It’s a question that has plagued mankind almost as much as the question of our own origins. What does the future have in store for us? Without the use of a time machine or at least a modified 1981 DeLorean we will never know for certain. But we can hazard a guess as to what the future might sound like.
One thing is for certain. Technology has made leaps and bounds within the last 10 years and it is only natural to assume that music will follow a similar progression – into the electronic. We are already hearing it now. Electronic Dance Music (or EDM for short) rules the airwaves. It’s influence on both mainstream and underground music is undeniable; everyone from Lady Gaga to Thom Yorke is doing it. And it’s relative low cost of production compared to traditional forms of music such as rock has seen a paradigm shift in the music we listen to.
But is the future all beeps and blips? Wobbles and wubs? Will the subtle harmonics of a piano key or the delicate timbres of a strummed acoustic guitar be lost forever to future generations? Is music destined to become a lifeless shell of it’s former self? A sterile synthetic manipulation of sine waves designed to feed the masses? The short answer is no.
Yes the future will be very electronic and it’s sonic presence will be inescapable. But at the heart of every human is a deep seated longing for the organic; for the natural. With this in mind many artists are realising that synthesized music is not a cheap counterfeit of real music but rather an expansion of the sonic palette. An opportunity to explore new sounds which were previously unobtainable and the ability to convey emotion in greater depth.
It’s redefining what it means to be natural.
Just as we’ve seen the computer generated imagery in movies progress from the polygonal grid world of 1982’s Tron to the beautiful and surreal world-scape of Avatar’s Pandora, so to electronic music continues to develop in to something undeniably alien yet very beautiful and natural in its own right.
One exciting genre to emerge from the world of electronic music is Future Garage. It’s a beautiful
clash synergy of the organic and the synthetic. Lush soundscapes are offset by modern beats and deep meditative sub-bass. Just listen to the deep melancholic timbres in Burial’s Archangel, the fluid morphing sounds of Phaeleh’s Lament or the sleek urban textures of Submerse’s Fall in Love. You would be forgiven for thinking you were at doorstep of Pandora itself! Yet at the same time it feels so real. Like a cityscape lit up at night it leaves us with the feeling that the synthetic can be beautiful.
Not only has electronic music facilitated new textures, but it has also allowed the expression of more complex structures, grooves and rhythm in music. I can’t think of any genre that fits more perfectly to this description than Glitch-Hop. Listen to Opiou’s Moose Tooth or Kraddy’s Android Porn and you will see what I mean. Amidst the complex arrangement of glitches and artefacts is an undeniable groove. It’s funky. It’s danceable. It’s a beautiful mess of sounds which on their own would be utterly meaningless yet together have the power of a well conducted orchestra. For a more introspective approach to Glitch, try listening to this one from Of Porcelain.
But if all of this is sounding a little too alien for you, fret not. Another interesting genre of special mention comes right out of the indie-sphere itself. It’s been dubbed Chillwave. Bands like Neon Indian, Toro Y Moi and Washed Out have been pioneers of the genre. It’s a refreshing blend of vintage sounds and dreamy synths, a more sombre and tempered form of shoe-gaze. It’s bright. Its happy. It has the punchy drums of Justice, the vintage french-house sounds of Daft Punk and the dreamy escapist falsetto’s that have become a staple aesthetic of indie music almost to the point of cliché.
And it doesn’t end there. New electronic genres continue to be born everyday and thus continue to show us that the line between the synthetic and the organic is indeed a blurry one. Whether it’s the bright summer sounds of Flume’s Sleepless, the bold hopscotch sounds of Rustie’s Ultra Thizz or the wonderfully nostalgic sounds of Madeon’s Pop Culture we can be sure of one thing. The future of music is bright.