Most of my music listening is done while driving to and from work, a 40-minute drive through some of the blandest rural “scenery” ever conjured by a god who obviously had more interesting things to do elsewhere. The only distractions from the flat, long-but-seems-longer drive are either of the OH SHIT! variety or the oh… shit… variety.
OH SHIT! = me driving at 70 mph and being suddenly cut off by a “merging” tractor hauling some farming implement that spans two lanes and threshes or harvests or spreads or whatever when not lopping off the limbs of its inattentive driver, who is sometimes as young as 14.
oh… shit… = periodic fertilization of the many, many fields on either side of the highway, the fumes of which sail right through the vents and give the vehicle a lasting pungent odor comparable to picking up a hitchhiker who has shit his pants sometime within the last few days and who promptly, once invited inside, does it again.
The drive is long and boring and, occasional triggering of the gag reflex/brakefoot aside, there’s a ton of time available for the mind to wander. The result of this free-range brainstorming is a whole lot of tenuous connections conjured up by what those in the upper end of the medical community refer to as “synapse misfires.” That’s how we start with Brian Eno and end up being berated electronically for filesharing by a long-winded (at least electronically) Frenchman.
Buckle up. And fuck farmers. How the fuck you can cut someone off in the middle of nowhere, with no cars within a mile in either direction of mine, baffles, amazes and completely infuriates me.
While most track titles of the “ambient electronica” variety have about as much to do with whatever’s going on musically as organized religion has to do with making people good, Glitch sounds EXACTLY like a track named “Glitch” should. Distortion mars the vocals. The electronics sound like they’re on their last legs (diodes?).
The whole thing resembles the early analog days of the electronic scene in which beatboxes and other devices were notoriously imperfect and more fallible than their operators, who worked around these limitations by either constructing their own devices (Richard D. James), freeing the glitchy instrument from its preset limitations (several acid house/techno producers who turned the Roland TB-303 into a sonic weapon via creative destruction of the factory presets) or driving around in a tank (Richard D. James).
The combination of old-school electronics and vocal distortion recalls the early, promising days of industrial music, several years before Ministry infected everyone with guitarattack through its wanton promiscuity and careless needle usage. Back when everyone was still using cheap synths and buggy sequencers to craft hell-on-earth soundscapes. In particular, Glitch reminds me of Xorcist, who made aurally-damaged tracks using a combination of vintage synths and vocals so distorted they sounded curdled. ( I realize “curdled” is not a very electronic term, but that’s what it sounds like and that’s the word I’m using. Like strangled/distorted to the point of solidification.)
Xorcist’s unholy (duh) noise relies is generated with a Waldorf PPG Waveterm-A, not entirely unheard of in electronic music (see also: Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk), but not, generally speaking, an “industrial” instrument. This base is then added to by a long list of other devices and assembled with an Atari ST computer. (Don’t knock the old comps: up until the early 2000’s, Fatboy Slim still relied on an Amiga to crank out his creations.)
Originally composed as the title track of the videogame of the same name, Iron Helix is the kind of track that perfectly defines “futuristic dystopia,” what with all the ominous vocal samples (taken from the game itself) and a martial beat that serves to remind you puny humans who’s really in charge here: the machines. Cloud services attached to human embryos and all that.
But Xorcist wasn’t just a talented paranoiac with a headful of conspiracy theories and a shitload of dodgy electronics. He also was a conscientious coworker and an all-around good guy. On the subject of Christy:
“This song was written more as a joke than anything else for a co-worker at this company I used to work at. This guy had a crush on this porno star, Christy Canyon, which went beyond any normal fixation. So in dedication of such admiration, I wrote this song along with rigging his computer to boot up with a picture of Christy in all her ‘glory’ and left the tape in his cubicle one morning.”
[Note: The following audio is definitely NSFW and likely, NSFH unless you like answering several questions for your SO and/or children about your internet browsing.]
Now, take a look at your co-workers and ask yourself if any of those slackers would do this sort of thing for you. The answer is “no” and the sooner you can upgrade your workstation to “vengeful sentience,” the better. THAT’S RIGHT! WHO’S CLEANING OUT THE LUNCHROOM FRIDGE NOW, BITCHES?
One more from Xorcist. This track runs an astounding 11:25 but never slouches into just killing time. It’s one of his darkest pieces and it’s really worth listening to all the way through at least once. What appears to be an ode to a cosmonaut makes a lot more sense when you hold your monitor up to a mirror.
Digression, meet tangent. Going back to the top of the post, Eno’s Glitch with its effed-with vocals led to Xorcist and from there (still following the vocal distortion), to Laurent Garnier, of all people, laying down a bitter little track called Greed, which points the audio finger at all you pirating pirates out there with its “lyrics:”
On the fast track of the net
I take all I can
In the lane of the highway
I take all I can
The vocals are twisted to various degrees while the music broods along with the intensity of someone really enjoying the living hell out of their bad mood. Techno legend Dave Clarke adds some signature cymbal loops and a few more electronic blurts and bleats in a collaborative effort to electronically box the ears of filesharers.
Some of the terminology and samples may be outdated (is that the dulcet tones of dialup I hear?) but the message is clear: download this track using the above link and make a mockery of its very intent. Lawls and such. (Also: you got off easy, lengthwise. If I could have stretched the connection, I could have followed up 11-1/2 minutes of Xorcist with 14 minutes of Garnier’s superb, seminal Acid Eiffel. Now, get out there and make the most of your free time!)