I’ve always enjoyed augmenting my songs with electronic elements, but the last chapter of gloves/Winter Of 82 was by default entirely electronic. When I think about what I’m doing here, fusing heavy guitars into this, and whether this is going to even work… I have to remember one inescapable conclusion.
I have run out of things to say with “electronic” music.
Why the “electronic” quotes? Because, by definition, anything I do with the gloves is electronic, they have no inherent acoustic properties, and require a computer to make them work. It’s obviously an electronic instrument, but there’s no reason they have to be bound by the sounds we associate with electronic music.
That’s really what I’m talking about; the Route One electronic music sounds. Swapping guitars for synths and drum machines. It’s almost obligatory in this era: the list of artists who ditched their guitar sound in favour of electronic music. Radiohead, Coldplay, Linkin Park, Maroon 5, Chris Cornell… it’s a “thing” major artists do, and has been done to death to my ears. My heart sank when I heard the last Linkin Park record because it sounded – in it’s audible DNA – like everything else on mainstream radio. The mid-career electronic “surprise” makeover is so grimly predictable, so audibly homogeneous. I’m reminded of a few articles around the time of Kid A. While most of the music press hailed it as the single greatest plot twist in rock history, there were a few journalists protesting that making music that sounds like “Warp Records in 1993” and singing over it was not *quite* the groundbreaking event Q Magazine hailed it as…
When I think of electronic music expertise, a few familiar names surface. My undying fanboyism for Frou Frou was largely because it was music that sounded organically electronic. It wasn’t a beats-and-bleeps makeover; it was a beautiful, living electronic sound. Imogen has continued this concept beautifully in her solo work. A bold statement, but if we’re talking about electronic music in a songwriting landscape, I think Immi is literally the best there is. She’s untouchable. Every glitch, every crunchy beat, every dance floor kick sounds like it grew with and out of the song. Not a single song breaks that rule; it’s never tacked on electronica for cool points. And that’s where I started to come unstuck with Winter Of ’82 – my music was starting to sound like tacked on electronica.
Ditto for anything Bjork has done and (an obvious link) anything Guy Sigsworth touches. Electronic music can be organic and beautiful, and some of the best music I’ve ever heard is in this context – swapping your drum kit for a TR-606 (Cuz an 808 would be too obvious) is not how it’s done.
So I’ll return to my happy place, where flashes of electronica arrive because they serve the song. That balance is evident in my pre-gloves work; Hand At Emotion needed it’s piano ballad to Drum N Bass bait-and-switch. Dialling in Ableton packs to replace guitar parts isn’t the way forward.
There’s a lot of reasons why my rock roots as a guitar player was the only available place for me to go now, I’ll write about those in depth in good time. I will say that I am very excited by the music tech headf’ck of how the Gloves and Ableton Live collide with Extended Range Guitars – the mechanics of that feel extraordinarily disruptive in my head. I hope that this project is really going to mess with how people perceive the gloves and modern music technology… 😉