With EDM as popular as it is nowadays, it’s sometimes tough to remember that not all electronic music is dance music. To wit: electronic music started out as science more than anything else, with French engineers recording train sounds on loops via wax cylinders in the 1890s. Electronica wasn’t even considered dance music as recently as the 70s, where Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno and even Kraftwerk were considered more wacky extensions of rock at best and just experimental noise at worst.
Now, more ambient and experimental electronica is seen as a part of EDM in the broader sense, but it often comes from a very different place than the average house, trap or even downtempo producer. Mike Sayre is an electronic musician who follows more in the footsteps of Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream and, more accurately, Philip Glass when making his interesting ambient creations. Sayre is a classically trained French horn player and composer, and he also holds a degree in Digital Media, which sort of explains his penchant for electronica. In his new EP, Music for Icebergs, however, more is revealed about his electronic composition as he takes the listener through the journey of the glaciers, with a subtle commentary on climate change and global warming.
While many of the tracks on Music for Icebergs seem like little more than ambient wind, cracking ice and a few musical notes here and there, one track stands out as more melodic and evocative. “Floes/Flows” opens with lots of ambient nature sounds just like the others on the album, and the listener will get the impression that they are in some sort of ice cave, hearing the cracking of massive sheets of ice around them with sounds of boats, cars or even chainsaws coming through from outside. The soundscape then changes and dripping water is heard for a full two minutes before the melody comes in, just past the two minute mark. As the music builds, so does the sound of the water, and the two compliment each other to give a real emotive and evocative experience of what it might be like to be inside and ice floe. It’s calming and terrifying at the same time, and the listener is subjected to both the beautiful sound of rushing water and the creak and crack of the ice. The music changes keys, tones and tempos to move along with these sounds.
“Floes/Flows” and indeed all of the tracks on Music of Icebergs, are examples of composed electronic pieces which are sparse, subtle and meant to say more than the average EDM tune. This is a segment of electronic music not often explored by EDM fans, but once in a while it’s good to look at all the ways electronic music can be used to express feelings, thoughts and even the drama of nature.
Music for Icebergs releases in full and will be available on Teknofonic Records on Friday, June 2.