Electronic music is not the first thing that pops into the minds of those casually following Austin music.
The city is blessed with a reputation as a community focused on guitar driven composition. From Spoon to Explosions in the Sky, Spray Paint, Marcia Ball, Gary Clark Jr. or The 13th Floor Elevators, Austin has a rich history of artists who have made lasting marks on the landscape of rock music. However, after the much deserved critical acclaim and positive public reception for local composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein electronic score for Netflix’ surprise hit Stranger Things, all of that is about to change, placing Austin’s synth scene squarely into public view.
It may appear the spotlight on Austin’s electronic cene happened over night but in truth it’s steadily grown due to the steady hard work of individuals within the municipality. East Side synthesizer boutique Switched On has acted as a salon for local DJs and hardware enthusiasts to talk shop with knowledgeable staff providing hands on access to vintage equipment. Stranger Things composers Dixon and Stein have a main gig with S U R V I V E, recently signing to Relapse Records with a new album arriving in the Fall. They have been in the local club circuit for years garnering a devoted local fan base from their all hardware (think a live action synth porn Tumblr page) Kraftwerk-esque live performances. S U R V I V E member Adam Jones helms Austin record label Holodeck Records specializing in local gems representative of the wide spectrum of the area.
Exploded Drawing draws from the city’s rich DJ culture putting on fantastic footwork bills and South Austin End Of An Ear Records stocks releases from local labels Monofonus Press, Somatic, Pleasure Cruise Press, and Elevator Bath just to name a few. A burgeoning DIY techno culture has emerged placing highly regarded DJs and Hardware specialists in the public view courtesy of the hard work of Sasha Cwalino and her beautifully themed parties. Cwalino is an acclaimed visual artist and DJ within Austin in her own right bringing together the different strains of house to the ears of the community.
To be honest, this is a cliff notes version of the Austin electronic scene, the history goes pretty deep but that’s for a different article that someone should definitely write and explore. I made a list of ten Austin electronic artists that I feel represent the wide spectrum of the city’s sound.
Personally, I have way more than ten Austin artists I am a fan of but I was asked to name ten so I’m sticking to the requested format. If I didn’t include an artist, please don’t take offence, it was hard to whittle the list down to just ten. The references I provide in my “for fans of” section are meant as a compliment and I’m a fan of the artists I’ve listed. Take a listen!
- - -
Austin’s answer to DFA, disco and electro pop. For fans of Juan MacLean, LCD Soundsystem, and Junior Boys.
How I Quit Crack
The dynamic duo of Chris and Tina creating a haze of chopped and screwed goth pop. For fans of Mushy, Mariah Carey, and Mater Susperia Vision.
Acclaimed video director Melissa Cha and ghost guitarist Ryan Garl running down foggy Marxist hills of certain doom. For fans of HTRK, Suicide, and Hype Williams.
Josh Mills’ modular pop through the eyes of a lonely heart throb. For fans of Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, and Front 242.
Hardware techno wizard that spans almost every sub-genre of the game while bringing a fresh approach. For fans of Andy Stott, Aphex Twin, and 808 State.
What more could be said for the father of Austin electronics?!?! Do yourself a favour and familiarize yourself with one of the few records to get a full five-star review from Tiny Mix Tapes. For Fans of Hafler Trio, Klaus Schulze, and John Duncan.
This guy is our resident genius synth-punk. For fans of Ariel Pink, DEVO, and Screamers.
If Elizabeth Frazer fired the rest of her original band and replaced them with DJ Screw backing tracks (and doom). For fans of Boris, Cocteau Twins, and Anne Clark.
Even further down the spiral with spaghetti western doom amidst electribe-sampled despair. For fans of NIN, Lycia, and Raime.
Net-concrete falling down a flight of wave table stairs. For fans of Oneohtrix Point Never, Holly Herndon, and James Ferraro.
- - -
Xander Harris' new album 'California Chrome' will be released on September 23rd.