May 032007

robot digits

The afternoon I received my Hear/Factor CD was a jubilant one. The envelope had a business address on it, and I routinely (and sometimes randomly) get CDs in the mail from friends, so there was still the suspense of who this one could be from. When I opened it up, there was only a CD inside, a cut out paper listing prog-rock bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, (put in to up the suspense was my third guess) and a white CD envelope, with the title on the blank CD being “DON’T FEAR THE DIGITS!” scrawled across it – ‘Oh God, a chain letter in CD form!’ were the first thoughts that popped into my head!

It wasn’t until further scrutinizing the CD that I noticed the writing on the back with the actual tracklisting and Hear Factor written on it; I was immediately intrigued. I had no clue who any of these bands were, let alone why there were only 10 tracks appearing on a full CD, 3 of them by different artists, and one a full album (I was guessing).

What had I gotten myself into (click)?

NEW! Here are two more tracks to see where I’m at: this one and this one!

I popped the CD into my player, with the express intention of letting the first listen hit my buds as a background piece so I could take it in slowly. Was I in for techno, house, some crazy hybrid of industrial and trance maybe? With a Germanic song title like “Fizheuer Zieheuer” guesses were thrown out the window that this wasn’t The Scissor Sisters, and all that I could think of were highschool days of hearing bands like Tack>>Head, Einstürzende Neubauten, 808 State, NIN, The Orb, Ministry and Front 242 blaring out of my little brothers’ bedrooms.

I’m not completely against electronic music, but I do find that a bulk lot of it just tends to leave me cold, although there are exceptions to this rule, and I’m willing to give anything a chance (I hope). The image of “the naked guy” in the sitcom Friends waving flashlights everywhere and having a rave party with himself and Ross popped into my head. I’ll admit it.

I already know I’m in deep here… Deep, deep, deep; in electronic beats.

detroit electronic music festival Where are the bands? Hello? Is anyone out there?


  12 Responses to “Hear Factor: Don’t Fear the Digits!”

  1. I keep expecting the Audion track to turn into Blue Monday by New Order every time that I put it on, but then it goes into a “tokka-tokka-tokka-tokka” groove. Upon further inspection into all of these DJs, the first thing that I notice on Google is that I can find them all somewhat connected to Ibiza! Has anyone on this board been to Ibiza?

    Audion has this description on their site: “‘Mouth to Mouth’ struts in confidently, like a freshly-oiled sexbot. The murmurs of something wicked are on the horizon, but we’re too busy dancing to that gorgeous nagging bassline. Things are moving along just fine until that distant hum rises to a fevered pitch and a massive buzzsaw blade takes the track’s head clean off, spraying its black oil across the walls. That’s when we lose it. Audion is back.”

    Apparently the track(?) “Mouth to Mouth” was “THE song of the Detroit Experimental Music festival of 2006” I was actually walking around Detroit and shopping for vinyl on those days last year when they had everything set up right before I moved here. It’s always a crazy time during the festival downtown because there’s so many people around for it every year (photo of all the people in Hart Plaza at the DEMF above) and foot traffic and regular traffic goes wild, while normally it’s pretty low-key business traffic.

    Audion are on Ann Arbor label Ghostly International – I didn’t know that. I’m somewhat familiar with them because of their artists The Mobius Band and Dykehouse (Dykehouse hit the Detroit weeklies bigtime last year).

    How does the Audion track make me FEEL? I do find myself bobbing my head up and down every once in a while and I’ve been leaving it on rotation while doing other things, and find that I’m not in danger of missing anything when I leave the room and come back (the beats are still similar) except for a few little dips into horn parts (which I actually quite like and wish there were more of, and not so much in the background, although it’s quite pretty) and a few parts – I’m guessing this is the “black oil” spraying against the walls from the “buzzline” who writes this stuff?!

  2. BigSteve

    sally said:

    I do find myself bobbing my head up and down every once in a while and I’ve been leaving it on rotation while doing other things, and find that I’m not in danger of missing anything when I leave the room and come back (the beats are still similar) except for a few little dips into horn parts (which I actually quite like and wish there were more of, and not so much in the background, although it’s quite pretty)

    I don’t hear any horn parts in Mouth to Mouth, just the rhythm and the intermittent spaceship sound.

  3. My apologies – it looks like I was listening to track #2. It’s all kind of blending in for me. I just separated the track and realized it had an actual ending with the big space ship sounds you describe. Although since I’ve had it on “repeat” it actually doesn’t (have an ending – it’s right back to the beginning)… I think I actually like the beginning to track two quite a bit now because upon listening to that Audion track three times in a row, I’m confounded that I didn’t realize it wasn’t the same because they segued so well into each other (the sign of a great mix? anyone?). So how often do you listen to this kind of music BigSteve? I’m curious. And I’m not saying that I hate it – it’s just (obviously) outside the realm of what I would normally ‘choose’ to listen to, I’m just trying to get into letting it seep in and listening to it in constant rotation. Is it more of a background thing for you? I feel like this Ricardo Villalobos is someone rapping on sheet metal throughout, and I like the horns, but it’s almost too clashy with the background thing going on… That constant “pah!pah!pah!pah!” I’m great at my typing sound effects, though, right? I know. Dork.

  4. Plus maybe when I left the room and came back the track had moved to number 2? 😉

  5. BigSteve

    What makes you think I listen to this kind of music? Or did you recognize my handwriting?

  6. Busted. 😉

  7. BigSteve

    The answer to sally’s question about my listening habits is: a lot. Over the past couple of years electronic music has taken over maybe half of my listening time.

    It’s true that Mouth to Mouth was *the* buzz track of last year, and Itunes says it’s my most listened to track. I won’t try to explain why I find it fascinating just yet.

    Minimal techno fulfills what i think was Eno’s definition of ambient music — music that doesn’t have to be listened to attentively but music that repays close listening as well.

    Sally said something about ‘the beats are still similar.’ With this kind of music pretty much the whole point is minute evolutions of the rhythm and texture over time. My advice is to try to listen to it and let it rearrange your brain waves.

  8. Mr. Moderator

    I’ll get another one of BigSteve’s techno tracks up there for the Hall tonight.

  9. Thanks for being so honest and forthright with your thoughts on electronic music BigSteve, sounds like you put a lot of thought into this comp. I’m curious: if you had to define it – Electronic or Techno – are both the same? So this is minimal-techno? What’s the difference? Was this comp originally intended to be simply “electronic” sounding or of a specific sub-genre when you first started? Just thoughts running through my brain. Looks like the brain waves are starting to rearrange…

  10. Mr. Moderator

    Two more of BigSteve’s Techno Trance Mix songs up for you to hear along with Sally C!

  11. BigSteve

    It’s hard to keep track of the subgenres of electronic muusic. Basically minimal techno would be music made from loops with a stripped down 4/4 rhythm and no harmony, i.e., it generally stays on the same chord. The variations are primarily textural, and they’re produced by processing, delays, etc.

    The Audion track is minimal in some ways, but what I call the spaceship sound is pretty maximal. The Villalobos track was intended to be a long form (37 minutes) example of the style, though the horn samples are atypical. For me minimalism works its magic best when you give it time.

    The rest of the CD is the first half of the self-titled album by Burial, and it’s a completely different style called dubstep. You could read this for background.

    I don’t want to ruin the sense of discovery for you, sally. Maybe you could tell us how the dubstep makes you feel.

  12. More reporting from me on the tropic of digits when I get in from work tonight!

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