Monday, 10 October 2011

The Novice’s Guide to the Intricate Nature of New Music Genres

I am an electro and techno novice. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I am a music novice, despite spending hours and hours each week listening to varying genres and lovingly gobbling up facts, names, dates and discographies in my spare time. The fact that the people who write on this blog are essentially all bound by the same loving affection for music, I don’t many of us are masters of it. Or maybe that’s just me.

See, music for me has always become more amazing the more I try to learn about it. When I was younger it seemed a very small thing; essentially only existing as far as the radio allowed me to hear. Of course, that was a silly assumption, but it was the reality of music as I grew up. There was this “past” that existed because my parents had heard it, and the present as I heard it. It took an awakening in my early teens as to music’s true widespread nature, and it opened my eyes. Bands that are known to do this to people are known by some as “gateway” bands; the bands that open our eyes to further deeper knowledge and sourcing of greater expanses of music from around the genres of music.

I was brought up on rock music, and slowly found electronic music via my love for the recent output of Radiohead and Boards of Canada. If anyone is to say that the Radiohead albums I am referring to (specifically Kid A and Amnesiac) are over rated, I can only suggest that they might be right, but what it gave me was something beyond simple music. They opened my ears and mind to a whole new style and creative process behind music. Electronic music that was cerebral and interesting suddenly existed beyond the Ibiza Annual adverts and the club music that I had grown up with.

This awakening has only brought me to realise just how little I do know of the music that I am getting involved with. When I discovered the branch of rock music that is named “Shoe-gaze” I was aghast at not having known about it before, and quite quickly I devoured Slow Dive and My Bloody Valentine, the two poster-bands of the genre, and then moved onto more obscure types of shoe gaze, ending in the other genres of shit gaze and electro shoe gaze, or “nu-show gaze”. All made up genres, you understand, much like the “nu-rave” fascination for those three months in 2006.

It led me to remember a phrase I heard at work early this year; “a jack of all trades, a master of none” – my skimming of these genres, and others, had lead me to not really delve deep into them in the same way that my rock music knowledge was. It is always a difficult expectation of people when you start to dip your toes in the deep ocean of a new genre, especially ones that are so wide and vast that it might seem daunting.

I fell into minimal techno via an incredible thread on the world famous Drowned in Sound message boards a long time ago. It is a legendary thread on there for bringing to the masses an almost exhaustive compendium of musical choice cuts from an incredibly detailed hive mind of music (if you want to read the thread, it is here , but be warned – it’s 827 replies will make it a lengthy one to load and an even lengthier one to read) It spawned a massive Spotify playlist that sadly is no longer around, but I picked off various cuts from it and bits and pieces I liked and sprinkled these tracks all over my Wednesday Graveyard playlists that I religiously built in 2009 and 2010. I’ve abandoned them since, but I wish to return to them in the future, and I will post them on here if and when I do.

I made the conscious decision to get into this genre a few months back when I became very bored of rock music almost overnight. I didn’t quite fully grasp the nature of my commitment, and it is only when I look at being involved more and more the less and less I actually seem to know. I started loving The Field and was chastised for not listening to Arthur Oskan, Patlac, or Walls. I’d not heard of them; I now have, and they intrigue me.

The journey into a new music genre is always quite a challenge. First of all you need some guidance on where to even start, and in some cases even that is a most contested point. If you chose the wrong era, or the wrong route to start down, you are either going to be put off for life or going to be sucked in for the long term, reading up on Wikis, detailing on Discogs and most importantly, seeking out all their music on Peer to Peer networks, sharing mixtapes/iMixes, jumping up and down on Spotify playlists and... god help you, joining a forum.

Interestingly, despite all of this, I still enjoy it more than anything else I find in music. Sure, I love seeing bands live and hearing new material from artists I know and love, but there is nothing more daunting or exciting than realising that there is a whole world of new music out there that you might like or you might hate and that’s the point. It is obviously not for everyone, and those who seek out details in each genre are quite different to those who exhaust their singular genre, but that’s the beauty of it. I can write 1000 words on why and how to approach a new genre, and Nick or Gareth could write 1000 words on why they love a particular song. That’s the beauty of it all, really.

Music is cool.

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