Last week, we took on A G Cook’s latest track Beautiful in First Impressions. While Hannah compared it to Snozberries, Lizzie likened it to the Rugrats, noting that she wasn’t “sold on the whole Hello Kitty sound”. The cultural references were becoming a little overwhelming so I decided to pose myself the question, ‘What the F**K is PC Music?’
Nintendo. Dance Dance Revolution. Korea. Siri. These are all things that come to mind when you hear the music coming out of new label PC Music. Spend a moment with PC Music’s soundcloud and you’ll be both intrigued and disgraced. The music coming out of the label sounds completely inhuman but at the same time acutely reminiscent of a generation built on smartphones that talk, nostalgia and EDM.
PC Music is run by London producer A G Cook who also releases music through the label. In an interview with Tank Magazine, Cook said, “The label’s called PC Music, which alludes to how the computer is a really crucial tool, not just for making electronic music but for making amateur music that is also potentially very slick”.
It’s an apt way of describing it. Nowadays very little difference can be heard between bedroom and studio producers. The meteoric success of Flume from a very early point in his career is testament to this. The music coming out of PC Music is so slick, it’s being compared to candy in abundance. In a way, it’s bubblegum music. So smoothed out and computer-driven that it’s lost all imperfection. Where rock n’ roll was born on impurities, PC Music’s difference comes in its ability to sound criminally crisp.
Cook was born in 1990 and notes that he grew up using a computer at quite an advanced level. The music has both the clunkiness of Windows 98 and the effortless sheen of an Apple Mac.
A demonstration of modern technology, all the press shots for PC Music’s artists are just as devoid of humanity as the music. An artist like Hannah Diamond (below), for example, looks as if she has nothing behind the eyes. The picture’s personality is simply delivered through bright, childlike colours and its likeness to childhood cartoon characters.
Apart from creator A G Cook, one of the most notable artists on the label is the aforementioned Hannah Diamond. Her songs redefine the meaning of minimal. They’re like deconstructed Top 40 tracks that have been redone out of mockery. Her voice is like a slightly more natural Siri. In normal circumstances, these things would be criticisms. But they’re not. It seems Diamond sits so far to the left on the kitsch spectrum, that there’s a stroke of genius in how otherworldly it sounds.
Her track Attachment has her singing “Together, forever” like a children’s doll. Creepy, yes. Infectious, yes. There’s a deep sense of ‘90s nostalgia that makes it oddly irresistible. Top 40 Pop music is a guilty pleasure but it’s fairly simple to explain why. Attachment is also a guilty pleasure, however, it’s close to impossible to describe why. On Soundcloud one user comments, “Why do I like this” while another says “this is wackkkkk”. She’s also compared to “an illiterate preschooler”.
FACTmag described it best when they wrote she’s “like the girls at your school who practised Spice Girls dance routines in the playground and smoked fags on school trips, but while her brittle, Estuary tones make her sound like a Smash Hits star from the late ’90s, her songs couldn’t be more 21st century”.
A G Cook told Tank Magazine, “My work’s constant use of instantly gratifying elements such as kitsch imagery, catchy hooks, synthetic colours and fun sound effects feels inevitable, it’s almost a compulsion rather than a choice.” The idea of compulsion rather than choice is one that defines most of the labels sound. Much of the music sounds like it’s giving into seven deadly sins. It’s particularly a result of gluttony in the way that it over-indulges in pop’s melodic demons and lustful in the way that it centres mostly round the theme of 21st century love.
Consumerism is a notion that PC Music introduces a number of times. On Lipgloss Twins’ Wannabe, a computerised voice repeats “Topman, topshop”, “fake Prada, fake Louis, fake Zara” and then “I don’t wanna be a twin”. It’s the first time PC Music has eluded to a criticism of 21st Century culture. Cook said “Challenging something’s commercial nature is a commercial tactic in itself, and authenticity is a tricky currency that is often swayed by branding and advertising.”
It’s entirely possible that the musicians on PC Music aren’t purposely critiquing our culture. There’s an enigmatic nature to the label that makes it easy to overanalyse without having a specific voice to speak for the music. In an industry where everyone’s trying to keep it ‘real’, it’s ironically refreshing to have a label embracing some of the critiques of this generation.
While I’ve tried to answer the question of ‘what is PC Music?’, I fear i’ve only further confused myself. Such is the intrigue of the label. The best way to discover it, is to listen to it. On first attempt, you’ll most likely hate but like a sugar-addiction it will grow on you. Before you know it, you’ll be asking “Please sir, can I have some more?”