Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Cellar Door Collective

August 19, 2013


Cellar Door is a pretty common name for a band, thanks to an also-pretty-common reference to the two-word phrase as the or one of the prettiest phrases in the English language. The modern interest in the name is largely fueled by its mention in cult classic weird-out time-travel head-spinner film Donnie Darko. Whether or not the three-artist collective in DC is a fan of Frank, I don’t know. But their murky, enigmatic, tense music would be a perfect fit for the soundtrack.

RCRDS, Cinocal, and Pines effectively showcase their stuff on Cellar Door Compilation Vol. 1, giving a good picture of the related but different interests of each entity. They all fall somewhere in the outsider hip-hop realm: RCRDS and Pines do the Clams Casino instrumental thing, while Cinocal occasionally throws down bars over the beats.

The instrumentals split into two types: There are a bunch of atmospheric, near-ambient pieces that are eerie mood-setters, while tunes like “Old Jazz Standard” are literally old jazz pieces chopped up and re-appropriated. I’m a much bigger fan of the ambient/artsy stuff, like Cinocal’s “cloudage,” Pines’ “philosophy of time travel” and RCRDS’ “i feel dizzy.” There’s some R&B/soul-style stuff thrown in, as well as some more upbeat stuff, but it’s largely focused on chilling the listener out. And I’m down with that.

If you’re into instrumental hip-hop, I’d give this one a listen. Who knows, they could end up on a Kanye jam somewhere, because srsly that guy loves to discover undiscovered producers.


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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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