It’s more than just ‘noise’

It has all the fervent bottled-up energy of a truckload of caffeine-rattled rabid monkeys and the inherent complexity and mind-boggling capacity to confuse and disorient of an M.C. Escher work.

It has the unbridled, intense maniacal mental energy of 1,108 evil geniuses working together at once, and the unpredictable-ness of a cluster of performance artists dancing in a crowded city square during an earthquake registering at 6.0 on the Richter scale.

I’m talking about electronic music. Despite all of these descriptions pointing out the pure intensity (whether fast or slow), artistic merit, and intricate detail work involved with the creation and analysis of electronic tunes, there are people who tend to label such music as simple strings of abstract “noise” and arbitrary bass beats, thereby relegating it to their personal music trash cans. Explain all you want to, but some people will, quite simply, refuse to acknowledge electronic music in the same regard as more mainstream music genres.

Although I understand their perspectives on the issue, it still irritates me when I hear such beliefs picking on this wholly independent and unique music form.

The most common argument I have heard coming from critics of electronic music is, as I said, their comparison of electronic to the randomness of meaningless noise.

On one occasion, I have heard a person go so far as to compare electronic music to pure static: total chaos, no melody or rhythm. The lack of vocal work, relative “ease” of production and the fact that “it’s too weird to be music” are all unfounded complaints which I have been forced to tolerate when conversing with others who are critical of electronic music (remember, people: not all electronic music is bereft of vocal work!).

One criticism in particular (one which was directed partly towards myself) derided electronic because of its “associations” to illegal drugs such as ecstasy. Before I go any further, please let me debunk this myth unfortunately associated with electronic music.

As common sense will tell anyone, people who listen to electronic or rave music are not subliminally brainwashed to buy and consume illegal drugs!

It is purely up to them and their personal reasons to do so on whether or not they decide to go gulp a handful of amphetamines before entering a congested warehouse to dance next to a bunch of other sweaty people with laser lights cutting elegant swathes through the humid air and furious techno tunes blaring out of ten-foot-tall speaker assemblies.


Regardless, these many criticisms of electronic music would not nettle and provoke me in the way they do if the critics of electronic would come up with some substantial evidence pointing out the weak points of electronic music which surpasses the logic of “it sounds different, and there’s no guitar!”

Come on, music critics! I’ve heard wittier comments about the Backstreet Boys!

Some people actually don’t know just how many great musicians permeate the realm of electronic music. Personally, I didn’t even know about all these great DJs and synth artists until a couple of months ago when a few students around campus and in my residence hall rekindled my fascination with electronic music, and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the genre with my searches for new artists. Aphex Twin, The Chemical Brothers, Panacea, Squarepusher, u-Ziq, Kenna, Autechre, Lionrock, Aphrodite, Kerrier District, J Majik, and a smattering of other artists are all great examples of music creators whose tunes can coalesce into a great electronic experience.

Acid, rave, industrial, trance, Hi NRG, drum ‘n bass, new wave, electronica, techno, trip hop; whatever you decide to classify it as, electronic and its many subgenres all offer a refreshing break from the mundane music which we are exposed to every single day. Be it the unorthodox nature of the music, its driving bass lines, the absurdity of some song names (Chin hippy?), or the fact that it’s just so freaky when compared to more traditional contemporary music, electronic is a genre to which I am grateful to have been reintroduced.

However, don’t let my opinions and such define your individual music experiences; listen to whatever you desire! That is precisely what makes music unique and what makes each individual person’s musical tastes one-of-a-kind.

Whether you like to rock out, dance ‘ freak, get in the mosh pit, slow dance, enjoy Beethoven and Bach, “get low” or whatever, go ahead and do your own thing. Just try to give certain genres a bit more credit when discussing them. Remember, electronic music may sound like just noise, but in the end, that’s what ALL music is.