Monday, 6 May 2013

Pattern Recognition: The New Online Weird


Hey - I've started a new monthly column for Electronic Beats magazine called 'Pattern Recognition'. The first entry is here (click to read), looking at some emerging online experimental beat music producers who work with imaginative contrast, subtly dark mood and inter-textural dissonance. The music linked in the article, by a i r s p o r t s, Karmelloz and RAP/RAP/RAP is certainly worth checking out. There's also a bit on Ferraro's latest phase, Sushi and Cold.

"Surely if music were to be creeping into unvisited territories, the very first thing that you’d notice about it would be its fresh weirdness and a vague sense that it doesn’t quite make sense. This would not be the time to start dismissing new artists, or their online means of distribution and communication, as merely ‘weirder’—it would be the time to start listening very carefully...

Something else marking these producers out is that their music is not particularly conceptual—that is, it’s not obviously ‘about’ anything in particular, and doesn’t overridingly express recognizable cultural concepts before we’ve dived into its abstract qualities, such as mood and sonic characteristics. In today’s underground pop music, this is relatively unusual...

Sushi, however, was much less forthcoming, mysteriously offering nothing but a black cover bearing the title, track names too general and simplistic to suggest anything as specific as before, and sounds that were either too basic or too complex to spark much recognition... This abstract space, where you have little but your senses and your emotions to guide you, is the one a i r s p o r t s, Karmelloz and RAP/RAP/RAP invite you to explore...

“dont need u”, in which the drop is a stuttering voice dangling precariously above a chasm of warm, razor synths. Or “coolDown©”, which is like approaching a giant yellow happy house smiley, only to find out that it’s really a backlit aquarium filled with algal slime and mutant shrimp... “Clarity” is a prancing hypnagogic disco until one of the characters from Street Fighter II shows up and starts pummelling the guests at hyperspeed (and yet the music goes on, he shows up here every night)...

RAP/RAP/RAP’s kick drum is relentless and usually much too loud, the claps and scrapes of the drum machine claw at your ear canals, the background pads and strings are nauseous, the samples are totally unexpected, and the ever-dissonant synths (an advanced case of the relatively rare FM variety) are like bars of sharpened glass. Her/his music is crude, basic and seems urgently purposive, but what the purpose might be is too unreadable for the club. Perhaps it’s in the spectacular contrast-yet-unity between the brutal percussion and the twinkling menace of the chimes...

To date, Karmelloz’s favorite strategies involve careful manipulation of the frequency spectrum, muffling rolling waves of organic ambience and surgically overlaying thin metallic structures and boldly incongruous voices that introduce dissonance. He’s a surrealist, one that has not forgotten that the most troubling dreams are just as much about their scarcely expressible emotional tinge as their bizarre juxtapositions...

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