Once more, I have found myself listening to a lot of different genres, but not enough of any one genre to really warrant an exposition on it. Nonetheless, there are some artists I’d like to share while they are fresh in my mind, and so here we are.
Ghostpoet. Ghostpoet is a real treat. He is a hip-hop artist, in a sense, but he is unique from anything I’ve ever heard for a couple of reasons. First, his delivery is quite unorthodox. It’s partly because of his heavy British accent, and partly because of his drawling flow. It is a mixture between singing the verses and speaking them. Second, his production is a very subdued electronica that makes for a very calming listening experience. It isn’t the “based” style of Lil B and witch house; it isn’t the extravagant, complex style of instrumental hip-hop. Strangely, it seems to bear little resemblance to any hip-hop that comes to mind. It varies from indie sounds to hints of EDM. It makes each of his songs a refreshing experience.
Let’s take Survive It as an example. It sounds vaguely like a lot of things, but I can’t place it. It’s a very calming song, at any rate. Then we have Liiines, which actually reminds me of Kings of Leon. And just when I’m starting to think his schtick is to be rock-centric, I find Us Against Whatever Ever¹, which is reminiscent of UK Garage (with a little bit of trance). I really enjoy the creative liberties Ghostpoet takes on his production throughout both of his albums, and I highly recommend him.
I’ve been on a “female-fronted ambient” tilt, of late. I’m inclined to call it light drone, compared to the darker drone sounds of Sunn O))). It has drone elements to it, but it’s not “sludge” slow, and it uses a lot of higher frequency sounds. The two artists below are my favorites, at the moment.
Julianna Barwick. The Highest is a good representation of Julianna’s sound. She loops sounds over and over again, adding layer after layer, building up to very lush soundscapes. Her music is more inherently repetitive than what I normally listen to, but it is good daydreaming music. Songs like Cloudbank seem to make time move slower. I have not listened to Nepenthe, her 2013 release, but judging by The Harbinger, it sounds like she has added more depth to her tracks, so if you weren’t convinced so far, you might enjoy that album.
Grouper. Poison Tree is the song that caught my attention, with Grouper. Her style is very different from Barwick’s. She is more of a shoegaze artist, and her tracks are more conventional in format than the loop machine-produced songs we just heard. Her sound is creepy, in a good way. There are other genres of music that are creepy due to being intentionally abrasive, but Grouper’s tracks just put me on edge because they are subtly restrained. For example, songs like Vital seem to build up tension throughout the track, but they never explode. No one would accuse Grouper of going hard. One of my favorite tracks by her is A Light Change, but unfortunately, it is not on youtube. Thankfully, my boy Lil B sampled the entire track on his song Above The Light. I’m sure there will be no regrets for anyone who gives that a listen.
Joanna Newsom. Newsom is one of the strangest artists I’ve heard in a while. She is a very talented harpist, which is rare enough in modern music, but the most peculiar thing about her is her singing voice. I’m just going to let Peach, Plum, Pear handle the shock factor before I explain further. It sounds like a mixture of “young girl” and “chipmunk squeaking,”² but the fact is that she sings quite well; once you’re used to her voice, it is very enjoyable. She has many songs of above-average length, like Emily, in which she also brings in symphonic sounds. It seems like she often invokes fantasy imagery in her songs, such as Monkey & Bear. Oddly enough, that means she is kind of like a soft power metal artist.
That does it for me, today. I’m contemplating writing another long rant on “taste in music,” since I’ve been in several arguments on the subject, lately. It is proving, as always, to be a very tedious topic, so we’ll see what comes of that.
¹Which has a rather different sound live.
²It should remind people of CocoRosie, if they’ve listened to much contemporary folk music. It just worked out that one of the only artists in the genre that I’d heard prior to Newsom was CocoRosie, so I couldn’t claim I had never heard someone sing like that.