What would it take to sound “new”?


Both excellent records. I put on Funalogue by Hardfloor the other day and was struck by just what you said: the insistence of the sound through repetition.


this did a lot to me (basically all of the 12 concept records) 1996
kind of minimal sound sculptures. At that time it broke a lot of concepts in electronic music (at least for me)


The first significant memory of something being truly new was hearing this. It worked within structures I was familiar with but circumvented my expectations to a degree where I felt like I didn’t understand what was happening, that it was just being complex for the hell of it. Once I followed the guitar as the rhythm and the drums as the melody, the music started to make more sense… & I understood that I had expectations and how interesting it was for art to go against them. I bought the album and still had a high degree to preconceived notions while listening to it initially (i.e. “well, at least there are 3 good songs on here”). But even though I had these negative views, of how it wasn’t what it “should” be, I was still compelled to listen to it. Something in that tension, that trying to “figure it out”, was in a sense what made it new to me.

This album was the last time I felt I heard something new. The rhythms, tonality, structure, and inventiveness were all things I had been curious about and interested in. When I heard this for the first time it all coalesced into a unified whole that blew me away (and still does). For me this is new in a way that was more than just the sum of it’s parts, but I don’t think I could explain why… Maybe it’s just a rare moment where my personal history with music was leading to the desire for some piece of art and then I found exactly what I was looking for, even though I didn’t know it yet… I don’t know. I have so many thoughts with this album that it’s difficult for me to distill why exactly I feel it was new… maybe I can provide more insight as the discussion in here unfolds.

<----- click?

“Somebody asked me: “What do you do? How do you write, create?” You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it.”
- Charles Bukowski


first time: Velvet Underground - Banana album/Can - Ege Bamyasi
most recent: Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Insen


The Hella track didn’t do much for me, but wow, that Dawn of Midi album is absolutely incredible. Funny that Apple Music has it categorized under “electronic” when it’s basically an acoustic record :slight_smile:


i’ve been thinking about this thread off and on and the thing that occurred to me is that a lot of the times things that have sounded ‘new’ are usually things that I’m not ready for or make me uncomfortable. The first memorable example of that for me is Radiohead’s Amnesiac. I never had any real music guides as a kid (my parents didn’t listen to music much and my older sister was more interested in trends than content) so I frequently found myself at the will of record store employees. I remember asking a Best Buy employee for a recommendation and it must have been right when Amnesiac came out because I ended up with a collectors edition of the CD, the one with the actual book that housed the CD. I remember putting it in my discman and being really confused, thinking it just sounded like static to my 15 year old ears that were used to garbage radio tunes and korn. It took several years but when I eventually came back to it, with a little more context, it became one of my favorite albums for a time.

Another personal example is The Knife’s Silent Shout. When I heard that the first time it made me deeply uncomfortable, like a harbinger of the years of synth obsession to come that I didn’t recognize. My perception of music that I recognized as being “synth music” up to that point was over the top cheeseball stuff that I had a hard time relating to or contextualizing in my understanding of music as a whole, so to hear a record that challenged that perception shook me, after spending the last 4 or 5 years trying to consume all the music I could. This is still one of my favorite albums.

Without going into as much detail Autechre also checks a lot of those same boxes. Happy to have had the opportunity to see them in Atlanta with @sellanraa.


Yeah I found it in the electronic section in the record store I purchased it from, too. Which I find kinda of amusing on one hand and very annoying on there other lol. Happy to have led you to it :smile:


this album (A Promise, by Xiu Xiu) is a total gem, especially hearing it in 2002… i’d listen to it two or three times in a row, some nights. it marries several elements that i’d been sort of seeking out, and there are moments of sublime beauty. i think it was pretty fresh, as far as minimal song structure / composition goes… tracks like “walnut house” are barely held together by little rustles, scrapes, various sorts of ‘punctuation’. i hadn’t listened to very much electro / dance music (non-mainstream) before this, not until i was well into my 20s


Talker took percussive, atonal guitar noise, loose, improvised jazz-like drumming, and skeletal, “rock” song structures and discarded most of the ‘riff rock’ bullshit tropes, though they sort of mocked rock 'n roll affectations and posturing. seeing these guys live was a revelation–they re-created every little nuance heard on their studio albums, and they put on a great, almost confrontational performance (to the twelve people standing in the room) …and it sometimes sounds like Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart. bands like US Maple, Gastr Del Sol, Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof, et al kept guitar-based “rock-post-rock” music interesting, as Sonic Youth began to wane.


Oh, good call. An old band of mine opened for US Maple and I was absolutely floored. I’ve never really investigated their albums, but yeah, a really interesting band and bringing something different to the rock paradigm.


good to see Xiu Xiu and US Maple getting representation here. really singular groups, great live. the few pieces that have fallen out of US Maple are pretty interesting too.


guess he changed my mind about low-fi.


The Boredoms opened the gates for me too.


I am continually surprised at the growth of Deerhoof’s sound. Not many bands can stick around for 25 years churning out the volume of new albums they do without becoming a pastiche of themselves.


I‘m a sucker for concepts…
Ovals compact disc breakdowns in the nineties probably was a first.
Emptyset and Jakob Kirkegaards feedback recording in Pripjat are on that line as well. But i can also have epiphanies by listening to indian ragas or JS Bach. For me its even easier to find new in unlistened older music. I gave the unreleased Coltrane a try but i didnt click as other Coltrane did. As much as i try to convince myself that i am immune to nostalgia, we all have a first trigger as kids and yeah mine was i am the walrus😃
I played Coltrane to a nine year old girl that just started to pla the sax and she stood there openmouthed and could not decide wether its cool for her or not…keep triggering :heart:


from a (music) listener point of view : depends on the parameters one scrutinizes and the width of the deviation from already known things that turns an auditory perception into “new”.


When i was into metal (not that i’m not anymore but my relationship to music changed a lot since then), almost every band was new to me, all it took was some forking path from the patterns of a sub-genre, some thematic twist, some strange production choice (and that genre has been prolific in that regard). Now i listen in a haste to some random new bands (new as in, that didn’t exist in the 90s) and i seldom find newness in it; probably because i can’t relate to it, because it doesn’t intertwine in my feeling of the world as it would when one is a teenager; maybe also because of some standardization of the sound of bands towards what is imho an uninteresting “stadium” overproduced result.
/end rambling

Yet i like to think that as a sound oriented person, every local variation of the air pressure is new to me. It is more applicable to sounds that carry less intent with them.

from a musician’s (sound organizing creature) point of view : a balance between being uninformed of what happens and knowing enough to navigate the map and consciously+conscientiously avoid too wide paths. Walking most traces will in/evoke others, yet they will differ in subtle ways, maybe. Will a listener feel it ? I don’t know. It will depends on the parameters one scrutinizes and the width of…

Future Guitar : No Amps, No Pedals

What would it take to sound new? We’re about to find out. @dnealelo calls it musica ignotum.


my flippant reply to @Starthief over in @baleen’s thread about dialogue between synth and other instrument practices reminded me of the history of western music class I took in college which was in some ways about as annoyingly trad as you might imagine but there were at the same time moments where one of the example pieces we listened to would make me imagine hearing it in the context of only having heard the kinds of music we’d heard before and feeling how exciting it must have sounded then.

Some good examples of this were the transition from medieval chant to Josquin’s Renaissance polyphony, the introduction of the aria form (basically one of the oldest forerunners of the pop song, no?), Rameau’s genuinely tonal harmonic language, and more but the one I wanted to specifically mention is Debussy’s Nuages.

@Starthief says that most orchestration for strings has maybe a maximum of five different “voices” and they’re right, but listen to the CHORDS on Nuages, how wide and lush they are! Imagine only having heard the string textures of, like, Mozart and others beforehand! And that’s not even the only way in which Debussy’s music broke with tradition…


great point—i can only imagine bach’s chorales must’ve been about the most enrapturing thing anyone had ever put ears upon in the moment.

edit—or tchaikovsky’s fabled field artillery ensemble for that matter. earliest recorded use of sampling?!