As it’s easy to get used to following Pitchfork and NPR Music, many of my listening suggestions have come from these two mediums. While NPR still maintains quite a bit of diversity, it’s unavoidable to realize the growing popularity of both minimalist and experimental music. Of course, this week All Songs Considered (the syndicated NPR production that has become a podcast) discusses GlobalFest 2012 and the world music under this festival from Asian to Zimbabwean, however, a couple of episodes ago the staff reviewed the music of 2011 in an episode. Many of the bands chosen as favorites exposed this favoritism of minimalist and experimental. Among the gems: “Gold” by The Delay Trees, “Silence” by Herzog, “You Yes You” by TuneYards, as well as a track from the new Bon Iver album and “You’ve Passed,” the only recent Neutral Milk Hotel material in years.
Pitchfork, while simultaneously endorsing big names like Adele, Kanye West, and Drake, dives even further into this minimalist love affair. Recently, they’ve been obsessed with a few artists that I feel need a little light shed on them. Holy Ghost! recently released their album Green Label Sound producing a rather 80s-based record frequently using a synthesizer. HG is an American electro-pop duo from NYC that’s been obsessed with the progressions and regressions behind the 80s style. Oneohtrix Point Never, otherwise known as Daniel Lopatin out of Brooklyn, has released two uniquely melancholic albums in the last two years: Returnal (2010) and Replica (2011). His cut-up of old Saturday morning cartoons laid under his song “Replica” has become popular in the forum and internet music world, promoting an even more entrancing album. The ambient darkness behind these tracks is unforgettable, and the double video release they did with their record label is a fantastic listen. The label records the vinyl spinning and playing on a modern record player with high-quality sound to go with it. While most songs are progressive in nature, a couple of them (like Replica for instance) are stand-alone and fantastically moving.
Where all the artists mentioned thus far have been decently polar in their experimental or minimalist extremes, Wally De Backer (a Belgian-Australian with the stage name Gotye) has formed a quirky niche of his own in the minimalist trend. His recent song “Somebody That I Used to Know” has gone to the tops of several charts, especially those with indie ties like NPR and Pitchfork. More locally, the song has been frequently featured on Gannon’s 90.5 WERG during several different programs. While the song is rather bluntly a break-up song at its base, the instrumental work behind it is simple but catchy. Having looked further into the artist’s material, I’ve found that much of his material is relatively simple in instrumental terms. The song “Hearts a Mess,” from 2007’s Like Drawing Blood, has sat atop my list of experimental videos for a bit now, with animation lending itself to the iconic Tim Burton. Gotye is even capable of jazz-based sounds with the release of “Smoke and Mirrors” from his newest, Making Mirrors. Don’t miss out on what’s building to be a definitive era in music: that of experimental and minimalist sounds.