Why Do Critics Dismiss Electronica?
I remember being very bored one day and going to YouTube and checking out a lot of the music that I used to listen to as a kid. One of the bands that I used to love a lot was Black Flag, a hard-core punk band from Los Angeles in Southern California. Black Flag was fronted by Henry Rollins. You’ve probably heard of Henry? He has made quite a name for himself as a spoken word poet, as well as a musician in the Rollins Band.
While it’s arguable that the Rollins Band became as famous and as influential as the Black Flag, it is unmistakable and indisputable that Henry Rollins has his own distinct opinion. He firmly believes that electronica is not real music. He makes a big deal of the fact that electronica uses digital mixing equipment to produce music. He then dismisses the whole process, as well as its outcome with the simple statement: That is not music. Where is the artist? Where is the physical inputs? Where is the person physically and spiritually performing the music?
These are valid criticisms, but ultimately, they turn on a misconception. The misconception is that the person has to break out in a sweat to produce music. In other words, there has to be some sort of physical input from the person to produce that music. The physical input however, is arbitrary.
Make no mistake. If you want to create electronic music, you have to physically input some effort. It takes effort to splice the different sounds. It takes effort to sequence the different loops to produce great electronica music. Anybody with more than two brain cells knows this.
The problem with music critics like Henry Rollins and others who think like him is that this is not good enough for them. In fact, this doesn’t qualify as physical effort. In their minds, people have to step up to the mike, open their mouths, and make a sound. That’s singing. Similarly, people have to come up with a guitar, strum the guitar in the right sequence and the right times to produce the right tunes. That’s what they define as making music.
Well, it’s time for the critics to really open their minds because we are now living in the internet age. We are living in the world of mashups. We are living in the post-modern world, where you take ideas from one particular context in a particular genre expressed in a particular media and then slice and dice it and apply its genetic DNA to other forms of music. This is not exactly a mash-up, but something more.
Music was able to transcend its origins and limitations. In fact, thanks to digital mixing technology, electronic dance music, and electronic music, in general, has actually lived up to its fullest potential, as far as being an expression of genuine, authentic, and sincere human creative expression is concerned. It has transcended all boundaries. This is why electronica is so awesome.
What’s so compelling and intriguing about electronic dance music is that there are no rules and there are no boundaries. I believe this is the ultimate form of musicianship because you’re right there. You’re front and center of that galactic explosion of creative directions.
This is much better than being bound in one place and restricted by the musical limitations of the specific instrument that you are physically playing. A keyboard can create thousands of different sounds made by thousands of different musical equipment. There is no comparison. Electronica is, whether you like it or not, is superior to other forms of music when it comes to musical possibility.