Monday, 22 April 2013


Radical Tracks #45
Born Slippy seemed an appropriate, moving piece of music at the Olympics Opening Ceremony.  It wouldn’t have occurred to me to include it at the Olympics (although I know why Danny Boyle did). 
One reason it worked so well was because it had an insistent beat and was uncomplicated with instruments.  Unlike the first piece of electronic music I heard by Stockhausen, which I heard at a time when I thought pop music was replacing classical or orchestral pieces; his work completely changed my mind.  Although it is pretty inaccessible, even now, it made me realise that ‘classical’ composers could also be innovative (and mad) and utilise modern techniques.  Stockhausen was perhaps more ‘industrial’ than electronic, making use of knocking and scratching noises.  Here is a snippet of Mikrophonie I from 1964 in case you’ve never heard any of his stuff.

Anyway, a more accessible and a proto-industrial sound came to me in 1967 with Velvet Underground’s Venus in Furs.  Not entirely electronic, but not especially tuneful instrumentation either and it seems now to herald the arrival of electronica. 


But it wasn’t until 1978 and the extraordinary Kraftwerk that I, like so many others, realised the potential of electronica; this time music from synths and this time tuneful.  Here they are with The Model.


We were now well into the disco era, which made great use of electronic sounds to create the rhythm.  The electronic tune that haunts me still came in 1979 with Funky Town by Lipps Inc.  Here she is complete with electronic voices and added instrumentation.


Worth listening to (and watching) this all the way through.  
So many bands were influenced by Kraftwerk, but the one that totally seduced me was Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, with their electronic reproduction of musical instruments.  Here they are in 1986 with Pacific Age.


Great what you can do with a synthesizer isn’t it!
I was not much attracted at first by rave or trance or acid or whatever it was called, probably because I was already too old to attend live sessions.  Nor have I been much attracted by rap.  But when I first heard Arrested Development, they just took my breath away.  Here was an Afro group, with rap and ambient sound and samples, somehow combining into a sound that knocked all my preconceived thoughts on the head.  This is Washed Away from1992, a religious tract which samples "Thin Line Between Love And Hate" by the Persuaders, as well as incorporating vinyl scratches (skip the first 3 minutes if you don’t know this piece).


Then, finally, in 1982, came the superlative New Order.  And we come full circle, since the band performed at Hyde Park for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. Here is the original version of Temptation.  Yes, it’s a bit long, but it’s gripping to the end and often to be heard in the Hook car!


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