Techno, Techno! The term techno when used in reference to music doesn’t refer to the genre that I thought it was a label for, or at least it doesn’t anymore at least. It seems that anything with a BPM of over 120 that uses fairly obvious synthesised tones is now described as techno, and by that definition, half the songs in the charts at the moment are of the genre! The problem I have is twofold when talking about techno: firstly, it isn’t my first choice of musical style by any means – I’m a fan of minimal, house, progressive, DnB, and Dubstep (pretty much anything that isn’t techno, actually; secondly, even if I did enjoy this music in a big way, I wouldn’t know whether the term techno would even be the right categorisation for them. Either way, I have a construct in my head about what techno music actually is, and I’m going to use this construct to come up with an in-no-particular-order list of songs that I particularly enjoy that straddle the no-man’s land between dance, house and techno, often being neither one nor the other fully, but possessing characteristics of any three or even all of the aforementioned genres. Sit tight, you may be about to see a strange mix of songs and genres here.
Aphex Twin – All Aphex Twin Songs (But Particularly Alberto Balsam)
It’s difficult to talk about electronic music without referring to the innovation and astounding originality of Aphex Twin. I know I’m cheating by not mentioning a specific favourite song but this artist is of a level of greatness that allows the bypassing of traditional rules. Many Aphex Twin tracks are as close to old-school techno in the modern day as you will get. If you look past the disturbing videos such as that for Windowlicker and listen to the music’s abundance of layers, you notice a definite progression in thickness throughout most of the songs, brilliant use of synthesisers and acoustic instruments, and production that can make each song sound simultaneously eerie or happily mellow, depending on what mood you’re in or what colour you yourself wish to put on the music.
Afrojack – Take Over Control
Such a leap to the commercial now with Afrojack, whose songs are more often than not bangers of the glorious kind, and Take Over Control is the perfect mix of electro-style house with a fantastic melody, strong vocals, and a generally catchy feel to the whole thing
Avicii – Levels
More and more commercial I go here, and with Avicii having several fingers in several musical pieces in the chart at the moment, most of you will likely scoff at the fact that I’m referencing commercial tunes here, but when a tune’s a tune, there’s nothing you can really do about it. I’m no pathetic hipster that dislikes a band or artist instantly if they become a commercial success regardless of their music; I enjoy the descending techno-like melody of Levels with the amazing vocals that soar in-between drops. I also like the Skrillex remix too: you mad?
Daft Punk – Aerodynamic
Before their recent swing back to the era of disco with the massive hit Get Lucky, Daft Punk were legendary in their propagation of unreasonably catchy tunes with an electronic twist. Aerodynamic is still their best song to date, if only for the breakdown where some not-very-technical but melodically brilliant guitar tapping builds the song back up to crescendo. Genius.
LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem (bear with me here)
More music that has tickled the charts, but I’m not ashamed. I was over the tongue-in-cheek video before I even saw it to be honest, but it doesn’t change the fact that Party Rock Anthem catchy piece of largely-synthesised dance-ish music that packs a punch and always gets feet moving with its 3-note hook.
Duck Sauce – Barbara Streisand
Though this came and went faster than good weather in the UK, it’s difficult not to give credit for a song that can consist of a man saying “Barbara Streisand” intermittently whilst a wailing melody consisting of “ooooo’s” instersect it and still be considered great.
Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child
As the final song released before the group’s split, this song was always going to be liked by its fans, but the vocals – which think nothing of raising the hairs on the back of your neck – combine with a fantastic melody that builds up and drops back down at just the right times. This is one of the more commercial house songs you’ll hear, but its melody and sound is almost flawless throughout and lyrics (https://genius.com/Swedish-house-mafia-dont-you-worry-child-lyrics) deep and meaningful. Check it out
Moonbeam – Stay With Me
A bit of Moonbeam to placate those of you that are crying tears of idiocy over the abundance of “commercial” tracks above now. Stay With Me is quite literally a song whose basis is a one-note melody that is perfect in rhythm, building up with vocals in true Moonbeam style and hitting us with that soft synth-like sound that is Moonbeam’s trademark
Moonbeam – Life Tree
Double artisting in a best-of song rundown? You’re damn right, and the reason for this is that Moonbeam are fantastic at what they do and should be more well-known for the songs that they have. Life Tree is a vocal-less (almost) track with Moonbeam melody that typifies the duo yet differentiates this song from the rest. Minimal house/trance at its best.