It recently struck me how definite the line between musical phrases and structures that are machine-like and which ones are human-like, and how important it is that music includes the human structures. For example, imagine a robot voice telling poetry. That’s sort of what electro-techno can be like.
I write this because I am a computer programmer, and am heavily into electronic music. Like heavy heavily. Lately I’ve been spent quite a few of evenings on the internet listening to new music that has a strong mix of modern electronic elements and more organic parts like guitars and voice.
Bands like Lusine, Lucky Shiner, Sister Crayon, The Notwist, Made in Heights, and of course, the extremely famous Radiohead, are all discovering new ways to impress their humanistic creativity upon the functions of their technology. Vocals over cheap gameboy drums. Chopped guitar loops triggered with eyes closed and emotions running high. Wurlitzer keys gapped and glitched perfectly to print the message of emotional-technological conflict in the author directly into the passage. This is an important step for us because I believe that most people still see a very black and white relationship between technology and music – it’s either techno or it’s well, music. But even through all the techno-lacing over the last 30 years, a listener can still tell when there’s a person hidden behind the curtain or not. The existence of this human element is what makes good music good music. Replace the poetry robot with William Shatner and it’s well, at least a step in the right direction.
In the last minute or so, Lusine’s use of the female’s voice is absolutely brilliant. The timing and selection of each voice sample is chosen with wonderful precision, which overwhelms the pragmatic critic’s mind in the way only true human expression can.
I am so glad to see the beginning of the techno thing starting to really hit home on the human thing. Dance hall anthems rely heavily on the machine pounding of a new fat-bass sound or a rhythm hammered mechanically into the listener’s body, but will also fade from the listener’s memory in time. Real, timeless music has more of that human message through expressive use of technology, whether it’s a violin, or an MPC-5000. No matter how much modern producers “ruin” music in the same way that modern shoes have “ruined” running, the basic rule that it takes a human to touch a human will aways hold true.