My Most Favorite Artists
First of all: this was one of the hardest posts to write for this blog ever. I could delve in those old songs of mine all day long! Man, times were really easier once. The one that made me feel so nostalgic was Ennio Morricone’s “My Name Is Nobody”.1
But anyway. I thought I could share some of personal musical favorites with you. I grew up with eletronic music. I don’t remember anymore how I got into it, but let’s just say there was a big bang, and after it I was attracted to electronic music, mainly, until I was about 20. Then I had a couple of years where I listened to a lot of Punk, Rock and New Metal. After those years, my music habits never really became “normal” again — thankfully.
Electronic music is the music I listen to most of the time. I can’t tell you exactly why, but there’s something about this type of music that just resonates with me. There are some aspects that I can extrapolate that make sense why I would listen to electro:
- Genderless: Most electronic music that I listen to is voiceless. The music is not adressed to a specific person, be it a woman or a man. I always liked that part, though I interpreted it differently. I liked that “electronic music just is”, there’s no dominant voice that takes over a piece. Everything is just an instrument, everything is equal.
- Classical music: As I became an audio engineer, and later producer, I found that, in a sense, electronic music, is a much closer experience to classical music than other forms of popular music. An eletronic musician has just their instruments they can use to express certain feelings, and tell stories. When you think about it, classical music is the same in that regard. There’s only that orchestra that an artist can use. Electronic takes it just one step further where an artist is not limited to the tones an orchestra creates. An electronic musician is free of scales, specific instruments, length of musical pieces, etc. But at the core of both, there’s just music.
- Nerdism: I think nerdy stuff plays a huge role in my music taste.2 I prefer musicians that not only create music that sounds pleasing to the ears, but mostly also music that sounds interesting and new. Music where I go like: “how did he/she make this”? It makes my mind wonder, and I start to think about it. Then a couple of days later — with enough thinking — I would realize how it’s being made and I can appreciate the music fully, because I know how it’s being made. I don’t know much about scales and that sort of stuff, but I know how to bend musical software.
I’m also a binge listener. I’m such a binge listener, it’s awful! An example. One of my absolute most favorite songs is BT’s Never Gonna Come Back Down. This song has a play count of about 300 plays ever since it’s been added. BT is an exceptional artist. He’s gifted and he had a lot of luck along his career. He’s produced *NSYNC, composed soundtracks, he’s been robbed multiple times, and he loves his doughter and family very much. A true artist, man, and lover. I adore him. When I found Never Gonna Come Back Down on one of his records, I listened to it on end. I remember the days relatively well. I used to live in Munich. It was Friday or Thursday when I found it. I put it on my iPod, which now would be called a “Classic”, and started listen to it. I found it’s speed, rhythm, tonality, speech, everything so well put that I just couldn’t stop to listen. The song was over, and I hit rewind just so that I could hear it again. I’m usually doing this for an hour or so, before I finally realize “this is too much work, I like this song so much, let’s put it on repeat one.” So I did. And that thing kept playing until Monday. I think I listened to this about 150 times over the weekend. I just kept playing it, over, and over, and over, and over again. I wanted to hear every note. I wanted to hear when the rapper says what with which instrument. When does he start this particular effect I was hearing with that other track? I just wanted to get fed up by it. Never Gonna Come Back Down is one of my true binge listening experiences.
Those are rare. There were lots between BT and this one, but Clean Bandit’s Rather Be broke another record for me. I heard it on a party, and I liked it so much that I just had to have it. I downloaded it and added it to one of my playlists. Again, binge listening. I had a song on the playlist, Calvin Harris’ Thinking About You . It played in a couple of months about 100 times. And Thinking About You has been exceptional to my listening already, but Rather Be topped it. Over the weekend it was not only on par, but had more listens than its predecessor.
I can highly recommend Brian’s music. He has many records where he used his daughters’ voice. Her voice always appears in a very romantic father/daughter like environment. I’m not exactly sure, what she’s going to think about it when she grows up. She either hates him for doing it, or she’s going to like her father even more. This Binary Universe is an exceptional album for him, because it features more cinematic music than dance, but also perfectly combines both worlds. Songs to note:
- 1.618 (this is a masterpiece!)
- The Antikythera Mechanism
- Good Morning Kaia
Other songs I like:
- Suddenly (Original + Celldweller’s Mix)
- These Hopeful Machines (entire album)
- Flaming June (obviously… this has been his first big success)
- Love, Peace and Grease
- Smartbomb (Plump DJ’s Mix)
- Rose of Jericho (BT’s Original + Sultan & Ned Shepard Remix)
Orbital is made up of Phil and Paul Hartnoll. Two British brothers who are in the business since the late 80’s. Orbital have an exceptional musical talent. Their genre is somewhere rooted in Ambient, and they are most often associated with Big Beat. They’ve done some great film music too. The Saint, Spawn, The Beach.
The first song I heard from Orbital was “Kein Trink Wasser”. I heard it live on MTV. MTV was a thing for me back then. Orbital was known for their individual head lights, which makes every move of their heads very prominent on stage.
Kein Trink Wasser starts with a very smooth piano melody. Notes are limited to a specific range only. As the intro progresses, the note range opens, allowing more melodic touches to get through — making its whole acoustical appearance become richer and richer. It takes a while before it totally breaks into a groovy electronic beat. The track is almost unrecognizable at this point. A couple of seconds later though, it becomes very melodic again, picking up from its former glory and richness, before the piano kicks back in again. I still get goose bumps from this song.
Another one that causes me goose bumps is the live performed version of Halcyon and On and On in New York. Halcyon and On and On has been featured on the Hackers soundtrack. It is again a very smooth, but also very groovy song. This is what I like most about Orbital. They have such rich melodies, but the beat is also always spot on. You can dance to this music, or just let it run to dive into. Anyway, Halcyon and On and On is very monotone and Ambient until the main break where suddenly Bon Jovy’s You Give Love a Bad Name appears. Wait what? What are you doing her? But it fits perfectly in. Especially when another song also starts playing at the same time — Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”. Both songs sound incredibly well together, but the lyrics are very contradicting. I think that’s why the Hartnoll brothers chose them.
Another track of note is Know Where To Run. Not so smooth is this one. It has an incredibly long intro of about two minutes where not much is happening before its beat finally starts. The bass is so low and wobbly, if you want to test your low frequency spearkes, try this.
Orbital has so much good stuff. Some songs I don’t want to leave out:
- Satan: Listen to the one from the Spawn soundtrack. It’s performed with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.
- Are We Hear?
- The Box
- Lush 3.1
- Wonky (newer; appeared after their breakup and comeback)
- Don’t Stop Me (newer)
Underworld. I honestly don’t know where to start. Underworld make incredibly boring electronic music if you are not into electronic music. Most of their stuff is much much longer than the mainstream stuff. If an Underworld track is not at least 8 minutes long, then it’s usually no good. There are two things that I like about Underworld: monotony and their use of the human voice.
Monotony: Let’s take Cowgirl (8:31) as an example here (which has also been featured on the Hackers soundtrack by the way). If you are not into electronic music, you don’t know what monotony does to you. Monotony creates a strong feeling of suspense. As listener you know that at one point the song has to change, but you have to wait until it does. If you just skip the part that leads up to the part where it finally changes, you don’t have the suspense. Underworld are suspense masters! Most of their song have an “excitement” curve that only leads upwards, which means the suspense is killing you until somewhere late into a song. They change their stuff here and there, to make it less monotone, but generally the direction is upwards. With Cowgirl the main break is at 6:12, where the beat finally drops, making room for an entirely new instrument, before the beat kicks back in, demonstrating how well melody and beat can work together. Goose. Bumps.
Voice: Cowgirl is also a perfect example of their artistic use of a human voice. What I like about electronic music, as said earlier, is its genderlessness and the focus on instruments, rather than people. The way Underworld uses voice is very instrumental. Look at the Cowgirl lyrics. They make absolutely no sense (well, almost no sense). And that’s the thing. If they would make sense, the voice would distract from the main thing, the song, like in rock and pop music. In electronic music everything is an instrument. It makes sense to put voice on the same pedestal as other instruments. Of course the human ear is attracted to the voice, but because the lyrics of Pearl’s Girl make no sense whatsoever, the voice is just part of the entire thing.
Underworld’s songs were mainly featured on Trainspotting, and they also had 8 Ball on The Beach. Speaking of soundtracks, don’t miss out on Moaner, produced for Batman & Robin. Please do me a favor and download the 10 minute version. Moaner is very aggressive. If you don’t want to kill people after hearing this, then I don’t know, maybe you’re dead.
Their later music is very melodic and goes more into the Ambient direction, which I quite enjoy. Their talent to make Drum’n’Bass-type, as in Scribble, is just what I like too.
Songs of note:
- Beautiful Burnout
- Two Months Off
- King of Snake
I know. This is a shocker, right? While I really really (really) like electronic music, I buy every single thing I can get from Millencolin. The thing with Millencolin is that I have no idea what to write, or recommend. Just download everything! There’s not much bad stuff in there.
I found Millencolin when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was the shizzle. It featured No Cigar, which caught my ear. I’m much more attracted to the faster, more aggressive, but not too aggressive, punk music. Skate punk is just right for me. And No Cigar is super awesome! So their album Pennybridge Pioneers was my first album I got from them. Millencolin came into my life when it was not going so well, so I was quite happy to hear songs like Right About Now and Pepper, which gave me enough energy when I needed it.
The second album I got from them was Home From Home. Long long after Pennybridge Pioneers appeared. Its Man or Mouse demonstrated well how the band has matured over the years. Gone seemed to be the days of speedy skate punk, now their music is more rock dominated. I listened to Home From Home much more than Pennybridge Pioneers, actually, but it was this album that got me interested in all the other albums. I bought one album, then another, then another, until I had everything — the new stuff as well as the old stuff. As mentioned, Millencolin is the only band that I can listen to on end. Sorry this is not as glamorous as the other reviews.
Songs of note, would make no sense here. Maybe I pick some of my favorites instead:
- Move Your Car,
- Vulcan Ears
- Friends ’Til The End
- Carry You
- Phony Tony
- Vicious Circle
- Brand New Game (as a long-time favorite this is a great song)
- Fingers Crossed
- Happiness For Dogs (so good!)
- Fuel to the Flame
- Farewell My Hell
- Biftek Supernova
- I stop here… this is getting too long.
Wir Sind Helden
Wir Sind Helden is a German band with a front woman named Judith Holofernes. I really like their stuff. The older is, at least for me, better than the newer stuff. Why I would like to mention Wir Sind Helden is because Judith once received an offer from German’s tabloid newspaper Bild. Bild is known as “the worst” tabloid newspaper. The newspaper features tits as well as wrong statements, and straight hoaxes. It is really bad, but it’s the most popular newspaper here.
Anyway, so Judith received this letter and she promptly answered it. The letter appeared on the Internet. Her letter starts with “you can’t be serious”. We need more artists like her who stand up for themselves. Their music is smooth, melodic, but still rebellious. A band worth a listen or two.
For the rest I just like to give a relatively unsorted list of musicians and artists I enjoyed to listen to over the years. The thing with electronic music is that most of the time there’s just this one song from that one guy, that is great. So, over the years, I’ve accumulated quite an amount of these electronic one-hit-wonders.
- Amon Tobin: Glitch music at its finest. Listen to: Foley Room. Don’t miss: Esther’s and Verbal.
- NAPT: Most favorite track is Work This Out.
- Justice: Kicked off the indie dance phenomena of recent years. I have albums from them!
- Boys Noize: Berlin music. Dirty and hard.
- Sarah McLachlan: When I’m in the mood this is the stuff that makes me burst into tears.
- Crystal Method
- Plump DJ’s
- Daft Punk
- Decomposure: His newer works are not as good anymore, but Vertical Lines A and Whose Side Are You On? are pure glitch gold.
- Rise Against: Oh, I love these guys.
- Uppermost: Listen to Evi, Dixit, Dream Colors.
- Ken Ishii: Ken has an affection for pitch curves. Best known for EXTRA.
- Kosheen: Big, beautiful, small, fragile, female, male. Recommends: Catch, Damage, Same Ground Again (this song will eat you up!), Hide U.
- Maroon 5: One of the best drummers in the world. Pushing forward, always hits the right tom when he has too, doesn’t play too much on them either.
- Mord Fustang: Such a good remixer.
- Mr. Oizo: Personal favorite. Listen to: Positiv, Gay Dentists, Erreurjean - Arveen & Misk Remix.
- Natasha Bedingfield: Love her stuff. These Words is great. “The combination D-E-F… I tried to focus my attention but I feel so A-D-D.” Pocketful of Sunshine and Unwritten are awesome too.
- Nelly Furtado
- *NSYNC: Yes, I admit it. *NSYNC was awesome. If you don’t like their stuff, listen to Pop again. It’s produced by BT. It’s one of the glitchiest pop songs I know.
- Pendulum: So great.
- The Prodigy
- Tegan & Sara
- Toxic Avenger
- Alex Metric: Alex is fantastic. He’s always got the right mixture between melody and danceable beats. Listens: Shirley You Can’t Be Serious?, Deadly on a Mission, Ilium, Scandalism, his remix of Bloc Party’s One More Chance
- Noisia: Who doesn’t love Noisia? Watch the Movie “Wreck It Ralph”. Its main theme song has been produced by Skrillex, but then his songs has been remixed by some of best remixers out there, Noisia. This is the result is great. Listen to: Seven Stitches, their remix of Hooligans, their remix of Prodigy’s O.
- Armand van helden
- Josh Wink
- Basement Jaxx
- Fettes Brot: German hip hop. Really like it.
Which made me think of all the other movies where Terence Hill played a roll in, which made me think of his partner Bud Spencer, which made me think of the other Italian actor I grew up with, Adriano Celentano, which made me think of Louis de Funès. Adriano was great. Loved his stuff. ↩
Who would have thought? ↩