Pop Life

Artificial Earth Machine: The Mexican NASA In Us All

It's a well-known fact that most band names are gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

There are many kinds of electronic music. There's your run-of-the-mill pop dance stuff, your more gothic and commanding industrial sermons, chip tunes that build a little nerdhouse in our souls, and then there's stuff like Artificial Earth Machine. It's the sort of electronica you hear as the soundtrack to big science-fiction movie ideas with little science fiction movie budgets. It's too pumping to be ambient, but too ethereal to be commanding. It's probably the android version of that weird half-sleep you get after your spouse leaves for work just early enough to let you go back to sleep for an hour.

Take "Abstraktion" as a real good example. It sounds like Martha Graham's "Lamentation" as performed by a Cyberman. You're just able to ignore this weird beepy bullshit until it steadily builds and ever more impressive audio figure in your head that feels like being on a rollercoaster after too much cold medicine. That's what makes Artificial Earth Machine impressive, their ability to craft emotions out of machines and make you feel them in the proper order.

But that name...

Artificial Earth Machine? Really? Did you wake up late next to an overdosed hooker the day they handed out electronic band names? What, does it make fake Earth's like that factory in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Because they could also make soft rubber planets as big bouncy castles and that is so much better than whatever you've got planned.

I decided to fire off an email to Ben Crowley, who is Artificial Earth Machine, to learn more.

"I was trying to come up with a name that would sum up what I would be doing as an artist," Crowley says. "Making electronic music, and using samplers, you're mimicking real instruments, and manipulating them in a way you wouldn't traditionally play them, so it's almost like making 'fake' music, which is where name originates.

"And the earth machine part is more a reference to myself," he adds. "Looking back on it, I definitely should have picked something shorter, and maybe easier to say."

I feel bad for Crowley; I really do. Back in my rock-star days we came up with The Black Math Experiment pretty much the same way, and man I got tired of saying it and definitely of typing it. Finding a name that really allows you to express who you are is really difficult.

Usually I would bash Crowley here for what he picked, but instead I'll help out.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner