What I Talk About When I Talk About [electronic music], Volume 1

The umbrella term of 'EDM' is not a particularly helpful one when it comes to music description and categorization, yet it remains.  I used to try to parse it out in order to put a definition to the electronic music most dear to me, but that's a tiring exercise that didn't really lead anywhere.  While the beginnings of my relationship with electronic centered on obsessing over Nicolas Jaar, Todd Terje, and French House oddball Breakbot, it hasn't been one without turbulence and identity crises.  And, to clarify, there's nothing wrong with a little loud room here and there (I do, however, feel obligated to mention Ryan Dombal's delightful account of a Chainsmokers song featuring Coldplay's Chris Martin -- "clickbait collaboration... fair-weather drops built for Cancun's tourism association".  I digress).  My high horse having been abandoned for a Trabant, I'm going to try to just enjoy electronic music for what it is without going crazy.

If you really do want to get theoretical about it, though, you should start with Nick Paumgarten's stunning 2014 essay Berlin Nights.  While the piece deals mostly with techno, he offers a description that perfectly captures the complexity of trying to assign a single acronym to all these sounds.

Electronic music spans many genres, from the experimental bleeps and blurts that you might hear at the fringes of Berlin’s CTM Festival to the mega-popular sets performed by famous d.j.s like Skrillex and Avicii... The music isn’t pop, although many elements of it derive from and inform pop. It isn’t punk, although it owes something to punk, in spirit and scene. It isn’t high art, either. It is, fundamentally, Gebrauchsmusik—“utility music,” as Paul Nettl, the Bohemian musicologist, described dance music, in 1921. The utility, in this case, is mostly that of providing succor and pleasure, a sense of direction and purpose, to addled bodies and minds.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way I'd like to share some fine pieces of electronic music that provide succor and pleasure to my addled body.  For this installment I've selected a tune from Metro Area, the duo consisting of Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani, who offer a seminal record of ultra-smooth, blissed-out nu disc... scratch that - EDM.  Their self-titled album from 2002 saw a re-release last year.  Here's my favorite track from that, Soft Hoop: