Electronica: A Genre Unto Itself

And finally, "Electronica" is an annoying new name for the sort of electro-music that's been a rock-and-pop staple at least since the mid-seventies, when the German band Kraftwerk erupted out of Dusseldorf with their "man-machine" act. Today, this music constitutes a genre unto itself, as was demonstrated during last week's "CMJ New Music Marathon" here in New York. At the CMJ concert, such burble-and-tweet acts as Crystal Method, Fluke, Sneaker Pimps, and the venerable Aphex Twin headlined their own show, and we were there.

JON FUGLER, Fluke: It's a live thing. It's about being large, L-A-R-G-E.

RACHEL STEWART, Fluke: It is totally about being large.

MTV: As once faceless electronica artists leap from the underground to the mainstream, their stage shows and their personas are swelling. As the scene shifts from clubs to more visual media outlets, acts like Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers are gaining success by putting their best face forward -- leaving some

purists wondering if the music is taking a back seat to the look.

KEN JORDAN, The Crystal Method: I think that is a lot of B.S. When we were growing up and we liked a band, we liked to know more about them. What they looked like, how they dress, what is their favorite TV show. I think that is natural.

LIAM HOWE, Sneaker Pimps: I think that pop music has always been about personality and the music -- it has been the combination of the two.

JORDAN: We're not doing anything to jump out and be publicity hounds, but at the same time, we aren't hiding either. We are not wearing masks.

MTV: No, that would be the French duo, Daft Punk. They lead a legion of reclusive artists who are intent on remaining faceless in the press and in their videos.

HOWE: To be anonymous and kind of dance-oriented is kind of exciting on an underground level. But when it comes to actually selling records, we try to have a personality and try to have integrity.


And while it may be true that image helps sell records, it's still the music, not the marketing, that matters most.

JORDAN: Labels or publicists or promo people, they really think that they have to set up everything and tell people before they hear it that it is going to be this and it is going to be that... But okay, you play the music and it's like yeah, it's cool.

FAN: I really don't care how they look on stage. What comes out, comes out, and if it makes you move, it makes you move.

FAN 2: The music like goes through my whole body and I love it. The noise it is beautiful.

RICHARD, Aphex Twin: I just always considered myself as a mutant mucking around in his bedroom. That is what I will always see myself as. I have just somehow managed to make a really good career out of it.

Electro... whatever. That about wraps it up for this edition of "The Week In Rock." Do join us next week when we'll be celebrating our tenth anniversary, if you can believe

it, with LL Cool J and the most unbelievable book of the year by rock relic Kenny Loggins. We'll see you then.