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by Philip Sherburne

August 6, 2014

Radio: Underground Electronic

by Philip Sherburne  |  August 6, 2014

We'll be the first to admit that "underground," as a musical descriptor, has kind of worn out its usefulness. It tends to say more about what a band or record is not than what it is -- not commercially motivated; not tailored to the tastes of the many; not readily accessible to non-initiates. And the term is often overused -- if the Swedish House Mafia's Steve Angello can lay claim to the "underground" mantle, as he occasionally does, you know something is amiss -- and it's also kind of irrelevant, at least insofar as it's meant to imply a judgment about quality. There's plenty of great commercial pop music, and there's plenty of bad "underground" music. Sometimes a record is unpopular for a good reason.

Nevertheless, it's hard to give up on "underground" entirely. It's so evocative, for one thing, what with its suggestions of basements and caverns and dank labyrinths far out of view. And the word has a definite know-it-when-you-hear-it usefulness, even if not everyone will always agree on what "it" is. In our Underground Electronic station, we take the broadest possible definition. You'll hear Detroit techno and old-school electro, classic deep house and 2-step garage, experimental ambient and modular noodling. Some of it's noisy and lo-fi; some of it gleams with a bright digital sheen. Swirled together, it makes the perfect aural accompaniment for fans of adventurous electronic music who just want to sit back and let someone else do the selecting for a while. Tune in, and you may hear Drexciya, Ricardo Villalobos, Blawan, Luke Abbott, SPK, The-Drum, Pantha Du Prince, Factory Floor, Rhythm & Sound and even some comparatively overground figures like Lindstrom or Air -- because even underground fans need to clear away the cobwebs every now and then.

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