Can electronic music be political? And if so, what does it have to say? CID RIM, Clemens Bacher, is adamant that it has a lot to add to the conversation.

“The incline of electronic music towards a dark, cynical sound has been going on for some time, and while that’s not just politically motivated, it’s turned out to be an accurate forecast of what's happening to the politics of the world. That’s fair, it’s an accurate way of vibing with the way the world changes. I cannot participate in that as the person that I am. For me, with what’s going on, you need to believe even more in mankind, and use music as a conduit for that.”

CID RIM’s latest album Material is vibrant, luminous, magnanimous, philanthropic. It’s as overflowing with compositional flair – whether it’s inverted synthlines, arrhythmic basslines, or “the first drum solo of [his] career” – as it is compassion and buoyancy. It’s a genuinely uplifting listen. And I guess, unlike most of us, Bacher has cause to believe in political systems and the people who uphold them. This time last year, Austria halted – or at least interrupted – the seemingly interminable global sweep of right wing populism through the presidential election victory for Alexander Van der Bellen, the Greens candidate(!); with Bacher’s hometown Vienna embodying its liberal-progressive stronghold. Vienna, Bacher duly informs me, is a city of harmony, collaboration, and creativity; a place where you can make upbeat political music and it doesn’t ring hollow. Vienna transpires to be a hotbed of easygoing ingenuity.

“I think Vienna's always one of the top ranking when it comes to quality in electronic music when you compare different cities. But even in general, the quality of living is so relaxed and productive. You physically feel less competition and stress in [people’s] lives, in every job. That’s our politics, our culture, the way we interact. Life is just a bit easier when compared to London, definitely; New York, definitely; probably every other city apart from Zurich or Montreal that I've been to; and with that is a big downside, and that's that you might get a bit lazier and complacent in work. But it gives you time and security, so I think that people who actually make it out of Vienna – with their music – have thought about what they do and are maybe more likely to make a sustainable career in music. Opposed to one hit wonders, you know what I mean? They’ll probably never have massive success but will have healthy, well thought of careers. It's chilled but smart. I think that's how you relate the easiness and the comfort of the city to our music, why our jazz scene and electronic scene click together.”

When I point out to Bacher that this Austrian style serves as the polar opposite to the stereotype of pulverising German techno he chuckled; “yeh that’s true actually. Even way back 10 years ago or 15 years ago, Kruder & Dorfmeister were just making really chilled out beat stuff while they were high, and I think they sum up the Vienna style best. They were the first big thing in electronic music that got out of the city and were successful internationally, which reflects the easiness of the city and country.”

I was curious whether his label, LuckyMe, with its diverse and distinctive roster, influenced the direction of his sound. When I called Bacher I was wary from past interview experience that my (dulcet and soothing, of course) Glaswegian accent would be difficult to understand via a crinkly phone connection. Bacher hastily dismissed the possibility, reminding me that his label, LuckyMe, are in fact Scottish, and that many of his labelmates, including Hudson Mohawke, hail from Glasgow. Does Vienna share an aesthetic with Glasgow which attracted LuckyMe to artists like Bacher?

“There’s definitely a strong mutual vibe. I was aware of what they [LuckyMe] were doing before getting to know them individually, and while there’s not been much physical collaboration, a lot of their sounds, like what they do with bass for example, I’ve picked up on.”

It seems if LuckyMe were attracted to the Vienna style, it’s a style which Bacher was critical in shaping and cultivating, and making his own.

He continues; “That my music is, from the chord structure side and its basic vibe, optimistic and positive, is of course indebted to changes in politics in the world and here in Austria. It does reflect on those, but before all that it’s my personal choice and an extension of my personality.”

As electronic music sustains its post-genre phase, consuming and adapting every sound and movement imaginable from metal to classical, it often takes shape as electronica-plus-affectation rather than a sophisticated or innovative synthesis of ideas. Material sounds unique and feels affectless, a more fluid and individual fusion of the divergent ideologies of jazz and electronic than the vapid, clunky jazztronica subset. Part of this can be explained quite bluntly by Bacher’s talent, his natural gift for melody, harmony, and effectual dissonance which filters so gracefully through his discography. It also harks back to his classical training as a jazz drummer, as an artist steeped in the spontaneity and expressiveness of jazz but shouldering an affinity for the aesthetics of hip hop and trip hop, even traces of dub and bass. When he began making electronic music a few years ago he generally discarded his jazz baggage; only for it to incrementally sneak itself back into his compositions.

“For me, at first, it felt like the only jazz ingredients I took into my form of making electronic music was the chords. I started off making hip hop instrumental and trip hop influenced music quite a bit more than now, but I’ve been reincorporating the more classical elements over time. Through the years the entirety of it feeds into one another, the jazz background and my interest in more hip hop-y sounds; suddenly the chords had a bit of a jazzier structure and progression. I actually think I’ve got closer to my jazz roots through evolving my individual production sound, it’s been unconscious. Now I’ve hit a point of balance, where there’s a bit of everything in there. I feel all of my influences and references that are important to me are present.”

It’s clear that Material isn’t a political mandate in isolation; but an ingenuous self-reflection of Bacher’s politics and headspace, a stamp of hope, and a time capsule of his music proclivities; and what’s more, that Vienna style - the laidback positivity about politics, the human condition, and music - is personified by him.

“If you have the gift to reach out to people with your art then you have to think about what you want to say in a basic way, but it must be you saying it. I think my music is optimistic and positive and I like it that way. Because it is a statement. It's not a statement with words, but I think you asking me about this kind of proves that it’s working. People think about it, get it, and that’s quite important for me. You can’t lose hope, and you must stay willing to work on the problem.”

Authenticity’s a dirty word in music journalism, but it sounds much cleaner applied to Clemens Bacher.

Since 'tis the season, Clemens also kindly provided his personal top ten albums of the year;

1. Photay - Onism

2. Wandl - It's All Good Tho

3. Los Pirañas ‎- La Diversión Que Hacía Falta En Mi País

4. Claude Speed - Infinity Ultra

5. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism

6. Mario Rom's Interzone - Choose Your Vision

7. Oneohtrix Point Never - Good Time (OST)

8. Jacques Green - Feel Infinite

9. Sevendeaths - Remote Sympathy

10. Namby Pamby Boy - Namby Pamby Boy