‘Electrospective’ traces 50 years of electronic music

Say you’re a young electronic music fan, whose entry point into the genre was a David Guetta pop production or Skrillex’s face-shearing bass drop festivals. Say you get your hands on “Electrospective,” a new compilation of electronic music culled from the vaults of EMI that spans the genre’s 50-year history, and cue its first track -- the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s original theme to “Doctor Who.”

You might say, “Good Lord, what is this?” And that reaction would be the point of “Electrospective.”

“There’s an entire generation whose access point to electronic music is Skrillex, and they need to know the contributors that got us here,” said Jason Bentley, the music director at KCRW-FM (89.9), who hosts a long-form series of electronic-music interviews tied to the compilation and co-presents a party to celebrate it on Tuesday at Hollywood’s AV Nightclub. “The new surge at the pop level has given us an opportunity to educate and shine a light on the innovators.”

The compilation and wider interview series of “Electrospective” provides a master class in music-production history, tracing it from Daphne Oram’s midcentury BBC sound experiments to Brian Eno’s ambient studies. But with tracks from Guetta and Swedish House Mafia, it also embraces the ways electronic music has morphed with pop and dance music over decades into the defining sound of youth culture today.


The Tuesday party, which also coincides with the one-year anniversary of the dance magazine Magnetic, hosts DJ sets from HARD Events founder Gary Richards (under his Destructo alias) and house maven DJ Colette -- representative of the dual schools of popular and exploratory electronica that “Electrospective” documents.

Bentley’s interview series has already included Mute Records founder Daniel Miller and Miike Snow, the wonkier project from dance-pop producers Bloodshy & Avant. The back catalog of EMI is a particularly rich vein to tap for the series. Even as a major, the label has long championed electronica pioneers such as Eno, Daft Punk and the Pet Shop Boys that laid tracks for today’s mainstream rave staples.

Partying and education need not be mutually exclusive, and in a genre relentlessly looking for a new rush, there’s true pleasure in marveling at the foresight of electronica’s inventors.

“It’s natural that the scene is having an identity crisis right now,” Bentley said. “But the strength of this music is that it’s always been so future-minded.”



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