What would it take to sound “new”?


interesting points
i think oneotrix did some AMAZING things with autotune recently
i feel the FFT/Spectral stuff peaked [in the elctro-acoustic circa 2000
i think turning stuff down is quite fun. think Berhanrd Gunter circa 1997

i thin kthe most successful generative album online so far for me was Kanye’s Pablo. a release that was edited for me at least four times with notable improvements and expansions


You’re totally right. My original intent with this thread is more of #1 for sure, as that’s what we’re all most able to speak to. To answer #2 you’d need to be really studying the profession of music in different forms IMO, although a lot of us probably have opinions and feelings about it.

I’m also not expecting anyone to have a definitive answer, it’s more about how we’ve all felt when encountering something really different for us.

Of course nothing comes out of nothing, all art is influenced and reacting to other things around it.

As @alanza pointed out, a lot of the answers to the first part of the original question definitely have a nostalgia tint. That’s why I asked the second question, it also interesting to think about when this continues to happen and how to changes.

The question isn’t so much about objectively new techniques, though that’s interesting as well, but more about our experience of newness as music lovers, musicians, and generally avid and critical listeners.


Totally agree with this. And I think most of what sounds «new» is exactly that - old ideas put in a new context. OPN has been mentioned a couple of times. I think he has been making some really interesting music with especially his three last records. «Babylon» and «The Station» are good examples of songs that represent a very familiar format, but has some interesting new twists and turns. Sounds fresh to me!

I love the films of David Lynch for this exact reason. It’s a delicate twist on what you thought you knew, in a way.



wave field synthesis


Reader, I was that child.

And it was “I am the walrus” that blew me away.

It was the first time I’d heard anything that sounded exactly like my dreams. It even smelt and tasted like a dream, which is not something I’ve experienced since. I suppose it was as near to a psychedelic experience as anything I’d come across at that time. I was a kid, we didn’t have a record player and records were expensive anyway so I only knew stuff from what I heard on radio and tv. And nothing I’d heard before came close to the world that Walrus evoked for me.

When we did get a record player, Hello/Goodbye was the first record I bought. For the B side :slight_smile:

As far a synth music was concerned, Switched on Bach happened (in my memory) around the same time. It left me cold. It just seemed pointless. Still does to be honest. There was a fair bit of hype then around the idea of a synthesiser as an instrument that could make any sound imaginable. So when it turned out to sound not much different to someone playing a more sophisticated kind of organ it was a bit of a letdown. The synth epiphany had to wait a few years until I learned what a VCS3 was.


Ditching 440 Hz can shape your music into something that stands out and sounds ‘new’ to many listeners.


I’m not sure what the first “new” moment was for me. Certainly my progression away from mainstream alternative rock was laced with discoveries of “new”ness, but I think the most impactful new moment, the one that really was a turning point for my interests and ears, was hearing “Thought for Food” by the Books for the first time.

I just didn’t know music could sound like that.

This past weekend, I’ve somehow found myself in another Beatles binge, accompanied by Wikipedia articles about their sessions and writing processes. Something occurred to me in the context of this thread: what sounds new to the audience, when really done well, likely isn’t new to the composer/performer/producer.

I suspect what we the audience hear as monumental breakthroughs, are really just a series of modest incremental improvements, sampled infrequently enough by marketing release schedules (or lack of attention) into yearly album release cycles so that 20 improvements arrive at once, and appear as a monument, rather than a collection of individual bricks.

  1. It would have to be Radiohead’s OK computer for me. I think I was 14 when it came out. It came out at the peak of ‘Britpop’ era in the UK, and blew everything out of the water (I think you could even say it killed off Britpop). I had no idea how it was made. I was trying to figure out how all the synth, mellotron, space echo, production tricks etc. were made on just a guitar (I had no idea about synthesisers at the time).

  2. I’d agree with @madeofoak for recent music. Both ‘Bon Iver’ and ‘22, A Million’ sounded really new and exciting to me the first time I heard them. They/he were also one of the best bands I’ve seen live (during the ‘Bon Iver’ album tour).

My Mum is a big Beatles fan (she even went to see the Beatles with her mates during their ‘She Loves You’ etc. period before they stopped touring).

I asked her what it was like hearing A Day in the Life, Tomorrow Never Knows etc. (the real groundbreaking stuff) for the first time and she said ‘we all thought it was weird and I didn’t like George with that silly mustache’ :grin: :heart:

I don’t think flower power, psychedelia and the ‘summer of love’ really reached Solihull in the mid 60’s :joy:


II think the first major shock I experienced came ~2000, in a hair salon of all places. This place was my mom’s salon of choice, run by a truly amazing guy named Tony. He was erudite in a way that was inviting, infectious even, and his passion for culture made him very different to the other adults I had to put up with in my life on a regular basis.

I was getting my hair cut by Tony, and seeing his salon was not only empty but quiet (god forbid), he smiled and said “There’s this strange record I think you’ll like, and we can turn it up loud.” A minute later, Coltrane’s Interstellar Space blasts its way through the room. Not Giant Steps. Not A Love Supreme or Blue Train or My Favorite Things. Interstellar Space.

I feel like it wasn’t just my musical compass that shifted after that moment — it was my whole life. Art was suddenly something that you could live by. A vast, vast country that bore almost no similarity to what I’d been previously shown or taught. I took a detour through Mingus, Miles, Dolphy and Monk in high school before diving into free jazz and improv while I was in University (Montréal had the advantage of being home to Cheap Thrills, a spectacular record shop downtown), and things just exploded after that.

More recently, I’ve been creatively motivated by what I hear in the music of Henning Christiansen and Graham Lambkin. It’s hard to put my finger on the effect it has on me…there’s something - the logic of their compositions, the narrative treatment of their source materials, who knows - that feels completely mysterious to me.


What’s “nonDual”? A quick Google search brought up a bunch of results centered around Buddhist thought.


the natural progression from being surround by sound to be sound. The technology is very old but it isn’t compatible with our modern technology. To much noise and interference for getting a clear signal…


ok… I am light-hearted made that term up… but it may fit to the topic What would it take to sound “new”?


when the album came out i went back and forth between this track being cool and being gimmicky. then, when i saw it performed live it absolutely blew me away. so emotional. just justin up on stage in the dark…

my favorite track on the album now for sure.


I love too that this kind of song has a long history* and yet you’re absolutely right, Bon Iver found a new expressiveness in it. I guess that’s the sense in which we mostly see newness once we have a sense of the “lay of the land” the musicians we listen to are working from.

(*) By which I mean O Superman is the oldest example I know of (although she brings in other elements than just her voice), then through Hide and Seek and Bon Iver’s own Woods


this record had a pretty profound effect on me as well.


which reminds me… Kollaps epitomizes the idea of a record which is a complete break from the past… something that arrives fully formed without any concession to prior music … of course their process was anything but a complete break, there are early demos with mre conventional structures and instrumentation, the sounds and techniques were hard won.

alongside this I’d put DNA “You and You”, the Rosa Yemen EP… so hard to find other examples where the statement of a complete break/refusal is so direct as to make it seem that the artists never heard other music before.


something else that never happens today… hearing or being forced to hear interesting music in public spaces… of course most of this for me happened in record stores, I remember one where they played Swans Cop and Tuxedomoon “Scream with a View” at full volume, I mean all these experiences were formative… yet another “inefficiency” that has been rooted out by neoliberalism


I appreciate your feeling here, but never is just not true. I’ve heard all kinds of wonderful strangeness in cafés, bookstores and of course record stores as recently as last week.

I vividly remember my first week of college looking for course books in the ‘unofficial’ bookstore of my college while they played some truly bizarre, spooky piece with many bowed cymbals that I still wish I’d asked the name of (it sounded like it could have been one of the sections of GY!BE’s “Static”, but it wasn’t), and that was still not yet a decade ago.

It is true, though, that this wouldn’t have been possible in the official, really-a-Barnes-and-Noble college bookstore, so there is definitely something to be said of the commodification of this “human touch” in public space in order to not be choked out by the cookie-cutter brand stores of the world.


Cool… I think some of this is due to where we live (though I still doubt it’s possible to hear an early Swans record…) But the trend against workers choosing the music (or in general, imposing their own personalities and tastes) seems like it will eventually spread everywhere, because every last detail of the experience has to be carefully chosen to maximize ROI. Even mom-and-pop stores will probably follow suit and subscribe to some analytics package carefully prepared by Amazon (or Spotify if it’s about music choice). They will be too scared to do otherwise thanks to rents and competition.