Open Mic: Has Electronic Music Lost Track Of The Future?


Open Mic: Pioneering synthesist Jean Michel Jarre shared a vintage shot of himself today on Facebook. He added the comment “Back in the Seventies, we had a romantic, poetic vision of the future, like it was in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Parliament-Mothership-ConnectionIn the 60’s, 70’s and, to a lesser degree, the 80’s, the sounds of the synthesizer were shorthand for ‘the future’.

Synth artists like Jarre, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis created electronic soundscapes, inspired by futuristic themes. Kraftwerk created a futuristic synth pop world, populated with robotic musicians.

Science fiction movies, from Forbidden Planet to Blade Runner, often had electronic soundtracks. And mainstream funk and new wave musicians adopted synths and space age ideas and visuals.

In recent years, though, the sounds of the synthesizer are just as frequently used to evoke nostalgia as futuristic visions. Bands like Boards of Canada and others are inspired by vintage electronic sounds and use synths to create music that evokes the past or alternate histories. And sci fi cinema soundtracks are largely ‘action film’ scores.

Has electronic music lost track of the future? And does the electronic music you listen to deal with futuristic themes or nostalgic ones?

125 thoughts on “Open Mic: Has Electronic Music Lost Track Of The Future?

  1. I feel that a lot of Dubstep is sort of futuristic. A disappointing future. Like a minstrel show with Robocop eating Doritos and chugging energy drinks.

    1. I don’t understand why people pay attention to this guy. I never heard of him before I started visiting this site, and all his music sounds like a casio keyboard demo.
      His vision of ‘today’ is giving invite-only concerts to russian oligarchs, so his vision of the future? I am definitely not interested.
      Let the downvotes begin!

    2. While the technology now is amazing, there’s definately less creativity, I can’t remember the last time something electronic really grabbed my attention, even Daft Punks last album just sounds like a cross between Moroder and Space…

  2. I think the loss of synths being instantly consider futurisitc, sci-fi, and the like is a beautiful progress. Rather than it being a strange and odd new instrument that frightens folks, or makes them think “oh, its new, its from space” ,its become part of the regular listening lexicon. Like the violin or piano in a way. Its acceptance, and i think it expands the possibilities as the general public gets used to it.

    1. unfortunately though, the general public is only getting used to a limited use of synthesizers in general (but that’s probably the reason that they are able to get used to them in the first place). in the more etherial forms of electronic/pop music such as IDM and dubstep, etc… though, wild sounding to the layperson there’s a limited experimentation going on with the sounds synthesizers (especially soft synths) are capable of making.

      in general and especially with the vintage, mono-synth fetish that’s even controlling how the manufacturers are approaching the market, composers are being saddled with machines that are about creating better versions of the same old sounds verses new ideas for machines that are capable of creating new and different sounds.

      i do recognize that there is a huge generational thing happening here that’s driving the market and views. 4-5 years ago this conversation probably wouldn’t have happened. there is a new generation of kids who need to explore some of the cool machines we were playing with 20-40 years ago, the digital world is something they’ve always had and isn’t begging for them to explore.

      yes futurism is dead and we’ve run past post modernism, synthesizers are capable of infinite sonic possibilities and if a composer wants to use them that way that’s great but if you want to use it like a violin or piano that’s fine also, it’s your instrument… there will be some of us pushing the boundaries of what’s listenable and not and hopefully some of this work will help expand the landscape and lexicon of future electronic music.

    2. I agree, I think that electronic instruments are becoming flexible enough that they can work much more fluidly with other organic instruments, that the division will become less obvious and the fusion of electronic/organic is the future of music.

      Tearing down divisions and genres is what truly terrifies most people, and what terrifies is often our future…. Where music can go places that we cannot pigeonhole.

      I don’t mean to sound like a hippy, but nowadays if you have three favourite sounds : the pluck of a classical guitar, the call of a flamingo, and the Taurus moog bass. Then you can start to combine those elements in ways you mightn’t have imagined before, combine them as one sound, or take the sounds out of context, change the pitch to an unnatural level, or play the sounds inhumanly fast on a sequencer, so it sounds both natural and unnatural at the same time.

      Where at first the barn doors bursting open is frightening chaos, soon becomes an open vista of creative and viable ideas.

  3. This is exactly why I find the whole modular obsession which seems to have taken root in the synth world so amusing– we take a forward thinking, forward looking thing and reduce it to a Keith Emerson worshipping bluesdad thing.

    1. The modular trend is easy to explain. We’ve reached a point technologically where a $500 laptop is capable of running a stunning array of software – Ableton Live and dozens of extremely good softsynths and effects. Anyone can put together a virtual studio, and programs like Garage Band have reduced the cost of entry to almost nothing.

      There will always be an elite group of musicians, collectors and technologist looking for something interesting and rare for their setup. That’s why modulars appeal; the market is filled with boutique manufacturers who create expensive short run gear. The market isn’t democratized — it will cost you thousands of dollars and a lot of time to build a modular system that experts will consider noteworthy, and it will be bloody hard to others to imitate you.

      At the end of the day, this is good for boutique manufacturers (they have an eager market and can experiment with new designs with minimal risk). As for the future of electronic music? It belongs to kids in their early teens who are going to create stuff that will blow their generation’s minds. They get bonus points if it’s stuff us lame old farts in our 20s and beyond can’t stand.

      1. Is that why most videos I see demonstrating someone’s expensive ass modular system is always a terribly uninteresting collection of bloop noises? It’s a technology fetish, and not a musical one.

        1. Based on that logic you’d need to dismiss every type of instrument, because most YouTube music demos aren’t that creative!

          1. I’d rather listen to someone noodling on a modular then a guitar…. The music is far more likely to be my taste if is bleeps.

      2. you are right for the most part but I feel that a great number of modular owners are simply wealthy hobbyist rather than “elite musicians”

        1. That’s using your view of music to judge them. Electronic music has always been dismissed by peole used to the status quo.

      3. imo the only way to be hard to imitate is to make good music and to push the boundaries of what you’re using by spending time practicing and exploring what you already have. most of the modular folks and modern synth folks in general seem too busy trading modules, researching “the best” modules and collecting modules like plugins to really push anything, which is fine, but most of what i hear sounds really obvious and easy to imitate.

        tbh, if you don’t have faith and confidence in your own compositions and brain being weird and cool enough that you can’t be imitated and need to buy gear to do that for you you’ve kinda already lost the plot, haven’t you?

        you don’t need tons of different gimmicky modules to make something awesome with a modular.

    2. Modular is simply a way of getting a poor man to pay $8000 for a synth, one piece at a time. A payment plan suitable to the cash strapped consumers we are today. But at least either modular you get to pick and choose the most innovative and interesting modules to mix and match. It isn’t homage to Emerson, it’s the cheapest way to get into some really deep knob per function synthesis.

      Not something I’m interested in myself, but I don’t feel the need to knock anyone for it.

  4. I think a big factor is that our culture in general got over its initial fascination with space and future technology that was born in the ’60’s space age. We simply grew jaded. Remember red LED wristwatches, how friggin cool those were? Now millions of people own a device about the size of a pack of smokes that’ll make live video phone calls, access the Library of Congress, and activate your house’s HVAC from across the world.
    When many of us think of the future today, the things that come to mind are not pretty at all.

    1. I’m not sure that we grew jaded. Although we have lots of technology, part of the problem is that we’re still stubbornly earthbound. Nobody has walked on the moon since 1972, so many of us have grown up thinking that we would one day go into space (if not personally, than vicariously), but the facts suggest that this isn’t happening. It’s notable that many of the better sci-fi movies in recent years speak to this feeling of lost opportunity and a desire to get off the planet.

      1. It is one of the great disappointments of my life that I will 99% likely not have a chance to go into space before I die. 🙁

  5. The answer is way too long for this post, but as far as the future goes in the sense of singularity, homogeneity, and a mindless perpetual mold, electronic music has achieved such future with terrible consequences for the artistic content and sense of music.
    It is hard for me to find artistic pleasure in electronic music, as it has been corrupted by function and no longer holds sense.
    I think the future now lies in software experimentation with things like Pure Data or Max/MSP, or retro-furistic abstract modular wankery.

    Just my humble opinion as a composer tired of electronic pop music.

    1. I think the future of music doesn’t lie in sound design (pure data etc..) but in “music design”……my personal approach is a highly interactive structure of songs and pattern to keep the project fresh and then allow to dig further and further without being bored……

  6. I grew up obsessed with Bladerunner, now we’re almost at 2019,
    all I can ask is “where is my flying car?”
    (& my basic pleasure model for that matter….)

  7. To say that “electronic music has lost track of the future” is to assume that electronic music was and is only about the future. The music can be anything a person wants it to be.

  8. The future, like eternity, is an abstraction. The fact of the matter is we live and listen in and at this moment, not in the past, not in the future, Electronic music is simply sound. If you are listening you like it or you don’t at this moment. If you are merely thinking about it and speculating where trends/fads will evolve be prepared to be surprised.

  9. Electronic music…is what it is. Sadly only a few artists still make good electronic music. But I feel there needs to be a “techno” revival…a new perspective, but back to techno’s roots. Production in my opinion has killed a lot of the raw almost punk energy of techno…I’d love to see techno be dangerous and futuristic again

    1. What era and style of techno would you consider dangerous and futuristic? I’ve been digging into techno a bit to broaden my horizons, so far my favorite is Orphx.

  10. What I see is a lot of experimentation and a lot of shiny toys but very little expression.
    There’s a lot of unexplored territory under the hood of modern synths.
    I’d like to see people harness the power of that gear and organize some music with it in an expressive way. Reframe the question. Is this the music we want to be making? Or, is this the music we’re making because it’s easy and a rack of synths and modular gear is impressive to look at?

    1. I grew up with sci if in my imagination, but the ‘future’ we live in is mundane compared to what authors, directors and even I imagined.

      Why shouldn’t we be a little disappointed?

  11. Monsieur Jarre, and the assembled salon — Consider, if you will — In 1970, or perhaps 1980, we had reason to believe that the future was only limited in its brightness by our imagination, and by our willingness to work hard to make those futuristic visions come to pass. The future, as we perceive it, is not nearly so bright today. Yes, there is a minority who believe that science will lead us into a magical, if perhaps frightening future of eternal regeneration by the uploading of consciousness, of finding an unlimited source of clean energy, of learning ways to feed the people of the world despite a shrinking amount of arable land, of proving that Einstein didn’t know what he was talking about when he said that the speed f light couldn’t be exceeded, or, conversely, of finding ways to fold space AND safely travel through that folded space BUT– for many, and perhaps for most of us, the future has problems contained within it which, from the present, seem to be insurmountable. I think it is that spirit which helps to drive us toward nostalgia. We look back fondly to a time when the future was bright, problems solvable AND when electronic instruments were new and unexplored. Consider where the industry went after the early analog period. Consider the sounds used in the 80s and 90s, the relatively banal and similar nature of much of the 80’s synthpop. Now don’t get me wrong, I love much of the music from that era, but like much pop music, a lot of it sounds like a lot other of it. But I am also in agreement with Monsieur Jarre, in thinking that we are showing a remarkable lack of imagination these days. We need to pioneer new directions, we need to make noise, make mistakes, and in general, make a nuisance f ourselves which the established music community finds raucous and unacceptable. Where is the Throbbing Gristle of today; Where, fr the love of God, is today’s Shriekback? Or Leonard Cohen? Or…. well you see the point. Again, don’t get me wrong– I LOVE a lot of today’s music– but much of it remains unchallenging and derivative. I am old, and it is likely that my hell-raising days are past me. But will, in the name of mighty Cthulhu, some of you young whippersnappers get on my lawn and piss me off? Raise some hell, raise the stakes, and find us a new direction that everybody my age can say sounds awful, and that you can carry into the future as a torch, all your own. ….climbs down off the Hyde Park soapbox……..

    1. In the past, older generations hated on what the youth were doing, because of how controversial they were, pushing buttons and boundaries. Older generations are now annoyed, because of the distinct lack of anything offensive, unless you count the Kardashians???

  12. I’ve frankly lost interest in futurism. I think with all the cool stuff we have now, we’re realizing that technological progress far from guarantees happiness or meaning. If you take futurism to its logical conclusion, you’ll realize that it’s just an unending unsatisfying thirst for novelty.

    1. I agree that not all new and shiny things are truly great or even useful. However, there is still plenty of room for pragmatic innovation that could improve many peoples’ lives.

  13. I think the kids have a vision of the future, but it is hard, brutal and unfamiliar. And ‘2001’ and ‘A Clockwork Orange’ had futuristic synth sounds, neither is a fun future – and both were wrong.

    But in reality we have lost track of the future and singularity is to blame, we can make fair predictions for the next 10-15 years into the future – but in 10 years we reach a point were a machine outstrips our own intelligence, 10 years beyond that a single box would be affordable, if money still exists, and be 1000 times your capacity of intelligence – whilst also having the sensors to observe more than 1% of stuff around them, and beyond. For a human to make a vision of that would be like an ant redesigning the internet, that pointless.

    Yet it hasn’t stopped me, I am currently working on a futuristic theme. at least up until the singularity, called ‘The Last Prophet and The First Immortals’ – myself playing the role of being the last prophet to the first immortal humans.

    Anyone can all give you a vision of the future, but the question is, at what level do we find it acceptable or understandable? Maybe we need to be trans-human to engage with it.

    1. I think of any story about dystopian future, A Clockwork Orange was most correct. Now, of course the Ludovico Technique is not in use, but nothing about that story is very far out there. There are child gangs roaming the streets of London. Children of the first-world are certainly more and more “raising themselves,” speak a virtually-distinguishable language from their parents and the establishment, and the questions about “what makes a person bad/evil and how can we affect it” is still very much a poignant debate.

      1. I agree, but only because much sci-fi writing is used to disguise the authors view of the present – and not much has changed.

        “…A Clockwork Orange was written in Hove, then a senescent seaside town. Burgess had arrived back in Britain after his stint abroad to see that much had changed. A youth culture had grown, including coffee bars, pop music and teenage gangs. England was gripped by fears over juvenile delinquency. Burgess claimed that the novel’s inspiration was his first wife Lynne’s beating by a gang of drunk American servicemen stationed in England during World War II. She subsequently miscarried. In its investigation of free will, the book’s target is ostensibly the concept of behaviourism, pioneered by such figures as B. F. Skinner. Burgess later stated that he wrote the book in three weeks…”

  14. I think part of the reason electronic music has lost a vision of the future is because we have categorized electronic music into genres, with subgenres, and so when people write electronic music, it’s automatically pidgeon-holed into a category with a particular vibe or feeling. Musicians might say “I produce Dubstep and Tech-House” rather than “I produce electronic music”. The worse part is that unless it’s an outstanding production, anything outside of a genre will not get much notice.

  15. I apologize if this sounds like some kind of editorial. It’s obvious I’m not a journalist.

    You can go way, way back to just about any genre of music and see stylistic nods to an adored predecessor or even composites of several predecessors. I don’t really see a problem with that as much as I see a lack of actual knowledge about the historical and/or environmental context those influential artists, compositions and recordings existed in at the time of their making. That is probably the most important component about ANY work of art in general. All that and not mentioning THEIR influences in turn. Parroting, in short. NESTED parroting from generation to generation, if you like.

    Even though the technology around creating and recording music is always progressing you’re still always going to have pockets of those retroactive nods to the creative past all with varying degrees of popularity over time. You’re always going to have the guy or gal that dazzles with the latest high-tech-paradigm-shifting (ugh…paradigm…I used it in a sentence) musical experience and then someone somewhere else in an extreme “fascinating” rediscovery of the “block of wood and the beats of ancient man available in FLAC format”.

    So, I don’t think anything has changed. I don’t think it’s any harder to find legitimate, interesting and unique musical creations than it ever has been; it’s always been next to impossible if you think about it. It’s the field of entertainment, everyone is trying to get your attention for better or worse and technology or fundamentalism will never change that.

    1. People… this IS the future. We all(myself included) get up and read about what everyone else is doing and with what gear. The future holds no mystery because everyone is too preoccupied trying to show it off to everyone else on forums like these. When we assume that we have heard or seen someone else’s unresolved experiment, we confuse that with having true experience and quickly move ahead. Our extreme connection has perverted our interpretation of desired outcome of innovation.

      Which is hilarious… because we have culturally plateaued to such a degree that everyone is turning around and trying to retrace their steps to see where we could have taken things further in the past, which in itself is not a bad thing. Hence the resurrection of analog and modular synths and the rehashing other older 70’s or 80’s gear. What follows after the introduction of said machines is the really unfortunate part. Wave after wave of unchecked and pointless scrutiny.

      For example, I’m constantly baffled by why so many people get so excited about brand new “old” drum machine sounds and the countless bickering arguments that ensue. Not to mention how many of the people on forums like these have so many deeply conservative opinions and rules of how these sounds should be used or presented. Even now…30 or 40 years later! It’s sad and pointless.

      How do move toward the future? Just use the tools you like, focus on what you are doing, and create something new or in a new way. Not everything has been done yet…

    2. I can follow your thoughts except the conclusion (if I understant it well)….
      Music history IS a constant evolution and we can tell the difference between ancient “rythm and voice” traditional music versus barrocco, romantsim, rag-time, rock-n-roll……
      Sure we find similarities in music phrase and rythm patterns but the way they combine and overlay is ever changing.

  16. the future is about people with hopes and dreams. the future is made by people unhappy with the way things are now. it doesn’t mater how old you are. lots of great electronic music was made by “old” people. as a young person all my music can really say is that it doesn’t seem like anyone knows what’s going on anymore.

    ime the future isn’t online. online is slavery to big information. if the damn nsa can record everything we do, but they can’t make sense of the data in any meaningful how can your average person hope to? as it’s always been to see the future look to the past. local area networks, sneaker net, illegal parties. no slick videos, no viral marketing. academia is now your bedroom. you don’t need to be part of ircam or get government funding to do weird shit and you don’t need to make excuses or justifications for it either.

  17. Simple. Electronic music is not “new” any more. The first time I heard Kraftwerk there was nothing else like it. Now “electronic” is just another type of music that’s been around for a while and you can make it on your phone. It’s no longer unique.

  18. In my opinion Drum and Bass , especially tech step still sounds futuristic. Albums like inside the machine by bad company and clockwork by stakka and skynet still sounds like the future and they were release at the turn of the century. Artists like Teebee and technical itch still produce very futuristic sounding music. i think it’s all in the sound design.

  19. oh, what a great arguement thread. I understand what everyone is saying really. There is no space program these days. The future is closest to Blade Runner as far as aesthetics go. To me the future (it is already here) is financial collapse, governments run by corrupt bankers, drone killings, disgusting war tech shouldn’t exist in the first place, people living virtual lives already. There is nothing pretty about the overall future, as there will only be more of all of this. Musically speaking, d’nb sounded like the future to me once, but i’ve been listening to it for so long now, but as far as experimenting with sound, d’nb/dubstep and especially neuro, have the upper hand still. I love the whole Synthwave explosion for the purpose of looking back at great music and pop culture of the ’80s and continuing the imagined future of those days. In reality, all of the political uglyness already existed back then, it’s just that then i was a teenager and didn’t understand corruption and political posturing. I can only hope that something changes and stops the British Empire and Wall Street from dictating how the whole world runs. Until then, the future looks bleak to me, with contant free trade and forced regime changes taking place year after year. ‘They’ are taking more and more steps to a nuclear war. In the ’80s, that idea was about deception. Now, it could be for real…

    1. I concur – it’s political – bordering on class warfare.

      We are not seeing the death of futurism as much as we are seeing the death of progress.

      As a kid, I thought the future would be like ‘The Jetsons’ but it’s turned out to be a Balkanised ‘1984’.

    2. “as far as experimenting with sound, d’nb/dubstep and especially neuro, have the upper hand still”

      If this were true I wouldn’t be able to tell exactly which wooble bass tutorial an artist watched before creating their tracks. Dubstep, while extremely interesting the first time you hear it, is still little more than a few production parlor tricks, 8th/16th note swing, and a bit of syncopation. There’s more (obviously) but the sound “design” is not as stellar as most dubstep enthusiasts have themselves been convinced.

      Try designing the sound of a flowing river. THATS a challenge worth tackling. Not throwing a formant and a low-pass + LFO over a bass-line you didn’t even write yourself.

  20. hmmm.. wasnt 2001: A Space Odyssey about a homicidal AI system? doesnt seem that romantic or poetic to me…

    the 10 minute psychedelic hyperspace scene was pretty cool tho

    also, there was a giant monolith and some really agitated chimps

    what fucking movie was Jarre watching?

  21. Some advise that might you already know that I believe we don’t follow so we can bypass the problems you all mentioned:
    1.when you play music forget everything that distracts you don’t know when inspiration comes so always be ready
    3.stop being a customer or user ,you are an artist
    4.find a rich wife because music isn’t a job
    5.listen carefully different kind of music from the music you produce
    6.collaborate with many artists,play everything,touch the drums,play the flute,surprise yourself or rest from your gear routine social,talk,be human can’t do everything from yourself because your laptop does.You are a musician,play your music let others do the rest.
    9.learn to paint.its a very good way to rediscover yourself in a different art
    10.ten is blank. you never know what is next…

  22. To me, the future is here. And musically speaking, the future will do what the past has done: continue to mix the unmixed sounds. I think some of the things that are happening with electro-acoustic instruments are amazing. I think the revisiting of traditional structures utilizing new sounds will continue to happen. The sounds and way that music is played with continue to drive how music sounds. I also think that the way that music is approached is changing. As the cost of creating music continues to drop, new discoveries will happen. I think that there is still a catch point where music will become more interactive. Or, at least, interactive music will rise in popularity. Apps like Scape and Adrian Belew’s forthcoming app Flux will be a new way to experience music. I think that will be the next wave of innovation, much like the dawn of recorded music, or the introduction of amplification, multi-tracking, stereo, etc.

    It is possible to record an electronic album on an ipad, create artwork for it, publish it to the internet, and have it available to anyone in the world seconds after it is complete. All while you wife is asleep in bed next to you.

    That is a future that I never dreamed of, and one that I am happy to exist in.

    1. “It is possible to record an electronic album on an ipad, create artwork for it, publish it to the internet, and have it available to anyone in the world seconds after it is complete.”

      But no one is listening…

      1. No one is listening because its not being promoted right and nor should iOS evangelism be shoved in people’s faces either.

        Whole approach is too gimmicky IMHO

            1. The future is bleak very bleak. There are too many producers, a lack of quality and no sense of worth in music anymore because the internet makes it free basically. Need I go on?

  23. I’ve been playing synths for the last 30 years and never have I had such a sonic arsenal at my fingertips as what is available now, both vintage synths and the thousands of plug-ins and IOS synths that cost peanuts (once you’ve bought the necessary hardware).

    However, I hear very little interesting music being produced: too much is incredibly repetitive and loop-based to my taste. I rarely (if ever?) hear the inventiveness, melodic & tonal richness of yesteryear’s great composers in electronic music.

    I think we need a renaissance of electronic symphonic pieces – such as the opera singer in “The Fifth Element” might portray – blending the musicality of the past with the new sonic sound material of the future. J-M Jarre himself composed melodic pieces for synths, not the current glut of endless mono-chordal loops with the cut-off, resonance and bit-crush being tweaked for 10mn.

    I must be getting old :^)

    1. Both the opera piece in The Fifth Element and most of Jean-Michel Jarre’s melodic pieces are essentially pop music. Not that there is anything wrong with well written, produced and performed pop songs, but that’s not where innovation is happening.

  24. Listening to my favourite radio station at the moment I feel music is in chaos, it is constantly diversifying and this is more to do with internet access to a wealth of music to listen to, and a wealth of listeners to capture, than the instruments used to make the music.

    I find it hard to find one vans im passionate about, or a style of music I particularly want to hear more of. Which just drives me to make more of my own music – which is also diversifying.

  25. This site has some of the best commenters around, thanks for an interesting thread.

    I think part of the bland soul-lessness of modern electronic music can be traced to a decline in musical virtuosity. Simply summarized, learn to be a *musician*, not a pusher of buttons, and then let that skill inform your production. I see far too many ‘musicians’ who take some kind of pride in being unable to read music or actually play an instrument beyond ‘hit button to trigger loop, then do some chirps on a turntable’.

    Not everyone needs to be Coltrane, but knowing how to play *something* will do nothing but increase the quality of your music.

    1. The tools you use have a profound influence on the music you make, I’ll give you that. However, once you learn how to get the most out of your tools, you can be just as expressive with a decent electronic instrument as you would be with a traditional one. Of course most musicians (traditional or electronic) don’t reach this level of mastery, but it’s much easier for electronic musicians to create and publish their work, hence the flood of mediocre electronic music.

  26. I think that more and more we are living alternate realities. At least, from what I see in America and pop culture the emphasis and availability to consume is more focused on the individual, rather than a collective culture or unified vision as was more the case in past decades. I still think Electronic music is and can be the future, but musicians need to be asking more questions in their music. They need to challenge the ideas of what makes a song a song. What is ‘music’ and what can it be? Playing the same chords over and again and giving the audience exactly what they expect is not going to establish a future for music that anyone wants. Musicians need to find ways to draw people into their music and performances while making an effort to push boundaries. Movie scores can also help, but not if they continue to be so conservative. Electronic music is seen by many as a counter-culture music. While that has advantages, what’s happening is the larger whole of societies are not tuned into it at all.

    1. Electronic music has definitely become mainstream in the last few years, so I disagree with your statement that it would be “seen by many as counter-culture music”. Those same people would probably see hip hop as counter-culture as well, while there are many top selling hip hop artists on the charts.

  27. There is no future at all. All ideas have been exausted. Music has eaten itself. The future is a future of rehash and repetition of the old. That’s the reality and this is coming from someone whose listened to every single style of music under the sun.

    1. If you truly believe in this opinion, the next logical step is “Why bother?”… Speaking in such absolutes is just lazy and wrong. Don’t waste our collective time.

      1. Its over mate. Its inevitable that we’d run out of ideas at some point. It can’t go on forever. Don’t cry though lol.

        1. You clearly have no imagination. Doesn’t mean everyone else has as few ideas as you do. But you’re welcome to attribute the vast emptiness in your mind to everyone else as well. That just means you won’t beat me to the next great idea, so, KUDOS!

            1. The person who claims to know what “the reality is” is also the one calling people delusional?

              So, do tell, what was the finite number of ideas that we as a species have already apparently reached? Somewhere in the quadrillians? more? You seem very certain, I’m expecting some empirical evidence for your claim.

              Otherwise I’ll assume you’re just a young blood who got his hands on Ligotti and Nietzsche prior to having the critical thinking skills to see beyond their ideas. I will also postulate that you likely go around quoting Rust Cohle to people pretending as if they were your own ideas.

  28. People like Flying Lotus and the LA guys have made electronic music interesting again. All that other EDM is crap. Deadmau5??? Gimme a break. Flylo craps all over these idiots..

  29. I used to listen to Kraftwerk’s Computer world album as a kid and I thought it was so futuristic. Now I am living in a world that is essentially a computer world. I have my computers, my tablets, my phones, etc. It’s not at all what movies and the music projected, and I think some of the roamnce of that has died. We still have futuristic movies but except for self driving cars coming fairly soon, their ideas of our future seem far away or will never happen. Unfortunately the current era is so boring in comparison.

    Computer Age/push the button by Newcleus was another track that had the same vibe.

    If one composer really nailed modern futuristic music for me it’s Michael McCann’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack. (and have to give a shout to Alexander Brandon’s original Deus Ex and Invisible War scores). Mass Effect scores and the Oblivion Score was great too.
    They aren’t so romantic but they take you away, just like Kraftwerk did for me as a middle School kid.

    I love using futuristic themes in my music, it had a big influence.

  30. Many people mention that “the future of music is bleak because everyone produces and no one listens.” Which I find hilarious because despite every article printed about the music industry collapsing, the MUSIC CULTURE (which is what musicians should be concerned with, not the industry… industry is for businessmen) is thriving like never before.

    It should be agreeable that, as a mathematical fact, there can only be so many pioneers in any style. At some point, new territory becomes well-trodden. Hidden paths becoming interstate highways. The secrets of a few become the common knowledge of the many. To many a hipster’s dismay…

    Be grateful that you even have to tools to take part in the community of sound, listen honestly to your contemporaries, and forget about ever becoming a massive influence like BoC or Einstürzende Neubauten or whoever you most admire. The days of goliath artists who sweep the world over are (albeit slowly) coming to an end. There is enough music out there that it could take decades (or longer) for curators and archivists to sift through the mess and find the truly special works which deserve celebration (shit, look at the documentary “A Band Called DEATH”). Expect, at best, to be “discovered” and celebrated well after your passing, like many of our legendary artists of the previous few centuries.

    Worry less about who (or how many) are NOT listening to you, and worry more about those who we ARE listening to you. Go play basement parties and perform in cafes. Produce and study music. Argue ideas, flesh out concepts, experiment with new methods. Create musical collectives, support the arts and support artists who take art seriously. The future is in the COMMUNITY. It is the only alternative to the previous ways of being manipulated and controlled by the INDUSTRY.

  31. True, but Boards of Canada is a bad example. They are not a new band playing vintage synthesizers. They did that since their beginning 20 years ago.

  32. But a different part of the same problem: all classically trained musicians I know are nearly completely ignorant of synthesis and its possibilities – so who’s going to compose the truly great stuff of the future?

    1. It needs to be someone with knowledge but I willing to move past it and break rules in composition, synthesis, structure, whatever else.actually I hear a lot of great musicians who are virtually unrecognized doing this all the time. We are bombarded with marketing and spoiled by the availability of sound and recording. The biggest problems I see are at he erosion of cultures that value art and the erosion of societies that cherish art and culture and that cultivate positive living conditions. Of course there is the argument that chaos and pain create great music, and while that may be partly true, when you devalue culture and art and make it disposable it probably not good unless your perhaps taking a Warholian approach to art or music. Boards of Canada are perhaps trying to predict an outcome on the current path weare on, a possible future of…no future. Flo is good but there’s people who are more adventurous surely. He is popularizing things that are adventurous and while that’s not bad, I don’t think people should heap so much praise on one artist. I actually don’t see much hope for the future of anything but I somehow remain hopeful that people will wake up. People are the problem.

  33. Big mega-corporations are the new governments. They push for wars. The buy presidents and governing bodies. They hire and fire and eliminate. They destroy polite and cause toxic waste and deforestation. They build robot assembly lines to eliminate your job. And….they virtually pay NO taxes. THERE is NO FUTURE but what they sell you. That’s why the same 10 songs are played all day on the radio. That’s who pays .corporate tie-ins etc. mega corporations take over schools, cities, countries, and they have no allegiance to any country or people. They dangle enough rope to make you think you have a choice. I think there’s a lot of nostalgic music to reflect this, and an apocalyptic almost romantic view of this also in music…almost saying that our only hope is an apocalypse of some sort. In that view. You have to just live ur own life and find some happiness in that. Resistance is futile….the terminator was right…where’s my super sized non nutritious fake fast food?

  34. Check out Louis CK’s bit re “Everything Is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy” (, it sums up the state of things in the present day quite nicely.

    One thing about the electronic music pioneers of the late ’60s through the ’80s: access to the technology was limited because of the barrier to entry (high cost of the equipment). It figures they would have a rose-colored-glasses view of the future due to their advantageous position in the music industry food chain of the day. For someone like me, who overextended resources to acquire and learn to work with (and then later be forced to sell at a loss) synths, samplers, effects devices, mixers and processors back in the day, it’s a real joy to fire up a modern DAW on a computer, hook up a keyboard and a couple of controllers, and go to town with it. Ive got 20x more power, versatility, integreation and sonic fidelity at a cost of 1/20th of what I spent in the ’80s, which is pretty f***ing exhilarating.

    There’s also this: as electronic music manufacturers and software have become more standardized and commodified, users are subtly pushed to use music technology in specific “standardized” ways – the end result being that it’s hard to sound different these days. As much as I like my DAW and softsynths, I wish (for example) that I could more easily work in alternate tunings/scales & polyrhythmic meters. Instead, the software seems to want to push me in the direction of the 12 tone well-tempered scale and four-on-the-floor, it takes some effort to push back. I also believe there is room for more innovation in the realm of algorithmic composition. While there are some tools out there for doing this, as a rule they tend to be stand-alone and do not integrate all that well into existing DAW environments, where most of the major sonic action happens.

    Still and all, I’m delighted with what I have to work with in my current setup, there is a lifetime of exploration and experimentation available within those arrays of zeros and ones.

      1. You make not like his music but it was forward looking without trying to fit into a genre, just refer to the titles of his music and compare to this so called future…

  35. It should say: Has “Electronic” “Music” “Lost Track” Of “The Future”? That’s about how much sense that question makes.

  36. Have we lost the future? Yes, and since the 80’s or so we have lost idealism, confidence, rapture, the belief that there is a world out there waiting to be explored, the sense that we are a part of a radical change in culture. What we have is an maturing awareness that the future lies in the past, now is the time to administer the heritage. There is still a need for creativity, but innovation may appear in some other unexpected area. Hopefully, we are the ones that will create the new future: Our only way out of this is our way out of this.

    1. Still trying to decide if what you said is ontological genius or completely meaningless drivel. Likely it’s a mixture of both.

  37. No. It’s out there.
    You can find artists who present a wide range of various alternate futures ranging from Tycho’s idealistic retrofuturism (indebted to Boards of Canada) to the nihilistic Philip K Dick-style paranoia of Death Grips. Even Kanye West presented a stark dystopian vision with Yeezus through harsh electronic minimalism (though his lyrics didn’t match the vision of his beats).
    Look at people like Shabazz Palaces, Oneohtrix Point Never (especially the albums Rifts and Replica), nMesh, Matthewdavid’s Outmind.

  38. I think that “the future” of electronic music is trying to make new sounds and new ways a song can be, instead of just more songs in structures that are well known. It might be easier to just make a nice 4/4 verse-chorus thing, but seeing as there is already weird stuff out there like V snares, Amon Tobin, Qebrus, etc., the new “future” stuff is gonna be weirder and more confusing than anything we’ve ever heard or can currently imagine, just like the future itself. Once you hear it, it becomes familiar and is seated in the present, setting the stage for more musical experimentation. It won’t stop.

  39. My instinct is to say that the emphasis on 1980’s analogue synthesis suggests the future is in the past and to wonder where the new sounds are? But surely because electronic music was new and innovative in the 1970’s and 1980’s it represented the future. Consequently you had loads of people experimenting and finding new sounds and innovative ways to use the new electronics. I am guessing that the same thing will have happened when any new instrument is developed. I am not aware though that pianists, cellists, etc consider whether their genre has lost the future.
    The future as envisaged by 1970’s/1980’s electronic music artists is here.

  40. i would say that instead of becoming a tool for introspection into a hypothetical future that resides in one’s mind, music has become an instrument for intensifying and expressing the present moment…everyone is so technical these days…

  41. As an old git I still hear music evolving.
    Best example of electronics being used at a whole new level is the Swedish band Dirty Loops.
    While everyone else is relying on machines providing new ideas, these guys prove that electronics can still be used as a musical instrument played by real people at a virtuosic level.

  42. well, guys it has to do with culture and civilization as a whole not with music or musicians or the gear.
    If you don’t remember these decades where electronic music (and new instruments like synths) was introduced the whole world was fascinated by the “space age” which drifted away circa 90’s.

    I can’t write more about it right now even though there is a lot to be said and written about this subject, but I am sure you all understand what I am saying here.

    Imagination is the key

  43. Well, i thought i’d come back here for an update, to talk about the space program (if that’s something you’re interested in, as the future and as reality).
    America has pretty much stopped it’s space program (from what we’re told).
    Russia and China will be the next superpowers (and i commend), as they are breaking away from the crushing economic forces of the west (that has destroyed everything you knew) and forming their own alternative to this problem. It’s called BRICS. (I can only hope an A is added to that, for Australia). BRICS is seens by the UK/US as a major threat. It enables the countries involved to be sovereign once again, without having free trade forced upon them. Russia and China are also going back to the moon. Why? Helium 3. This will usher in the next major revolution if it works. It might be the answer to all energy concerns. If they succeed, without the UK/US destroying them through criminal war efforts, and most of the world finally turns to BRICS and this new energy, the British Empire (and it’s US puppets) will finally have been overthrown, and the future will then look pretty damn good for all of us. Until then, it’s dystopia, as many of you mentioned. Sad but true. Maybe it’s does have to get worse before it’s gets better. (actaully , no , it’s doesn’t, it’s just that certain institutions will hold onto their empire for as long as they can, without a care for who dies in the meantime). Food for thought, and alot for some of you to swallow. I suggest doing some research of your own, please…

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