More Random Electronic Music

Lost Turntable news!

The long-awaited, incredibly-overdue, far-too-complex, incredibly-well-written Lost Turntable Guide To Recording Vinyl will be published here within one week’s time! Now, that doesn’t mean this week, that means a week from today (Wednesday). I mean it. It’s actually almost done. I’m just polishing up the rough edges and adding in screencaps/photos. It’s turned into a damn epic, well over 4,000 words, and I’m going to have to split it up into multiple parts (which will all be published simultaneously).

I really hope it doesn’t suck.

Anyways, time I got something off my chest.

I usually love The A.V. Club. I think it’s one of the best entertainment sites on the web, with a good balance of light “Top 10” type articles and more in-depth quirky pieces that really examine pop culture in a unique way.

One of my favorite recurring features on the site is “Gateways To Geekery.” In it,  a writer looks at a fairly geeky piece of pop culture (Dr. Who, Pub Rock, Harvey Pekar) and breaks it down in a way that outsiders to the geekiness can understand, while giving examples of perfect points of entry for newcomers. It’s almost always just as educational as it is fun.

The latest Gateway To Geekery is on a topic that I consider myself a high-level geek on: 90’s ‘electronica.’ Like most people my age, I first got into dance and electronic music in the late 90s, cutting my teeth on stuff like Fatboy Slim and The Prodigy before discovering deeper acts like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and countless British drum and bass acts. A lot of the music from that time served as a major influence on my life, so I hold a great deal of nostalgia and fondness for it to this day. As such, I was very interested to read what the A.V. Club would recommend.

Oh well.

The article starts out decent enough, arguing that The Chemical Brothers are a good entry level band for those looking to explore the genre. But when the writer (more on that asshole in a bit) starts to talk about The Prodigy and Moby, things get a bit dicey.

First there’s this choice bit about Prodigy mastermind Liam Howlett:

“Liam Howlett earned his chart success with impeccably constructed tracks that showed off his ear for melody and drew from teen years spent gorging on hip-hop and jungle. “

As a commenter at The A.V. Club points out, Liam Howlett was born in 1971. Jungle/drum and bass didn’t exist as a genre until around 1990-91. Teenage Liam Howlett was not listening to jungle, as it did not yet exist.

From there, the author goes on to cover Moby (while finding ways to backhandedly compliment him along the way) and Underworld (oddly leaving out Darren Emmerson’s name entirely) before going on to Orbital. Most of this stuff is fine, if incredibly vague. It’s at the very end where the article falls apart.

First the writer concludes the main section of the piece by listing off other artists to make note of:

Leftfield’s dubby progressive house, Fatboy Slim’s lampshade-on-head chart pop, Lo-Fidelity All-Stars’ pub-Dadaism, and the jazz-noir of future Steven Soderbergh and Darren Aronofsky collaborator David Holmes are all worth exploring beyond the odd single or two.

All right on (although I don’t think this person knows what Dada is). But let’s take a look at what he says to avoid:

Almost anything called “big beat.”

You mean stuff like Fatboy Slim? The king of big beat? And while The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy were never strictly big beat artists, a lot of their early (great) stuff certainly has a lot of trappings of the subgenre. And by dismissing big beat entirely he’s also telling you to ignore Fluke, Lunatic Calm, Meat Beat Manifesto (partially) and the Dub Pistols. All acts whose discographies are well worth visiting.

The final bit of  the “what to avoid” section really takes the cake though:

A lot of the acts that arrived in the wake of The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy were the electronic equivalents of the dullard bro-rockers taking cues from Oasis at the time. Often lumbering, obvious, and oddly self-satisfied, acts like The Crystal Method, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Propellerheads, Death In Vegas, Groove Armada, and Apollo 440 now sound like relics.

This is stupid in two parts.

First of all, to dismiss an act simply because they came out in the wake of another, more innovative, act is ridiculous. Music scenes are built on the idea of artists drawing immediate influence from other artists. And yes, this does often lead to poor pathetic copycats (post-grunge, I’m looking at you), it doesn’t mean those other acts are without any merit.

But that’s not even the dumbest, most ignorant thing about that statement. The Crystal Method were taking cues from The Chemical Brothers? Let’s visit or discography timelines, shall we?

The Crystal Method’s first single was “Now Is The Time,” it was originally released in 1994. That’s a full year before The Chemical Brothers’ first single or album came out. (I know that they were making music as The Dust Brothers beforehand, but that didn’t really put them on the map).

So the idea that The Crystal Method were a Creed to The Chemical Brother’s Pearl Jam is nonsensical and chronologically impossible. Same for the Proppellerheads, their first single dropped in 1996, less than a year after The Chemical Brothers’. Groove Armada’s first singles were in 1997, far enough away for them to possibly cite The Chemical Brothers as an influence, but not far enough away for them to be second-generation copycats. Same for Death In Vegas and even Bentley Rhythm Ace.

(I can kind of give the writer Apollo 440 though.)


I get the point of this article, and why acts like Aphex Twin, Autechre, Squarepusher and Boards of Canada weren’t mentioned. It’s supposed to be an introduction to a genre, and nothing about a lot of the best electronic music of the late-90s is newbie-friendly. But to not mention The Orb, Goldie, Roni Size, Basement Jaxx or Faithless? That’s some of the best, most accesible electronic music of all-time! When you see those kinds of glaring omissions, along with the blatant factual errors that run rampant throughout the piece, it makes you wonder: what kind of electronic “expert” wrote this article? Who could be that clueless?

Then you see that the writer of the article was Scott Plagenhoef and it all makes a lot more sense.

Plagenhoef is the former editor of Pitchfork, the hispster online music mag. The place where music journalism and originality go to die, replaced with bullshit posturing and elitist second-guessing over what’s cool, what’s ironically cool, and what’s trying too hard to be ironically cool. How this asshat somehow got to be the goto electronic music expert for The A.V. Club just goes to show that you can bullshit your way into anywhere if you’re popular enough.

Even if portions of your article are nearly self-plagiarized from an entirely similar piece that you wrote for GQ just a month earlier.

Lazy fuck.

Lament the state of music journalism with me as you check out these great remixes, all culled from various 12″ singles.

Daft Punk
Around The World (Motorbass Vice Mix)
Teachers (Extended Mix)
Some of the commenters on the AV Club article bemoan that Daft Punk wasn’t mentioned. I can see their point, but it’s really not a legit complaint. Daft Punk only released one album in the 90s, 1997’s Homework and when you go back to that record now, it really pales in comparison to Discovery, which came out in 2000. Sure, “Around The World” may still sound great, even in remixed form, but a track like “Teachers”? It doesn’t hold up nearly as well.

Mercury And Solace (Dub Mix)
Mecury And Solace (Quivvers Transatlantic Remix)
Another almost-but-not-quite act that one could consider for an “intro to electronica” playlist, BT’s body of work is just too damn diverse to serve as a friendly/easy introduction for anyone looking to get into electronic music today. At least nearly everything the dude has put out has been good to great. If you do know someone who you are trying to get into electronic music, you could do worse than this track, but I would also recommend “Blue Skies,” his rad collaboration with Tori Amos.

Lush (1926 Trancedance Mix)
Orbital have a new album out don’t they? Any word? I want to check it out, but I knew they kind of ran out of steam when they called it quits before. This mix is early-90s Orbital. Prime stuff.

Go (Low Spirit Mix)
Go (Voodoo Child Mix)
So many people continue to hate on Moby and I just don’t get it. So he sold off all his music to commercials? So what? It’s not like he’s Rage Against The Machine or Anti-Flag, with some crazy punk rock anti-corporate stance. A Moby’s gotta eat! Let the dude make his cash. I’ve met Moby twice, he’s the nicest dude on the planet. Give it a rest already. These two mixes of “Go” are from a 1991 12″ single. Put them on your workout mix, it’ll work wonders.

The Crystal Method 
Busy Child (Taylor’s Hope for Evolution Mix)
The Dubeliscious Groove (Fly Spanish Version)
Now Is The Time (Secret Knowledge Overkill Mix)
Now Is The Time (Cloud 9 Mix)
Now Is The Time (The Olympic Mix) (Record Live In Atlanta)
$20 (or a cookie) to the person who can tell me how to pronounce “Dubeliscious.”

13 Responses to “More Random Electronic Music”

  1. The Anderson says:


  2. Stephen says:


  3. Ctel says:

    The bit in the AV club that annoyed was putting Orbital and Underworld as flowing from the Chems. The dates just aren’t so.

  4. serpico009 says:

    Good post. I read that article yesterday and commented on it, citing Death in Vegas’s song “Dirt” as a song that still holds ups, along with standing up for Propellerheads. Should have mentioned Lo Fidelity Allstar’s “Battleflag” too (and the awesome b-side, “Many Tentacles Pimping on the Keys”.

    While not defending Scott Plagen-whatever, I do want to say that the artists he chose to cover (giving some short shrift for sure, like Fatboy Slim) were taking cues from this Rolling Stone issue, which I remember pouring over when i got it in the mail at age 16 or 17 in 1997:

    This was Rolling Stone’s attempt to make a checklist of relevant “electronica” artists and scenes that they considered “hot” at the time, and since it’s Rolling Stone they did a a fairly surface piece that left alot to be desired and was fairly clueless about the music.

    And hey, what about Rabbit In The Moon? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

  5. Lost Turntable says:

    As much as I hate that article, I think you’re misreading it. He recommends listeners start with The Chems and then go onto Orbital and Underworld. He never said that they followed in the Chems footsteps.

  6. […] this article: More Random Electronic Music « Lost Turntable Tags: alice-rabbit, amoeba-music, dubstep, everyday-music, gimmie-tinnitus, podpress, […]

  7. Guest says:

    There’s nothing particularly geeky about that list. All great acts, but it’s not like they were obscure or anything; knowing about them doesn’t make one a “geek”.

    Fatboy Slim loved and publicly praised Groove Armada, used their music in his dj sets, and remixed a track for them. It was odd for the author to praise FBS and diss Groove Armada.

    Apollo 440 started releasing tracks in 1991. “Blackout”, “Liquid Cool”, their cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, the album “Electro Glide in Blue” and “Don’t Stop the Rock” are still good works.

  8. Lost Turntable says:

    The point of the article is to serve as an INTRODUCTION into something that is geeky. Hence, the picks typically aren’t that geeky. But like I said before, that’s the lease of that article’s problems.

  9. Grebo says:

    Man, badmouthing APOLLO 440 is just lazy and lame. They started great and got better and better with each album, upto-and-including “Dude Descending A Staircase” (which I think is a totally underrated classic, full of amazing tracks front-to-back that often defy classification much like DEATH IN VEGAS does).
    I won’t mention their last release (which was only released electronically), it’s pretty awful. But they had one hell of a run of incredible, adventurous music that still holds up today.

    Oh, and it’s obviously pronounced “DOOB-alicious” 😉

  10. Lost Turntable says:

    Apollo certainly had some decent stuff in their prime, but I think that they don’t belong in the same group with The Chems, Method, Fatboy Slim or any of the other artists mentioned.

  11. Drain says:

    i think it’s pronounced doo-beh-licious lol.

    anywho, “almost anything called ‘big beat'”. kinda short-sighted there. oh well, thank god this article didn’t exist in ’96 coz i’m pretty sure i still wouldn’t have listened to that bit of “advice” as big beat is one of my favorite electronic genres.

  12. drewsbrews says:

    So annoying. I can’t even read much of the original article, thanks for summarizing.
    What’s missing is the whole flow of music culture:
    Fatboy Slim – from Housemartins to Beats International
    Meat Beat Manifesto – late 80’s industrial – possible inventors of “Big Beat”
    Bentley Rhythm Ace – ex-PWEI member – their music was most definitely a precursor to this

    Late 80’s – suddenly things like drum machines and keyboards got a lot cheaper, sampling was catching on – “BigBeat”/”TripHop” and a few other labels that didn’t stick – it was just a natural progression at the end of the 80’s. Shoot, I was able to buy a $300 drum machine and a $100 toy Casio sampling keyboard and incorporate it with guitar/bass/drum that we already owned and come up with some decent “big beat”

    Also, to imply that any of those 2nd wave artists were just catching the wave; it’s just idiotic – most of those artists had been around for awhile.

    The article is just stupid and it seems like the author knows very little of the era. Sorry if I ramble in this reply, this is too aggravating to put any more thought into it!
    And thanks for the tunes, as always, there’s something there I don’t already have

  13. Den says:

    The new Orbital release, “Wonky”, is awesome, one of my favourites from them for sure. It’s nothing radically different to what they did in the past, as the Orbital sound has been pretty well established from day one, but if you are already a fan then “Wonky” is definitely a durable and exciting listen. Plenty of variety there, along with those beautifully defined synth arrangements that no-one else does quite like them. They may have run out of steam a little in 2004, but the time away has revitalised them. The tracks from it also work great in their live sets this year.

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