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In August I did a post about the interesting cross-disciplinary issues that come up when critical-minded folks from the club music scene describe academic electronic music with their own carefully honed vocabularies and sensibilities. Another good example comes, of course, from electronic dance/post-punk specialist Simon Reynolds, in this respectfully irreverent paragraph I just found on his blog:
Along with its relative affordability, one of the things I like about the second-division electronic avant-classical is its generic-ness. I mean that most sincerely folks. There's two facets to this 1/ if it’s a genre you love (say, ardkore, or freakbeat/garage punk, or dub, or whatever) then the genre-icity is no problemo, in fact the more fiercely it is itself, rather than dabbling outside its own parameters, than the better really; plus you have such an appetite for the stuff in question that you crave the second or even third-division material. But also 2/ there's this extra element of pathos and even a tiny hint of comedy too. See, here’s these guys who thought they were opening up infinite vistas and spectra of sound, boldly going where no composer's gone, building the future, etc. Yet a lot of it does tend to sound a bit samey. Partly because they only had a few different instruments at this point to grapple with: the Buchla, the Moog, a few other machines. But also beca[us]e a certain lexicon of sounds and FX got established that people tended to go for. In fact if I have some time at some point I’d like to do a taxonomy of those 12 or 16 or 23 noises/devices/effects, 'cos they do tend to crop up rather frequently. The other reason the avant-electronic stuff can sound generic is that the composers tended to use the machines as tools for extending their pre-electronic ideas, rather than search for the absolute idiomatic thing the machine could do. So there’s a lot of post-serialist approaches being transposed to synthesiser, I reckon. Which is why you get that feeling of clutter and twitter, flurries of note-runs and clusters, a fidgety fraugh[t]ness. There's also that atmosphere of disquiet that's very post-War existen[t]ialist-modernist-neurotic, kinda highly-strung and almost hands-wringingly anguished at times. But I suppose this makes perfect sense, was inevitable: composers who studied theory and went through conservatory training and all that, who have followed the grand narrative of western musical thought all the way through to the present juncture, or their own personal version of that arc/dialectic/whatever--they're not going to suddenly junk all their ideas and concepts and nous and technique, and just lay themselves open to the potentialities of the machinery, in a state of mind-voided open-ness and zero preconceptions. They’re going to dictate to the technology rather than the other way round. But that explains why a lot of the avant-electronic music sounds like 20th Century classical, as opposed to utterly alien and foreign, which you get more with your rock people perhaps, who lack the composerly grounding and also have more of a cheap thrills/gimmicky slanted approach to new tech.