It is HIGHLY recommended to listen to the music on this Soundcloud playlist before or while reading this blog.
Please scroll down this Soundcloud playlist. It includes 17 tracks.
Electronic Dance Music world or EDM in short is a formula world. Many formulas actually. Are you familiar with this formulas ? let’s take a look. Here’s an extensive list of genres as indicated by wikipedia. Here’s another one. Do you want to actually listen to the formulas ? Beatport – one of the leading EDM portals would be a good place to start. Pick your formula (genres menu top left) & enjoy the ride. In fact formula influence is so strong that many musicians have the desire to imitate their idols so they can ‘master’ the formula & become ‘leaders’ of the formula. The result is countless EDM clones of Electro-House/Psytrance/Dubstep/Pick your favorite formula. If you’re an EDM enthusiast you can stop reading right now. This blog is NOT for you. If on the other hand you’re looking for genre-defying music with a fresh & unique attitude towards sound, composition, arrangement & production then I believe you’re going to enjoy this post.
Welcome to non formula electronic music world. Sometimes also called IDM (whatever that means) or experimental electronic music or simply electronica. Here we can find the musicians who consistently push the envelope further, explore new sonic territories & redefine our musical experience. Before we move on to the actual playlist I need to make a few apologies & provide some listening guidelines :
1.One of the most famous quotes by the legendary genre-defying musician Frank Zappa RIP was : “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture…” It’s always somewhat frustrating to ‘write’ about the music phenomenon especially when it’s such a mind blowing experience that words would never be able to describe. I like to think of this blog as an introduction to some of the most amazing music I’ve listened to recently. I may also use the term spotlight. Here’s my spotlight on music that blew my mind which I’d like to share with you. Non formula music of course.
2.I know for sure that many essential, groundbreaking & genre-defying musicians are not on this list (” how come there’s no Aphex Twin\Autechre\Otto Von Shirach\tons of others\ on this list ? “) well…you can’t have them ALL in one playlist to begin with. Additionally I might dedicate another blog to the founders of non formula electronic music. Lastly I used my personal taste & tried to remain (relatively) updated. Most of the time.
3.A very important guideline regarding listening to this playlist : Many of the musical compositions you’re about to listen to are VERY intense in every aspect you can think of. Some of them are longer then 10 minutes & have tons of detail in them & require a dedicated & repeated attentiveness in order to fully experience them. My recommendation is to listen to each piece or artist one at a time, preferably more then 3 times if you can. Especially with the long & complex compositions. This is NOT ‘easy listening’ here…
Let’s open our non formula musical journey with Filastine. Grey Filastine from Spain together with Indonesian born Nova form this unique performance art duo that cannot be easily categorised. Gamelan percussion & near\far east instrumentation along with glitchy distorted electronica & Nova’s spiritual singing create this unique & interesting blend.
Salviatek from Uruguay offers a fresh & interesting approach to rhythm & sound. His music is rather ‘primitive’ in the good sense of the word & it makes me feel like I’m in a cybernetic-digital jungle. I would use the term ‘tribal’ here as percussion is very dominant in his music but it’s probably not what many listeners would expect when referring to tribal music. Very interesting beats.
Speaking about rhythms & rhythmic approach is a great way to introduce The Algorithm. Rémi Gallego from France is the mastermind behind this project & one cannot escape the intense rhythmic complexity of his music. An interesting blend of electronic synthesizer music with progressive metal , djent & complex rhythmic structures. Many refer to influences like Meshuggah & Animals As Leaders to name just a few but The Algorithm creates his signature hardcore electronic rhythmic textures & noises creating his own musical language.
It’s only quite recently that I discovered the amazing Simon Begg AKA Si Begg. Si Begg (UK) is in the electronic music scene for quite some time now & he is a very well established films & tv scores composer & DJ but he is also extremely prolific in electronic music scene releasing on labels such as Ninja Tune, Tresor & Addictech to name just a few & producing for some of the biggest names in the industry. Additionally he is an overwhelming sound designer & you can definitely experience that in his No 7 track I picked for this playlist. Do yourself a favor & listen to another electronic gem by Sibegg released on addictech called Permission To Explode. This is a MUST. Every track on this album is an electronica perfection & a living example of his unique sonic mastery.
As a musician I get to listen to a lot of music & indeed there’s tons of excellent & inspiring music & musicians out there. But every once in a while you discover a musical prodigy with such an amazing talent that hits you strongly right in your face.That’s what happened to me when I discovered Venetian Snares. The Canadian Aaron Funk is a musical genius. Period. He is one of the most overwhelming & challenging musicians in every aspect you can think of : composition, sound design, programming, rhythmic approach, arrangements, production. Everything. When I speak about pushing the envelope Vsnares is one of the best examples. He is also amazingly versatile. Each album has it’s own sound & musical style which is not easy to categorize. Fuck a genre…He is also extremely prolific & released countless of Albums, EP’s & mixes to date. Each & every one of them is a punch in your face. Sugarbush ? included in this playlist would be a great introduction to his sonic mastery as it is actually a mix of different tracks from different albums. Remember the Frank Zappa quote ? what can be said in words about this breathtaking piece of art ? I suggest you find the time to listen to it in a good audio system or headphones & when you’re completely available for it. Enjoy the ride. I also included one of his gems from his latest album (to date).Open your ears, free your mind & enjoy this exceptional sonic experience.
We move on to a very interesting music phenomenon called Bell’s Worth. They definitely deserve to be included in this non formula post. Unfortunately I didn’t find any information about the creator or creators behind this project. I can only say that he, she or they release their original music on the very interesting outtalectualls label which I highly recommend to explore. I perceive their compositions as a musical ‘stream of consciousness’ in which associations flow freely from one to another & there’s no real musical ‘structure’ in the composition. Definitely not in the classical sense of the word ‘structure’. You just need to free your mind & immerse yourself within Bell’s Worth musical story & enjoy this adventurous journey.
Speaking about musical journeys it’s time to introduce the mastery of Alon Mor from Israel. Another musical prodigy with extreme musical talent that hits you right in your face. Again, you can hear the mastery in every musical dimension you can think of. His sound is mind-blowing, his compositions are fascinating & he is a master of drama & story-telling. You can constantly feel & hear his meticulous attention to detail. I can hear influences ranging from post-romanticism ( Mahler, Wagner ) to early twentieth century music (Shostakovich , Bartok , Stravinsky) to modern electronic music (Stockhausen) together with funk, oriental, trap, hardcore & noise among many other influences. This eclectic tapestry is woven by the hand of a musical genius into one coherent piece of musical mastery. I chose 2 of his compositions for this list but I highly recommend listening to ANYTHING this musical genius releases. Enjoy the trip. Watch your ears & speakers…
We’re now heading back to France. There is a very long & respected tradition of electronic music & sound research in France back from the days of Musique concrète by Pierre Schaeffer followed by the IRCAM institute with French composer & conductor Pierre Boulez until today with the plethora of software & hardware for electronic music creation. Therefore I believe it is not a coincidence that we find many French musicians & composers pioneering electronic music & sonic territories. Qebrus is a great example. His extraterrestrial electronic soundscapes are hard to define & categorize. I will quote from the release notes of his Exophobia album : “sounds like if you were typing encrypted Morse code in a shuttle entering an asteroid field while listening to Autechre on a destroyed holographic device.” I hope it says anything to you…if not please remember the Frank Zappa quote. I think the best thing I can suggest now is yet again to find a good sound system or headphones, some free time from distractions & then immerse yourself with the Qebrus alien universe. Don’t forget to get back to planet earth…
Qebrus’s Exhphobia album was released on the excellent & innovative Bedroom Research label founded by Matt Subjex which brings us to our next French sound magician. Subjex is a sound design master & original composer. You can hear it in every bit & byte he creates .His music is quite diverse encompassing many different styles from distorted & glitchy rhythmic funk to completely abstract & experimental soundscapes. I love the way he manipulated the great Glen Velez frame drum sounds into a unique tapestry of sonic images with his signature sound design & mastery. Magnetic Funk is yet another example of his sonic prodigy & great sense of rhythm & texture. This track has a rather funky approach if I can use this word in this musical context…
We end our journey with the phenomenal French duo Alesia. Originally signed at the Owsla label of the dubstep legend Skrillex the music of this unique sound wizards blows you away reaching new levels of sonic power & perfection. They are also an inspiration for this blog with their moto : We make music.Fuck a genre. They used to be Nicolas and Lémuel but it seems that now they are n ö m a k +d e v o t e d t o g o d. Their Soundcloud page used to have lots of their less commercial & more experimental music but it seems there was a legal issue with it & many of this groundbreaking tracks are now gone. I picked 2 of their compositions from the Filet Mignon album 3 years ago which I believe provide a great introduction to their musical prodigy. The 1st one is quite definitely produced by Alesia & the 2nd one is a remix of their milestone track Bird Machine with DJ Snake. Now I stop the talkin’ & you do the listenin’…..
I hope you enjoyed our musical roller coaster. I apologize for all the amazing non formula musicians I haven’t included here. I know there are very many of you ! Maybe in my next blog ? Feel completely free to write any sort of comment to this post & add your insights.