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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

1996 vs. 2016

I've seen this come up a lot in recent times. Specifically speaking on forums and with the resurgence of interest in analogue gear over the past ten years, people keep bringing up the point that electronic music doesn't have the same feel or uniqueness that it once did. Undoubtedly part of this comes down to working in the box as opposed to working with a sequencer and hardware samplers, effects racks and the like. But this only explains the tone part of the equation. Yes digital signal processing has led to ultra clean sounding mixdowns, but is that the only reason many people seem to want to hark back to a certain golden era?

Listening to guys like Tsuruda or Run the Jewels, it's plainly clear that you can still make tastefully lo-fi and grungy music if you want to. So what's the missing ingredient? My bet here is that this is down to youth, both of the genre and the listener. Listening back to older music you feel nostalgic, and that feeling is a powerful emotion that colours your opinion of what music was like in the late 1990s or early 2000s or whenever you started loving electronic music. However, if you were to listen back to music from this era, it's likely that you would choose one of the better songs from the day to listen to, and it's easy to forget the bad music that was around because you likely quickly dismissed it and moved on at the time. Focusing on the quality music that still holds up today though, if we were to go back twenty years, electronic music itself as a whole was younger. There was an excitement around the possibilities, and exploring those possibilities meant really thinking about your art. Here's were working outside of the box may have actually helped, not because of tone, but because it was a laborious and time consuming practice to sample something, meaning you had to think about why you were sampling something and wether you might use a sample at all before the arrangement process. That thought put in it was why artists were breaking new ground, that and the fact that the music itelsf was more open to possibility. Having said that, it certainly doesn not mean that good music can't be made today, and drum and bass in particular is going from strength to strength at the moment, with innovation around tempo and a diversity of sounds second to none.

In any case, the heyday of drum and bass is most commonly agreed to have been in the late 1990s, so today I am linking you all a collection of magazine articles from that era with some of the people who were breaking new ground at that time. See if you can pinpoint what that magic was that they had which is missing from modern music.

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