Thursday August 10, 2017

The Wire: Remixing, sequencing and the drum machine


Listen to Full Episode 53:58

We depend on machines that use electricity — from our cars to our cellphones to our computers to the overhead light. It's no surprise that more machines are making our music. Music that's made entirely of machines can be intimidating because of the dizzying array of sub-categories. But among these is the paradoxically human-machine, techno-organic, cool-sexy, booty-shaking beat-world of electronic dance music. 

The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music first aired on CBC Radio in 2005. Each episode tells the story of how electricity changed music in the 20th century, focusing on a particular new technology. On Episode 6, it's the drum machine. The series was a 2005 Peabody Award winner.

The Wire is presented by Jowi Taylor.

**Note: this series is not available for download and is available for listening in Canada only due to music copyright restrictions. 

Remixing, Sequencing and the Drum Machine
"Did you know that in 1972, Pete Townsend made a 10 minute demo on an ARP synthesizer? It was dedicated to his guru, Baba Meher but it was composed as a tribute to the American minimalist composer Terry Riley. By the time I heard it – or most people heard it – it had been shortened and hitched to a song called Teenage Wasteland. They showed up together on Who's Next as Baba O'Riley. As much as I love that song, I just wanted that opening synth pattern to go on and on and on – I wish I'd known about that demo bootleg. It seemed like most times you heard the synthesizer, it was some sort of effect or colour or gimmick tacked onto something else. Maybe things would have been a little different if I'd grown up in Germany. I wouldn't have had to wait until Autobahn or the soundtrack to The Sorcerer to discover Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Now, I go into the record store and there are walls and walls of CDs made entirely on synthesizers, samplers and sequencers. It's my own Tangerine Dream come true." – Jowi Taylor

Guests in this episode:

  • Richie Hawtin, also known as Plastikman, is a Canadian electronic musician and DJ who was a key member of the Detroit techno scene in the 1990s and is renowned worldwide for his contributions to techno.
  • Barbara Bonfiglio, also known as Misstress Barbara, is an Italian-born dance music DJ, electronic music producer and songwriter based in Montreal.
  • Paul McCabe is a longtime executive with Roland Corporation, the musical instrument company that created the TB-303 bass synthesizer and TR-808 drum machine.
  • Beth Lesser ia a Toronto-based photographer, journalist, reggae historian and biographer. During the 1980s, she co-published Reggae Quarterly Magazine with David Kingston.
  • Dave Kingston is a Toronto-based broadcaster and reggae DJ who hosted Reggae Showcase on CKLN.
  • DJ Leanne is a Vancouver-based DJ and electronic music promoter who created The Rhythm Institute, the first DJ school in Western Canada. 

The following tracks were used in this episode:

  • New Order - Blue Monday - single (1983)
  • King Tubby - Dub the Rescue - Dub Gone Crazy: The Evolution of Dub at King Tubby's 1975-1979
  • Tangerine Dream - Stratosfear - Stratosfear (1976)
  • Kraftwerk - Franz Schubert - Trans-Europe Express (1977)
  • Kraftwerk - Endless Endless - Trans-Europe Express (1977)
  • Madonna - Music - Music (2000)
  • Richie Hawtin - excerpts from E9: Closer to the Edit (2001)
  • Phuture - Acid Tax - single (1978)
  • 808 State - Timebomb - Gorgeous (1992)
  • Richie Hawtin & Peter Namlook - Homeward Bound - From Within I (1994)
  • Groove Armada - Superstylin' - Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) (2001)
  • Inner CIty - Follow Your Heart - single (1992)

The Wire Episode 6 Remix was produced by Rise Ashen. The series is produced by Chris BrookesPaolo Pietropaolo and Jowi Taylor. It originally aired March 14, 2005 on CBC Radio 1.