What is left to write about electronic music these days if it doesn’t have a meaning or finesse and thinness in mind? I’m partially sharing Uwe Schmidt‘s opinion on the questioning of the state of “electronic music” today when he says that “there is way too much of the same out there, and stuff that surprises me is rare”. We are facing to a bygone time, a time in which imagination has been subjected by technology and information, which can probably have a stressful effect or allow laziness into creation. Rarely does anything surprise me or attract my attention to the point that I feel compelled to write about it. I was lucky enough to experience the “electronic revolution” in Belgium (one of the cradles of this revolution) in the late 80s, early 90s. At that time, a lot of new things, stuffs we’d never heard before, were coming, mainly through the nightclubs but also through independent labels. A lot of new things created by artists who were working with limited material that they had on hand. Exploring or transforming their instruments deep into the smallest corners, using imagination to create the “incident” that provoked the encounter with the “unknown”.. Today, the technical possibilities and information are, either infinite, too large or too fast. And a good number of labels are today run like major companies, imposing “one-shot products” that no one will recall in 20 years, unlike the cultural backbone that my generation knows, which is in risk of disappearing under the empire of this new generation, submitting to an Imperialist Pop [“Sonic invasion, from nation to nation. Gaga, Gomez, Timberlake, Give us a F***ing break!”]. Is that what’s holding back and/or avoiding a much-needed “revolution” today? One thing’s for sure, The revolution will not be online ..
So committing to speak, or at least trying to present some of Uwe Schmidt’s work without knowing his entire career path, may seem a bit reckless. Indeed, the artist uses more than 60 pseudonyms and his thirst for creation does not allow a short cut without missing essential points. Not knowing his entire career path, I procrastinated and I decided…if I chose to talk about Uwe Schmidt today, it’s because it goes beyond the musical approach. It’s about the person who expresses his path, his cultural baggage and perhaps also his observations through his music. My first intention is, and always will be, to make you want to press play, spread the sound, and eventually support the artist by buying his work. So, it is with great humility and respect that I chose (to try) to stick to only one of the 60 pseudonyms Uwe Schmidt uses, Atom™, and I’m gonna tighten it up further to just 2 albums, both released by Raster, HD and <3 with which I will try to introduce you to Uwe Schmidt. (please, press on the linked words to Listen to)
After the HD album, released in 2013 on the German label, Atom™ triggers today a new “decoding” with <3, which is extended by the prolongation of the “man-machine”, X1N, [an entity for generating human voice and natural language content]. This time, the decoding becomes more like a series of verbal equations in which the “unknown” surfs on hidden or encoded puns. A real process of reflection, which you will have to put together yourself in order to come up with an answer. One that you will, however, question again tomorrow.. [THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ONE AND NONE IS N], Repeating the end of the album, when Almost a Unit is reached (0.9), back to the beginning in [the ongoing chain of cycles, going down one by one], as the Mantra of an alphanumeric Death. [the 0.999..∞ , infinite number line never reaches ONE, yet is ONE, NONEtheless].
But the decoding doesn’t stop at a mathematical haze, and focuses this time on a decryption only accessible to musicians, which use modular synth or drum machine. The title Tech Talk on the album <3, gathers a whole series of acronyms such as LFO (Low-frequency oscillation), VCO (voltage-controlled oscillator), VCA ( Voltage Controlled Amplifier), DCA (Which is born when digital boards came into being. It basically does the same thing, only digitally, no voltage controlled).. Tech Talk is Schmidt’s conversation with his technology, his declaration of love for his instruments, and his prayer…[I need your voice, close to my ears, I want to hear you.. Tech Talk.. you, Talk]. [give me a Sin, Give me a Tri, Give me a Saw, Don’t be Squarre..]. Sin, Tri, Saw and Squarre being all Waveforms.. it’s probably not for nothing that the title AC Boy-DC Girl is directly after Tech Talk. It’ s the essential “conductor” of all this technology, electricity (AC being the acronym of Alternative Current, and DC the acronym of Direct Current). And at the same breath, the perfect sequel to the track Strom on the HD album [ Musik gemacht aus Strom.. (Strom means electricity) ]
With his 60 Pseudonyms, uwe Schmidt unfolds his cultural baggage, exploring the bases of our contemporary musical heritage in a sometimes sharp, but above all straightforward way. Picking up here and there “citations” (clichés) that only those over 40 will recognize. Exploring every nook and cranny of electronic music with such ease that it seemed almost indescribable, from drum and bass to hard techno, from rock to funck, from blues to R&B or from jazz to Latinos rhytmic themes under the cryptic Señor Coconut. He revisits also the whole range of Synth-pop, giving back its true value to the fundamental pillars of our declining culture. He covers in a flamboyant way the track My Generation by The Who, without using any Samples and lifts a blending of Krautrock with an Early Blues in a form ready for a new millennium with the Sound of Decay. Under the alias of LB, he revisits other great “classics” such as Bowie, Lennon or The Roling Stones. But if you dig hard enough, you’ll find other “clichés”, Braun being one of my favorite.
The German artist / Chilian by choice, appears a bit like a cultural enigma under his numerous pseuonyms. But the one Atom™ interpellate me on 2 points. The one of ™ (Trademark), an irony undoubtedly towards today’s imposing and dictatorial music industry, to which he seems to respond, in the nonchalance of an imperturbable cadence by saying: Ich bin meine Maschine. ( Ja SAM sluga, Ja SAM rabotnik ).. And if you allow me this extrapolation, or supposition, wouldn’t the choice of the letters ATOM be a tribute to one of the threads that will probably never let Uwe Schmidt go, Kraftwerk? *Kraftwerk – Power Station – Nuclear – Atom – Radioactivity..
Besides this, Uwe Schmidt took part in the conception of a track with Florian Schneider, the recently passed away co-founder of Krafwerk, when a group of creative minds from around the world have teamed up for “Parley for the Oceans”, a campaign that aims to be “a space where creators, leaders and thinkers come together to raise awareness of the beauty and fragility of our oceans and collaborate on projects that can stop their destruction”. Together, with Dan Lacksman of Telex, they then created the title “Stop Plastic Pollution”.
So, HD and <3 are musically very different. But after the effort of decoding, and even if the artist lets his boundless creativity speak out, for pure pleasure, as he did in his collaboration with Jamie Lidell with I love you (wink to Herbie Hancock), Uwe Schmidt’s sharpness of mind reveals the obvious conclusion that in these two albums (at the very least), various messages are being sent to us. His undoubted observation, on a society partially lobotomized by a numeric and media-tic distorted truth, [With reality as a useful fiction] in which an empty television (hear MTV) acts as a cultural soporific… and his suggestion might be, of Ridding the void on the Dance Floor, in all the Simplicity of a waltz..
And, wouldn’t it be Time 2 kill what we have created to ease our burden, which is taking control of our lives today…
Today and takling about HD and <3, the artist who is missing art that does not care about the market, the media, the critics, the value, but truly just cares about itself, seems to have plently of work ahead. Because, if art allows different approaches, whether it can be interpreted or reinterpreted, if it can be a trigger in any field whatsoever, it is because it has depth. And so we’ll keep talking about it…
Uwe Schmidt is a cultural equation that doesn’t require any response, it’s self-sufficient.
Bravo! You’ve successfully completed this decoding.. Here’s A Message to The Consumer
Atom TM_Audio_Archive : Bandcamp