Oh dear, is that a cobweb on your CD stash? New music requests going unanswered in the twittersphere? Fear not those stale playlists, we’ve come up with some ideal genre suggestions (or not) to up your cred on Last.fm and satisfy that musical appetite. This is part two of our non-comprehensive ear bash genre fest. Read part one here
. And part three here.
The Misfits, The Murderdolls, Wednesday 13, Rosemary’s Babies, Balzac, The Cramps
It’s the late ‘70s and the image of punk rock is about to undergo a brutal facelift. Ripped jeans, leather jackets, shaggy hair and political messages – as if they weren’t ruffling feathers within popular culture already – are about to be replaced with rubber-faced monsters, gas masks, black eye liner and multi-coloured Mohawks. Forget about fighting the law – there’s a mass zombie invasion to take care of. Merging schlock horror theatrics with a punk rock attitude, the Misfits were one of the first horror punk bands. Combining elements of du wup and rockabilly, they delivered a blood curdling mixture of violent and morbid imagery. This was paired with frenzied, trashing guitar riffs, savage drum beating, and thumping bass lines. Melodies were created out of slasher films, with most inspiration stemming from cult classics and b-grade horror movies, turning songs into a lyrical narrative of death and destruction. Real heart warming stuff. Spawning not just another fork in the road for heavy rock music, horror punk also bred its own fashion trend which paved the way for gothic culture and death metal. Perfect listening for punked-up goths with a sense of humour wishing to feed their inner ghoul.
Brian Eno, Lull, Final, Deutsch Nepal, Inanna, Negru Voda, Thomas Köner, The Splitting
If you’re down for a fight on the internet, a debate about the inclusion of isolationism into the thesaurus of musical terminology will strike the match. Originally the title of a compilation series released by Virgin Records, the tag first appeared in print back in 1993 in UK magazine The Wire
. British musician/producer Kevin Martin – aka The Bug – gave the term a spot in the glossary of music, describing its formless, hypnotic qualities as ambient music’s “antisocial cousin”. If ambient’s effects-processed drone provides a cosy, comforting environment for the listener, then isolationism’s unfinished loops are going to leave you with an uneasy feeling of disconnection. Both are essentially rhythmless, dominated by synths and samples, and lack any energising, rising crescendos, but isolationism takes empty space, fills it with unresolved bass patterns and sampler tracks, and purges any sign of familiarity to create the ultimate loner-type tune. Use as a subliminal accompaniment to extreme solitude.
Intelligent Dance Music
Aphex Twin, The Orb, Team Doyobi, Massive Attack
You see them out - those dance music club fiends. They’re busting moves the likes your elbows and knees can’t fathom. Why should they get all the fun though? Synths and drum machines have always manages to start a rave inside your brain, but sometimes electronic music just isn’t for carving it up on the dance floor. Back in the late ‘80s, pioneers of post-techno didn’t think so either. In a move to distinguish new styles of experimental electronic music from club anthems, a wave of UK based electronic musicians began fusing techno music with ambient house. It's for those who’d rather not bump and grind but instead bliss out to their tunes in a more low-key setting. Basically, it’s a catch-all phrase popularised by Warp Records’ Artificial Intelligence
series that describes any variation of electronic music. With all the elements of electronic music, IDM uses the dreamy, atmospheric sounds of ambient to suit the stay at home music crowd. It’s a phrase known to make electronic artists squirm for its pretentious undertones, and send music journalists into a violent keyboard typing rage. If you're still intrigued though, have a gander at what you can find by searching for ‘art techno’ or ‘living room techno’.
Contagious Orgasm, Guilty Connector, RoboChanMan, Acid Mothers Temple
Japanese music isn’t marketed outside of the country a great deal, so while artists might not dominate the airwaves internationally they do get to experiment a whole lot more. This has led to the creation of an exclusive and mysterious underground industry of avant-garde sounds. Catching the wind from the West of the 1980s noise, a sudden burst of Japanoise sprung up. Taking elements of the post-punk genre and adding their own crazy antics to the mix, Japanoise throws song-writing conventions to the side much like their American counterparts. They incorporate a bleeding edge style of post-rock techniques and lots of free improvisation. Listen out for the high pitched squeals, lack of harmony, earthquaking bass lines, audio feedback, thrashing electric guitars, and the possible destruction of instruments on stage. Japanoise, much like US noise music, draws on a melting pot of subcultures, from the old school industrial scene to electro goths searching for an alternative to heavy metal. Performances are known for their shocking bondage and porn imagery. Shield your eyes, children.
Kraftwerk, Can, Tangerine Dream, Neu!
In a bid to divorce themselves from strong American cultural influence and rise above their gruesome past, German musicians began to separate themselves from the blues and rock ‘n’ roll scene of the '60s, delving into a more electronic, industrial style of music. Try as they may to buck trends and to be taken seriously as artists, this didn’t stop American and UK music critics branding the rise of industrial style music with a moniker as old as the hills. The term ‘krautrock’ (as in: ‘sauerkraut’ – hee hee, har har) was first used in British magazine Melody Maker
. The ‘humorous’ ethnic slur soon caught on abroad, generalising all German music and pigeonholing bands with many stylistic differences between them.
However, there were a few similarities. Most krautrock bands began at the same time as the revolutionary student movement crossing France, Italy and Germany in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, and as they moved away from traditional song and lyrics structure they incorporated a more robotic, mechanical sound. They were also still heavily influenced by the politically aware brand of popular music that was spreading peace, love and flower-power abroad, but in the end not really in line with the peace and love brigade with which we’re so familiar. The music was psychedelic, slightly spacey and originally given away for free.
Foals, Battles, Minus the Bear
What do you call music that is as complex as a mathlete study session hosted by Fibonacci himself but also fist loads of fun? You call it math rock and you definitely don’t play it after a weekend bender unless mind-implosion is your thing. Math rock actually found its place into the musical dictionary in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when the music world burst forth with a medley of rock subgenres like noise rock, hardcore and post-punk. The music scene was ripe with avant-garde experimentation and fresh for the sowing of new sonic seeds.
With nary a soothing, soulful lyric in earshot, instruments are at the forefront of math rock groups. Making unusual tapping sounds on guitar rather than regular strumming or finger-picking, distortion pedals in spades, harmonies that stop and start, and drummers taking centre stage; beats are rhythmically complex, seemingly chaotic and spontaneous. They’re actually calculated down to a ‘T’ though, with riffs often based on timed formulas - hence the name ‘math rock’. It’s asymmetrical, and perfectly so if you enjoy formulaic precision.
Medieval Disco or Neo-Medieval Music
Dead Can Dance, Herdningarna, Tarujen Saari
Blending the musical styles of the middle ages with 21st Century instruments and world-beat, medieval disco (aka Gregorian disco, medieval techno and neo-medieval music) takes the saint-like chanting, folk-style tunes and dancing ballads of yesteryear and fuses them with modern electronic and rock music. There’re flutes, there’re lutes, there’re bagpipes, as well as the odd hurdy-gurdy cranking out a romantic melody. It’s mixed with happy hardcore, ambient synths, mesmerising rhythms and just a dash of dream pop to bring it into modern times. This style of courtly raving is more popular in Europe with bands looking back to their cultural roots, but there’s plenty of jesting to be had in the US, the UK and Australia as well. It’s what the radio would sound like if World of Warcraft
players left their desktops long enough to make it to the airwaves.
Sonic Youth, James Chance and Lydia Lunch (of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks), Suicide, DNA, Contortions
Half cynical jibe, half serious attempt to flip the bird to the mercenary music trends of the time, no-wave was a retaliation against the new wave movement that took over New York’s sonic stomping grounds during the 1970s. It’s often confused with post-punk because the two existed side-by-side, but does away with the motive force behind its underground brother and had a much shorter shelf life. In fact, the scene’s defining record – Brian Eno’s No New York
– was only released on CD in 2005.
Sticking to the Lower East Side’s artistic, bohemian hubs where artists could openly explore their off kilter creative process, no-wave describes a small community of musicians, photographers, artists and film makers who were bound by their unambitious methods and love of distorted cacophony. They loved sound and its existence outside of conventional structures, but still stuck to the instrumental staples of traditional rock music to create a sonic reflection of downtown New York’s grit and grime. Blending a mixture of funk, jazz, blues, punk rock, avant-garde, and experimental sounds, no-wave favoured atonality over new wave’s clear and melodious hooks, provocation over feel-good politically inspired lyrics, and clashing instrumental techniques over catchy, formulaic rhythms.
Alestorm, Swashbuckle, Blackguard, Verbal Deception
A mosh pit of swashbuckling buccaneers? It’s pirate metal, me hearties. Exactly what it sounds like, you are however more likely to find their vessel of choice is a Nissan Corolla cruising through suburbia rather than an old leaky boat. Pirate metal’s beginnings can be traced back to the early days of heavy metal. Hamburg based Running Wild were pretty down with the power metal and were at the forefront manning this pirate ship. Themes of pillaging, satanic artwork and an album called Under the Jolly Roger
, Running WIld set the scene for a night of rum-drinking fiascos.