It’s The New Thing

Why Minimal Electro Is the World’s Most Addictive Genre
September 22, 2008, 1:32 pm
Filed under: Electro | Tags: , , ,

It may look like one of the world’s most ludicrous claims to suggest that the the guitar solos of Hendrix or the vocal harmonies of Queen are less addictive than computerised click and clacks.  One could assume that I am just some ultra-modernist who feels that the guitar is dead and that the computer will soon usurp the throne of music.  However, in this article, I am not putting good old-fashioned music to the sword, instead I am hopefully opening up a portal to a different dimension of music, the darker side of music where choruses and verses cease to exist.

There is no other genre that possesses an aura as unique and as enticing as minimal electro.  The way in which the genre utilises such simple elements of music is testament to the skill of the artists crafting such tracks.  As is to be expecting, the use of bass beats is integral to minimal electro and is one of the, if the not the, key element of the tracks.  The bass beat lays down the ground-work for the track and simply provides a beat to nod along to.  It’s this bass that draws you in, the consistent thudding that keeps your foot taping away, slowly but surely that groundwork is built upon.  The addition of ghostly synths and subtle jingles of hi-hats create this pulsating atmosphere in a constant state of expansion, waiting to explode.  It’s like in Trainspotting “it’s in the post”, once the build up starts you get addicted to the anticipation of what is next to come.

When the explosion in the music finally arrives, it’s a vast, textured eruption that is so intricately layered that you get lost in the music.  With minimal electro sets there is little that cannot be incorporated which makes the genre so accessible.  In Robert Hood’s Fabric mix, the Detroit visionary employs samples ranging from tribal drums to Sister Sledge’s 70’s hit, He’s The Greatest Dancer.  The more archetypal elements of minimal electro appeal to any fan of the loose term “dance” music.  Trance-y synths thrown in with some of the catchiest bass loops around envelop you in the idiosyncratic ambience.

The way in which minimal electro DJs harness the power of precise timing and crescendo is one that cannot underestimated.  Each DJ has to play in each track bang-on cue or the aura is broken, each crescendo is expertly created and as each musical element is added you can hear the track being built in real time, getting closer and closer to its end goal of musical explosion.  The seamless transition from track to track gives the genre a second-life.

Due to the “minimal” tag, you can be forgiven for thinking that the genre is a slow and boring one.  However, the opposite would be the case, it’s style is one that feeds of a high-tempo.  In some cases played at such break-neck speed that Pendulum would be put to shame.

Surprisingly, this genre is one that can capture snapshots of different nations cultures.  With various DJs from around the world plying their trade in the minimal electro field, the varying forms of the genre each have their own cultural footprint.  Ricardo Villalobos, a Chilean DJ mixes in music from his home country amongst his own work, giving his sets a much more Latin feel about them.  Robert Hood’s style is much darker and more aggressive, reminiscent of the post-industrial Detroit he grew up in.

A criticism I hear all too often about electronic music in general is that its “repetitive”.  The hypocrisy of these types of comments is slightly amusing.  While there is no denying that electro music can often be repetitive, you have to take a look at every three-minute pop track scaling the charts.  Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, refrain, chorus.  Repetition is rife in all types of music and always will be, so by stating: “I don’t like electro music because it’s repetitive” you are shooting yourself in the foot as I can guarantee that the majority of music anyone listens to is just as repetitive.

The ways in which minimal electro can create such unique atmospheres cannot even be touched by the stadium rock of U2 or the sickly-sweet pop of Girls Aloud.  It may not be for every one, but for anyone with a soft-spot for bass beats, prepare to be hooked for life.