The concept of “musical genre” in music is becoming more and more blurred every day, as artists actively combine the incompatible, trying to surprise their listeners. While musicians spit on the conventions of attributing their work to certain styles, critics and the music press actively use all kinds of labels and genre affiliation to evaluate music.
To illustrate, here’s an example. We all know about the marketing move of trying to influence people through music. This is often seen in big stores like Ikea, at land-based casinos, and in betting shops where people spend a lot of time playing and placing live bets, and in medical institutions. If you listen to this kind of music, you can’t immediately tell what genre it belongs to – it has something hypnotic and relaxing but at the same time something disturbing and frightening. Seemingly incompatible. But even this has a name because the passion of journalists and critics to assign genres and styles to everything in a row sometimes leads to funny and even absurd musical genres that we do not even know exist.
Our editorial staff tells you about unusual music genres that you might not even know existed.
1. Lowercase or Lowercase Music
In 2001, American sound engineer Stephen Roden unintentionally invented a genre of experimental and extra-minimalistic ambient music, which he called “lowercase”. You could say that the genre emerged in Rodin’s attempts to characterize the sound of his album Forms of Paper. To record the record Roden used different paper as instruments – the musician recorded sounds from sheets of paper of different densities, processed them with amplifiers, and changed the sound signal in every possible way.
Stephen claims to have been making lowercase music as far back as the mid-1980s. However, the first mention of the genre in the media appeared only in 2002 after some publications drew attention to the compilation Lowercase-Sound, which introduced the genre to the general public for the first time.
One of the brightest representatives of the genre, which can help to form an idea of what Lowercase is, is the composition “Bell Is The Truth (Berlin)” by Steven Rodin. The track was written especially for the German exhibition “Resonanzen”, and for its recording, the musician used light bulbs, on which he played in a dark room.
A mixture of hip-hop and glitch music. Musically, the style combines elements of a glitch – lo-fi sounds, claps, creaks, jams, and distortions – with hip-hop. Later, the style gradually evolved into a psychedelic combination of hip-hop and IDM, and then hip-hop and EDM. Among the brightest representatives of the genre are Prefuse 73, Flying Lotus, The Glitch Mob, GRiZ.
Electronic musical instruments and music created only with their help have existed for more than 50 years. All that time musicians have been trying to organically combine acoustic sounds with electronic ones. How many such experiments were during this time – is unknown, but officially only folktronica was singled out as a separate genre.
As it is clear from the name of the style, folktronica is a mixture of electronic and folk. One of the founders of the genre is British musician Bibio, who in the early-to-mid 2000s began active experiments in mixing electronic music with folk and acoustic.
Bibio’s 2005 album “fi” inspired with its sound the Scottish duo Board of Canada to create the album “The Campfire Headphase”, which is considered one of the brightest examples of pure folktonica. Besides that, elements of folkronica or songs in this genre can be found in the works of Alt-J, Animal Collective, The Books and Caribou.
4. Black MIDI
Black MIDI is little known outside of its own circle of fans, but that does not negate the existence of this unusual musical genre. The essence of black MIDI is to create MIDI remixes or author compositions consisting of thousands, millions, or even billions of notes. The genre’s name came from the appearance of the score, numbering tens and hundreds of notes standing next to each other, merging into a black mess.
If you search Black MIDI on YouTube, you can find a bunch of insanely fast and intense compositions. Despite the obscurity in wide circles, the genre community is alive and well: the videos collect millions of views, and the authors unite their efforts for creating even more saturated and interesting tracks.
The founder of the genre is considered to be Japanese artist Shirasagi Yukki (aka Kuro Yuki Gohan), who uploaded the track and video “Nico Nico Douga” to one of the Japanese videos hosting sites in 2009. The composition was based on one of the music themes of the 2D-shooter “Touhou Project” and quickly became popular. Now the track sounds too primitive in comparison with the same “Necrofantasia 0.95 Billion (150 million) NO LAG” (yes, it really has 150 million notes).
Wayporveve is one of the most controversial microgenres ever to emerge in music. When the style came into the world’s attention, listeners and critics were instantly divided into two opposing camps: one praises it, the other – smear it and sincerely hates it. How to treat it is everyone’s own business, but before you evaluate the style, you should consider this: the genre was born and lives only because of the Internet.
Wayporve musicians are equally interested in the music and retro culture of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The sound of the genre is based on samples and is a satirical vision of the music of that time. The resulting tracks are simultaneously reminiscent of soft jazz, R&B, lounge, dance music, and even elevator music.
You can get a full idea of the sound of the genre from two works – the LP of Daniel Lopatin aka Chuck Person “Eccojams Vol. 1” (2010) and James Ferraro’s album “Far Side Virtual” (2011). The former unexpectedly combines samples of popular 1980s songs with the video game “Ecco The Dolphin”, while the latter combines Skype and Windows 95 ringtones to create experimental electronic music. Also worth mentioning is Ramona Andra Xavier, who performs under the pseudonym Vektroid, whose album “Flortal Shoppe” is considered by some fans of the genre as the quintessential Wayport Wave.
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