Other Experimental (not especially electronic, dronescape, or new classical) on eMusic

What to say about this list?  Very challenging.  Nothing I’d subject anyone I know to, so welcome, strangers!  Similar to the new classical list that apparently underwhelmed, there are plenty of melodious moments tucked away to be appreciated, but noise and deliberate inaccessibility are far more frequent.  Be brave.

1. “Narcisos” - Caco (2018). The first track’s clarinet is mighty fine, guitars carry later songs, and the rest of this EP has some urban electronica/hip-hop and doesn’t feel like it was made by just one group of musicians.  Cohesive and quite mellow overall.  An interesting case to examine why some EPs are 99 cents and some like this are $1.49.   

2. “Alimpatakan” - Bombo Pluto Ova (2019).  Noise rock that’s more noise than rock from the Philippines.  Not relentless but still pretty overpowering.  Will clear your mind, the dancefloor, or your house of all current inhabitants in no time flat. https://bomboplutoovaph.bandcamp.com/releases 

3. “Burn to Grow Greener” - Dès Vu (2019).  If you’re like me, your collection could use more experimental music by women of color.  Distant, distorted vocals under rather than over lurching synths just barely melodic enough to make this one distinctive and engaging, but feel free to take your pick of Alabama’s finest experimental music on the Step Pepper label.  Note this 99-cent eMu album is extended over https://desvumusic.bandcamp.com/album/burn-to-grow-greener

4. “Vietnam” - Revolutionary Ensemble (1972).  Classic, free jazz on strings on—where else?—ESP-DISK for 99 cents.  Never noisy or grating like a lot of experimental music can be, and each instrument gets its proper showcase at some point over two long tracks.

5. “Vardo” - KUSHT (2019). I really wasn’t sure what to make of this 40+ minute, five-track, 99-cent album for a long time.  Given the length of each songs, there’s a long build to most of them, and while the label is Latin, multiple other world music elements are featured.  Vocals and accompaniment seem to shoot for entrancement and come close to achieving it, with more electronics involved as the album progresses.  Add a beat to the imagined caravan of your choice.

6. “Fears” - Hawk of the Low Hills (2014).  Electronic dub working with a lot of spoken word vocal samples, especially on the third track about jazz which talks time signatures while sounding more like rockabilly.  Worth the extra 50 cents over most EPs as the only semi-sound collage entry on here.  I’d love to know if anyone knows more like this, whether on eMu or not.  https://hawkofthelowhills.bandcamp.com/releases

7. “Héroe Anónimo” - Prinz (2003).  Had been on my wishlist for ages, and the high price was admittedly a deterrent.  Zappaesque in terms of fusion-y composition or like an acoustic Nobukazu Takemura, from Spain given the lisping, course language but often with Latin salsa elements.  There are some weak tracks on here like the electric piano “Para Inma,” and in ten+ minutes the best ones also have highly questionable moments.  Laid back lounginess won’t be to everyone’s taste.  One is likely to prefer either the instrumental or explicit tracks, but having both makes for quite an uneven epic.  If only the guy on the cover had successfully whacked Dubya with a frying pan at the turn of the century, he’d truly be my hero. 

8. “Costuras Que Me Bordam Marcas na Pele” - Paola Kirst (2018).  A fantastic bargain at 99 cents, as are many on Escápula Records, I don’t know any Latin jazz I’d prefer over this.  Vocal experimentation sometimes reminds me of Zap Mama on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop as well as Sheila Chandra.  Fun guitar work on the second track’s intro, pretty wild piano throughout, and other surprises abound.  This album will keep one guessing what’s next.   

9. “The North” - Sergei Zagny (2013).  To call this stark and uninviting would be a great understatement.  Woodwinds take turns evoking a Siberian landscape in a mild blizzard that threatens to clear but never does.  

10. “Abstractions” - Europa 51 (2003).  The lineup of a supergroup, mostly instrumental and mixing unusual genres like bluegrass in surprising ways, with occasional vocals from deceased Stereolab member Mary Hansen.  Universally given 4-star rating by eMu & AMG.  https://lorecordings.bandcamp.com/album/abstractions-lo38

11. “Sacred Vacation” - Lexie Mountain Boys (2008).  Ironically named with apparently all women in the group, this is a cappella and somewhere between chanting, rounds, and general moaning. This one is every bit as polarizing as the ratings suggest.  Sample before dropping $6.50 on it, or pay the price.  

On other lists:  “Dislalia” - Carlos Marks.  “Beneath the Waves” - Seacircle.  “Milk” - PeroPero.  “V” - Senko.  

On wishlist but haven’t afforded yet:  “Jumpcut” - Man Jumping (1985).  XIU XIU.  

Formerly on the site but gone:  Masayoshi Fujita https://masayoshifujita.bandcamp.com/album/apologues 

; Cheval de Frise; The Books/Zammuto/Paul De Jong; The Evolution Control Committee; 

I think I need to take a break from experimentation but will come back to ambient and dronescapes later.  Promise.  


  • Experimental Overload!   

    In the spirit of defunding over-militarized police departments infiltrated by white supremacists and experimenting w/ more community-based options, here are some more experimental albums I’ve enjoyed recently.  I can’t say much really ties them together (even in terms of electronic Vs. acoustic) other than being beyond popular music by a good measure.

    No expectation these will light up the dormant commentary, but I hope they’ll intrigue and challenge you as enjoyably as they did me.  Why not try something totally different?  

    1. “Outliers” - Sybarite5 (2019).  Not to be confused w/ the also excellent, electronic Sybarite on Temporary Residence, this is a highly enjoyable album offering a full hour for reading or close listening.  Not entirely new classical, as there’s a stringy blues number, but that’s the overall flavor even among what may not be their usual output (if we take the title at face value).  Very nicely done.  Apparently they’re best known for rearranging Radiohead for chamber quintet.  The album is in turn subtle, sweet, and forceful.  I enjoy reading to it, but it probably deserves more of one’s attention. https://sybarite5.bandcamp.com/album/outliers

    2. “Processed Harp Works, Volume Two” - Kris Keogh (2017).  Delivers on its title with near ambience.  His Bandcamp catalog is difficult to navigate, which might be why this album is still on eMusic.  Volume 1 is NYP.  https://kriskeogh.bandcamp.com/album/processed-harp-works-volume-2

    3. “Plafond 6” - Cucina Povera, Haron (2020).  The rest of the Plafond series on the BAKK label wasn’t as enticing as these soothing, low female vocals over electronic sound beds, though they’re all very likely worth a 99-cent download based on length alone.  I can’t tell if they’re singing lyrics in any particular language and would rather not scrutinize.  The third track on this one, Riffitelyä III, is the one to judge the album by.  IMO, it’s what takes the whole piece from moderately pleasant and interesting into the sublime range.  I’d liken it to the softer work by Loop Guru, Tom Middleton/Global Communication, or even a vastly slowed-down When Saints Go Machine, though I’m sure there’s a more apt comparison out there.  There’s too much going on in these tracks for them to be considered ambient, but they’d fit art installations and meditation/relaxation sessions equally well.  https://bakk.bandcamp.com/album/plafond-6

    4. “Akashic Records” - kita kouhei (2016).  The sound of water courses through this album, labeled new age by iTunes, but I think that doesn’t give it credit for all the playful experimentation going on.  Piano is chopped up almost in the manner of Oval.  Electronic rhythm is on the level of soft IDM, again intriguingly choppy, though often with an overriding piano melody on top of it all to give the songs a feeling of progression.  Almost an hour long and plenty interesting for more than audio wallpaper. https://naturebliss.bandcamp.com/album/akashic-records-lant019

    5. “Żółwie Aż Do Końca” - Maksymilian Gwinciński (2018).  I strongly recommend non-Poles copy and paste this one rather than try to type it perfectly.  I was going to put this one in the fusion list but decided that fusing Polish folk with experimental music is really just experimental folk.  Quite the epiphany.   This one’s “turtles all the way down” with long tracks of violins and flutes.  https://plexusofinfinity.bandcamp.com/album/maksymilian-gwinci-ski-wie-a-do-ko-ca

    6. “Msuic EP” - Klara Lewis (2014).  This starts unabashedly with what sounds like a massive short circuit in a wind tunnel with a live wire thrashing about menacingly, but from there it goes in softer, more mysterious directions more resembling music.  Even beats and human voices find their way into the tracks, but in no case would I call one a song.  More like post-industrial audio curiosities, overall quite listenable and reminiscent of Hoedh’s classic “Hymnvs” at times for its affectingly glacial pace.  https://pedermannerfeltproduktion.bandcamp.com/album/msuic-ep

    7. “Footfall” - Quest Ensemble (2014).  New classical chamber music with dips into jazz territory.  Piano and strings, they don’t really mix up the formula or even add rhythm instruments until the second half of the album, and then only once.  And that’s fine.  A rather melodramatic feeling pervades throughout.  This is a fine choice filed under “instrumental” for anyone who’d like experimentation to remain closely bound under constraints of seriousness and never leave the realm of musicality. https://qensemble.bandcamp.com/album/footfall

    8. “What Winter Was” - Jesse Sparhawk (2017).  Two acoustic tracks of solo “lever harp” about 15 minutes in length make this a fine album to read or relax to.  One can imagine the snow melting slowly in between the extended pauses between notes at times.  He also coughs at one point, suggesting these are unedited and recorded in one take, possibly improvised? It’s also a nice, untreated companion to #2 on the list.  Both have their charms, to be sure.  NYP.  https://phinery-catalogue.bandcamp.com/album/what-winter-was-2

    9. “Antelizan” - Tethys (2013).  Where do you personally draw the line between experimental electronic music and more general electronica and EDM?  For other styles, having track lengths between six and a half to nine and a half minutes could tip the scales into the experimental range in and of itself, but it’s hardly unusual for, say, house, trance, and techno to have longer mixes easily surpassing that while being entirely conventional or even generic oonce.  This three-track EP is one of the most interesting and engaging I’ve heard in a while, with a real sense of progression, and the feeling of being a soundtrack to something otherworldly and sinister.  There is a beat, which I guess might disqualify it for some very serious listeners, but it’s far more varied, occasionally plodding or fully rock in the closer, than driving or consistent.  There are builds, but it’s too long and atmospheric to be IDM, which also tends to be glitchier and play with rhythm more.  There is, in short, a real musical journey going on here, with a distinct beginning, middle, and end while also being a cohesive whole.  Would the praise be too lofty to compare it to Byetone if it was more inclusive and accepting of stranger, not strictly/starkly electronic sounds?  I also here some of Orbital in their prime.  This is a great deal at 99 cents (and not the only one), and I have high hopes for the rest of the discography (beware duplicate names). https://tethysmusic.bandcamp.com/

    10.  “Dilankex” - Oberman Knocks (2014).  As the stark album art suggests, this is an A-OK way to spend 99 cents.  The original track is a woozy, plodding electronic dystopia of barely unrecognizable elements, swinging like slow pendulum that gains and loses momentum.  Very little Autechre is left on eMusic, but the remix here is a doozie.  Dense and basically impenetrable electronics in constant danger of imploding, as is their signature sound, bearing little resemblance to the source material.  https://aperturerecords.bandcamp.com/album/dilankex-ep

    11.  “Sophism” - June or July (2018). Aptly named.  One 20-minute track that feels like a short film that never lets you recover your balance after establishing dizziness.  Beats, some more organic than electronic, weave in and out from behind a varied drone or a throbbing synth, and different sections combine these elements to similar effect.  Those used to “crescendocore” might either find it refreshing for eschewing a grand, final release passage, or unfulfilling.  NYP.  https://arrhythmianetlabel.bandcamp.com/album/sophism

    12. “Scatter” - Sam Mumford (2014).  Every instrument here has a disjointed, dark, and almost tortured sound at some point, and jumping from folk to rhythmic/percussive experimentation with and without vocals is an unusual choice.  A lot of unusual sounds on the acoustic guitar, and his singing is highly unpredictable.  What’s most impressive is that despite studious avoidance of any familiar structure, or even chords for that matter, each of these is clearly recognizable as a song, not just an exercise.  It would surprise me if his only connection to the excellent Jetsam album is the record label WW, which is now 3/3 top notch for my appreciation.  I will take this over folk singer-songwriters w/ an acoustic guitar any day of the week.  https://sammumford.bandcamp.com/album/scatter

    13. “PoorManMusic” - Philip Corner (2015).  Which is to say, pretty much, not music at all, or only its barest resemblance.  Not noise either, these are just sounds whose origins aren’t hard to discern.  It’s a statement, I suppose.  For 99 cents, there are worse things to listen to than shaking and rattling with no apparent purpose or pattern.  Pop music, for example.

    14. “Segments from Bari” - Trrmà, Charlemagne Palestine (2020).  The Jazz Engine label is usually quite reliable, even for 99 cents, but I’m not going to rave about this one.  Its two 20-minute tracks use organic elements, possibly piano and guitars, to build creeping dronescapes.  Somewhat ominous but always pretty quiet and restrained, as if no sound can occupy the space for more than a peek into the foreground.

    15. “O sole mio” - Rubik (2016).  It wasn’t easy taking the 99-cent dive on this 20-minute track based on a small sample.  It turns out to be noise that rises and falls over some kind of medical equipment and a symphony orchestra that fades in and out.  A palette cleanser, and I don’t know if I’ll be trying any more from Rubik.  I don’t regret this one, but it won’t be in heavy rotation either.

    Rather than reposting repeatedly, here’s my lists of what’s left on eMusic:  http://www.omnifoo.info/pages/eMuReddit.html 

    & by my evaluation http://www.omnifoo.info/pages/eMusic%20Labels.html

    & by genre https://www.emusers.net/forum/discussion/comment/94512/#Comment_94512 

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