Music is like a universe full of stars that shine with different colors and when they shine together, it creates an astounding light show before your eyes or in this case, your ears. Electronic rock music for the most part has been described as “psychedelic”, “trippy”, “synthetic”, etc. Which is true, it is a bright constellation dancing in your ears for your mind to see.
Music has a variety of genre dependent on the nature it was produced and the sound created by the instruments used. With electronic rock, it is created by inventive musicians through electronic and digital instruments that sounded like the classic rock only with the hint of synthetic sounds. Electronic gradually evolved because of the invention of the MIDI digital format or Musical Instrument Digital Interface. The advancement of computer technology also contributed in the advent of this innovative genre.
Although there is no unquestionable definition to as what rock music is, the age long consensus is, it sounds more aggressive than any other genre. Another prominent feature of rock is it is more self-conscious, giving stress on the technicality of playing the instrument, the thought on the lyrics and how the music is being carried on stage. Rock music primarily utilizes an electric guitar for the most part, bass guitar and the drums which is also the usual template of a rock band. Combine that with technology and you get a stellar genre that is ever-evolving and prolifically produced.
This music revolution started in the 1960s. Musicians started using one of the earliest electronic instruments such as Theremin and Mellotron. A few years later, on the same decade, Moog synthesizer was invented by a legendary name in music history Robert Moog and that sealed the marriage of electronic and rock music. The next decade went on to be an important decade in music which was dominated by electronic rock music.
Since its conception in 1964, Moog synthesizer has been the standard of electronic rock music. It allows rock music to be cleaned, twisted, bent and twirled which created some of the most enhanced sounds as evident on some of the greatest albums of all time such as Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends, Strange Days by The Doors, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd. by The Monkees, Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones, The Notorious Byrd Brothers by The Byrds. Abbey Road by The Beatles which ranks number 14 in Rolling Stones 500 Albums of All Time list is one of the greatest breakthroughs using Moog synthesizers.
Since rock is a genre subdivided into different disputed subgenres based on how heavy they sound, electronic rock music is the same; it also has a variety of subgenre stemmed from the incorporation of electronic music. Some of the most popular subgenre of electronic music are:
The 1960s have been the decade of hallucinogenic drugs which inspired this genre. The sound created using electric guitars and keyboard is playfully injected with studio effects and distinctly added with a non-Western instrument, oftentimes used is Sitar. The Mellotron, Theremin and also synthesizers are used to enhance the trippy experience the listener should feel. The songs under this genre generally stimulate imagination.
Most notable psychedelic rock musicians are The Beatles with their subtle drug references, literary based lyrics and picturesque sound. Their song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds has one of the highest inducing songs, with lyrics explicitly drawing an LSD trip. Although generally considered as rock n’ roll, most of their later albums have psychedelic characteristics. Another well-known psychedelic band is Pink Floyd who fans would say, captures the mind-altering power of psychedelic music.
The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds which is number two in Rolling Stones 500 Albums of All Time not only inspired and influenced many succeeding musicians but also created a huge impact in psychedelic rock. Other musicians associated with psychedelic are Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Byrds, Grateful Dead and Cream who are basically some of the greatest musicians of all time. Current active musicians who are psychedelic influenced are Tame Impala, Kurt Vile, MGMT, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, The Flaming Lips etc.
Perhaps the genre with more prominent electronic sound would be Synthpop as the most dominant instrument used on this genre is the synthesizer. Sometimes eliminating other instrument, it gives the otherworldly air of the synthetic sound to its listeners. Synthpop is also said to have originated in psychedelic rock which is evident on the same effect both genres provoke.
Although Synthpop has a specific demographic of enthusiasts some of the most popular musicians have their names plugged to the genre. Most notably would be Devo, Tears for Fears and Duran Duran.
Synthpop is leaning more into pop and dance, but it still has the elements of rock, such as emphasis on the musicianship and performance of the artists. This genre later on gave birth to another genre, New Wave.
A genre of electronic rock music that has surfaced after the advanced audio engineering technology is the industrial rock. It is characterized by the long and heavy guitar instrumentation mixed with synthesizers and drums. Although it has only made popular when Nine Inch Nails took commercial success, the genre had its roots planted in the United Kingdom in 1970s and has flourished most notably in Germany.
Perhaps the youngest among the major subgenre of electronic rock music is Indietronica. The name originated from the combination of indie music and electronic music. Synthesizers are also used as the dominant instrument – only Indietronica is a bit more acoustic driven. This genre was born in the 1990s but exploded during the turn of the century. Indietronica is the current electronic rock music that is popularly played on internet radios and even rave parties are constantly on the front-page of Pitchfork.
Most popular artists under this genre are, Passion Pit, The xx, Alt_j, The Postal Service, LCD Soundsystem, Two Door Cinema Club, Vampire Weekend and so much more.
Electronic rock music has indeed evolved through the years but it has retained that element that provokes strong imagery through their lyrics and sound.