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Glitch Rock 101

by Dan Weiss

Glitch Rock 101


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One of the rockist world’s fears about the rise of electronic music is that the latter’s so-called perfection isn't human — that its infallibility will ruin music or make it boring. While that's a silly phobia that should've evaporated with Thriller or something, it's a nice bonus that we’ve discovered how to make electronics malfunction just like humans losing control of squealing guitar feedback (or drummers falling off time). Many bands on the rock-electronic spectrum have found these to be pretty fetching sound effects, as you can hear on the chorus of Pitchshifter's "Genius" (where the voice appears to freeze up like a computer and draw out each syllable of the title unnaturally: “geeeeen-iiiiii-uuuuuuuuuuuusssssssss”). Nine Inch Nails' "Starf*ckers, Inc." and The Exies' "My Goddess" contain a blurred-voice effect so cool it should've been as omnipresent as Auto-Tune.

The Notwist's new "Close to the Glass,” Bloc Party's "Hunting for Witches,” and much of the Chicks on Speed catalog sound as if tossed in a blender — and would be akin to plenty of avant techno, too, if not for the verses and choruses laid over them. Hot Chip ("Careful") and the xx ("Basic Space") even made these tics danceable. Burning the candle from the other end is legendary tinkerer Aphex Twin, who always wrote true songs like "Windowlicker" and even sung a couple ("Come to Daddy," "Milkman"). And texture-heavy bands from Yeasayer to Menomena blur the lines between live playing and sliced-and-diced all across the spectrum.

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