There’s a good reason we park this columnist at the back of the mag. If you’re a reader who likes to start here, we are sorry. So very sorry
Stick your finger in a page of this magazine and you’ll poke any number of classic electronic music tropes. Banks of twitching lights tethered by a spaghetti of cables. Bespectacled women making sliced-up tape sound like spaceships. Cardiganed old men bothering circuit boards with soldering irons. This publication oozes electronic music like a septic gash oozes green pus. In a good way.
That said, there’s one thing every music magazine gets wrong. They hardly talk about 1999, the most important year in the history of synthesiser music. That’s right – 19-flipping-99. You can shove your 1974 and those ‘Autobahn’ guys, whatever their names were. You can keep your 1983 with that stupid ‘Blue Monday’ bass drum. Oh look, I’m the Eurythmics and I’m dreaming about sweets. Pfffrt. In the words of Sir Prince of Paisley Park, “Two thousand zero zero, party over, oops, out of time. So tonight, I’m going to take Fat Roland’s advice about 1999.”
It was the year when the horses happened. Remember? That advert with the horses. You remember the horses, right? The ones in the advert? In 1999? Old blokes go for a black and white surf in the sea. They’re in slow-motion because they’ve got stiff joints. A load of horses leap from the waves and force-feed them Guinness. All the while, Leftfield are sat in deck chairs off-camera playing ‘Phat Planet’ on an Apple Mac. I loved the horse advert.
Before 1999, commercials were full of rock music. Blokes whipped off their pants in launderettes accompanied by guitars with all the musicality of a clogged drain. This changed in 1999 when techno baked bean Moby released ‘Play’. From that moment on, every advert used a track from ‘Play’. Even adverts in the past. The Energizer bunny? Replaced by Moby. The Smash Martians? Replaced by Moby. A finger of Fudge? That’s Moby now. Everything is Moby.
In 1999, Aphex Twin made his most famous track ‘Windowlicker’. The beardy producer grew Photoshopped boobs and drove around in an impossibly long limousine. Everyone was doing that in 1999. Fatboy Slim charted in America with the sample-based ‘Praise You’, which I can only assume was about me. I discovered recently that Fatboy Slim used to be a house martin. All that synthesiser playing must have been murder on his poor little beak.
In 1999, the Chemical Brothers released their signature tune ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’. This featured a shout-out to superstar DJs. It’s nice to know Mr and Mr Chemical regarded mega-rich DJs with such affection, while shunning praise for normal DJs with modest incomes, all of who are scum and should be imprisoned for the rest of their lives. Wait. That was the message of the song, right?
Perhaps 1999’s greatest contribution to dance music was Flat Eric, a yellow puppet with a noddy head. Mr Oizo’s bass-heavy ‘Flat Beat’ made a star of that fluffy fellow, signalling to puppets everywhere that they too could be electronic music moguls. If Flat Eric had happened earlier, we maybe would have Sooty as an ambient pioneer, extolling the pleasures of “quiet music”, or Animal from The Muppets as the drum and bass star he so yearned to be. If you think about it, Flat Eric was the Robert Moog of 1999. Even more so if you don’t think about it.
It was a year that also had Eiffel 65 and Geri Halliwell and… er… that annoying ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’ song and… oh heck… the creepy ‘Mambo No 5’. Hold on a second. What am I saying? It was awful. A haemorrhage of history. This terrible year deserves no place in this magazine. Ignore everything I just wrote. Forget 1999, bring back 1974, I say.