This Month in Electronic Music History, Vol 2: April

Disco, house, techno, jungle, drum and bass, dubstep–it all originated somewhere. Since the first electronic-based instrument in the late 1890s, to the emergence of synthetic instruments in progressive rock groups, and up until the days of mainstream EDM that we know today, there is a vast amount of history in between. We delve into our second installment to learn more about pivoting moments in electronic music history.

Events in History: April 1972

Ikutaro Kakehashi developed his interest in electronic instruments through his work as a watch repairman after WWII. After struggling with unemployment, he opened an electrical goods and repair shop in 1954. The name of the shop later evolved into Ace Electronic Industries in 1960. Here, he spent his time manufacturing various organs based off the Hammond organ, as well as other guitar amplifiers and rhythm machines. Hammond and Ace Electronic Industries formed a partnership; Ace Electronics became the Japanese importer and exporter for Hammond. Due to the continual infusion of capital, Kakehashi became a minority shareholder within his own company. After 18 years of working with Ace Electronic, Ikaturo Kakehashi was ready for the next chapter.

On April 18, 1972 Ikutaro Kakehashi, using a capital stock of 33 million yen, establishes the Roland Corporation in Osaka, Japan. After its initial opening, construction began on the TR-33, TR-55, and TR-77. While the company was working in a shed, with a non-existent machine and few customers, Kakehashi saw hope in expanding the product to foreign markets. 1973 is when Roland became a recognizable brand, with the release of the SH-1000. This was Roland’s first synthesizer, and the first one in Japan.

Other notable products from Roland include the EP-30 piano, which was the first electronic, touch-sensitive piano, and the MIDI controller. The MIDI controller is still a vital part of electronic music production, as well as the TR-808 and TB-303. which are staple elements in various genres, such as trap, DnBhouse, and more. Now, Roland is one of the names that is synonymous with pioneering music technology. Ikutaro Kakehashi passed away on April 2, 2017.

Songs in History: April 1998

One of the pioneering groups of the trip-hop genre, Massive Attack, was an influential part of the electronic music scene throughout the 1990s. Working closely with other notable trip-hop extraordinaires such as Portishead, these groups add some Bristol innovation to electronic music. Ranging from post-punk, to funk, to reggae, there was nothing that Massive Attack didn’t touch.

In 1991, Massive Attack began to garner attention with their album Blue Lines, which some consider to be one of the greatest albums of all time. On April 20, 1998 Massive Attack released the album that brought them the most commercial successMezzanineMezzanine is the first album with Neil Davidge as the fourth production member, and he’s been a staple part of the group since.

This album took a different turn from the trip-hop, hypnotic sound of Blue Lines and Unfinished Sympathy, and into something with a “very Bristol” sound. It draws on that heavy, post-punk Bristol style, while drawing on the emotional intensity present in previous albums. It not only has thrilling progressive rock guitars, but also elements of reggae and funk. Neil Davidge described the album as a “mixture of all of the influences from members of the band, and myself included, and other contributors.” Some notable tracks include Angel, Risingson, and Teardrop.

To further appreciate our favorite artists and tracks, it’s vital to examine the origins of electronic music. If you are keen to learn more about electronic music history check out “Vol. 1,” and “The History of Electronic Music and How Classics Still Define Modern EDM.” What other moments do you feel like were influential to the growth of electronic music? Are there any additional artists, tracks, albums that you feel shaped modern EDM? Share your responses in the comments below!

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