Photo by Ryoma Furutani
Just to get it out there, I honestly don’t have a very clear understanding of the differences between “Electro”, “House”, and “Techno”. I decided to do a little Wikipedia study before introducing Osaka’s Bob Willey to you. Given where it’s from, of course, I don’t know how reliable any of this is, but...
First, electro. Wikipedia says the genre comes from a fusion of American funk and European electronic music popular from 1982-1985. Electro is an abbreviation of “Electro Funk” or “Electro-Boogie”. Ok, so trying to make funky music with electronic sounds is electro.
Back to Bob Willey. Bob puts up a lot of music online through several different projects that casually switch back and forth from the genres mentioned above. One of these projects is Outdoorminer.
"Outdoorminer is me making more beat kinda shit. not pop, something in the same spirit as detroit techno is my aim."
So then, what is techno? Let’s ask Wikipedia.
“Techno is a form of electronic dance music originating in Detroit, Michigan… contrasting with the breezy, optimistic feel of house music at the time, techno aspired to reflect harsh reality with songs of a more political or ideological nature.”
Ok, I think I get it. Now that you mention it, original techno wasn’t about alcohol and fun dance parties, it had a more serious image.
Here is Outdoorminer’s new techno-infused song, “Just You”:
It's a simple, repeated beat with a ghostly vocal sample drifting above. Yet, somewhere, human presence is felt in this nurtured piece. And perhaps the dry quality isn't too far off from Hot Chip, you could say. Wiley himself explains the music as “Maybe not techno by anyone's definition but it's a reinterpretation of the classic definition "George Clinton and Kraftwerk stuck in an elevator".
Another project of Willey goes in the opposite direction with bright, club-ready tracks: this too is just a temporary adventure for Wiley, who says he prefers not to get stuck in one genre.
House? Let's go borrow the definition from Wikipedia.
“House music is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in the American city of Chicago in the early 1980s. Often simply called “house”, it first surfaced in the gay Chicago discotheque 'Warehouse'.”
Hmmmmmmmm ok. House is mainly 4/4, upbeat songs. Short notes and melodies repeated over and over are what keep the songs at such high energy. Techno is said to have been born from house, and as the two look similar in places, it’s common for them to be confused with one another. More than just techno, there are tons of other genres that have their roots in house. Enough to make you dizzy.
Here is “who says the love you”, a song Willey recently released under the name Cloudy Busey. You’ll catch some Latin breakbeats around the midsection.
Cloudy Busey has announced a debut album to be released in the near future to look forward to.
While this article’s original intention was to explain the different genres of electronic music while talking about Bob Willey, I’ve learned that, like Wiley’s music itself, none can be so easily contained. Yet, how music can infinitely expand from one form is something very amazing. Now, I think I can understand better how people are intrigued by it.
Follow Bob on Twitter: @outdoorminerbob
Hear two other songs by Willey, under the monikers of Paul & Bob and Ice Cream Shout.
Translation by Andrew Brasher Read this article in Japanese here.