Bruford, playing his numbers games of meters like seventeen over eight, his foot, if not as stinky, is still beating out four if his hands are not. Robert Fripp creeps me out very seriously and he’s annoyed a lot of serious musicians, including Bruford. Fripp thinks he’s enlightened but he secretly wishes he was a machine. Harmony’s lost on all his King Crimson crews. It’s all intervals and meter with him and it’s a miracle the man can stand upright under the weight of that enormous swollen head of his. In point of fact, Fripp can’t stand upright and play, the tendentious and aphoristic bastard. I propose a cure for all pseudo-intellectual wannabe musicians, learn to dance. And here’s a good starting point, simple two-step.

                The beating of the human heart, even at rest, has a certain amount of randomness. But there is one time when the human heart beats with absolute regularity, in the moments just before a heart attack.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Blaise, two of the bands that manage a satisfying hybrid for me are New Order and LCD Soundsytem. And both of them often use human drummers that are terrific in the sense that while not flashy, they can play like drum machines, but sans click tracks.

                Sure, they don’t generally deviate from 4/4, and no flashy fills or patterns, but they do not deviate at all from the beat or change tempo, over songs that can last into the ten-minute range. So there’s that.

                Note: I played drums a long time ago (not all that well, but still) so this is like one comment in this musical thread where I am not totally talking out of my rear.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Set the Wayback Machine to 1980. Tanoshimi sugiru!Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I doubt it is intentional, but something about that keyboard rhythm keeps suggesting T. Rex’s ‘Bang A Gong’ to me, and the whole thing is just making me confused. In a good way, but still.Report

              • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph says:

                “Look at all those brain-dead jackasses who criticised DJ Shadow when he started walking away from all-sampling. ”

                they’re actually known as “psychics”, seeing as he hasn’t produced anything worth listening to since endtroducing. then again, some people have one good work in them and that’s that, and criticizing him for not doing the same thing forever is dumb. but i think he had one really grand idea that crystallized at the perfect moment in time.

                not sure about linux implementations, but ableton plus a controller (launchpad, apc, whatever) is basically what you’ve described.

                gylph – breakcore/glitch/whatever was really like great death metal at its finest, not so much speed for the sake of speed but speed in the service of something greater. venetian snares being the apotheosis of that, but figure all the grand offshoots of the 90s along the way like mike paradinas, squarepusher, etc etc and so forth.Report

              • Avatar dhex in reply to dhex says:

                contra the electro-humano-combo-no-go-oh, there’s genghis tron:


                video is kinda lame but whatever.

                fish buttons (my new name for them forever and ever) kinda reminded me of gt the first time i saw them play live (opening for mogwai). gt live was fairly insane, saw them on a tour with pig destroyer.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

                Aw man that’s not entirely fair to Shadow. Even exempting Preemptive Strike ( as mostly just early single versions of what would become Entroducing) and those 7″ mix dealies he did w/ Cut Chemist, I thought the Dark Days score was nice and thought Private Press was about half good (the final track is one of the best things he’s done IMO). But he gets a lifetime pass for Entroducing, like Shields does for Loveless.

                Maybe this is one of those terminology things…IIRC at the time Squarepusher, Paradinas and VS were often referred to as drill’n’bass (! boy electronic music comes up with some stupid subcategory names). I liked Squarepusher OK (dude played those bass parts live, for real…complete madman) but never got deeply into the others.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to dhex says:

                Ableton Live is an interesting tool but it’s only a small step up from all those Steinberg and Digidesign tools I used to use back when I ran an old Atari ST to control all my MIDI and samplers.

                My premise is different. I’m creating a performer. Let me stick to something provable, with a simple piece of music, Bach’s Invention 1.

                Take apart Glenn Gould’s version of the Bach invention. Here’s the quantised, dehumanised version in MIDI. And here’s a six year old girl playing it.

                What’s the difference between Glenn Gould playing it and the tick-tock? The six year old is admittedly a prodigy and a vast improvement on the tick-tock but even she doesn’t hold up to the Glenn Gould version.

                Some people don’t like Glenn Gould. I don’t like everything he does. Murray Perahia’s Goldberg Variations suit me far better than Gould’s troubled and bombastic takes on them.

                I’m not out to summon up the ghost of Glenn Gould. I want a tool which can at least read the notation allegro ma non troppo and get the point, a tool which can be pointed to bars 24 through 36 and be guided through a change in emphasis. I don’t want to sit there and mess with every wretched ADSR parameter on the MIDI.Report

              • Avatar Sam in reply to dhex says:

                Endtroducing was fantastic. The Private Press was very, very good. So many artists never remotely approach the heights that Shadow managed to achieve, even if only briefly. Given that I’m totally lost in most of this conversation, I simply wanted to note this.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

                Entroducing really is a desert island disc isn’t it? Though I guess with mp3s there’s no such thing anymore, since we can all just hope to be marooned with our high-capacity (and hopefully waterproof and solar-charged) iPods.

                And yeah, I thought Private Press was still pretty good too – around half the tracks are great and the others are still decent IMO. Like I said, I think ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’ is excellent.Report

              • Avatar Sam in reply to dhex says:

                Endtroducing is an incredible achievement. And you’re absolutely right, “You Can’t Go Home Again” is awe-inspiring.Report

              • Avatar dhex in reply to dhex says:

                i think everyone agrees that endtroducing is great. i think i heard a different version of the private press than you guys did, though.

                speaking of human/machine hybrids, samplers, and other stuff, how could i forget this guy?


                (his actual album is pretty boring; his live stuff is super amazing. as a longtime mpc guy, he’s jimi hendrix)Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

                That is BONKERS, dhex.

                I like you and all, but dammit, talking to you is gonna end up costing me money, what with the new records I am apparently going to have to check out. 🙂Report

  6. Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

    I thought for certain we might have a conversation about art that had been intentionally ignored and later acquiesced to. Instead, a master class on electronic music has broken out. That is a testament to this site’s commentariat, albeit it leaves me on the sidelines with a bewildered look on my face.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      Sorry Sam, you are right, I totally got sidetracked here.

      One that was intentionally ignored at the time and later embraced? Back when grunge was a thing, I thought I hated Soundgarden. Though I dug some of the music, Cornell’s voice and persona drove me up the wall. That whole ‘Hammer Of the Gods’ shrieking just went against my whole ethos at the time.

      A few years ago I had a hankering to hear ‘Outshined’ so I picked up a used copy of Badmotorfinger.

      You know what? That is a dang good record.

      Also, it took me while to get ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, I didn’t start watching that until the original TV run was close to done. I had seen the original movie and liked it well enough, but the TV show was completely off my radar as being anything I would be interested in. But one of the cable channels was running back-to-back episodes in the wee hours of the AM, I had insomnia, and the rest was history. After seeing a few and being intrigued by the quality of the writing, I picked up the 1st 2 seasons used on DVD at Amoeba records and got completely sucked in, became evangelical on it, introducing it to many friends. I have seen the whole series multiple times now (though if you haven’t seen it, just stop at the end of season 5 and pretend that is the end).

      BtVS really restored my faith in the possibility of (genre no less!) TV as art (I was a very occasional TV viewer up to that point), a faith that has been amply borne out in the many quality serialized dramas in its wake.Report

      • Avatar sam wilkinson in reply to Glyph says:


        It’s not a problem but it is evidence that I can’t predict which directions these conversations are going to go. This has been fascinating but I certainly never saw this level of in-depth electronic analysis in my future.Report

        • Avatar dhex in reply to sam wilkinson says:

          actually i ignored burial at first because people whose tastes i tended to dislike were whacking it hard over him.

          and that one burzum record that translates into “if the light takes us” is actually quite good. i tended to ignore him because of the whole murdering racist church burning thing.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex says:

            Ya know, I am all for separating the art from the artist.

            But I have a hard time with racist church-burning convicted murderers.Report

            • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph says:

              a totally reasonable stance. probably an interesting topic for an original post if someone could do it justice.

              but still a good album. not going to give varg any money, mind you.Report

              • Avatar Sam in reply to dhex says:

                I think I’ve already over-tackled the issue of art and its interpretation, but I’d certainly get in on a thread about this topic, if not actually writing something myself. Whether or not it is something people would agree with is something else altogether.Report