Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
Last September, I lauded a single from 1700MN entitled ‘Ahb Seshun.’ The track was a splendidly fun track that combined a whole slew of influence into a surprisingly cohesive product - one that toyed with electronic music in distinctive new ways. Next Tuesday, the full album from 1700MN, ‘Know That Music Is My Lifeblood,’ will drop with nine other songs. Let’s dig into them and see if they match up against ‘Ahb Seshun’ and make an argument for the album’s quality.
Since I first covered 1700MN, his music has changed pretty drastically. He’s explored jazzy themes, intense electronic music, and theatrical instrumental landscapes. ‘Lifeblood’ is no exception, opening with the perplexing ‘92597.’ It feels somewhat world-music inspired, dancing about crazily after a foreign introduction. (Chinese or Japanese; I’d hate to get it wrong and say it is one or the other. It’s an Asian sample.)
One could argue that ‘Damidgdguds’ takes after its namesake... it’s a bit nonsensical. Please bear in mind that when I say this music is perplexing or nonsensical, it’s because it isn’t traditionally structured at all. The second track has an atmosphere that doesn’t seem to have much structure at all. In that wonderfully weird space, however, 1700MN has crafted his own structure and his own universe. It’s experimental electronic exploration to the nth degree.
As expected, 1700MN does deliver a high level of production quality on ‘Lifeblood.’ All of his samples, beats, and sound effects are quite well mixed, though some of the tracks feel a bit invasive when you listen to them. That’s portrayed well on ‘Eh,’ which hits you with very abrupt, intense gusts of electronic sound effects. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend earbud listening for this album. The sound levels are too erratic. Your ears will be better served on speakers.
‘Eh’ is probably the weakest track of the beginning of the album. Aside from its abrupt nature, it does meander as well. None of the sonic ideas seem to be fully fleshed out, and while the song's intensity builds dramatically, it’s a droning experience to listen to for five minutes. ‘Ahb Seshun,’ one of my favorite tunes from 1700MN, doesn’t do it any favors by coming right after. The latter track is an exhibition of 1700MN at his best. The former is an overly long and misguided.
‘Hal Oh-D Tha Phukk Owt’ feels a bit similar to ‘Eh,’ but has some better direction. I like the quirky interludes of swirling robotic nonsense. (See around the two minute mark to know what I’m referring to.) Again, I think 1700MN forgoes any sort of musical classification in favor of a sonic experiment. I’m not sure how you’d consume this record on a casual level. To be blunt, I’m not sure what its place is at all. Tracks like ‘Trayluvbredkrums’ are an abrasive experience that flirts with musical melody without actually committing itself to it.
‘Dannsyng n’ thuh’ wayk uv anuthurr passeeng shadoh’ isn’t as cringe worthy to listen to as it is to read, but it does explore territory that comes close. I can’t tell what was mixed into this thing... an airplane taking off? A man screaming? A collective of thousands of sentient Sega Genesis systems deploying their plan of world domination? The track following it, ‘Hissy Phyt,’ doesn’t have those issues. It’s far more coherent.
‘Phassyn8’ and ‘N2THASUHN’ close out the record in the same fashion of the rest of the songs. The electronic discourse explodes in an array of directions, loosely held together by peculiar samples. So, is ‘Know That Music Is My Lifeblood’ a good album? That question is one of the most difficult of its kind that I’ve had to assign critique to in the history of the Independent Spotlight. It is and it isn’t.
The album title may contradict itself. I see this album less as music and more a sonic journey through unused, unexplored pastures. It takes you into odd areas that electronic music never has, but it also fails to be a consumable music experience. (In any form. I’m not talking commercially viable consumption, but rather any consumption at all.)
‘Ahb Seshun’ is the strongest piece of the collection by a significant margin. I think ‘92597’ is pretty compelling, too, as is 'Damidgdguds.' Outside of the diamonds in the rough, I don’t think this is an experience many people are genuinely going to enjoy. It’s intense, a bit frustrating at times, and flirts with many musical notions without actually achieving them. That may be the intent. I’m not sure if I’ve levied this comparison toward 1700MN’s work in the past or not, but it is eerily reminiscent of ‘Metal Machine Music.’ Some people may stare deep enough into its abyss to discern their own meaning from it. Others, though, will likely just hear noise.