A Fascinatingly Alienating Musical Genre

Music is art and just like anything art-related, it is and should always be subjective. The nuances and differences brought about by its stylistic interpretation/rendition aka genres and sub genres, is what makes music that much interesting. They are like colors in the proverbial rainbow that is music. Each one compliments the other no matter how disparate they are in the grand scheme of things. That’s why, it’s impossible to claim that one is better than the other. You can’t say that black is better than pink, metal is superior to pop or electronic music is more fascinating than house. Comparing music is counterproductive because it leads nowhere.

That’s why when a bold and for a lack of a better term, presumptuous musical genre emerges out of nowhere; it creates a buzz or some level of controversy. Exhibit A: The emergence of Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) in the early ‘90s. So what is it exactly? As per Wikipedia, “IDM is a genre of electronic music that emerged in the early 1990s. Its creation was influenced by developments in underground dance music such as Detroit techno and various breakbeat styles that were emerging in the UK at that time. Stylistically, IDM tended to rely upon individualistic experimentation rather than adhering to musical characteristics associated with specific genres of dance music.”

It’s quite a loaded and vague definition but for simplicity’s sake, it’s basically just like saying that it doesn’t box itself into a specific style and doesn’t conform to industry norms, gimmicks and tropes. Noble, but I guess the reason why it riled people up and caused quite a bit of a stir was because of the way that it’s branded. The operative word is ‘intelligent’ and it quite rubbed music lovers and especially musicians the wrong way. Even Aphex Twin criticized it as derogatory towards other styles as it creates an impression that it is an intelligent genre and everything else is stupid.
IDM might’ve created negative publicity regardless of its intentions and aspirations but if you really think about it, even if it’s widely reviled due to its presumptuous label, it’s really immaterial because in the entertainment industry, any publicity is good publicity. By drawing attention to itself, it has served its purpose as it kept people talking and introduced them to something quite different than the usual.

So is IDM more discerning than its more commercial counterparts? I guess we’ll never know. One thing is certain though, it’s undeniably audacious and unapologetically engaging and in the music industry, that’s more than enough.

Unearthing the Mass Extinction of ‘Mall Goths’

The great Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” True, the statement is almost unimpeachable. Almost because when people imitate something with blatant disregard for its tenets and history, it becomes a source of annoyance or a subject of incessant ridicule.

Case in point: ‘The proliferation of the ‘mall goth’ movement among teens from the late 90’s to mid-2000’s or to put simply, angsty kids wearing black Slipknot or Marilyn Manson shirts who hangout in malls especially in ‘Hot Topic’ where they get most of their merch. Their taste in music is not really the cause for ridicule but the mere fact that they are quite clueless and unaware of the history of the ‘Goth’ subculture and the groups that laid the foundation of the genre such as Bauhaus, Joy Division,  Siouxsie, the Banshees etc. was the main cause of animosity between ‘mall goths’ and seasoned goths.

For this very reason, these kids were called ‘babybats’; fledgling goths who have just been introduced to the movement yet thinking that they are the epitome of anti-establishment rebellion and unfiltered self-expression.  They are frowned upon by the goth community because quite frankly, for most of them, it was simply just a phase. They were only in it to conform or hangout with their peers—which is the opposite of what the gothic movement is all about. Plus the fact that they’re everywhere during their ‘heyday’ so they got on people’s nerves and became easy targets for ridicule; like a ‘low-hanging bat’ (pun intended).

It’s hard to imagine now that this was a thing 10 years ago and that people outside of the movement cared enough to make fun of these kids known as ‘mall goths’. Looking back, it was a harmless trend among teens and dare I say was so much better than what we have today because for better or for worse, ‘babybats’ had a sense of community. Nowadays, people are glued to social media and only care about the number of likes they can rack up in their posts instead of having real interaction from like-minded people.

Though the ‘mall goth’ movement was just a transitory thing and probably become extinct in the mid 2000’s, it was fun while it lasted whether you’re in or outside of the scene. When I think about it now, the repulsion or disgust that I almost instantaneously feel everytime I laid eyes or hear about a ‘babybat’ sighting is replaced with a sense of nostalgia. It was a time for self-discovery and experimentation that was anchored on camaraderie. Whether we like it or not, it was a snapshot of a generation, a moment in time before social media took over the world and turned people into self-absorbed zombies.

‘Art of Fighters’: When Music and Unrelenting Passion Collide

In the music industry, you’re only as good as your last work. And this hardcore DJ duo from Italy named the ‘Art of Fighters’ seemed like they’ve taken this notion to heart right from the start as they barrel through each of their performances and wreak havoc onstage, night in and night out—often rendering their audience speechless at the sheer force and unrelenting nature of their immense talents.

It should be noted that the ‘Art of Fighters’ history and identity are shrouded in mystery. Records show that the hardcore house group was formed in Italy back in 1997 and was comprised originally of 3 members namely Cristian Nardelli (DJ, producer), Luca Lorini (MC) and Matteo Pitossi (1997-2007).  Since 2007, ‘Art of Fighters’ has been operating as a well-oiled and tenacious ‘machine duo’ that thrives in anonymity–wearing their trademark Friday the 13th hockey masks everytime they perform.

Having said that, what’s certain is that the group started to send shockwaves across the music industry in 2000 with their ferociously explosive tracks ‘Artwork’ and ‘Earthquake’. Since then, they’ve been tearing up the stage in huge events across Australia, South America, Japan, USA and Europe just to name a few.

With a career that spans almost two decades (and counting) and with music that can only be described as raw, visceral and uncompromisingly passionate, ‘Art of Fighters’ has become one of the leading acts of the present hardcore scene. It’s the past, the present and the future of hardcore house music because quite frankly, there’s simply nothing quite like it.

Experience the force of nature that is ‘Art of Fighters’ via their ferociously powerful track ‘Earthquake’! Feel the music and make the ground shake by clicking on the link!



An Artist that Transcends Time and Trends

Regarded as ‘the most prolific chipmusic artist’ by ‘Computer Music Magazine’, Goto80 (Anders Carlsson) is a living proof that talent and originality are two of the most enduring qualities in music. Since bursting into the scene in 1992, Goto80 has created hundreds if not thousands of timeless records (with his original blend of craft, beats and pop) and has performed in hundreds of innovative shows around the world.

As one of the pioneers of glitch and chipmusic as well as an active demoscener, Goto80 was credited for bringing chipmusic to a much wider audience at the turn of the new millennium. He has literally seen and done it all. Now, more than two decades later, Goto80 remains as hungry and as creative as ever as he continues to inspire musicians and audiences from all walks of life through his creations.

Goto80’s artistic vision and drive seem boundless as he has even branched out into research and the arts. He’s now widely considered as a demoscene historian via his book ‘From Pac Man to Pop Music ‘(2008) and his Masters in Media and Communication thesis entitled ‘Power Users and Retro Puppets – a Critical Study of the Methods and Motivations in Chipmusic’ (2010) among other published texts.

On the other hand, his art works have manifested themselves in live transformative performances and cathartic textmode aesthetics. Together with Raquel Meyers, they’re credited to be the first to produce a performance that solely utilizes PETSCII-based graphics and music software.

While most artists come and go with the ebb and flow of musical trends, Goto80 stays relevant by tapping into his seemingly inexhaustible well of creative juices. Goto80 is a pioneer and most importantly a driving force of glitch and chipmusic—both indelible marks that transcend time and trends.

Long story short, he will be here to stay so long as there’s still music to play; ergo he is immortal!

Experience the legend that is Goto80 by clicking on the video below. It’s almost an hour-long, unrelenting chipmusic mix because why the hell not, right?




On Pins and Needles: When Internet Memes and Music Reviews Collide

A wise man once said: “A statue has never been set up in honor of a critic.” Well, that may be true but who needs a statue if you’ve got internet memes dedicated to you? In this brave new wired world, that’s all that matters right?

Well, I bet Anthony Fantano or popularly known as “theneedledrop” in his YouTube Channel (launched on September 9th, 2007) and “The King of /mu/ (music board) in 4chan (most popular English-language imageboard community) among other online personas, isn’t complaining that a statue has not been or will never be erected to immortalize him. I think that being hailed as the “leader in internet music world” is just as cool if not cooler in my humble opinion as what goes in the internet, stays there forever—reanimated, reconfigured anytime, anywhere at the touch of a button.

To the uninitiated, Fantano (“theneedledrop”) is a passionate yet thoughtful music reviewer who uploads his album reviews across social media platforms (prominently in YouTube) on a regular basis. His taste in music is quite eclectic and extensive as he reviews just about anything worthy of his attention. From the latest in pop to hip hop, electronic to rock, metal and then experimental music among others you name it; he has evaluated and assessed all sorts of musical genres and then some! I mean, you don’t become the “leader in internet music world” if you discriminate.

The good thing about Fantano is that he presents his views objectively and interjects humor in them in a seamless and organic manner. You might not agree with him all the time, but at least you’ll have fun watching his videos.

With over 780,925 Subscribers and 162,372,778 views (as of writing) on his YouTube Channel, his cult following is stronger than ever—statues be damned!

Check out Fantano’s most viewed video below. It’s an insightful review of Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 smash hit ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’. Don’t forget to give us your honest-to-goodness thoughts about it in the comments section. Fire away!



Dissecting the Music Genre and Art Movement that is ‘Vaporwave’

Nothing is ever created out of thin air especially when it comes to music in particular or the arts in general. Most often than not, when a certain ‘movement’ emerges and is embraced by a particular segment of the society, it is a calibrated and cathartic response to a particular societal phenomenon.

‘Vaporwave’ is part musical genre and part art movement; this generation’s artistic response to the realities of the modern word—a technology-driven, social media-addicted society where documenting every minuscule life event is the norm more than a necessity.

Words fail to describe what ‘Vaporwave’ really is but its origins can be traced back in the early 2010 and was spread/diffused through various internet communities.  Ariel Pink, James Ferraro (Far Side Virtual), Macintosh Plus (Floral Shoppe)  and  Daniel LopatinChuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1) are often credited for instigating the creation and evolution of the ‘Vaporwave’ movement.

Whatever its origin story is, one thing is for certain, ‘Vaporwave’ is identified by its nostalgic romanticism of the cultural trends of the late 80s and early 90s as well as its surrealistic fascination with consumerism, technology and the entertainment industry to the tune of elevator, smooth jazz and lounge music.

And because ‘Vaporwave’ is an experience more than music itself, its visual style aptly referred to as “AESTHETICS” (yup in glorious and stylized stretched out font) is a central element to its movement. If it’s colored pink or teal and with 80’s or 90s-inspired video game consoles and operating systems with some random Japanese lettering, then you might be looking at a ‘Vaporwave’ “AESTHETICS.”

Long story short, it’s what your hipster, vape-loving, tech savvy friend listens to when he/she is nursing a hangover on a lazy Sunday morning. Kidding of course!

Seriously though, just like anything else in the creative world, ‘Vaporwave’ is and should always be subjective. You have to experience it before you can even begin to understand its tendencies, effects and what it wants to say.

Whether or not ‘Vaporwave’ will be here to stay is immaterial. So long as it continues to serve its purpose; which is provide a snapshot and soundtrack all the while satirizing the increasingly technology-dependent and social media-driven world, it will continue to create a rippling effect that would encourage/spur conversations—thoughtful or otherwise—which essentially is what all movements are aspiring for.

Watch a brief history of ‘Vaporwave’ and get your feet wet. You might just enjoy it!

Schizoid: The Staple of Extreme Underground Electronic Music

Popularity doesn’t always equate to talent and maturity. Sometimes, the most innovative and imaginative artists in the music industry are just lurking beneath the mainstream surface—making great records as we speak. Case in point: ‘Schizoid’, a Canadian-based aggro-punk industrial prodigy who has been the staple of extreme underground electronic music since 1998 when he released “Enough is Enough; a groundbreaking industrial noise/glitch breakcore record.

What happened next was nothing short of remarkable as ‘Schizoid’ continued to challenge musical parameters by blurring the lines between digital hardcore and intense black/grind metal with every album and by also fronting the black metal act ‘DEAD OF WINTER’. His music is by design not for everyone and it’s definitely not for mainstream consumption—something that he’s cognizant of and takes great pride in.

To describe ‘Schizoid’s’ music is to set a limitation to his immense talent. Listening to any of his albums is like taking a ‘Rorschach test’. It can be anything to anyone as more than anything else; his music is about perceptions and underlying personality/emotional functions that are brought to the surface through his creations.

So do yourself a favor and take a break from the blandness of mainstream music. Check out ‘Schizoid’ and experience something unlike any other. It is imaginative, visceral and cathartic—an emotional, ‘envelope-pushing’ roller coaster musical ride that only ‘Schizoid’ can provide. Just a word of caution: “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” Enjoy the dark side!


A Gameboy-programmed Album that Fascinates

Talent is talent no matter what and it’s especially more remarkable if it emanates or manifests itself in the unlikeliest of places. Take for example this highly energetic and fascinatingly perplexing chiptune-oriented album entitled ‘Ravepunk’ from the Seattle-based producer Graz.

To say that the album in question is impressive is to simplify the creativity, vision and commitment that it must’ve required to produce this curious, technology-driven masterpiece. Why, you may ask? Because almost all of the songs in this 8-track offering except for one were produced/programmed using nothing but a Gameboy! Yup you heard it right. That unassuming handheld console that entertained you for hours on end when you were a kid was utilized to produce this album.

As per Graz: “All songs produced between November 2014 and September 2015 primarily on public transportation. All sounds (excluding track 03) created using LSDJ on a Nintendo Gameboy DMG-01.”

Not only is Graz a creative genius but he’s also a master multitasker as he was able to create something as cool as ‘Ravepunk’ instead of just looking out the window with a blank stare at nothingness to help pass the time during his daily commute. It is both a remarkable and an instructive case study as far as the creative process is concerned.

Listen to ‘Ravepunk’ to the link provided below and let your inner child roam free. It’s nostalgia-inducing, energetic and at times perplexing; everything you need from a chiptune album and then some!



‘Cheetah’: A Minimalist yet Evocative Offering by Aphex Twin

Richard David James aka Aphex Twin, the perpetually enigmatic and eternally ingenious electronic music savant is at it again and keeps everyone guessing with his latest offering ‘Cheetah’—a lean yet mean 7-song EP. It is by design slower and for the lack of a better term, ‘leaner’ than his previous offerings but that’s not really a bad thing in the grand scheme of things.

In fact ‘Cheetah’, might as well be one of Aphex Twin’s most immersive albums to date–with the help of some really good speakers or headphones that is. The torpid, almost deliberate tempos give way to rich tunings and textured timbres. The result: A trippy yet satisfying piece of electronic music that is easy to chew on and digest even for casual fans.

‘Cheetah’ builds up slow with its opening tracks with CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum] and CHEETAHT7b. Both are obviously similar as far as the core material is concerned but are glaringly different when it comes to the emotions they evoke. The former is more ambient and introspective while the latter is funkier and much more upbeat. The subsequent tracks CHEETA1b ms800, CHEETA2 ms800, CIRKLON3 [ Kolkhoznaya mix ] and CIRKLON 1 keep the momentum going and ride the snappy electronic sound wave deftly until ‘Cheetah’ closes with a dance-friendly bonus track, ‘2X202-ST5’—as it should be.

‘Cheetah’ is a minimalist yet immersive, effectively reflective and thoroughly satisfying album. It is further proof that when it comes to art and particularly in music, ‘less is indeed more’.

Check out Aphex Twin’s music video for CIRKLON3 [ Kolkhoznaya mix ], his first video creation in over 17 years! You’re welcome!