EDM. Electronic Dance Music. In the modern age of music, the majority of us first heard this abbreviation associated with the likes of Skrillex, a dubstep musician who makes music in the form of novel and strange bass, synths and samples. However, in an interview with Pitchfork, Skrillex himself has said that EDM is a broader term than it has been made out to be.
“I call everything EDM, even techno. That’s just the terminology: electronic dance music. It’s not a genre — it’s a platform, a means,” he said.
Today, this EDM platform has been appropriated for the pop genre, in which all artists, especially new and rising artists, have the chance to integrate a variety of electronic sounds into their music with the ubiquitous tool of a computer. Rising artists like Billie Eilish and her brother FINNEAS are tremendously successful examples of independent bedroom-studio-produced artists who utilized this “EDM” platform to create their own music.
While EDM is still a term used to define a genre, which contains some music still exceedingly strange in nature, the genre has expanded greatly past its dubstep origins. EDM now defines a larger body of music, much of which overlaps with several other genres, and its influence has greatly touched most of popular music today.
Jonathon Ng, known in the music industry as EDEN, epitomizes young artists who started and continued their careers from the comfort of their bedroom studio through electronic self-production. His success is apparent from the world tour that followed his debut album, Vertigo, as well as over one billion online streams.
Along with his first few EPs, his debut album Vertigo experimented with the EDM platform to a new level, breeding melancholic music with a beat, injecting a diverse range of samples between lyrics and finding rhythms in unusual noises. His new sophomore album, no future, released on Feb. 14, is no different.
Jonathon is a half-Irish and half-Chinese 24-year-old from Dublin, Ireland. At a young age, he was trained as a classical violinist but later taught himself guitar, piano and drums. His musical inspirations are wide and boundless in genre, ranging from Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson to Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar and even Hans Zimmer.
Under the title The Eden Project, Jonathon started off by making more conventional-style EDM. However, since working under the name EDEN in 2015, he’s taken his skills from producing EDM music and applied them to the indie pop genre. As EDEN, Jonathon self-produced his first two EPs on his own record label, MCMXCV, in 2015 and 2016. Before the release of his debut album, Vertigo, he was signed by Astralwerks. A child company of the Universal Music Group, Astralwerks is known for signing breakout EDM artists in the past, including Porter Robinson, Marshmello, Halsey and Illenium.
EDEN’s discography is the paragon of do-it-yourself music, and his songs mainly consist of elements available on a computer. As he’s ventured from EDM to indie pop, his music now falls under the apt description of “melancholic pop.” His songs are experimental and take on the task of quiet storytelling. With a few standout songs, no future continues EDEN’s story.
The first song of the album, “good morning” has a nice beginning and sets the sad yet hopeful tone of the album, showcasing EDEN’s ability to create moods with his music. If I had to describe it, the song feels like walking up on the Beach at 9 a.m. in a mass of silence and fogginess to eventually see the top of Gilman above the fog.
One of the singles released before the album, “projector,” got me the most excited for the album. After the release, I would say that it still remains the best song on the album. Like a lot of EDEN’s music, “projector” manages to convey a positive tone amongst pretty dark and deep lyrics. The song itself is about overthinking, regret and lack of confidence and how the solution to it all is just accepting how things are instead of wishing for them to be another way.
“Love, death, distraction” is another one of the best songs on the album. It opens up with an influx of echoey synth sounds reminiscent of a Bon Iver song, which I love. This booming opening then transitions into EDEN’s raw voice with a quiet and vulnerable lyric repeated throughout the song: “And please don’t go.” The song presents a relevant message to teenagers: avoid being distracted by the cool things people are doing on social media, and go out and do something cool yourself.
“2020” begins the conclusion of the album well. In these last moments, EDEN employs some of the best lyrics within the entire album to describe a lost relationship: “She says I’m no good with my hands, but I held up the sky for her.” The song itself models the range of EDEN’s music production, opening with just a guitar and his voice but later receiving an energy increase with rapid EDM drumming.
No future’s last song, “untitled,” is reserved and depressive but still hopeful. Again, EDEN includes sad and illustrative lyrics like “All you wanted was some violent form of love, immolate me,” that are immediately followed by the optimistic “There is nothing we can’t do.” The song (and album) interestingly ends with an audio clip of a group of kids from Jamaica singing, which marks a hopeful end to an album that otherwise remained consistently melancholy throughout.
EDEN’s second album no future is a sonic experimentation, and as is naturally the case with experiments, some of the results don’t prove to have much value. A few of the songs in the middle of the album are undeveloped and seem to exist to fill space between others. However, a few songs stand out from the crowd to represent the deep and thoughtful nature of his past music. As a whole, the album also stands to represent the amazing versatility of EDM music for an audience who will only see EDM’s presence grow in the future of popular music.