Ben’s Brilliant Best Albums of the 1990s. No. 93. μ-Ziq – Royal Astronomy

I get a bit lost with electronic music. I’m not sure what is supposed to be good and what isn’t. I know it doesn’t really matter, and that anyone is allowed to like anything, but sometimes it’s nice to have a basic understanding of a genre. I know enough about, say, rock music to be able to sensibly and maturely listen to something and think, “ooh, yes, I can see what they are doing there and it’s very clever but I’m afraid it’s just not my sort of thing.” My reaction to electronic music that I don’t like tends to me more along the lines of, “SHUT UP, NOISE!” I can’t help it. If the bleeps aren’t in the right places it upsets my brain. A lot of people get like that when they hear jazz, and it’s not just because a lot of jazz is plain ghastly. We listen to different sorts of music in different ways. We build up expertise without realising it.

Which is a convoluted way of saying I have no idea why Royal Astronomy is good but I think it probably is. I did a bit of research to try and find out why I liked it but all I found was some guy on Pitchfork who said it was ‘boring as shit’. This worried me for a moment. But then I did a bit more research and found he also gave the debut album by The Go! Team 8.7/10, so, you know, there’s no accounting for taste and all that.

(I did a bit more research but I couldn’t find out why music websites tend to give albums marks out of ten, to one decimal point, instead of just giving them marks out of a hundred. Just being cool with the maths, I guess.)

I have a friend who is kind of an electronic music expert. Not even kind of. An ‘actual’ actual expert. He writes for an electronic music magazine called, I think, electronic music magazine, though now I’m typing that it does seem like a massive coincidence. Is the magazine really called that? Electronic music magazine? Probably. I’m not looking it up. I exhausted all my patience for doing research on that The Go! Team guy. Let’s just say that my friend writes for an electronic music magazine (possibly called electronic music magazine) and that his name is (definitely) Fat Roland. I could, in theory, ask him why (and indeed if) Royal Astronomy is a good album but I’m worried that he would threaten me with pointy sticks until I put eleven Autechre albums in my top ten or something like that and I don’t want to because I have my own favourites.

so… I’m going to have to try this myself…

Most of the songs on Royal Astronomy have clicky things going on in the foreground and either whirry or woooo-y things going on in the background. The combination of these things together, and the variations within individual things, is pleasing to the ear (or more accurately, I guess, the brain). Errrrr….

Man. Writing about music is really hard.

UPDATE: The magazine Fat Roland writes for is called Electronic Sound. I was reasonably close.