A phrase that has irked me for as long as I’ve worked in the hi-fi industry works to the effect of people saying ‘oh, I don’t need good equipment as I only listen to electronic music.’
This casually expressed opinion that electronic music is somehow of lesser worth to more traditional forms, even by those who love it is endlessly frustrating to me. Electronic music dates back nearly century (you can make a genuine argument that it predates rock as a category) and since the seventies it’s been a consistent part of mainstream popular culture. How long are we supposed to believe it shouldn’t be seen as being every bit as relevant?
The realty is that some electronic recordings stand comparison to any from whichever category of music you might see fit to champion. While mainstream material has been subject to the same compression and other unwanted elements as any other genre, more specialist material often comes mastered to exacting standards that rival any category you can think of.
It’s also one of the most exciting categories too. If you view of electronica begins and ends with a group of people gurning in a warehouse, you need to broaden your horizons somewhat. From the edge of classical all the way through jazz, rock and world music, electronic artists are producing some of the boldest and most innovative material being released today. All of it is more than worthy of the best audio equipment on sale today and never something you should apologise liking. To reflect on this I’ve prepared a quintet of essential electronic sounds below.
Kraftwerk The Man Machine.
Not their most famous effort but to actually sit down to listen to, this is the best Kraftwerk album of the lot and also has the benefit of the more recent ‘3D’ remaster too.
As well as containing their iconic Oh Yeah, this an album that the demonstrates effortless pop sensibilities while still sounding like very little that had come before it. It’s an outstanding master too.
Boards of Canada Music has the Right to Children
Timeless, both thanks to unique presentation and because of the sheer ambition that went into its creation. Telephasic Workshop remains one of the most punishing test tracks ever devised
Cassius Au Reve
French Electronica deserves to be seen as one of the most magnificent genres of music in its own right and, in my humble opinion, this is the very finest flowering of the whole magnificent category.
Public Service Broadcasting Bright Magic
Single handedly doing their best to save the concept album from irredeemable naffness, this work themed around 20century Berlin is both fun and moving in equal measure.