Monday, June 21, 2010

Is it 1997 again?

I remember fondly the late 90's, when the "electronica" revolution was supposed to hit the US. There were some big-time salvos fired towards MTV, in the form of Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, the Crystal Method. Lurking just under the surface of US radio airplay were a host of other bands that were at the forefront of the Euro dance charts and still highly regarded as masters of their craft - the likes of Underworld, Fluke, Orbital, Leftfield.

All of these i discovered too late. Sure, in 1997-98, i was pleased as punch to be playing my Chemical Brothers "Dig Your Own Hole" to anyone who drove with me, or putting Prodigy's "Mindfields" on the college poolhall jukebox. But i didn't really get in on the ground floor for any of these bands. Over the years, i have become obsessed with Underworld, plenty a fan of Fluke and Orbital, admirers of many other electronic dance bands, big and small. I've explored various genres from electro to breaks to ambient to trip-hop to jungle and back. But i never really got the here and now. Whatever that is.

So it's with a sense of warm nostalgia and affirmation that i welcome the releases of 2010. We're getting new albums from Underworld and the Chemical Brothers, both said to be returns to former form. Leftfield has reunited for a tour. Orbital have been toruing their greatest hits since last year, but have also released their first new material since 2004 (the excellent double A-side single "Don't Stop Me"/"the Gun is Good", which distills all the band were noted for and makes it fresher still).
Sure, most electronic dance music has a short shelf life, and there are so many lost to the false promises of "This is Techno - Dance Tracks 1998" compilations. It's just good to hear from a few old friends.

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