Off The Tracks aims at reversing the roles, offering a weekly contribution narrated by various artists inside or outside of the electronic music scene. Up next is the Danish producer and DJ Kölsch, long-time associate with Cologne-based label Kompakt, which will release his newest long player 1989, the final chapter of his LP trilogy that started with 1977 four years ago. For our essay series, Kölsch speaks out about today’s indifferent state of affairs regarding music and its averageness, and why he’s missing the art in techno.
Mediocrity seems to have infected our society. Everything mediocre is popular. Mediocre food, mediocre movies, mediocre music dominates our airways. Inspirational anti-gluten quotes, and pictures of müsli bowls dominate our social media feeds. Sadly, the same mediocre tendencies have infected our beautiful music scene.
In my humble beginnings as a producer and DJ in 1993, I felt part of a movement against this mainstream media. Feelings and political opinions were freely expressed through synthesizers and drum machines. White labels didn’t have artist names, and i would often travel many kilometers to hope to hear a DJ play a certain record, that i had no clue what it was.
Artists explored crazy artistic ideas. We had everything from vinyl smelling of perfume (Jeff Mills), strong political opinions (Underground Resistance), and tracks that had pictures instead of titles (Aphex Twin). All music was in free development. Everything sounded uniquely different, and every city had its own style of music. This is not to be understood as a rant about how it was better back in the days.
Granted, sound quality and ease of producing has revolutionized how people make music, and I would never go back to the cable spaghetti nightmare of re-routing a whole studio of hardware. Many great ideas were lost in the process of getting a MIDI set-up to work, so no thanks.