These days electronic music has become so easy to make via a decent computer that even a stay at home mom can earn her associates degree in EDM. And though this may sound like a joke, which of course it is, it is also a blunt reality. This is not to say that making electronic music is easier than making music with live instruments. It may perhaps be even harder. For as all true fans of electronic music know, the genre is rather large and has multiple sub-genres and within those sub-genres there are still more sub-genres and so on and so forth so much so that it resembles the Darwinian classification system.
The artist in question here is Tom LaSala, who makes post-industrial psychedelic music under the name Electric Caves. His latest release History Of Illusion touches on many issues which have been a great concern to many Americans over the past few years, mainly the war on terror, the occupy movement and the larger concern for where the world is heading in general, and the concern that where it is heading is toward a post-apocalyptic future.
The History of Illusion liner notes carry the quote, "The warning is that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose their most human qualities, will become soulless automatons and will not even be aware of it." Yet darkness and post-apocalyptic warnings aren’t just some shtick Electric Caves is using to try and build up a sense of mystery behind the music. LaSala explains that after the release of 2011’s Solace Furnace Transformation an album that “cracked into diverse homes from within government whistleblowers, environmental groups, anarchists and the entheogen community alike.” And that “upon networking within those communities, Electric Caves has been invited as an artist to participate in Horizons: Perspectives On Psychedelics, Hour Of The Time’s East Coast Researchers Conference, Occupy Wall St. NYC’s Think-Tank, The NYC Anarchist Book Fair, and the distressed rust-belt town of Braddock, PA.”
The opening track “Oversocialized” is cold and uses a blend of deep dark synths that reverberate slowly and eerily and intertwines them with lighter, wispier sounding synths and later incorporates haunting machine-generated vocal growls. The pace begins to pick up on “Visualize Industrial Collapse” on which the classic industrial oil drum echoed beats are heavily pounded out in a tribal styled rhythm like hammers against hot iron. As the song progresses a head bobbing electric electric guitar riff bleeds in adding a much-needed human dynamic.
The track “War on Terror” opens with a sample of the character Howard Beale’s rant from the movie Network and also a looped sample of President Obama saying, “How is the war on terror won?” It is by all means both catchy and poppy, though also very smart.
“Lawful Levitate” is the most danceable track with up-tempo hollow and industrial drum beats, icy sounding synths and a sample from the television show “True Detective.” The last track, “Pacifier” opens with a bit from a George Carlin routine about how the world is owned by big business and then moves slowly into cold synth sounds and bits of bongo-styled drumbeats. Just past the five-minute mark a quietly strummed acoustic guitar comes in and LaSala begins to sing softly bringing the album to a strange close.
History of Illusion is an often cold and desolate sounding record, though it also has moments of classic and catchy electronic beats and loops. However it is likely that many people who are politically unconscious or for whom the world of electronic music is not something they gravitate towards will find History of Illusion a disturbing and ear shattering manifesto created by a crazy person, much like the clean cut hard working Americans of the sixties dismissed the message of peace and love that the hippies were trying to preach. Though had they listened then History of Illusion never would have been made. Perhaps history is meant to repeat itself, if solely for the purpose of making art.
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