Discovering electronic music

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George Clinton Meets Kraftwerk*

I don't know how I wound up listening to electronica. I was listening to lots of big band and its lively offshoot, Jump Blues. From Jump Blues I started listening to R&B. I wouldn't' dare hazard a guess exactly when one became the other. And there's a separate strand, vocal harmony. The Charioteers (or chose another arbitrary early black vocal group) begat the Ravens from whom all doo-wop derive. Not to mention black gospel, easily a 20th century vocal music equal to the great jazz singers.

It's a complicated stew. But no one can argue that by the time James Brown sang Think rhythm and blues was a distinct species of music. Given a hunger for strong syncopation it is an easy trip from Brown to George Clinton to Prince. (I'm imposing an artificial distinction here between R&B and soul. Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin grew from a different branch.)

Long after his peak I was so strongly absorbed by pompous and pretentious Prince Rogers Nelson's music that I'd've been ashamed had I been silly enough.

Long ago among the first LPs I bought were avant-garde, academic electronic music. Enjoying it at first I soon grew weary of it. I don't think it was until hearing Eno that electronically created sound really grabbed me.

I don't know if an CD came into the shop or it was hanging out on Allmusic.com too much that brought me to electronica. The latter made it clear that other than hip hop many of the people who might be producing R&B was recording dance pop, techno, breakbeat . . . It might've been rediscovering the joys of the synthesizer with the Pet Shop Boys.

It may have been deciding to play a couple of dance comps because of their obviously queer covers.

The only distinct incident I can remember is hearing BT's Ima. I became a fierce ("progressive", "epic") trance addict. I found it hard to not buy a new release if it was a trance comp.

But I was buying all of it fervently: Trip-Hop, big beat, early Detroit techo, funky breaks, Drum'n'bass . . .

I've always been a little slow to figure out how much I really like an album. And have often reversed my first impression (no better example than Ella Fitzgerald).

But with electronica I have more CDs that I've yet to make up my mind about than all other genres combined.

* I've been so bad about adding anything here I'm grabbing some old stuff from the pre-weblog days. NB: I'm not proofing or rereading it.

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Thanks,
Richard

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