Electronic music takes all sorts of shapes. It's easy to write off the whole genre when you're tired of hearing the same drops, wubs and vocal samples blasting day after day from the corner of 12th and College. Don't lose hope! This week, Radio 1190 is spinning three new electronic records that prove there's more to the genre than dubstep.
When I'm spending long hours at a coffee shop trying to crank out some homework or immerse myself in code, Tycho has always pulled me through. Scott Hansen's previous three records — "Past is Prologue," "Dive" and "Awake" — befriended all sorts of people upon their release. His signature style of driving rhythms, inspiring instrumentals and ambient sections secured Tycho as a household name in IDM. The new record, "Epoch," takes the Tycho formula to a new level.
"Epoch" still has all the familiar synth sounds of "Awake" but is a total maximization. The exciting parts are faster and the ambient sections more spacious, giving the record a great contrast from track to track. "Receiver" is sparse and lonesome with a couple noodling synthesizers as the listener's only company. The title track directly follows with a four-on-the-floor beat and energetic lead lines. If you already love Tycho, you'll be delighted with "Epoch." It takes everything he's done before and expands it. I can already tell that this release will score countless homework sessions for years to come.
While Tycho underscores the listener's experience, Adrian Younge's new record "The Electronique Void" calls attention to itself. Younge is no stranger to retro sounds — his twin releases "Something About April" and "Something About April II" were decidedly old school in both feeling and subject matter. His previous records explored '70s production techniques and songwriting. "The Electronique Void" takes us all the way back to the early days of Moog synthesizers and the golden years of Muzak.
There are few words spoken throughout the record. Most of the theme is conveyed through synthesizers rather than vocal parts. Exceptions to this rule take place in the first and last tracks, when a matter-of-fact narrator sparks your imagination with a couple lines of intriguing prose. In "Black Noise," a voice speaks, "When the black noise hits, the polarity flips / pushed apart, you heard a name, and a spark flew down your spine. ... Beware of the black noise," while mentioning St. Elmo's Fire, Tesla and Edison. The monologue gives the record strange context. It sounds like it was pulled out of an instructional video from the 1950s. Bookending the record is another monologue that says, "Remember, be careful with your heart / it's the only one you're given / the compromises you make / the ones that you take / the boundaries you set / and the ones that you forget / often lead to disappointment." If you're intrigued by "The Electronique Void," be sure to give it a listen this week.
The last record I'll mention is a new release from Melbourne-based audio/visual duo Friendships (Nic Brown and Misha Grace). Nic Brown says, "The Nullarbor plain is the physical body of land that links Misha and I. ... Dust kicks and kisses the Great Australian Bight. A time when the road was king and petrol was God." If this sounds abstract to you, you're not alone. The record is definitely experimental in approach. Some tracks have a Oneohtrix Point Never-esque mystery, while other tracks sound more like Death Grips.
You definitely won't hear any of these tracks on a typical radio station, but that's why you listen to Radio 1190. Whether it's IDM, retro synth or experimental sounds, there are tons of different styles of electronic music out there, and you'll hear a great range on Radio 1190 KVCU — 1190AM in Denver and now 98.9FM in Boulder.
Jarocki is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists