Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Listening Post

Remember when electronica was supposedly going to be the next big thing?

Although the genre certainly made its mark in television commercials, and continues to, it never really became the blow-out musical trend here in the states that many had predicted. (When you think about it, the overhyping of something as generally soulless as the electronic movement could only have coincided with the overhyping of an impending cyberpunk zeitgeist like Y2K and could only have served as a backlash to a musical trend as organic as early-90s rock.)

Despite electronica's largely unfulfilled promise, there were a few acts that gained a respectable level of much-deserved crossover success (Moby, The Crystal Method, The Chemical Brothers, Underworld). But there was one that not only made an impact, but always could've and should've been the dominant bridge between the powerhouse fury of punk and rock, and the DJ-driven hip-hop and dance beats of electronica.

The Prodigy.

Liam Howlett, Keith Flint, Maxim Reality and Leeroy Thornhill represented more than just the usual "Two Turntables and a Microphone"; they were a real band -- the Guns N' Roses of the techno scene. Unlike many of their counterparts, they were as bone-crushingly heavy and powerful as they were danceable. Their live show in particular was a visceral experience on par with seeing any band that boasted a phalanx of guitars and a wall of Marshall stacks.

The Prodigy was always electronica for people who didn't much like electronica.

The "band" still exists, despite DJ Liam Howlett's decision to essentially go it alone in recording the 2004 album Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. Howlett, along with Keith and Maxim are now in the studio recording a new Prodigy record, but I have a feeling that nothing will ever top the sheer mind-blowing ferocity of their breakout release -- 1997's The Fat of the Land.

Here's The Prodigy's second single from that album, one of my all-time favorite songs: Breathe.

And of course, the clip that MTV once called "The Most Controversial Video Ever Made." Director Jonas Akerlund's explicit masterpiece of first-person sickness, misogyny, wanton aggression and illegal indulgence -- all topped off with the greatest final-shot twist in music video history: Smack My Bitch Up.


trish said...

Smack my Bitch Up...


Lauren said...


24crayons said...

My younger NYC savvy cousin tells me that LadyTron is Electronica... I'm really not convinced.

Monique said...

Haha that video taught me how to snort coke.

Manda said...

Used to drive around blaring "Smack by Bitch Up"-the whole album really- in my cutsie silver New Beetle.

I miss Prodigy.

Davy said...

You Americanos' obsession with TFOTL... They were well over their peak by 1997. Voodoo People, Fire and of course Out Of Space are their killers.

Besides, you should be more proud of your electronica artists. Honestly.

Chez said...

You're one of those guys who always insists on one-upping people on the obscure-o-meter, aren't you?

No matter what somebody says he or she likes, you can always be counted on to dismiss it and claim to know better, right?

Asserts your integrity maybe?

Look Davy, that kind of thing doesn't make you look cool; it just makes you look like you're trying to look cool.

And that kinda makes you suck.

Davy said...

So does double posting, but I wasn't trying to one-up you on the obscur-o-meter. I thought with the internet and all, earlier work of these Brits would be more easily accessible in the States. Apparently not, or it is not very well received. Pity.

Lemme rephrase, then: I can recommend you their earlier works.

And there's no shame in being an electronica artists.

Closing Note: You have a nice blog and I like reading it.

Chez said...

Oh you so got me. Fair enough.

And I'm familiar with the older stuff. Like it quite a bit actually. If you catch me in the morning I'm surly -- sorry.