Electronic: From Kraftwerk to Chemical Brothers is perhaps one of the most hyped up exhibitions of the moment. We can resoundingly tell you that this hype is totally justified. It will take you on a tantalising journey, delving deep into the historical, psychological and sociological significance of electronic music as a global phenomenon.
It’s also aesthetically pretty magnificent – a three-dimensional, multi-sensory experience that should shake you out of any numbness you might be feeling towards the world right now. It begins by charting the technological evolution of electronic music from the 1960s to now.
It’s fascinating to observe that many of the pioneers in this industry, described by the exhibition as ‘mad scientists of sound’, couldn’t look more opposite to the ‘Raver’ stereotype that reaps the rewards today. They are quite literally ‘geeks’ of sound, pictured with room-sized machines, glasses, suits and a soberingly serious stance.
Image: Design Museum
Daphne Oram is among these pioneers – her creation of the track Still Point utterly changed the game of electronic music in the 1920s – and instilled great awe, at the time, that a woman could spearhead something so ground-breaking.
As you wander through this exhibition, you’ll realise how central electronic music really is to popular culture and life. With references to so many of the great artists including New Order, Daft Punk, Jeff Mills, Bowie, Bjork, FKA Twigs – and so many iconic clubs – Berghain, Studio 54 and many more.
A fascinating motif that surfaces throughout the exhibition is that of man and the machine. The appeal of the robot is central to many electronic artists’ works, Kraftwerk’s in particular. You get the feeling that electronic music is, in a way, the bridge between man and machine – and at points an uncomfortable relationship is insinuated between the two.
Image: Design Museum
Certainly, a fundamental reason that humans connect with electronic music is due to the small electronic current that runs through our own bodies. The futurist sensibility of many of these artists begs the question of whether a future merging of humanity and technology would be such a bad thing. Indeed, many artists’ think that artificial intelligence could hold the key to electronic music of the future.
We don’t want to give away too much, but the final two audio-visual installations, designed by the collective 1024 Architecture and The Chemical Brothers respectively, are breath-taking. Even the background track list, as you meander round the exhibition, is impeccable. Come prepared – you will want to shazam those tunes.
This exhibition is probably the closest space you’ll get to a club nowadays. Be warned, it will awaken an undeniable heartbreak at the loss of the club scene right now. But that pain is totally worth it. And will also hopefully instil some excitement for times to come. Alongside a needed reminder that the rave days are not over, not just yet.
What do you miss most about going to an electronic music night? Let us know in the comments below. If you like our blog, you’ll love our Instagram.
For now, here’s some inspirational quotes to keep you going…
“Synthetic electronic sounds, industrial rhythms all round. Music non stop, techno-pop.” – Kraftwerk, 1986
“A happy face, a thumpin bass for a lovin’ race.’ – Soul II Soul UK, musical collective formed in London in 1988