Amoeba blobby thing

When our so-called columnist gets ideas above his station, we hang him upside down in the stationery cupboard for a bit. We forgot we’d put him there this month. He went a bit odd, can you spot the difference?

Illustration: Joel Benjamin

I am simple, like a game of Snap, or a potato. Some people are layered like onions. I don’t have layers, that’s why I’m a potato. Not even a potato salad with a modicum of chive – just a basic spud. I lost the game of Snap analogy pretty quickly there. That’s how simple I am.

Not that I don’t have complex emotions: sometimes I get confused and very confused in one day. But if you were to draw a hierarchy of organisms, it would go like this: Homo sapiens > monkeys > turtles > trout > limpets > some kind of amoeba blobby thing > Fat Roland. I think that’s why I like electronic music. Unlike knobbly weird instruments like saxophones, keyboards are straightforward. There are only eight notes, which are called A, B, C, F and some other letters. You don’t even have to play the black notes if you don’t want.

This also means I’m easily pleased. You know how babies laugh when you jangle keys at their face? Waggle the fob to your Astra, and I will instantly gurgle hot spittle with unbridled joy. Electronic music producers have their own version of key-jangling. It’s a technique called the build-up. You’ll recognise the effect. Play some EDM on your gramophone, and before long you’ll hear a snare roll and sweeping synth rise to a giddy climax – and then a fat beat drops to drive the dancefloor crazy. Build-up drums go something like this: Snare snare snare snare, snare snare snare snare, snaresnare snaresnare snaresnare snaresnare, snaresnare snaresnare snaresnare snaresnare, snasnasnasna snasnasnasna snasnasnasna snasnasnasna, snsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsn… pause for dramatic effect, then… biddly boom! biddly boom! biddly boom! biddly boom!

I’m all for the density of Merzbow or Mahler, but nothing trumps a big, dumb build-up. The satisfaction is instant. It’s like being injected in the eye with chocolate gateau, but in a good way. It’s like minding your own business watching ‘The Apprentice’ in your pants, then Deadmau5 sudden clambers down your throat to tickle your belly from the inside. Again, in a good way. Jangle jangle jangle.

In the sweaty world of EDM, Martin Garrix’s ‘Animals’ sets the standard. For those unaware of him, Garrix is a teen prodigy of dance music, like Mozart, but without the powdered wigs. This chart-topping track rockets into the sky, all banging snares and zapping synths, and after he mutters something about us all being flipping animals, the beat hits harder than a skydiving hippo. To return to my original analogy, it’s total spud.

Modern build-ups date back to the 1990s, the decade that gave us the acid orgasm of Josh Wink’s ‘Higher State Of Consciousness’. Hardfloor turned build-ups into a party trick, morphing the Guinean sunshine of Mory Kanté’s ‘Yé Ké Yé Ké’ into a pneumatic club smash. However, go back a bit further and the trail runs cold.

Before rave, all the 1980s had to offer were cheese-drizzled chord changes and Phil Collins chucking his snare drums from a second-floor window. Not so much a key-jangle, as a lost-my-keys-has-anyone-seen-my-keys.

I am simple, like an oblong, or an instruction manual for a lamp. My needs are basic: food, water, trousers, big chunky moments in music that make me dance like a twerp. And because you’re reading an electronic music magazine, I suspect you’re simple too. You’re a game of Snap. You’re C major. You’re Sunday afternoon. You’re a wonderful potato just like me.

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