Ten Experimental Electronic Albums I like on eMusic (non-droning and not quite noise).
In the vein of seasonal tone deafness, I figure most people would like to listen to the following about as much as I’d like to listen to Christmas showtunes, so let’s go to the edge of music versus noise, shall we?
There’s still plenty on eMusic to have to differentiate between what bills itself as experimental electronic music and what openly embraces the label of “noise.” Similarly, rest assured I’m hard at work on non-electronic experimental music which will have to be further separated from new classical, which tends to sound at least a bit experimental anyway. Ambient music and dronescapes are also excluded but forthcoming eventually in their own lists.
Much of the below revealed itself as just a little too far out there for my IDM list some weeks ago. I’d still call all of it music, and from time to time one can even hear things like melody creep in and out. I hope true experimental fans won’t stone me for it, and I promise that it’s all thoroughly undanceable. Definitely a higher percentage here for 99-cents (or “name your price”) as I’m not sure what other than the price point might attract most listeners.
1. “The Rest Is Bliss” - Philipp Otterbach (2019). Quietly, subtly melodic on the oddly titled first track “Interlude,” as if everything you’ve listened to up to now was just track zero for this fine bargain of an EP. In fact, I’d liken the de facto intro to the excellent work of “A Quiet Revolution.” From there, a beat does kick in, surrounded by other frenetic rhythmic elements and spacey beeps, and I would welcome anyone to the challenge of dancing to it. “The Weak Song” has a simple formula, with an emotional vocal sample that surprisingly doesn’t wear itself out on repeated listening. The two-part closer keeps the slow tempo but goes back to a more consistent beat. A chill but hardly still listen, this one’s most conducive to contemplation. https://knekelhuis.bandcamp.com/album/kh021-philipp-otterbach-the-rest-is-bliss-ep
2. “Demand & Possibility” - Unclean (2019). Noisy, metallic beats punctuate the opener of this half hour, 99-cent EP, along with industrial machinery sounds, however it’s more electronic overall than an Einsturzende Neubauten album. I think an actual industrial list of ten will be possible even without this one. An irregular, bold thump makes “A List of Things” my favorite for overpowering all the random noises going on around it, and the alternative version of the opener gets into Autechre territory. Beats are most prominent in the closing track. https://ante-rasa.bandcamp.com/album/ante12-unclean-demand-possibility
3. “Disruption” - Jetsam (2014). Among my favorite recent finds for 99 cents or otherwise, one might be tempted to dismiss it after the first track as just more pseudo dubstep with vocals. But keep listening. It gets downright weird (on “Taiko”), and I don’t use that generic term lightly or often. At least half non-electronic, with plenty of use for heavy guitars and drum sets, this is probably pop instrumental first, experimental second, and electronic third. Unusual also for carrying a melodic theme throughout the 25-minute run time. Hands down my favorite on this list. https://jetsamsound.bandcamp.com/album/disruption
4. “Soltar” - Carlomarco (2019). Frente Bolivarista only has four EPs on it for 99 cents each, but they’re all worth a listen for a take on electronica both mildly experimental and Afro-Latin. Carlomarco’s entry is spare and inoffensive for anyone who is allergic to the noise and otherwise dissonance throughout the rest of this list.
5. “Experimento de Ruido 134340” - Kaiser Moon (2016). Far more guitars on this than any other entry, these are borderline prog or psychedelia but set over the rhythm section of a vintage organ. Definitely not songs in the conventional sense. And despite having “noise” in the title and dueting between guitar and electronic noises, this is also among the least noisy and most mellow ones. The brief closer almost sounds like a Duck Stab-era Residents remix. https://kaisermoon.bandcamp.com/album/experimento-de-ruido-134340
6. “Panopticon” - DSCRD (2014). A 99-cent EP labeled as IDM with guitar stabs amidst dark and foreboding sounds set to electronic beats that pop in and out of the mix. Buzzing, whirring, and clicking, too, with building tension. Would Bentham and Foucault approve? Of the overall tone, perhaps. https://dement3d.bandcamp.com/album/dscrd-panopticon-ep-dm3d007
7. “Wet Dreams” - Yamori Kota (2016 or 2009). If others featured guitars in the guest spot, this relatively expensive EP does the same for the piano. There’s a lot of slicing up of sound on the two “Fragments” tracks in a manner similar to but much softer than Prefuse-73. I also hear a bit of Múm. The tone goes darker in the second half. https://yamorikota.bandcamp.com/album/wet-dreams
8. “Repeating Flowers” - Suplington (2017). After loving the more obviously musical 20-minute single “Music for Life Cycles (I-VII),” this album disappointed me at first, but now I can hear the goals of these lighter soundscapes were entirely different. https://suplington.bandcamp.com/album/repeating-flowers
9. “Plumbutter” - Batchas (2018). Value shoppers, look no further than this 99-cent epic of abstract techno, possibly all of which was improvised on analog modular synthesizers. https://batchas.bandcamp.com/
10. “Thismansadventure” - Cursor Miner (2010 or 2001). A highly reputable name in electronica for 99 cents. Maybe singing vocals vaguely resembling a pop song are a disqualifier, so this IDM gem of an EP can be buried at the bottom of the list. My preferred level of experimentation is approximately here, with at least some tracks offering clearly musical elements to grasp and invite repeated listening for purposes other than to wipe the aural palette clean. Plenty of electronic noise also, I assure you. https://shop.unchartedaudio.com/album/thismansadventure
I’ve got enough wish listed to remake this list at least once over. Some restraint, in this case financial, from just listening to everything I want to hear, as allowed by streaming, does serve a purpose. Having access to everything all the time might prevent me from listening to anything even twice, and I think that’s the bare minimum anything interesting deserves.
On other lists: “Fatal Light Attraction” - Kerridge (2016). “Music for Life Cycles (I-VII) - Suplington (2016)