Aug 24

What Makes EDM so Sublime?

You’re probably rolling your eyes at the title of this blog post. After all, the word “sublime” is not usually mentioned in the same breath or even the same sentence as electronic dance music. While electronic dance music is very bouncy and it does get your emotional side going, it is quite a stretch in the minds of too many musical critics to use the word “sublime” for electronic dance music.

Usually, they reserve that adjective for music that supposedly transports your soul. This is music that is supposed to get you in contact or in the same space psychologically and emotionally as your better angels.

In the other words, sublime music is supposed to be everything that is transcendent about the human condition. It’s about everything that dissolves walls and reaches for something higher, better and more long-lasting.

Well, that is the fantasy. You have to understand that people talk a big game when it comes to artistic theory but, at the end of the day, the real art is the one that people live out. If that is going to be the critical parameters that we’re going to use when we’re trying to slice and dice all sorts of artistic expressions and musical movements, electronic dance music more than qualifies for being sublime.

Let’s get real here. Let’s get honest. If you are in any way, shape or form addressing this issue with even the most modest amount of honesty and authenticity, you would have to agree because when people make electronic dance music, it’s not like they’re just using some sort of template. It’s not like they’re using some sort of a musical version of a cookie cutter and just cranking out one all-too-forgettable piece of music after another.

It doesn’t work that way. Although it’s caricatured that way by a lot of critics like Henry Rollins, there’s a lot Mr. Rollins fails to see. In fact, in many cases, he engages in straw man arguments because he would create this cartoon version of an electronic dance music that is a far cry from its actual reality and proceed to ridicule it, dismiss it, marginalize it and otherwise bash it down. Great job knocking down the straw man, but you haven’t touched the reality of electronic dance music.

There’s a reason why so many people from all walks of life and from all four corners of the globe are so musically and emotionally invested in electronic dance music. This is the essence of being sublime because if something is able to connect with you on a raw spiritual level, you can’t help but sit up and pay attention.

You can’t help but conclude that somehow, some way that thing is real, that deserves respect, that deserves attention, that deserves critical space. It cannot be dismissed. It cannot be intimidated so as to go away. It has its own agenda, and it will not be denied.

That’s what makes it so sublime. It just gets at you from a raw, emotional level, which transcends time because if you look at classic electronic dance music from the 1970s like Giorgio Moroder’s work for the movie The Chase. It really is mind-blowing because it’s like you’re listening to music that just got composed yesterday.

There is a sublime factor in electronic dance music that really gets into our emotional DNA. It’s a guilty pleasure because it really cannot be sliced and diced in a rational and logical way, but it’s there and that’s what’s so comforting about it.

Lynsey Cordeiro

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