By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Something new is growing in Texas. It's a lump in the ground that's swelling little by little, feeding off the decomposing remnants of ancestors.
This groundswell, which amounts to a loosely connected community of synth enthusiasts with a deep understanding of electronic music history, has begun to take shape across Texas with major hubs in Houston, Austin, Dallas and Denton. These acts, many of which were featured on the Oak Cliff-based TommyBoy's Texas Love Triangle Mix commissioned by Vice UK, have a foot in the past of their analog antecedents and another foot in the future of American synthesizer music.
Denton's Corporate Park, an all-electronic group that consists of Shane English and Jonah Lange, is one of the bands at the forefront of this movement.
"There's a tiny renaissance going on in Denton of rhythmic, kind of abrasive electronic music," says English.
His band's screechy, noisy, percussive take on hard industrial music is certainly not accessible to most audiences. Perhaps that's why, even while boasting two releases (a tape called The Exchange and a CD called Surrender), Corporate Park has only played four shows in Denton despite partaking in a two-and-a-half week tour of the Northeast in October 2009.
English doesn't mind the lack of audience—nor does he mind the potential criticisms that come with revisiting a genre that fizzled out decades ago.
"We're continuing what should never have stopped," he says. "It's kind of archaic. We use analog synths to attach to that world, but I'm totally up for using new digital sampling and things they would've used if they had. It's past-style music looking ahead to the future."
Lange said he believes the newfound focus on decades-old subgenres is due to electronic music becoming more of a legitimate historical art form.
"There is a reactionary element to the long-held musical traditions of Texas," says Lange. "For a long time, roots and Americana and folk were the predominant aesthetic of music in Texas. But that's starting to change."
The band, as well as two other acts made up of synth-oriented colleagues, Houston's //TENSE// and Denton's Vulgar Fashion, will join one another on Saturday at Rubber Gloves for a night hosted by DJG with visuals by TommyBoy.
English admits that he thinks the show is a big deal: "This is an ideal lineup, something that all the bands have been talking about for months," he says.
"It makes sense that we're all playing together," says Lange. "But I think there's enough disparity in each style that you're not getting three helpings of the same thing." —Rodrigo Diaz