Electronic Psychophonic Music




This could be a whole book's worth or just a skim-the-surface-summary of a vast area of human endeavor known as electronic dance music.

Tracing its roots depends on how boffin you want to get about it, and what follows is merely a subjective view.

Stockhausen was the first to touch on it back in the 50s. Then there was the theremin and BBC sound workshop – Dr Who theme music and so on, The Pink Floyd were influenced by Stockhausen. Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Jean Michele Jarre, Kitaro, Can, and in fact most of the big early producers of electronic music, whether directly or indirectly, were influenced by the Pink Floyd (and others, like Soft Machine for instance).

Then came New Order and the stiff, swing-less English style. Then you have to factor in the grooves of Santana, Osibisa, James Brown, Wilson Picket and so on, which is what served as dance music in the clubs back in the day.

All of these, as well as Brazilian samba and goodness knows what else I've omitted, have played a huge part in influencing electronic music, not that most producers or fans would probably know because none of them aren't nearly as ancient as me, but that's how it is. And I'm happy to debate it with anyone.

In many ways the syncopated grooves of electronic dance music represent a sci-fi version of rhythm and blues. Though you have to squint your ears to hear it.

Around '84 'house' music started coming through – or 'warehouse' as it was originally known. It started with DJ's running a drum machine playing a four beats to the bar simulated kick drum over disco tracks.

House developed into Acid House, which more or less relied on the traditional flamenco progression in the bass line.

Happy house, main room house, disco, new disco, space disco, bass, future bass, garage, techno, psi-trance, Balkan beat, Balearic beat, deep house, tech house, deep tech house, bass house – the genre proliferation since acid house has been and continues to be exponential and endless, the differences between them so subtle yet so instantly picked up on by fans, any visiting alien would be bemused.

Electronic music is the post-cultural digital retrospective nod to pretty much every sort of musical reference you can think of.

The explosion of various forms of house music in the late 80s and into the early 90s, during what was then called the rave culture, depended on mostly MDMA, with a bit of back up from 2CB, LSD type mind+mood-altering drugs that along with the sequenced repetitive beat provided by the kick drum, encouraged a propensity for entering the same trance state shamans conjure beating the native American tom-tom.

The early house scene – Whirl-y-gig, Shroom etc., cross-fertilized with the Balearic beat coming out of Ibiza, and the multi-billion dollar Ibiza summer party season was born.

As time moved on genres subdivided and subdivided, each catering for a specific cocktail of drugs, and gradually as cocaine, ketamine, GHB and alcohol started pervading, music got more minimalist because it's harder to process multiple signals on what essentially amounts to anaesthetic.

And the scene, started from a place of pure love, gradually succumbed to big money, became formulaic and lost much of its soul.

But in the process, some truly innovative music has been developing, comprising a renaissance equally as remarkable as the renaissance of the '60s, except a lot more discreet and subtle and interpreted electronically.

While house music essentially has its roots all the way back in African and Brazilian samba rhythms, bossa nova combined with memories of punk gave rise to jungle, which gave rise to drum 'n' bass, which in turn gave rise to dubstep and trap. And most recently morphed into bass house. And it goes on, and hopefully on and on.

I imagine if you've never had any exposure to any of it all this must sound like utter gobbledegook, or if you're an expert you're probably taking issue with my view of the chronology and roots, but it's all lots of fun anyway, or at least is meant to be, because after all, it's all entertainment.

But the point is, the technology for producing the music is so advanced and if you know what you're doing, and know your palate, and know your musical vocabulary, there is nothing sound-wise you can't achieve, and whereas back in the 80s you needed a huge studio filled to the brim with equipment, now you need but a fraction of all that because most of it comes virtual style in the computer.

Broadly speaking there have been two main producer lineages – the DJ lineage and the musician lineage, and various combinations of both.

Each have their advantages.

I descend from the musician lineage myself, but because I have much contact with the DJ lineage I seem to have a fairly unique ability to reference many genres and somehow get away with it – hence why I refer to my music as open-genre – eclectic in other words.

The music I make is hybrid in that I use many analogue sounds along with the digital – guitars, old-school analogue synths, drums, percussion, voice and what-have-you.

I'm also from the field-recording as instrument school pioneered by the Pink Floyd and George Martin in his work with the later Beatles albums and this adds a particular tonal flavor.

I also deploy a fairly well-developed frequency design in all my music – with special emphasis on 300 hertz offset by 310 hertz, panned sharp left and right to create a binaural beat in the midbrain region in the 10 hertz range, along with 528, 432, and 110 among others, which when treated with the appropriate effects combine into an unlikely, otherworldly chord which sets off whatever else is happening musically in quite a remarkable way, and stimulates various shades of altered state as well as healing.

I also use my voice in a neo-shamanic way as an instrument to help induce an altered state by tone, content and sequenced repetition.

The combination of musicality, rhythm, frequency design, narrative – oh yes and subliminal positive suggestion, which though you can't consciously detect, is detected by the subconscious, has a profound effect.

It's this that makes my music healing and creates altered states to optimize whatever the narrative thrust is at the time.

Right now, in case you didn't yet notice, five decades of work have resulted in what I consider the most important healing tool I've ever made – A M P E D – Volume 1, now available and happy to say selling like hotcakes, focuses on manifesting, Volumes 2 and 3, coming shortly, focus on meditation and motivation respectively.

Right now, in case you didn't yet notice, five decades of work have resulted in what I consider the most important healing tool I've ever made – A M P E D – Volume 1, now available and happy to say selling like hotcakes, focuses on manifesting, Volumes 2 and 3, coming shortly, focus on meditation and motivation respectively.

3 thoughts on “Electronic Psychophonic Music

  • 31/07/2018 at 11:03

    Hi Stephen, I am writing from the glorious environs of my workspace in Newport, South Wales. I’m paying a return visit to Ibiza in September and wonder if you are holding any Get Healed While Your Party events?

  • 07/08/2018 at 11:39

    hi dear Graham, good for you sir – alas not this summer – I’m living on the mainland now and working on Amped volumes 2 and 3 – and once all three are done and out, i’ll develop the live set and set about setting that set in motion one way or another all being well in time for next summer assuming anyone will have me

  • 14/12/2018 at 17:01

    Hey BD, I’m writing from Brighton. As a Drum’n’Bass and Dubstep DJ I love your chronology of electronic music! I might add though, the Dub Reggae movement played a huge part in influencing current scenes.
    Much love, Kim


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