March’s Independent Clauses Spotify playlist continues to scour for unusual music: video-game mashups, trumpet ensembles, twee instrumentals, organ drones, hang drum music, experimental vocal ambience, and more.
Zelda and Chill – Mikel. Iconic video-game music mashed up with low-key beats for a maximum chill experience. Lots of video-game mashups are jokes, but this is pristine and excellent. Highly recommended.
Layers – AAESPO. One of my favorite discoveries of March, AAESPO’s brass compositions have the “rushing water” feeling of many of Michael Gordon’s experimental compositions, but they aren’t stretched out to hour-long efforts, nor are they abrasive. Instead, these are dense, melodic, enthusiastic approaches to layering standard and modified horn (primarily trumpet) sounds. These are beautiful and unique; I would wager that many contemporary listeners (including myself!) will have had no prior experience to music of this type but will find many connections to other types of music they do like. Highly recommended.
Scenery – Snail’s House. Twee instrumental music that lives in the space between Lullatone’s heavily descriptive twee scenes and more abstract post-rock like The Album Leaf.
Luminous Emptiness – Hang Massive. Dreamy, delicate, comforting music made on the hang drum, a sort of tiny version of a steel drum.
Sunset & Formosa – DJ Dister. Funky, groovy instrumental beats with jazz and trip-hop influences.
Siren Islands and Bird Under Water – Arooj Aftab. If you like Julianna Barwick’s great clouds of vocals but think they’re just not experimental enough for you, Arooj Aftab has your back. This is truly inventive and complex music for those who love outsider sounds, full of noodling synths, manipulated vocals, distant sounds, atmospheric washes, and all sorts of unusual combinations of those.
What Are You – Underground System. Do you ever wonder what LCD Soundsystem would sound like if the lead singer were female? Try “Just a Place” for the answer; the band nicks the vocal patterns, lyrical fragments, rubbery bass rhythms, extended jam philosophy, and the call-and-response vocal structure to create the best tribute to LCD Soundsystem I’ve ever heard. The rest of the record is a compelling mix of bass-guitar-heavy dance music, electro burbles, atmospherics, and fun.
The Untuning of the Sky – Sarah Davachi. Layered organ drone is not something I ever thought I would be really into, but lo, here we are. Davachi’s drones are at times warm and inviting (“Spanish Banks”) and elsewhere menacing and tough (“Rainbands”). I’m not sure where one would start if one wanted to get into organ drone as a genre, but this seems like as good a place as any.