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Has Electronic Music Lost Track Of The Future?
Old 5th August 2014
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Has Electronic Music Lost Track Of The Future?

Open Mic: Has Electronic Music Lost Track Of The Future?


Open Mic: Has Electronic Music Lost Track Of The Future?
Posted on August 4, 2014 by synthhead

jean-michel-jarre

Open Mic: Pioneering synthesist Jean Michel Jarre shared a vintage shot of himself today on Facebook. He added the comment “Back in the Seventies, we had a romantic, poetic vision of the future, like it was in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Parliament-Mothership-ConnectionIn the 60?s, 70?s and, to a lesser degree, the 80?s, the sounds of the synthesizer were shorthand for ‘the future’.

Synth artists like Jarre, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis created electronic soundscapes, inspired by futuristic themes. Kraftwerk created a futuristic synth pop world, populated with robotic musicians.

Science fiction movies, from Forbidden Planet to Blade Runner, often had electronic soundtracks. And mainstream funk and new wave musicians adopted synths and space age ideas and visuals.

In recent years, though, the sounds of the synthesizer are just as frequently used to evoke nostalgia as futuristic visions. Bands like Boards of Canada and others are inspired by vintage electronic sounds and use synths to create music that evokes the past or alternate histories. And sci fi cinema soundtracks are largely ‘action film’ scores.

Has electronic music lost track of the future? And does the electronic music you listen to deal with futuristic themes or nostalgic ones?
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Old 5th August 2014
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and then acid and house came ... and we all wanted to go back to the pyramids..
Old 5th August 2014
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I don't think so but we may be less naive about the future than they were back in the day..
Old 5th August 2014
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Because the future stopped being about utopia and flying cars and now it's rising oceans, overpopulation, peak oil, and extinction.
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEXUS-6 ➡️
I don't think so but we may be less naive about the future than they were back in the day..
There is indeed less hope.

I think at the root of the problem is that society has not evolved nearly as much as technology has evolved. In many respects things have devolved.

Hopefully we are just experiencing the backstroke of the ever swinging pendulum of time. Two steps forward, one step back. Time to to start stepping forward again!

When we can collectively hope and dream again the arts and music will follow. Or maybe the arts and music should lead the way. If so, we need artists that are sensitive enough dreamers yet strong enough to dare show their vulnerability in this hardened world full of brutes.

Alistair
Old 5th August 2014
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The future is cancelled..

I find it odd that the old generation used to always complain about how devious the new generation is.. but now it's the opposite.

"This is the most conservative time I've lived in"
My mom.. born 1950
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whatupdoe? ➡️
Because the future stopped being about utopia and flying cars and now it's rising oceans, overpopulation, peak oil, and extinction.
I believe all that can be dealt with. The hard part is convincing the world to actually do it.

Alistair
Old 5th August 2014
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Another way of thinking about it is this: It's not that electronic music has lost track of the future, but that the future is too close-- and changing too rapidly-- to create art around. It's too difficult to predict anymore, and therefore too difficult to create thematic art for.

I'm somehow both Relieved and Saddened to see replies like the ones above...And I think they're right: The notion of future has taken on a different meaning now that "the future" is essentially here, and we have an ever accelerating development of technology that is changing life as we experience it faster than we can understand. We are essentially saturated in notions of "technology" and "future", and I think that it's impact is unavoidable and irreverable, and causes a form of psychic claustrophobia and same-same-ness not considered in the 70's Sci-Fi. We don't have room to breathe from tech anymore, and life is claustrophobically close thanks to social media.

To put it simply: It's not romantic anymore because it's actually here.

And since it's here, and not a fantasy, it's no longer exotic. Just wait until Occulus Rift comes out soon. It's Sci-Fi come to life, and it's gonna change everything

Personally, I disagree that Electronic music has to equal futurism. I think that's only one aspect of it. To me, I often associate electronic music with Organic life and nature as well-- think of Boards of Canada. I don't know why, but the sounds of electronic music remind me of the elements, of rocks, wind, water, and trees much more than rock, pop, or country does. It's timbrally closer to nature in my mind.
Old 5th August 2014
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It needs a good decent new genre, and by that I don't mean adding to existing styles like this..

dubtech, darkstep, brostep, dubstep...
or
deep house, deep dish, funky house, house, disco house..
or..
tech house, minimal tech, techno...
etc etc..

I mean wtf is wrong with people..???

in the 90's we had so many new styles surface that really were NEW, now we just see this crap like above...??
Old 5th August 2014
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There is tons of electronic music the resonates the the vibes of the present at least...and what it looks like the future might be...it's aggressive, dark and dissonant.
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djugel ➡️
The future is cancelled..

I find it odd that the old generation used always complain about how devious the new generation is.. but now it's the opposite.

"This is the most conservative time I've lived in"
My mom.. born 1950

An interesting point. I imagine that such conservatism is a deep, low-level response to dealing with so much change so quickly. We need to feel safe somehow, so perhaps we adopt more conservative attitudes in order to feel some sense of consistency in the face of all this change...Change does have a way of bringing out the conservative side of society. And the change we are seeing is unparalleled by anything else in human history.

Or perhaps there's another explanation for it.

Any way you slice it, I think your mom is right, and I admit that I find it quite disappointing.
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djugel ➡️
The future is cancelled..

I find it odd that the old generation used always complain about how devious the new generation is.. but now it's the opposite.

"This is the most conservative time I've lived in"
My mom.. born 1950
45 years ago, the kids were saying, "don't trust anyone over 30", so i don't think this is the first era in which the youth have complained about their elders.

and i think i'd enjoy a conversation with your mom. i disagree with her whole-heartedly (popular music, for instance, is steeped in references to sex by young women, something unimaginable in previous decades) but we'd have a good time talking about it.
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paega ➡️
There is tons of electronic music the resonates the the vibes of the present at least...and what it looks like the future might be...it's aggressive, dark and dissonant.
Yep.

May I add also digital and nasty, none of the analogue backwards thinking. Wait that reminds me of something... gotta get back to work that album.
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robotunes ➡️
45 years ago, the kids were saying, "don't trust anyone over 30", so i don't think this is the first era in which the youth have complained about their elders.
but I meant the opposite .. or maybe I'm not catching something.


Quote:
Originally Posted by robotunes ➡️
and i think i'd enjoy a conversation with your mom.
She's a librarian.. very well read. She surprises me all the time because she's so square. She was really commenting on the yuppification of liberals actually when she said that... but she of course hates god-fearing replicants..

Quote:
Originally Posted by robotunes ➡️
i disagree with her whole-heartedly (popular music, for instance, is steeped in references to sex by young women, something unimaginable in previous decades) but we'd have a good time talking about it.

"Young girl get out of my mind.. my love for you is way out of line.. better run girl.. you're much too young girl"

"Yes I'm ready... to learn .. .Yes I'm ready.,.. to learn"
Old 5th August 2014
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Electronic music was very expensive to make,making it exclusive and arty in the 70s and 80s.
Now it is a cost effective disposable product
Old 5th August 2014
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It's not just music. There was a spirit captured by Saarinen, Paulin, Aarnio, Jacobsen, Volther, etc. that we have failed to uphold and realize.
Old 5th August 2014
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Less hope and optimism. In the 90s the mood was so positive after the end of the coldwar and computers were getting great.

And here we are with 5 wars in middle east, climate change and corporations out of control. This summer specially has been quite sad.
Old 5th August 2014
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I think part of the problem is every teenage boys dog has a synth now and plays it in their hipster band.

How you supposed to make future music if everyone already made it?

Oh, and the microgenre phenomenon is turning people off from music. It's like when you work at a place and have 6 bosses telling you what to do all the time. Same deal.

This stunts the growth of future music on top of the typical always been there problems like "too many sheep, not enough shepherds." And different doesn't sell.
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djugel ➡️
but I meant the opposite .. or maybe I'm not catching something.
oh, my bad. well EVERY generation rips on the one that comes after


Quote:
She's a librarian.. very well read. She surprises me all the time because she's so square. She was really commenting on the yuppification of liberals actually when she said that... but she of course hates god-fearing replicants..
good point. if some of the **** the US government is doing now had happened in the '60s, young people would be marching and protesting day and night. today, activism means signing an online petition. james chaney, andrew goodman, and michael schwerner

Quote:

"Young girl get out of my mind.. my love for you is way out of line.. better run girl.. you're much too young girl"

"Yes I'm ready... to learn .. .Yes I'm ready.,.. to learn"
no, i mean raunchy lyrics being sung BY females:

"Champagne spillin', you should taste that"

"Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight ...
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame"

"Cause I may be bad but I'm perfectly good at it
Sex in the air I don't care I love the smell of it"

"We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage à trois"

etc.
Old 5th August 2014
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Actually, the dichotomy of the premise, that electronic music has to be either "futurism" or "nostalgia" really bothers me. A lot. Can't it just be ****ing music?!
Old 5th August 2014
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imo the future is an amalgam of what is now. kind of like a huge musical lava lamp
Old 5th August 2014
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2001: homicidal AI
Blade Runner: a trashed world that most inhabitants had already left by the time the story begins.
P-Funk: Edie maggot brain Hazel bit an airline stewardess and spent a year in jail because he thought she was an alien.
Forbidden Planet:cruel aliens who keep humans as pets.
So many more examples...
The future has always been dystopian.
Old 5th August 2014
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^Homicidal AI just 5x posted dat shiz...
Old 5th August 2014
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I'd say that the cyberpunk wave does not have the same momentum now, that it had in the 80s and 90s. Technology was awesome when we had the dawn of personal computing and later the dawn of the internet. But today, the view of technology is slightly more dystopian with cyber warfare and privacy concerns. Therefore, one part of current electronic music ends up being a reference to earlier times, when synths were a symbol of a general technologically deterministic optimism. Chiptune music is a typical example of this. Another part ends up trying to sound new and fresh, but struggles to find new ground. Thankfully, parts of the music industry is slowly moving away from the "bigger is better" paradigm, which should open up some new territories.

I think some of the reasons why one may think electronic music has lost track of the future, is because it is (too much?) in the present; many tricks that previously were reserved for niche electronic music, has very much become the norm in popular music. As a result, one needs to sift through a lot more in order to find electronic music that is looking in a different direction. But it's still there.

Another important question though, is what attributes that actually make something sound "futuristic"? Previously, you could reference the Jetsons, Star Trek, Terminator, or Bladerunner. But to be honest, I'm not sure how I would approach such a goal today - I fear I'd just end up making stuff still referencing Bladerunner, which kind of proves the original point in this thread, I guess.

EDIT: I think we also need to acknowledge that the current notion of "the future" might have changed from the era of Jean Michel Jarre. In the 50s and 60s, the future was about the teenage awakening and rebellion. Then the future became about technology. So what idea do we use to represent "the future" today? To me, I'd actually say that it's been about retro-futuristic nostalgia for a while, but that it may change soon to something completely different.
Old 5th August 2014
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Depends on what you call electronic music and what you expect from it. I don't see how electronic dance music and it's various iterations (house, trance, acid, blah blah) could really have a vision for the future, it's just grounded in the here and now churning out the same old stuff.

In all art forms there are those who are constantly trying to push the boundaries, experiment, and try new things - this is what I think of when I think 'the future', and what I do when I write electronic music, and it is the only kind of electronic music I will listen to (Amon Tobin's ISAM, Vaetxh, Valance Drake, some of Culprate's album Colours is pretty good but a bit straight ahead, a few other artists here or there...). Mostly I don't like anything I listen to and have to make it myself!

If we aren't constantly trying to challenge ourselves and push the envelope, and constantly inspire ourselves, and aspire to something greater, then what is the point? Seriously, what is the point? There'll always be people satisfied with 4/4 backbeats until the day they die, it's all what YOU make of it and what YOU choose to pursue to satisfy your interests.

Rant over.
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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i think...JMJ is sortof saying that the movie 2001 was more uplifting than it was dystopian....yes the AI tries to murder everyone once it becomes sentient....but that wasnt the whole movie, the movie endds with the guy going through lightspeed and he ends up as a little newborn baby....and when they discover that monolith on the moon...that was the second monollith, the second advancement/sign-post, in the evolution of man/technology....man just ends up becoming "born" again...and again, 2001 doesnt say that the future is horrible and redundant, it says that it is a constant process of rebirth and self-reflection? hmmm today, our vision of the future can be seen in a comparible sci-fi movie of today..something like ________ insert your movie here idk...not star trek or star wars, something more artitistic.....Prometheus maybe idk....there isnt alot of really introspective artistic scifi movies that come out today, or maybe im not rememerbing any right now....

plus JMJ is talking about movies...mostly or art that was happening around the time of him making electronic music....the music was another part of the collective vision of the future....another reflection of the collective consciousness. and in fact....if you actually listen to 2001, you probly remember that the most memorable music in it, was actually classical music.....that was the score, classical...except for that other synth droning when they are looking at the monolith on the moon....the long droning synth was symbolic of the uncertaininty, mystery, deep space, a kind of uneasy droning sound that was mesmerisizing....

Quote:
Originally Posted by gremlin moon ➡️
2001: homicidal AI
Blade Runner: a trashed world that most inhabitants had already left by the time the story begins.
P-Funk: Edie maggot brain Hazel bit an airline stewardess and spent a year in jail because he thought she was an alien.
Forbidden Planet:cruel aliens who keep humans as pets.
So many more examples...
The future has always been dystopian.
Old 5th August 2014
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about a year to catch up.

Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djugel ➡️
and then acid and house came ... and we all wanted to go back to the pyramids..
Ahhhhhhhh yeahhhhhh


I heard this 2 years ago and hated, now it's one of my favorite tunes, WTF. By accident or design, I find the video's afrofuturistic overtones interesting.

also how the **** does he program those snare rhythms
Old 5th August 2014 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sameal ➡️
I think part of the problem is every teenage boys dog has a synth now and plays it in their hipster band.

How you supposed to make future music if everyone already made it?
We can be sure that the future will still have it's share of washed-up elitists who think they own music.

Good god man, get over yourself.
Old 5th August 2014
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I do feel that 90's techno does seem more futuristic than much of electronic music today, but electronic music was more deep then. Now the popular stuff just seems to be about partying and drops. To me futuristic = deep music with themes of technological progress both positive and negative. It's why my music tends to be based on scifi themes both dark as well as uplifting.

Though retro-futurism is a big influence as well. To me the future might sound like people thought it would in the past because perhaps the vision of the future back then was just much more positive than it is now. Take the birthplace of techno, Detroit. It once was a center of in innovation and industry and now its an example of urban decline.

An example of what I think sounds futuristic is the music by Ken Ishii:




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