The listening experience is oft-times complex, strange, and explicitly challenging… but an experience it is! Moreso, many avant-garde artists are rattling the concept of music as an art form, leading to some groundbreaking leaps forward. Hence, these artists assume a militaristic stance against conformity and convention, bravely attacking the status-quo to mould traces of new possibilities. I welcome all thee tired of familiarity, replayability, or just downright good hooks.
Gigs of the week
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The year's best avant-garde and experimental music includes both Merzbow, the biggest name in noise, and Moor Mother, its most exciting new star. There's artists that sculpt with cassette tapes, overtones, generative software and field recordings of Icelandic geothermal activity. And a pair of Grammy-nominated albums, soundtracking one of 's most popular TV shows, may be a gateway to experimental music for years. Here's in the off-center and exploratory. Los Angeles—based artist Bethan Kellough accompanies some fairly gorgeous field recordings of Earth — geothermal activity in Iceland, wind rushing through the bushes in a South African savanna — with a tasteful amount of her own violin. The blend of rushing wind with her cinematic sweeps, part documentary and part whimsical fiction, is sometimes magical and sometimes terrifying.
In , it started to get a little hard to tell where the electronic vanguard ended and the songwriter world began, with a generation of sound-sculpting envelope pushers all working — to varying degrees — on the fringes of writing tunes. Berlin-based expressionist electronic duo Amnesia Scanner turn their pulsating VR-noise into something sort of resembling songs — voices distended and yowling and sprayed into pixels, chugging noise that feels like held guitar notes. At turns fragile and explosive, it sounds like something between modern composition, electroacoustic music, mutant techno, and pure, punk-y chaos. Guttersnipe are an ecstatic, disgusting, blown-out, art-groove-and-rainbow-noise yowl duo from Leeds, England. Drummer Tipula Confusa is a throwback to the beastly pummel of noise-punk bands like Lightning Bolt, Hella and Deerhoof, a mix of body-music brawn and brain-music freneticism. Guitarist Uroceras Gigas has an expressionist gurgle to her guitar like Sonic Youth or Pissed Jeans though, more accurately, the wave of mid-Aughts squealing subterranean noiseniks like Sightings, Rusted Shut and Air Conditioning. From moody banks of lush drone, sounds emerge like creatures from behind the jungle brush and notes appear like car radios rushing by in the night. A house beat throbs in the distance, possibly a memory of dancefloors past, possibly a lighthouse to help guide you through this impressionist symphony of colors.