The 1980’s witnessed the birth of the cyberpunk, as science fiction shot a current through technology’s next horizon and society’s next dystopian warp. But it was the 1990’s that saw a multi polar shift into that matrix. Electronic music not only revolutionized the relationship between music and technology, but set the template for a new breed of musician – a new breed of activist and a new catalyst for a radically changing reality.
As the computer wave began to swell exponentially and the internet zygote multiplied, a soundtrack was born from the very circuits that were changing every aspect of modern life. Electronic music. And yet it was not just the futuristic bleeps and all enveloping basses of manipulated frequency that were so synchronicitous, but the patterns that were building around them.
Unifying ultra modern abstractions with primal rhythms, electronic dance music crossed over from aural pleasure to absolute immersion. A new culture of DIY was building around musical access while a new spirit of self organisation swept through a disaffected generation alienated by the naked individualism of laissez faire capitalism.
The geometry of chaos theory wove its way through traditional social structures. People from all over the country congregated at celebrations infused by both the electronic sound and the new strange attractors. The infancy of mobile communication was instantly harnessed to create new systems of assembly, and hierarchy was broken down into new dynamics of community and contribution that mirrored the development of online networks.
Acid house, rave and free festivals were at the forefront of this profound social change. Building from outside the barriers of conventional models, they opened up the Pandora’s Box of open source flux. Reclaiming a public space, tuning into the new frequencies, and letting the wave develop its’ own momentum, a subculture developed at an astonishing pace. People from all walks of life celebrated unlicensed freedom as they danced under a night sky.
The new cyberpunks had staged a jailbreak from the pages of science fiction. Working off an open source operating system and hacking emergent technologies into new spheres of expression and organisation, a new paradigm danced to its’ own rebellious tune.
Today, electronic music is wrestling with the sterilising forces of commercialism and the shape shifting impact of the digital landscape. The internet and the networks of complex chaos that formed it are being relentlessly attacked by governments and corporate interest in a bid to reassert authority and control.
Self proclaimed dogma in some quarters is being superseeded by raids on new territory, new methods of organisation and new systems of creative expression. In an increasingly connected world, the opportunities and possibilities for open source subculture are greater than ever.