This post is in the theme “A Long Waltz Through Nerddom”. Read the first.
August 12, New York: Techno represented a brief but important period for me musically. As a teenager, after watching Hackers, my best friend Chris and I went through a major techno phase. When it came to the Thirty-Three Project, I wanted to pick one album that was emblematic of that time. There was a lot to choose from: Prodigy, Lords of Acid, Underworld, Orbital. The thing is, Orbital is kind of the best. It’s always kind of the best. There’s something about “Halcyon + On + On” that gets me every single time.
Funny enough, my experience of 1990s techno never involved drugs or dancing in a rave or glow sticks of any kind. It was all computer games and carpeted, air-conditioned bedrooms and driving around in cars feeling cool as shit. Maybe that’s why Orbital is best representative of that period for me— it was headphone music, not dance music.
I actually think the Thirty-Three Project was the first time I ever stitched together the worlds of 1990s rave culture that influenced my life, keeping in mind that I never went to a rave in the 1990s. (Okay, a handful when I was in college, but it was a frat boy scene by that time.) There was a whole subculture which I experienced in multiple facets, but of which I was never a full participant. I’m sure part of that was geographic isolation— not a lot of super-rad warehouse raves in the suburbs of Tampa Bay. But also, I came at this stuff as a real nerdy teenager. I didn’t like parties, I didn’t like drugs. I wanted to be a rollerblading computer hacker!
I don’t listen to a lot of techno these days (and certainly don’t listen to what the kids these days call EDM). But you know when it’s still really useful? When you have to put on a pair of headphones and hammer on a keyboard for a while. Not writing a fiction story, but solving problems with your fingertips! The only time I pull these albums out is when I open up CodeAcademy and try to teach myself some programming.
Check out some Orbital on the Rdio.