Okay, so I think it’s about time I ventured over to the heavier side of music. I’m not always in the mood to listen to something aggressive and/or with heavy distortion, but when I am, I’m ready to RAGE. Throughout many of the formative years of my youth, I satisfied this desire by listening to heavy metal music – everything from Dream Theater to Periphery, from Avenged Sevenfold to Sum 41 (my punk rock phase directly preceded the heavy metal phase). Once I started going to college, I was exposed to heavy electronic bass music (Zomboy comes to mind), which fulfilled the same need for chest-pounding, head-banging jams. Having established all of that history, you can imagine my delight when I first discovered The Algorithm, the musical lovechild of metal and dubstep. I can say, without a doubt, that Rémi Gallego (the man behind the moniker) has one of the most unique sounds that I’ve ever been exposed to. Basically, he combines modern djent metal breakdowns with experimental glitch electronica, and throws an ample helping of dubstep wobbles in there for good measure. Okay, now read that sentence again. Intrigued yet? Let’s continue then.
Building a bridge between heavy metal music and electronica is a daring move, no question. Although you certainly have the potential to appeal to two huge audiences instead of one, you also run the risk of polarizing the entire playing field. Mashing together two styles with entirely separate fan bases may lead to both groups rejecting you. I could definitely see such a thing happening, but only if the artist wasn’t very well-versed in both styles. One listen to Polymorphic Code (The Algorithm’s first and only studio album), and it’s obvious that we’re dealing with a highly skilled musician.
I’ve got to say that one of my favorite things about the current music industry is this strong resurgence of jam band music and culture that’s been going on for the past several years. As someone who wishes they had been alive to witness the explosion of psychedelic rock, progressive rock, and the jam band scene in the ’60s and ’70s, I am extremely happy about the genre’s relatively unimpeded longevity. After the Grateful Dead’s disbandment in 1995 as a result of guitarist and frontman Jerry Garcia’s death, the band Phish stepped in to fill the gap. Although they never achieved quite the amount of success and popularity that the Dead had, they certainly helped to keep the scene alive for the next decade. They were also an integral part of the rise of large-scale music festivals in the modern era. If you think about all of the festivals that host yearly events now – Bonnaroo, Coachella, Camp Bisco, Rootwire, Lightning in a Bottle, All Good, Wakarusa – the list goes on and on.
Dopapod is a group that is quickly rising to the forefront of the jam band scene. Born in 2007, they recently released their third studio album, Redivider, on 12/21/12. The entire record was recorded in a barn at Tyrone Farm, a solar powered farm in Pomfret, Connecticut. Despite the fact that it was released less than a year after their previous album, Drawn Onward (side note: if you haven’t picked up on this yet, the band really likes palindromes), there is nothing about Redivider that gives away any sense of rushed preparation. As a matter of fact, the entire thing is pure, musical gold.
I always love it when two musicians who have both put in the time developing their individual careers and finding success with their respective projects decide to come together to create a collaborative album. We saw this a few days ago with Storm Corrosion, the joint endeavor of Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt. Today, I’ve got another such project, just released about a month ago on Kscope, a sub-label of Snapper Music which specializes in “post-progressive” music. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Wisdom of Crowds, an album released by Bruce Soord and Jonas Renkse.
Bruce Soord is most popularly known for his role as the founder and creative mastermind behind The Pineapple Thief. Started in 1999, The Pineapple Thief has released nine studio albums over a thirteen-year career, including the most recent record, All the Wars. The group has become well-known in indie and progressive rock circles as a result of their unique stylistic crossovers between the two styles.
To be perfectly honest, this is probably one of the craziest albums of music I’ve listened to. And I’ve heard a lot of weird, bizarre music. Don’t let me scare you away with such a description, though. It’s crazy in a good way! Great, now I sound like I’m crazy. I need to stop saying crazy. Okay, moving on.
The point here is that in a world where it seems almost impossible to come up with any sort of new, original music, The Flashbulb has succeeded in bring us Hardscrabble, one of the most unique electronic glitch records to date. I can only imagine how much time and effort must have been put into making this album. And it’s all the work of a single man: Benn Jordan, a.k.a. The Flashbulb. As it says on the website of Alphabasic, the record label he founded himself: “The only common quality that Hardscrabble‘s songs share is unorthodox time signatures, microtonal piano melodies, and the most accomplished synthesis that we’ve seen from Jordan, in both analog and computerized website.”
Are you intrigued yet? Even if you’re not a huge fan of electronica music, I would urge you to check out this guy’s music for the sheer purpose of expanding your mind and hearing something that I can assure you you’ve never heard before. The music on Hardscrabble isn’t just made up of a bunch of random noises (well technically it is, if we wanted to get esoteric here). There is a level of familiarity present that helps us connect. Although everything is digital synthesis, it’s easy to picture a virtual band playing. There are clear distinctions between drums, bass, keyboard pads, and guitar, plus a large helping of other processed effects. One track, entitled “The Basement Trio,” brings to mind a strong mental image of an actual trio playing music in – you guessed it – a basement. In a way, we should actually give The Flashbulb an extra wave of applause. Despite being limited to nothing but digital sounds, he manages to create music in a form that is absolutely recognizable and relatable to the common ear.
The indie scene in today’s music industry is as strong as ever. What originally began in the 1980s with the rejection of mainstream synthpop tendencies in favor of much rawer, grunge-influenced sound has metamorphosed into a unbelievably diverse collection of bearded, flannel-clad modern musicians. Of course, that’s a very simple way of describing it, but you get the idea. The point is that the concept of the highly independent artist who has total control of the creative side of their music. So now let’s dial our focus in quite a bit and shine the spotlight on a particular group from Great Britain named Clock Opera.
Although the band was first formed in 2009, they did not release their debut album, Ways to Forget, until 2012. Some would say that three years is a long time to prepare an album, but I would argue that there is no standard duration for such a feat. The one thing that can be said for certain is that the prolonged wait for the group’s debut was definitely worth it. After listening to the record many times and letting it sink in, its true potential shines through. Just as a fine wine matures with age, so too does Ways to Forget reap the benefits of its delayed release date.
Album artwork for Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar
First of all, I would like to extend my best holiday wishes to each and every one of my readers! Your support has been truly inspirational, and I thank you all for it. I hope that all of you had a very Merry Christmas! As a holiday treat, today I would like to present you with one of the most musically unique albums that I have encountered in the past year. Let no one say that Rich Vreeland, also known as Disasterpeace, does not have a distinctive sound. He is the mastermind behind Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar, an album that combines the glitchy wonder of retro video game music with the musical complexity of progressive rock. Well, that’s certainly an interesting twist. If a band like Seventh Wonder or Dream Theater had decided to write electronic-based music for an 80s adventure game, this might have been the result. Let’s take a closer look!
This music represents a bit of an indulgence for me. Those of you that follow this blog regularly have probably realized by now that I am a big fan of progressive rock. It is the genre that I grew up with, and it will definitely always hold a special influence in my musical endeavors. I am also a passionate video game music enthusiast. The world of video games is the perfect theater for compositional experimentation. Different moods can be created for different scenarios in the game, characters can each be assigned their own musical themes, and dramatic interpretation is an omnipresent element. There is so much inspiration that can be drawn from various components of a game, and composers use this inspiration to create a sonic world that helps the game take on a whole new life.