Loop de Loop: A movement of sound afoot (download mixtape link, tracklisting below)
Don’t call it a movement or it’s bound to perish, right? Well, farewell to the following because I cannot really contain myself from sharing the realization that there’s a very noticeable tide away from much of the music I gravitated towards in the past. Recently, it occurred to me that, no matter how 60’s influenced much of the music being created right now is, the big difference is that while they went electric, we’re going electronic. And refreshingly, it’s in a style that’s wholly unique. For the first time, I think I’m beginning to realize what the next step of that means, not just applicable to music, but many facets of life, technology and art — and the intermixing of them all. Taking electronic elements and making them sound ornate and natural is where we are. Because, as a good friend of mine said as I poured over his art, although containing organic elements had elements that were strikingly contemporary and artificial: “I’m not going to pretend that I don’t spend two hours online every day.”
I feel that his statement really captured the collective consciousness of those that choose to positively embrace the increasingly technological aspects of our every day life, a decision not easily made. The arrival of Animal Collective’s “Water Curses” EP and the plethora of other dare I say connected releases by other artists over the past 2 years has really highlighted that experience and realization for me. For me that was immediately proceeded by the question of, “What is being made right now that couldn’t have been made in any other decade?” A difficult question to answer and, given the nature of the music we cover on here, made it even more difficult. It then became obvious that there are artists that may not push the boundaries of innovation far; they work within their realm on a level that makes their music truly unique and lasting. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t artists who are truly crafting something that’s never been fully done before and to not acknowledge that would be downright ignorant. I suppose it all depends on if you’re in that old camp of resenting Dylan for going electric, lord knows there’s plenty of parallels to that type in our generation. Animal Collective have shed their instruments and never sounded more full as a band, the moment I realized that was when I could begin to understand what’s going on. Open yer ears and you’ll be rewarded, I certainly have been. Rather than try and fully deconstruct what it is that I think these new seemingly connected artists are doing, I’m just going to throw some of it out there at you in form of a mixtape and song/video roundup. Making electronics ornate, looping awkward melodies until they’re catchy, and reconstructing choruses to the point of sounding foreign before ultimately giving way to similar pop sensibilities that were last wandered into as well by the Beatles are only a part of where they’re taking music.
A key element for the first time is sincerity without irony. Unfortunately for the past near-decade it seems that if you wanted to be taken seriously you had better be seething with irony. The entire sincerity through a thick lens of irony construct has always troubled me. A big component of why the new folk movement seemed to stand out and as an aside from much of indie music was how visibly sincere the collective of artists are. Critics like Pitchfork Media didn’t always know what to do with it, often times evidenced by them admitting it aloud. I honestly feel that what these new artists are doing is the flip side to much of what Freak Folk/Naturalismo/NWA (Mostly Dre) has done. Whereas these new artists embrace technology in a sincere manner and combine it with a nostalgia for nature, much of the new folk movement has been escapist to a certain extent of turning its back on the realities of technological encroachment of every day life. Not that it’s a bad thing or even a necessary component to any of the artist’s music, it just is what it is. Silicon encapsulated folk. I’m forgetting how to handwrite things, filaments are becoming relics of the past, and the overly tangible aspects of life are increasingly being stripped away – a difficult thing to positively embrace but to do so is quite an achievement if you ask me.
As a side note, I’m growing increasingly frustrated with everyone casting a net over large swaths of artists and proclaiming them to be Animal Collective ripoffs, I think it’s only fair at this point to acknowledge that while they may have helped navigate the innovation of the sound, they’re not the end all be all of where it is going. Animal Collective are seemingly our generation’s Velvet Underground, not fully understood even within the same music scene of fans but pushing boundaries so far ahead of anyone else that it’s increasingly apparent that if you’re not into them now give it another 20 or 30 years and I’m sure your kids will be discovering them asking if you ever caught a show as you try and play it cool and explain that you never really understood them. It’s overwhelming to me how they’ve carved a path straight through all relevant music scenes over the past 8 years. From their early avant garde experimentations to their work with Vashti Bunyan, now losing all of their instruments and crafting some of the most wholly unique and innovative songs to ever grace these ears. It’s music that’s not always easy to fully digest upon first listen, but what truly groundbreaking artist has ever been?
I tried to select tracks from the artists that would be unfamiliar and fresh to even with those well acquainted with these artists.
Well then, take a listen and look-see:
Stream/download the tracks individually:
and observe (more to come):
Lucky Dragons – Morning Ritual
Animal Collective – Water Curses
El Guincho – Kalise
I also highly highly recommend, if you haven’t already, checking out the essential and incredible compilation of videos put together by Dean Spunt called “Post Present Medium: New Video Works” streaming here.
Some highlights from it: