Electronic: The New Age of Chill

Say electronic music to anyone and what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most people, it’ll be one of two things; a distinct image of Kraftwerk standing isolated at keyboards chiming out tracks about motorways, or the new wave of chart music where instruments are no longer distinct underneath the computerised effect put on them. That was my image, sadly, until I discovered a whole new world of slick synthesisers and saucy strings. Where is this influx of chilled out, 80’s influenced electro-pop/dance bands coming from? In the late 90s, we saw the rise of the electro-dance with bands, such as Love Inc. and other leather-sporting bands. But these new variations on electro seem to take a completely new route, aiming for a more relaxed and less ostentatious approach, landing themselves in the good books of many alternative fans. So I’ve rounded up three of my favourite electronically influenced bands of the last few months or so and hopefully I can convince you they are definitely worth a listen.

SBTRKT

The infamous masked man Aaron Jerome (or subtract) can be seen as paving the way for a new kind of electro that relies heavily on the beat and minimalist use of music. Listening to any of the tracks on the self-titled album, it’s astonishing how limited combinations of instruments or vocalists are used at the same time. And yet, there’s always a need to dance (or bob) to each track. His use of uneven, haunting vocals adds to the dramatic use of pauses between the chorus and bridge to bring together an intense record with high beats, such as Pharaohs and lows like Never Never. SBTRKT uses a range of vocalists from Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano to Sampha (who’s another voice to look out for in 2012). Bongos, cow bells, electro pianos of every kind are jam packed into his work and the result? An eerie club beat that will have you dancing even when the beat is missing – which I believe is a very grand accomplishment.

Songs to listen to: Pharaohs (see below) and Right Thing To Do from SBTRKT; 2020 from the new EP.

 

CHAD VALLEY

I stumbled upon this artist when looking for the support acts to Friendly Fires' December tour (which was utterly amazing). Chad Valley, AKA Hugo Manuel, was on the BBC’s introducing page early last year and honestly doesn’t look like your average electro-chill guy. He could be the guy sitting next to you in your Economics lecture that you sometimes copy notes off because you can’t really see the board. However, he is not that guy (sadly); he’s a one-man orchestra, with the ability to create blends of sounds that just completely blew my mind. Seeing him live only furthered the appreciation I had grown for his work, as I realised he samples part of the Jones Girls’ 'Night’s Over Egypt' on the track 'Anything'. Safe to say I was screaming and jumping around like a maniac when it clicked, this guy was into 70’s Philadelphia Soul (not a good idea in a crowd of Glaswegian’s at the Barrowlands). He’s realised one single and an EP which are both fantastically arranged; his songs have an airy, uplifting feel that makes me feel like I’m swimming (don’t know about you guys…).

Songs to listen to: Anything (see below) and Ensoniq Funk on Chad Valley EP; Reach Lines and Now That I’m Real (How Does It Feel?) from Equatorial Ultravox.

 

 TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURS

“TEEEEED” tweeted the girl in front of us, as I watched two grown women dance around the stage dressed as velocirapters and Orlando, the man himself, behind the DJ deck, wearing a chieftain head dress and reptile onesie. TEED indeed. Going to see Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs was one of the most bizarre and refreshing gig-experiences I have had so far. Orlando Higginbottom, the man behind the dinosaur, is the latest electro-rave DJ to come storming out of London, scales first. And storming he does – not just content with standing behind decks and looking out over the crowd, TEED gives his audience a pair of 'dinosaur' dancers, who embody a whole new level of interpretive prehistoric performance. The outcome? A relaxed, amused audience who can enjoy TEED’s quirky lyrics and club-like beats that are every indie fan’s ultimate Union music. His records can vary from relaxed, electro chill to dance-rave that’ll keep you wanting to listen to more. His dulcet tones that sometimes appear over records add to the mystery of his character. All in all, a great gigging experience and the records are improving as he finds his feet in the mainstream ideals of electro and dance.

Songs to listen to: 'Sickly Child' (Soundtrack to 'Fresh Meat' introduction. See below.), Garden and Household Goods.

 

Title image sourced from Kraftwerk Official Website. Other images sourced form SongKick, The Guardian and MP3. Compiled by Nicole Horgan and Wallis Grant. 

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