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The most influential electronic artists/albums and why

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Showing 1-22 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Sep 2011, 19:16:41 BST
Mr. Bde Wall says:
Ok, so I'm (hopefully) soon to be doing a radio show series on the history of electronic music. I'm doing a fair bit of homework on it, but thought I'd throw it out there for you guys to chip in too. Who are the key artists and what were the trully influential albums, and most importantly, why? Please don't just say Reich, Eno, Cage, Kraftwerk etc without saying how they've been influential. What was it that was original and what has been past on?

Many thanks,


Posted on 26 Sep 2011, 19:19:46 BST
Mr. Bde Wall says:
wow I guess no-one is interested in the history of electronic music! That's a shame :(

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Sep 2011, 11:09:31 BST
[Deleted by the author on 27 Sep 2011, 11:09:58 BST]

Posted on 27 Sep 2011, 11:22:58 BST
Mr. S. James says:
The history of electronic music is fascinating in many ways and I share your enthusiasm for it. Initially I would rate the German acts of the early seventies as the main influence (Can, Neu!, Kluster and Kraftwerk) although they were very different. Neu! and Kraftwerk had the melody and structure and Can were more cosmic (Early Tangerine Dream also) From this era I would name Sowiesoso by Cluster and the two Kraftwerk albums Radion-Activity & Trans Europe Express as favourites. The latter influenced Bowie to drag Eno into the studio and pay homage to the Dusseldorf boys and record Low & Heroes. While not great albums they paved the way for the British New Wave and some of the greatest recorded output ie Metamatic, Systems of Romance, Organisation, Architecture & Morality, Power, Corruption & Lies etc.

Radio-Activity may have been a direct influence on O.M.D. for Dazzle Ships (One of my favourites) and that in turn must have given Thom Yorke an excuse to record Kid A!

The list goes on.

Posted on 30 Sep 2011, 11:59:04 BST
M. A. Coyle says:
Starting with German electronic music misses out the formative era - the musique concrete of Pierre Henry, Bernard Parmegianni, Varese and then Ligetti on the 2001 soundtrack and so on. Then you have the early turbtable experimentors such as James Tenney and as you say Cage. David Tudor is a vital artist with his soundscapes built from the touch of physical items, his rainforest for example. It depends how far you want to go back - the musical automata of the Vicotorian era

If the subject is electronic music and not synth music, then Dub reggae should feature and the soundscapes of King Tubby, The Scientist, Mad Professor, Prince Jammy and how it fed via Lee Perry and Augustus Pablo into Adrian Sherwood then onto to influence modern Industrial and dance music.

Posted on 30 Sep 2011, 12:21:47 BST
T. Franklin says:
Not sure I'd call the likes of Can and Neu! "electronic" as they used conventional instruments.

I'd agree that any serious look at electronic music should include classical avant-garde pioneers such as those mentioned plus Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez.

You also should mention An Electric Storm by White Noise; Wiki page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Noise_(band) and late 60s American duo Silver Apples (first album linked to), Wiki page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_apples

Posted on 5 Oct 2011, 19:53:21 BST
TheFoe says:
I'd say early 80's Art Of Noise were pretty influential. Their album 'Who's Afraid Of The Art Of Noise' from 1984 contained the track 'Beatbox' that was used by would be rappers with the ideal beat to rap over. Similarly 'Moments In Love' was also embraced and was sampled to death at the time. At the pinnacle of their career, few could touch AON for originality (Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream aside), and they were looked up to until they collaberated with Tom Jones and released 'Kiss'. Yes it sold well but by then AON were starting to sound dated.

Thanfully modern technology didn't stand still and bands were looking at the emerging rave scene with aplomb. The Madchester vibe didn't escape 808 State, who in the late 80's produced a couple of decent EP's before the killer album 'Ninety'. Here was an album you could dance to, relax to, or do drugs to. It was and still is the epitomy of 90's underground techno albums.

Lastly, I think a mention should go out to Goldie's 'Timeless' album. For me personally not the greatest drum and bass album ever produced, but one that bought Drum and Bass to a larger audience.

Posted on 6 Oct 2011, 13:41:56 BST
Piggley says:
Mention should also be made of the late seventies/early eighties Sheffield scene which produced the likes of the Human League (prior to Dare they were experimental and also an influence to later electronic artists) Heaven 17, Cabaret Voltaire and Clock DVA

Posted on 11 Oct 2011, 10:09:05 BST
Last edited by the author on 11 Oct 2011, 10:15:51 BST
There's no need for debate viz Kraftwerk. The number of tunes sampling them says it all. Them aside I'd say Tangerine Dream had a major impact on ambient and trance, with Phaedre probably the one. If you're talking grooves then I'd say the following deffo need a namecheck; 23 Skidoo, clearly an influence on breakbeat techno; Yello, were well ahead even of pioneering techno outfits like 808 State, their seminal albums being Stella and You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess; and as Piggley says the Sheffield scenesters. Not mentioned yet but in the late 70s German DAF were right at the forefront of House, industrial, techno. Cant say which of their albums but their best known tune is Der Mussolini.
As for sampling one of the first bands to take it all the way were Californian techno anarchists Negativland. Their best album is Escape From Noise. Kudos must be given for their U2 ep which takes the p*ss big time.

Posted on 12 Oct 2011, 11:45:26 BST
Plantlife says:
Don't forget Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who must have influenced a huge number of [mainly British] artists whether consciously of sub-consciously, with their bleepy and other-worldly strange electronic noises. Also, Yellow Magic Orchestra were pretty pioneering, and ahead of their time.
As an aside, if you are interested in acid house/techno or dance music and you missed the story last year, check out this article about Charanjit Singh, who was recording what are ostensibly acid house tracks in India in 1982.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Oct 2011, 13:51:48 BST
Hairy Dave says:
Walter Carlos (later Wendy Carlos), and the Tonto Expanding Head Band.

Walter/Wendy was one of the first people who tried to make serious use of the Moog in the late 60's.
She provided the music for the film, Clockwork Orange. She also made a series of albums of various composers on the Moog.

Tonto etc. actually Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff produced a couple of hugely influential albums in the early 70s

Have a listen to them. You won't regret it.

Posted on 18 Oct 2011, 14:54:05 BST
Westwoman says:
How about Giorgio Moroder's influence on british synth, house and dance-music. You always hear british acts like Human League, Soft Cell, Vince Clark refer to Kraftwerk and him

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Oct 2011, 16:58:47 BST
Davetids says:
What about quadrastate & newbuild? they were years ahead of anything else out of the UK - far more groundbreaking than 90.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Oct 2011, 21:35:26 BST
TheFoe says:
True, but before 808 State released the single 'Pacific State', the vast majority had never heard of them. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that people will look back at 90 as one great album (which it was) and those with any real interest will delve back further and 'discover' the two EPs that you mention, after all the OP did ask for albums.

Posted on 30 Oct 2011, 18:06:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Oct 2011, 18:08:09 GMT
MarmiteMan says:
Gentlemen, am somewhat dismayed to read that Vangelis has not (yet?) appeared on this thread's first page. Surely, this eccentric Greek keyboard wizard (as such persons were known in the 1970s) deserved at least honourable Mention in Dispatches in this august forum?

The absence (so far) of Jean-Michel Jarre I can accept - although commercial, his work is certainly enjoyable - but Vangelis' pre-CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1980) work should not be overlooked, particularly L'APOCALYPSE DES ANIMAUX, HEAVEN AND HALL, SPIRAL and CHINA (still in my Top 10 Favourite albums!). Admittedly, Vangelis has since become better-known for his work in motion picture soundtracks - CHARIOTS OF FIRE, ANTARCTICA, BLADE RUNNER, 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE - but a pioneer he certainly was.

Remember also, if you will, the soundtrack accompanying Carl Sagan's seminal COSMOS, which introduced many a teenager to electronic artists other than 'the usual' Germans (eg. Schulze, Kraftwerk); speaking for myself, am still mesmerised - and chilled! - by Tomita's rendition of J.S. Bach's THE SEA NAMED SOLARIS (BWV 639), surely the ultimate 'space soundtrack' embodying void, vacuum and desolation?!! Ergo, consider also American artists Synergy (= Larry Fast) and Michael Garrison, as well as Japanese artists Kitaro and Isao Tomita as having been 'of influence' during the fomative 1970s ...

Can also recall enjoying the first TRANCE EUROPE EXPRESS 2CD compo (ah, Orbital's cool and relaxing SEMI-DETACHED!), which came with an extensive booklet outlining the twenty artists represented. However, was genuinely disconcerted to read only two of the artists citing earlier 1970s artists (Schulze, Vangelis, Kraftwerk) as influences, whilst ALL the remaining eighteen ... referenced each other! Such cloying me-generation arselickiness had me in mind of over-indulgence on E and so, unfortunately, fully defining the 1990s as the 'decade of hedonism' ...

Posted on 30 Oct 2011, 21:03:14 GMT
Koshmar_61 says:
Talking of industrial/electronic let's also not forget Throbbing Gristle and die Krupps. Both groundbreakers in their time...

Posted on 31 Oct 2011, 13:20:56 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Nov 2011, 09:41:22 GMT
Modzilla says:
First up, Raymond Scott who, having been a swing band leader in the 30's and 40's began, in the 50's, to experiment with and invent an array of electronic instruments including proto synthesizers and drum machines which he put to work in the composition of advertising jingles for Radio and Television and was thus a pioneering disseminator of electronic music for mass consumption. He has been cited as an influence by those such as Bob Moog, Bruce Haack and Jean-Jaques Perry and his 'Manhattan Research Inc.' compilation is delightful.
Mention should be made of The United States Of America led by Joseph Byrd (a member of the FLUXUS art group along with Yoko Ono and Al Hansen, Beck's grandfather) whose sole, eponymous LP from 1968 utilizes various oscillators, ring modulators and found sounds within a rock band format in place of guitars and whose influence stretches to Portishead (to the extent of them reusing one of their melodies on the second Album!) and Broadcast amongst many.
Also Silver Apples, a Drum N' Electronics duo who were part of the New York Avant Garde Scene alongside The Velvet Underground. They released 2 LPs (in '68 and '69) for which singer/electronicist Simeon conceived,built and used 'The Simeon' which consisted of lots of home made devices which were played with his hands, elbows, knees and feet. Their sound, even from then, is best described as a cross between The B.B.C. Radiophonic Workshop and PIL. Despite the death of drummer Danny Taylor a few years ago, Simeon, having sampled his partner's drumming, continues to this day and we saw him perform an excellent gig last Friday in Brighton.
Honourable mentions should go to Morton Subotnick, who with his album 'Silver Apples of The Moon', applied rhythm and more formal musical structure to electronic composition (where it had hitherto been largely abstract) and to Paul Beaver. Beaver was a jazz musician who pioneered the use of the Synthesizer in pop, sprinkling his Moogdust on records by many including The Byrds, The Electric Flag and in particular 'Star Collector' by the Monkees, hailed as the first use of said instrument on a commercial pop record. He also provided tuition to George Harrison (who allegedly owned the first Moog in the U.K. which was used to make the album Electronic Sounds on the short lived Zapple label and then to add colour to several tracks on Abbey Road). Partnered with Bernie Krause as Beaver and Krause in '66 he made several albums of electronic music until his death in 1975.
Finally, Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff of TONTO's Expanding Headband (as noted by Hairy Dave above) who built what is still today, the largest multitimbral polyphonic analog synth in the world and whose 4 LP collaboration with Stevie Wonder in the early 70's beginning with 'Music Of My Mind' completely changed the pallete of black pop music.

Posted on 14 Nov 2011, 10:42:06 GMT
Hairy Dave says:
If you are still interested in this topic then you may want to "listen again" to a BBC Radio3 programme broadcast at 22:30 on 12th Nov 2011. It related to the electronic or concrete music of Edgard Varèse.

Has anyone mentioned Tomita, who has produced a seried of electronic versions of classics, in the same way as Wendy/Walter Carlos.

Hairy Dave

Posted on 14 Nov 2011, 11:05:36 GMT
NemOmeN says:
Good call Hairy Dave! Speaking of classical music, Steve Reich. Come Out, to name maybe the most well known. Where he went out in to the city with a tape recorder then looped and mixed the tapes he made. Not exactly electronic 'sounding' like some of Varese's stuff but kinda the same princable DJ's would use later on except for using records instead of tapes.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2011, 12:30:21 GMT
MarmiteMan says:
Ref:- Tomita ... see my post above (30 Oct 2011)! ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2011, 12:54:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Nov 2011, 12:57:56 GMT
Please include One of my personal favourites "Chicory Tip" pure pop from the Seventies. Son Of My Father was one of the first hit singles to prominently feature a Moog synthesizer and I am sure had an influence on many subsequent bands.
Good Grief Christina, What's Your Name & Cigarettes Women & Wine are also belters.

Posted on 29 Nov 2011, 19:45:09 GMT
Suicide- Alan Vega and Marti Rev
David Bowie/Eno
Throbbing Gristle/Coil
Clock DVA
Cabaret Voltaire
New Order
Rhythm and Noise
SPK and Graeme Revell

Modern electronic

Try Lustmord

for his impact on black American music ahemmm...Gary Numan
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Discussion in:  dance discussion forum
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Total posts:  22
Initial post:  23 Sep 2011
Latest post:  29 Nov 2011

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