Certain genres of music seem to age less well than others. For better or worse, they seem more firmly tied to the time of their creation: they feel dated. To some degree electronic music suffers this way. Could be that the heavy reliance on technology — whose pace of change is rapid and discernible even to non-aficionados — is to blame. Could be that electronic music exhibits a higher percentage of amateurism because the barriers to entry are perhaps lower than other genres (got a turntable? a computer? just a tape recorder? you’re good to go). Or maybe it is because the bewildering matrix of sub-genres — trance, sythnpop, nu jazz, gabba, drill and bass, illbient, house, IDM, they grow like fractal screensavers — disallows a unified sound that can transcend the moment.
But I generalize. The best of any genre bubbles to the top, remains fresh, and rewards the listener who lets it age. In 1994 under the name Vapourspace, Mark Gage released the symphonic hour-long Themes from Vapourspace and its 35-minute little brother variation Gravitational Arch of 10. This LP and EP were by far the most important to me of the 1990’s, forking the road in my musical appreciation into a few different branches. Vapourspace showed that one could remain magnetically neutral and musically inventive sliding between the poles of four-on-the-floor club techno and bleep bloop experimental electronica.
Recently Gage posted an excerpt of Gravitational Arch of 10 from a 1994 soundcheck in Switzerland on his website. I was struck by how fresh it sounds, even now. Gage was ahead of his time in 1994, but not 11 years ahead of his time. He just got it right, moved beyond labels, and made a thing of beauty. The original albums are out of print, I believe, so look hard for ’em. This vintage is just maturing.