Everyone likes music, right?
Well, I guess so. But you may want to stop and ask why you are listening to what is in your CD player or on your computer. Some people just think of all music as “background” music. That’s fine, critical listening (just like walking and chewing bubble gum) is not for everyone. But before acting as if your tastes are superior, ask yourself, when the last time you listened to a song on headphones without simultaneously doing another task. For that reason, along with a downturn in record industry profits in the last few years, most of the music that is released to mainstream music stores is shaped by image and marketing concerns.
I like a diverse range of music, so don’t get me wrong, there are some good artists on major labels – but I thought I would list a few bands that are a bit more obscure.
Here is a list of musicians from the past who don’t receive the recognition I think they deserve, and a few examples of electronic-based artists who have nothing to do with dance music. One thing that all of these musicians have in common is that they are virtually impossible to classify with standard record-shop labels.
Follow the links to learn more about each artist.
If you wish to “sample” some of these artists and don’t want the Recording Industry Association of America kicking down your door, check out the European-based Soulseek file-sharing network: www.slsknet.org. They got all you need.
Aphex Twin: Probably the most often cited influence by electronic artists, Richard D. James has been making electronic music for over 15 years now. From the UK, his compositions range from breakneck-paced “drill-n-bass” songs to the manipulation of electronic pianos triggered through computers. The label most of his albums can be found on is Warp Records, a bastion for good electronic acts.
Autechre: Sean Booth and Rob Brown make some of the most interesting and purely cerebral music on the planet. Their use of heavily computer-manipulated samples allows them to create soundscapes like no one else. Their sound is like a mechanical ocean, if that makes any sense. My recommendations are any song off of the albums Tri Repetae ++ or Confield. Autechre is also signed to Warp Records.Can: One of the best bands of the 1970s, Can have been around in one formation or another for close to four decades now. Their span of albums with Damo Suzuki on vocals are their most prolific and listenable. Suzuki does not sing lyrics so much as use his voice as a percussion element amongst rhythmically inventive beats and swells of sound. Classified as a psychedelic band by some, they are definitely not The Grateful Dead. Suggested albums: Tago Mago, Future Days and Ege Bamyasi.
The Books: Through the manipulation of mostly acoustic instruments and everyday sounds through computers, The Books create a collage of sound that still has the elements of more traditional songs. Another band that is impossible describe in terms of sound.
The No Twist/Lali Puna: Straddling the line between organic and electronic music, The No Twist and Lali Puna both share members who play instruments as well as program beats and other electronic sounds. From Germany, both of these projects release their albums on the Morr Music label.