This month’s Music Discovery Blog comes from one of our Associate Music Supervisors, Patrick Milgram, who discusses why it is important to leave the music algorithms behind. Along with his three featured tracks, Patrick has hand picked 25 songs he recommends to get your playlist out of it’s feedback loop.
A world of automation and algorithms should be utopic for an indecisive person, right? More and more, it seems that we’re relying on our technology and applications to spoon feed us the next best thing based on our listening and viewing habits. While I was grateful for my streaming services queuing up the next best thing that fit my interests, over time, I began experiencing a creeping feeling of unease that I was missing out on something. I felt some relief reading this article about independent online radio stations, which spoke to the eclecticism and unpredictability of human curation – it validated many of my feelings about automated recommendations.
Rather than spending days streaming music and experiencing a feedback loop of the actual feedback loops in the Shoegaze music I often listen to, I’ve recently found relief listening to online radio stations. Some of my favorite online radio shows have been mixing experimental and ambient music into the styles of music I love, and it’s provided a really interesting experience as a listener. Brian Eno once said that “ambient music must be as ignorable as it is interesting,” but it seems many contemporary ambient style musicians are challenging that principle and DJs have found ways to segue into these tracks across genres in a way I never thought possible.
So, with all that in mind, I wanted this blog to focus on some recent experimental finds courtesy of old-school human curation. In the words of Wayne Coyne, “it’d be tragic if those evil robots win.”
Artist: Julianna Barwick/Mary Lattimore
Track: Never Saw Him Again
Last year’s release from harpist Mary Lattimore “Hundreds of Days” was recently re-imagined by other experimental musicians and one track titled “Never Saw Him Again” really stood out to me. Julianna Barwick remixing Mary Lattimore is like falling into the second dream level in the inception of ambient music. There’s also a beautiful, spacey track courtesy of Jónsi to open this album.
Artist: Nils Frahm
Track: Sweet Little Lie
German composer and neoclassical artist Nils Frahm recently released the second in a series of three EPs as a follow-up to last year’s album All Melody. Known for his unique and inventive recording techniques (for his most recent work he spent years renovating a recording space at the storied Funkhaus in Berlin and constructing his own mixing console), Encores 2 was recorded through an amplified stone well Frahm found on Mallorca. This is the opening track to album.
Side note: You can take a tour of his recording space here.
There’s interestingly very little known about this album – rumors suggest that it was recorded in Japan sometime in the 80s but that’s about it. Since being recorded it has cultivated a cult following (drawing comparisons to famed ambient pioneer Hiroshi Yoshimura) and it was officially released last October to the delight of Japanese ambient music fans via Berlin’s Dead Bison Records. The Japanese word natsukashii roughly translates to “nostalgic” and, while we may not know the album’s true origin story, that’s the best description of the album that I can think of.