7 of 10Image
Aphex Twin: INKEY$
You can't really say that Aphex Twin's music is 'about' anything, except raising a righteous racket to the gods of tortured technology. But a lot of his earlier tracks include explicit references to computers, with songs named after Spectrum BASIC keyboards and including samples of programs loading in from tape. Elsewhere in the Twins oeuvre you can find images encoded through Fourier transforms, heavily modified pornography and intense geek interest, making him a good candidate for the patron saint of technologically-informed music.
Best Listened To While: Debugging a twenty page hex listing you typed in from the back of Your Computer.
Steve Hillage: And Not Or
Ex-Gong guitarist Steve Hillage is the epitome of the tech-obsessed hippy — he even recorded under the name of System 7, the Macintosh OS of the time. This song is named after BASIC Boolean operators, and comes from an album — For To Next — named after BASIC keywords. It contains, as far as we're aware, no actual reference to technology beyond a hint that Hillage tried his hand at writing a game of noughts and crosses in AppleBASIC.
Best Listened To While: Attempting to get 3G access on your solar-powered laptop from a field in Cornwall.
Johan Johannsson: IBM1401 A User's Manual
A real oddity, but one of considerable charm. The composer's father was maintenance engineer on Iceland's first computer, an IBM 1401 mainframe, in the mid-1960s, and he learned how to make the computer make music. As part of the computer's decommissioning in 1971 a last recording was made, and that's at the heart of this modern orchestral composition. Check the website for many more stories about this unique music.
Best Listened To While: Helping develop the IBM 1401 emulator software.