[sic] Magazine

Editorial – Brand new? You’re electro!







“But Brett, do they play live or are they just laptop jockeys?”


I get this sort of thing a lot. Are they “just laptop jockeys”? “just”? Broadly it makes a kind of harmless sense but pausing for thought I find it quite irritating.

Yesterday a colleague took me to task for using quick and dirty genre descriptions such as IDM. She’s right of course. I cannot disagree. I’ve made the same points myself in features and reviews. We are supposed to be [sic] Magazine.

[sic] – a last bastion of real music writing.
[sic] – where we mean what we say.
[sic] – a line of fierce opposition in a sand of journalistic laziness.
[sic] – because it’s the ‘end’ of music.


Seriously though, we know we fight a losing battle. Let’s face facts. The world is speeding up. We live in mobile times. We tweet, we text, we Blackberry. We get an ‘App’ to tell us where (and when) to get lunch. We form habits and routines. These patterns become our prisons.

One day someone will send in their doctorate thesis by SMS.
Why? Cuz we cn.


Four or five years ago I discovered M83, a blazing, brilliant electronic act that drew inspiration from both shoegazing and post-rock. I lent my copy of Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts to a friend and he in turn to a mutual friend who, understandably ‘flipped out’ (I believe is the technical industry term?) about it all. There followed a mini-conversation, the conversation of three music-loving blokes equally intent upon getting to the pub as making their point. This micro-discussion was concluded when someone made the point (of M83’s epic track ‘Gone’) that it is ““like electronic Mogwai!” Cue, vigourous nods of acquiescence. Cue, three pints of ‘Golden Glory’. Job done.

But…hang on. Let’s really think about it. The remark makes sense. Of course. It makes total sense excepting one little thing….

…since when were Mogwai an acoustic act?

Is this the way to Helicon 1?

Did I miss something? Was there a pastoral folk period, Stuart Braithwaite with finger in the ear, before New Paths To Helicon? Was there a Dylan-esque, luddite uproar when they ‘went electric’? And Peel STILL played them!

The point is that you/we may be guitar snobs from time to time. You’re allowed to frown upon electronic music if you want. That’s your right. Just don’t overlook the fact that most contemporary guitar music has a good deal to do with amplification, not to mention effects. Honestly, these days you can drop your guitar and still get a beautiful sound out of it.

Music has always evolved. Instruments have changed. Recording processes have changed. Broadcasting has changed. Purchasing has changed. Formats have changed. These things keep music fresh. The invention of the 7” vinyl single was followed by an explosion of catchy, melodic pop. Coincidence? Of course not. For the first time during the 50’s and 60’s, young people had spending power. The arts, their processes, media and audiences are intertwined.

Rare, unseen footage of early, unplugged Mogwai

Let’s not forget, all music really is, is vibrating air. Much like colour is light meeting particles, interpreted by receptors in the eye/brain. Just light. (That word again) Just air. That’s all. Simply. Laptops, pro-tools, effects pedals, flangers, you name it – are all just methods, just media. Surely the only important thing should be what you’re hearing. If artist x makes a beautiful record in his bedroom so what? Jackson Pollock made his paintings in his garage.

Jackson Pollock

“He just dripped them though”

Yeah he did,

And they’re beautiful.