..but by keyboardists.
I have always been passionate about electronika. I am also a pianist myself.
The combination of these two can easily explain my argument that keyboard players dominated the golden age of the 90’s electronika (and what followed that era) the same way violin players are considered to have the most vital role in a classical orchestra.
Recently, I was watching some electronic duos in which drummers replace drum machines in an attempt to make their sound more organic whist adding some flavour to their live performance act.
And that was the moment when a paradox, at least in my head, came to life. If you ask me for a list of songs that contain grooves I wish I had composed myself, most of them were written by keyboard players and not by drummers. While keyboard players are failing miserably to emulate guitars, brass etc they have managed to win the battle of composing beats against actual drummers.
Below are a couple of tracks that come to mind instantly without extensively browsing my playlists.
The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett was a pioneer in the 90’s breakbeat movement. Listen to the breakbeat in Diesel Power and particularly the break in 01.36. Magnificent.
Next in the list is Photek’s Hidden Camera. Released back in 1997, an Intelligent drum and bass groove that is just pure art.
When Trap took the reins from Dubstep, it gifted us with some very precious drops. Enjoy Baauer’s sick groove in his track Sow.
In the meantime Glitch artists are writing these JDilla flavoured beats, purposely unconventional and irresistible creative. Mono/poly’s Intergalactic is a perfect example. Make sure to listen to the full album “Cryptic” if you haven’t already. A pure gem.
To finish this list (which I tried to keep as small as possible resulting in leaving out a great number of genres) and expanding outside Electronika just to make my point, Hip Hop delivers over the years countless beat driven bangers. Once again will select 2 main players, Lex Luger’s TTG that represents the powerful side of Trap and Metro Boomin’s Aww Man that is more chill.
Obviously the approach of a guy behind a machine is totally different. Step recording. Quantization (or the intentional absense of it). The ability to add multiple layers. The extreme range of available sounds. They list goes on and on. But the argument is still there..
No offence to drummers. But when I think of beats, a guy behind a drum machine is the first thing that comes to my mind. Prove Me Wrong!
***Feature image by NicolePina