Friday, January 25, 2008

The Beat of a Different Drum

I can't imagine a world without rhythm. A beat can turn into a melody and then, with the help of lyrics, into one of those ditties that get stuck in your head for weeks. Electronic music takes simple beats and pulls you onto the dance floor. Yesteryear's tribal drummers have given way to today's synth and tape-loop geeks, who are skilled in whipping a group of people into a celebratory dance floor frenzy. A catchy melody and plaintive lyrics have always been my soft spot, but I've been a big fan of rhythm for quite a long time (P-Funk, Krautrock, and Animal Collective in particular). Because of this, my interest in electro's pop sensibilities (not to mention that rhythm) has blossomed over the last few years. I will admit I like to dance, but I've only done it in public since New Order, The Knife, and Justice moved me to do so.

Lately, my appreciation has nearly become an obsession. It started a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon a song that melted my ears from the first listen. Cable Dazed by Invisible Conga People delivers a driving beat beneath simple rhythm guitar and casually intense vocals. ICP (not that ICP) is part of the newish Jersey label Italians Do It Better, whose roster is full of modern interpreters of the Italo Disco genre. Cable Dazed was so simple and seductive I began to hunt for my next electro fix, deciding to focus on its roots.

Much of the synth-pop attached to the early 80s was influenced by electronic music and disco from the late 70s. All of these were greatly indebted to an Italian DJ named Giorgio Moroder, who produced musicians like Donna Summer and The Human League, scored films like Midnight Express and the classically indulgent Scarface, and even had time for a few solo albums. The revival of disco beats and cheesy synth wouldn't be as interesting or widespread if not for this mustachioed maestro.

And so I dug for more music, finding neo-disco on Australian and French blogs. It made me want to dance, which in turn made we want to make others dance. So I’ve put together an electro dance mix for you and your weekend. Some songs are old, some are new, and some haven't even been released yet. Hopefully it will make you cut a rug or two and maybe investigate electronic music yourselves. It's meant to be played in the order you see it, so I'm giving it to you in an easy to open ZIP file (just import the XML file from the folder into your iTunes). You can request a CD if you'd prefer that, but I'll have to be in a good mood to give you one (I've been pretty happy lately, so it shouldn't be a problem). So plug in your stereo, move the coffee table, and let my earliest electronic fascination (the old Dr. Who theme) usher in over an hour of body-moving music. Let's dance.

1. Dr. Who Theme (Jon Pertwee episodes)
2. Love Juice - SymbolOne
3. Lights And Music - Cut Copy
4. Air War - Crystal Castles
5. Cable Dazed - Invisible Conga People
6. I Feel Love - Donna Summer
7. From Here To Eternity - Giorgio Moroder
8. Trick or Treats - Metronomy
9. Only Me To Trust - Ghosthustler
10. Everything Louder Than Everything Else - SymbolOne
11. Being Boiled - The Human League
12. Hold On - Holy Ghost
13. I Believe - Simian Mobile Disco
14. The Girls - Calvin Harris
15. Lady Operator - Mirage
16. Lay All Your Love On Me - Abba



Josh said...

This is pretty sweet, Bryan. Well done! I'm looking forward to listening to this over the weekend!

Megan said...

why is the doctor who song so short??? need more!

Bryan said...

I wanted it to be an aperitif for the mix, just something to get you in the mood.

But if you want a long version, here's a much lengthier updated theme.

Megan said...

What an awesomely full-service blog! You have made my day, sir.

agingsnob said...

Moroder was a genius! Also, "I Believe" is by far the best track off the SMD record (a great record).

I suggest listening also to The Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" and Berlin's "The Metro." I think Moroder actually produced the Berlin track, although don't quote me.

There is also a great movie called Modulations, that if you haven't seen you must see! It would compliment the blog post. It really stresses the importance of Krautrock, Eno, and Mr. Moroder, among other pioneers (including John Cage...whose drum music you might also consider listening to in while in the mindset of rhythm). It's a bit dated now, considering a lot has happened in Electronic music since it was made in the late 90's, but for old school history it's unbeatable.

Bryan said...

I'll definitely have to check all those out. I've only heard a little John Cage and only heard of Bronski Beat, but I'm a HUGE Eno fan. Did you know Moroder wrote and produced Berlin's "Take My Breath Away"? I heard it while getting a haircut a couple weeks ago and it in fact took my breath away.

Thanks immensely for the tips agingsnob.