A few evenings ago I was sitting in the garage, settled into one of those folding camp chairs, enjoying the warm summer evening and sipping from a bottle of cold, locally crafted beer. A white Chevrolet drove slowly by. As it passed, I could hear some pounding drum beat accompanying electronic music. The car pulled into a parking space around the corner from where I was sitting. A young couple on their way home from work got out and walked past me. As we glanced at each other, I asked them who I’d just heard coming from their car stereo.
They stopped, and just for a second I’m almost certain they thought I was just some “get off my lawn” grumpy old man who was about to give them crap about their loud music. Just as quickly they realized that wasn’t the case and that I was really interested in whose music I’d heard. Smiling, they responded “Alice in Wonderland.” That’s what I thought they said, but the quizzical look on my face only served to broaden their smiles as they spelled it out, “A-l-i-s-o-n” Wonderland. I thanked them and they continued their walk home.
The Internet is a wonderful tool for researching a name in the music world. I already had my tablet with me in the camp chair, just starting on a collection of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories I’d downloaded earlier that day. Hemingway would have to wait. Instead I Googled “Alison Wonderland.”
Alison Wonderland, whose given name is Alex Sholler, is an Australian-born “DJ,” a disc jockey in its truest form. Otherwise known as a turntablist, Alison is a musician who mixes music and sounds to create electronic dance music (EDM) or “trip hop.” Regardless of what label it goes by, it sounded pretty good to me, so I checked out some clips of her work. This clip is from her track called “Run,” released in 2015:
(Alison Wonderland – “Run” [clip])
Some time ago I might have mentioned the first album of electronic music I bought way back when I was in high school. It was the eponymously titled Silver Apples. Here’s a clip from the opening track, “Oscillations,” released in 1968:
(Silver Apples – “Oscillations” [clip])
No one I can recall in 1968 ever referred to this as electronic dance music. In fact, it would be impolite for me to repeat what some of my friends called it back then. In spite of my half-hearted insistence that it was really worth a listen, my plea fell mostly on deaf ears. It certainly wasn’t anything to which we felt compelled to dance along. Today, if I was a DJ, I’d slip a little Silver Apples into my dance mix just to see if anyone would notice. It just might sound like this:
(Alison Apples – Runscillation [mix clip])
Makes you wonder if Thomas Edison and the pioneers of volts, watts and amps ever imagined dancing to the blips and beeps they discovered. I suspect they’d be blown away for sure.