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Culture, Music

Glitch and Glühwein

by Yelena Calavera / Images by Clayton Mott / 16.07.2013

The Bristol Underground can eat its heart out. The basement at oDD is hiding a secret alcove of awesome. Squeezed into the crevice between two apartment blocks in Greenside is a tiny, hidden party den. Last Friday evening, oDD was like a petri dish for a new wave of EDM they like to call glitch.

Original Glühwein had set up a mobile watering hole. The imbibing of glorious mulled wine provided lubrication and imperviousness to the cold. Beyond the obvious marketing benefits of the alliteration, it turns out that ‘glitch’ and ‘glühwein’ are two phenomena that go incredibly well together. Without the latter, it would have been impossible, given the prevailing weather conditions, to enjoy the former. Without the former, the intimate group of revellers at oDD would just have been an aimless herd of alcoholics. Music gives us a brilliant cover for drinking, but I confess that it was the promise of some electro I can relate to which drew me out of hibernation on Friday night.

Although I have nothing against some good d n’ b or electro-swing, glitch is more relatable for me. It forms part of the greater space in my heart which is dedicated to IDM (a poncy term, meaning ‘intelligent dance music’). Glitch-hop is a further subdivision of glitch (although genrefication of electro is dubious at the best of times) which is more accessible to people who are not also part machine, like I am. For example, it is actually possible to dance to glitch-hop.

Glitch-proper (like Access to Arasaka) is a very cerebral experience, best reserved for solitary indulgence and deep introspection or tripping out and dripping down the walls. It’s not the sort of thing you put on at a gig to get the crowd jamming at full power. I would, but I’d be alone on the dance floor and no one wants to be that person.

Gluhwein and Glitch

I’ll give you an idea of what the hell I’m talking about. Glitch is a form of electronic music that emerged in the 90s. Its defining feature is the repetitive use of the sonic artefact (unwanted sonic material resulting from the editing of a sound). Sources of this sound can be anything from a CD skipping to the sound of malfunctioning digital machinery. The movement first arose in Germany, but quickly spread.

Artists like Aphex Twin and Autechre helped define the genre. Samples of pre-recorded stuff is spliced together and layered over a beat which consists of glitch sounds. Often, glitch makes use of polyrhythms to create a multi-layered texture. An hour of listening to an artist like edIT will make you feel as though your brain has been infiltrated and massaged in every possible way. Yay polyrhythm! Bringing you eargasms for over a decade.

So here we’re going to get a tad technical. Glitch hop is an offshoot of glitch that has hybridised with hip hop. It’s taking off in the world scene in a massive way. See what I did there? Its appeal for me is in how it’s both cerebral and danceable. It gives me the dirty, grungy feeling I get when I listen to bigbeat or breakbeat — I need this to get my kicks — and it also manages to keep me intrigued in the way that the regurgitated wub of some dubstep fails so dismally to do.

Glitch and Gluhwein paintings

There’s more to this sound, and you don’t have to dance like you’re in the throes of an ether binge or recovering from recent zombification to connect with it. An act like The Glitch Mob will give you a good idea of what this sound is all about in its more commercial form. Neurohop is a similar persuasion of sound — the love child of hip hop and neurofunk drum n’ bass.

Tech rant aside, what it all means is that there is a new player in Jozi. We are in the middle of an electronic music renaissance! I’m looking forward to seeing how the glitch – and neurohop following grows and I’m stoked that there is more delicious EDM gracing the airwaves.

If you are interested in experiencing the sound of glitch-hop for yourself, the Living Room in Maboneng throws monthly parties (Photosynthesis). It’s run by a rad crowd of maniacs, which is always a bonus.

And remember to take your barbiturates, kids. It’s definitely that sort of sound.


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