ELECTRONIC MUSIC WRITING GUIDE

While working on last issue's set of Stilluppsteypa reviews I came upon a problem that plagues most writers at some point: I ran out of words. Actually, I didn't really run out of words, I just realized I was using the same set of words over and over again, either when describing Stilluppsteypa's music or while writing the other reviews for issue 5. I used my word-processor's search function to see how many times I used such words as "minimal", "ambient", "looped", "bass", "pulsing" and especially "drone". The results were alarming - particularly within the Stilluppsteypa reviews. So I made a list of words I constantly use, and tried to come up with alternatives. Mostly by going to www.thesaurus.com. This is the list I came up with. It is of interest to note that there is no entry for "minimal" at thesaurus.com

drifting - flitter, flutter, float
waves - fluctuate, vary, waver, flounder, flicker, flitter, flit
wash - slosh, bathe
surge - billow, surge, swell, ripple
noise - din, blare, clang, clangor, clatter
drone - ululation
crackle - knock, click, clash, crack, crash, pop
loop - cycle, orbit, circle, winding
float - waft
serene - relucent, limpid, clear, crystalline
pulsing - undulation, percolating, beat, oscillation, pulse, pulsation, rhythm, alternation

Single words are not enough, however. Ideally, there could be a set of pre-written sentences that I could simply cut and paste into short reviews. These sentences might look something like the list below. Some were taken from past issues of Angbase and others were just taken:

delicate patterns of slowly evolving bleeps and echoes

oddly de-stabilized non-techno made with looped metallic sonorities familiar to techno users, yet arranged in a non-linear manner

mixes depth-charge percussive minimalism with drifting drones for a very hallucinatory effect

drifting mystery drones and metallic echoes

the atmosphere here is dark and abstract, yet very organic

to this aural primordial soup is added the familiar 303 worm which gives some tonal resolution to each track

the general tone is made up of wide-sweeping oscillations, spectral drones, and acidy droplets of melody weaving in and out of each other

a softly scraping loop circulates while tones bleep off-key, blended with a background setting

an arduous slab of Powerbook abstraction, with harsh tones, digital distortion, and fields of flitting sound grains serving as support for all manner of warping tones and bassy convolutions

employs impressive syncopation techniques cutting up warm, wet chord pads and intricately programmed arpeggios

layers of strung-out tones dusted with feedback

artificial howls, submarine glitch-hop and processed guitar hooks

an electromagnetic storm of drones, a whirlpool of oscillator eddies, and squalls of electricity

a melange of stumbling ambiences and timestretched fade-outs

the affectless scuttling of the hi-hat rolls conjures insectoid menace, with a stark Lovecraftian undertow of uncaring synth swells and disjointed, fractal bass

some stupendoudly crowd-pleasing synth chords and drop-outs among the whorls of echo box speed control judders

a powerful bassline and pulsing chords

an organ-like tone gets strangled with all sorts of electronic detritus

a subtle, almost microscopically detailed arrangement of melody and fragments of samples

a meandering, easy-going bassline that uses echoed string and horn samples to evoke images of an endless boat ride that never quite seems to arrive at its destination

tiny pops and whirrs so pleasant and asinine that they almost defy belief

deep poundings of a drum and smooth waves of sound combine with the shifting of warm and cool atmospheres in this music

a stringed instrument is plucked away over a dark and hypnotic drone, peppered with crackling vinyl

couched in a bed of silence, high frequencies whistle at various pitch; crackles, pops and waves of electronic sound interact with scrapings and pluckings of guitar

shocks of sound, rhythms, singsong voices, drones, screeches of guitar, submerged noises and kaleidoscopic sounds populate these tracks to great effect

simple trebly over-amped loops of reverbed organ-like sounds

painted with a thin coating of watery dub production, this album is completely submerged in a sea of slightly sinister loops and echoes

sampledelic soundbombs that are astounding in their intricacy

subtle and intense ambient creations layered with occasional microbeats and gutwrenching low-end drones

plucked wire-like sounds, almost guitar-like, overlaid with echoed looping tones

a delicate set of computer-like bleeps continuously interrupted by loud vast cascading tones, echoing endlessly

structurally this has almost no connection to techno, and seems to take its aesthetic cue from the repetitive surface noise of vinyl records

extremely bass heavy and intense low frequency vibrations

uncompromising dub workouts fleshed out with futuristic synth blasts

displays the influence of 80s industrial and techno-pop through to more current electronic rhythms and textures

a rich orchestra of inaudible rustlings and distant organic machines sighing and gently breathing

amorphous waves of bass vibrations, deep and claustrophobic, like a muffled jet engine roaring in your ears

submerged dub-techno with nice Kraftwerk machine melodies and a sophisticated euro-trash veneer

they are shooting for "ambient techno" and the result is "post-industrial doodlings"

unique and slightly disconcerting rhythmic sound environments

exactly 60:00 minutes of sound, heavy on the noisy drones, digital skips, sluggish loops, endless delay and shit like that

delicately echoed percolating drums, not too heavy, ambient perhaps, with distant strings carrying a romantic melody beneath the maze of percussive rhythm

the sounds and basic trademark structures of early sleek and stripped down Detroit techno are all over this record and serve as the starting point for most every track

an enveloping, beatless journey of analogue bleeps and warm synth washes that harkens back to a time when "ambient music" really was ambient

a single speedy high-treble twitching loop and a deep threatening multi-layered drone

a full-length debut that puts to rest the Autechre comparisons that have often dogged them