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Ghost Deep explores the crossroads between electronica, technology and global culture. It is focused on putting the techno music revolution in a broad historical context with an eye on today’s developments. You will find current music samples, music reviews, mixes, long lost gems, scene reports, artist interviews and essays on the past, present and future of this frequently misunderstood art movement.

Our Subjective Frame of Reference

In the ghetto of the American mind, only the Internet and the power of technology could explode the imprisoned island of the soul. Piping the cosmopolitan vibrations of Europe to the American continent, techno in the ’90s seemed like an alien encounter. Only it was birthed in the New World by the hands of black artists. Kraftwerk had laid the blueprint, but it was these artists’ injection of funk and depression that gave techno its gravitas, its bulk, its dimensional groove.

At the same time, instruments made in Japan and computer chips pressed in Silicon Valley ushered in a new age. Technology was no longer physical. It was spiritual. It now allowed for ever wilder dreams. Some knocked back pills to fuel them. Many lost their heads and tails in the process. The dot bomb and the arrival of 9/11 changed the mood. The party was over.

What was left were those who always loved the music first and foremost. No more time for games or self-promotion, just a belief in its limitless ability to transform and create wonder in a darkening world.

An Energy Flash to the Future

The ’90s was a seedbed for many cultural shifts. At the heart of that decade’s promise was the computer, and later, the Internet. Part of that digital universe was the rave scene, coalesced around a rainbow ethic birthed in underground gay dance clubs, a ‘love’ chemical called ecstasy, and most importantly, a feverish new music form that put the electronic machine fully at the service of the human imagination.

Electronic dance music encompassed everything that preceded it, including classical, jazz, blues, rock, soul and hip hop. The labels it spawned included house, techno, acid house, breakbeat, ambient, chill, drum ‘n’ bass and on and on. The hybrid genres that continue to pop up point to its endless creative potential as well as a misplaced urge to verbally capture its dynamic plurality of sound. The ensuing fragmentation coupled with chin-stroking pretensions partly pushed the music into over-produced, elitist strains.

The story continued into the 21st Century, with much of the bright hopes for ‘electronica’ fading as DJs, producers and dancers had to get real jobs and support families. New kids on the block adapted the ’90s wave to their own needs, from Nu Rave and Radiohead to college radio Minimalism, glitch, dubstep and dance rock.

Hooking Some Lost Tales

The electronic marriage of dance rhythms with provocative sounds is still revolutionary and has never been fully explored by mainstream scholars. Save for a few good books and occassional articles, the mystery is still largely unexamined. Its reliance on an instrumental and communal paradigm continues to hold promise for a globalizing world.

This website is an attempt to give voice to some of these concerns, to continue the work of putting the electronica movement into a more comprehensive and useful history.

At the same time, it is hoped it will inspire the young and renew the old.

About the author

Thomas Kelley is a music journalist and online news editor based in Los Angeles. He has reported for Voice of America and PBS’s California Connected and written for XLR8R and BPM magazines. Before graduating with a master’s in journalism at USC Annenberg, he was the senior music writer for four years and later music editor for Lotus magazine, a free ’90s publication dedicated to the electronic dance scene. He earned his bachelor’s at UC Berkeley in ISF Studies: Technology and Culture. He is based in Los Angeles, California, with roots in the South and Hawaii. He has lived in Europe and briefly worked in Asia.