The Null Device

Letraset/Sister Cities/Jeremy Dower at the Empress

Tonight I went down to the Empress Hotel, to see Letraset, Sister Cities and Jeremy Dower. It was quite a good night, in an electro-pop/ambient sort of way (and connected, promisingly enough, to the Chapter Music label). When I got there, the room was quite full, with people sitting on the floor. Letraset were doing their set with a bunch of modular synths, a Casio keyboard (run through one of them), an old Yamaha organ (also seen in Minimum Chips sets) and a trombone, and played much the same sort of music as on their Snowy Room CD.

Next up were Sister Cities, who were very good. They started with some ambient noodling on an iBook (apparently mostly applying effects/mixing in ProTools), and then went on to play some quite pretty pop with toy keyboards, jangly guitar chords and ba-ba-ba vocals. Apparently they're recording now, and I look forward to their CD when it does come out.

Finally, Jeremy Dower went on, playing some synths and a mixing deck, launching his CD "Music For Retirement Villages circa 2050". It was much as the title sounded like; glitchy easy-listening ambience with fragments of recorded birdsong and the occasional slightly familiar-sounding riff. Needless to say, I picked up the CD.

It's interesting to see the convergence of electronica and garage/indie pop, with computer music software and cheap synths lowering the entry barrier, and electronics having lost the stigma of MOR overproduction that led the yoof into the arms of three-chord grunge. It's about time someone took electronic music away from the twin realms of pill-popping, mindlessly muscular dance music and more-obtuse-than-thou experimentalism, defetishised it and reclaimed it as an equally organic approach to making music. Not that that's a new idea, mind you.

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