Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

As We Continue to Find Our Way: Spotify Playlists

January 14, 2019

So, I’ve been experimenting a lot since November when I posted the essay that re-oriented the site toward instrumental music. I’ve been listening to things in genres way outside of what Independent Clauses usually covers: the trippy psych of Wojciech Karolak, the string-quartet-meets-Pueblo-traditional-music of Ethel + Robert Mirabal’s The River, Youssra El Hawary’s contemporary Egyptian music, Ranky Tanky’s surprisingly quiet Gullah music, Ølten’s post-metal, Antonín Dvořák’s classical work, Chick Corea’s jazz, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s minimalist composition, the beautiful post-everything of the Monument Valley 2 video game soundtrack and more. (You may notice that not all of this is strictly instrumental. It is what it is.) I can’t possibly write about all of this in depth: I’m currently at a buffet, eating food I’ve never tasted before and not really knowing how to explain what I’m tasting. There’s also a lot more than I can possibly understand in the sort of depth that I usually try to achieve before I write a review.

So I’ve come up with a plan, one that I think will serve me and you well. With apologies to Apple Music listeners and my former self, I’ve created a Spotify Playlist called January 2019: etc. I’m adding everything I think is interesting and worth multiple listens to the list. This will help me keep track of what I’m discovering and help you follow along, if you are so inclined. Everything I listed in the previous paragraph is in the playlist right now; the playlist is already 13 hours long. My goal is to create one of these every month in 2019.

This has the added bonus of getting me back into the habit of playlists: I realized several years ago that I use playlists in a similar way that some people use journals. They mark and make concrete specific moments in time; this allows for the events being marked to be analyzed now and in the future. They are tools and, later, memories. They are comforting now and in the future. They are one of the ways I think about my past self. I’m excited to be putting myself back into that habit.

I still think Spotify’s business model is unsustainable (even though I am a paying user), but that’s a different post for a different day. I’m not using Apple Music (despite their potentially-more-sustainable subscription-only model) because when I did use it, it was hard for me to understand and use the user-created playlist functions. It seems like their tools/UI on that end have gotten better recently, but it’ll take a lot to get me back over the hill to try it out again and see if I want to switch. The one ace card that Apple Music has for me: I have a ton of old playlists on iTunes that I could move into Apple Music, if their playlist functionality has gotten better. But for now, it’s Spotify for this project.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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