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.
In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be delving into a quite unique record: ‘Sequential Music: An Alternative Approach For Experimental Minds.’ The album is a compilation effort released by the label Micro Spiral that exhibits the best of sequential music. Klis, the compiler of the project, invited his favorite underground artists to produce music with the sequential technique. The result, as described by the label, ‘transcends genre’ and ‘challenges the listener.’
It’s worth first touching on what exactly ‘sequential music’ is. It’s a ‘musical composition where the instruments are played one after another in a serial fashion.’ E'Essentially, what that means is that the composer of each track had to follow a set of ten guidelines to the method which consist of things such as not layering sounds on top of one another and utilizing multiple instruments with a wide variety of different sounds that ‘sit well’ with one another.' The result is intriguing, though can feel disconjointed at times. Let’s delve into it.
At ten tracks in length, ‘Sequential Music’ offers a pretty expansive set of songs to dig deep into the sequential music method with. I’d argue that the record will probably be best digested if you’re a musician. It’s excellent fun as a fellow musician to sit back and absorb this collection of songs. They’re creative and inventive, redefining your idea of electronic music in many cases. With that said, it isn’t very user friendly. I absolutely love Delicasession’s ‘Never Again,’ but I doubt many people will be strolling down the street with it playing in their earbuds. That is the nature of experimentalism, though, and this record understands its purpose and place. Thus, its ability to be appreciated by a broad audience is somewhat moot.
The first three tracks of the collection, while compelling, start to blend together a bit as you go on. That’s an adversity the album has a bit of trouble overcoming, but we’ll get to that later. Let’s turn our focus to The Unknown Stuntman’s ‘I’m Leavin.’ The fourth track of this album is amazing. The composition is a superb blues number with a bunch of fascinating music samples laying over moody vocals and sparse slide guitar. It’s an experimentalist electronic track that meets a southern delta blues track. How cool is that?!
The next major highlight of ‘Sequential Music’ is ‘Get Radikal, a hip-hop-esque number with some amazing production. The beauty of this record is the way each artist interprets the methodology of making this kind of music. Each one of them is different; some elect a more traditional electronica sound and others get more funky like Freethos on ‘Get Radikal.’ One of the ten guidelines for the project maintains the idea that there doesn’t necessarily have to be a harmony, chord progression, verse, or chorus. Basically, the composers had the ability to throw all conventional ideas out the window. ‘Get Radikal’ has quite a groove to it, though. (As does ‘Blipper.’)
I’d argue that in addition to this album being best absorbed by musicians, it is also best listened to in its entirety and intently. The creative nature of this work aligns it with what I like to call ‘intelligent music.’ This is music that was painstakingly and deliberately composed; each note has purpose. As a result, you’ll get out what you put into ‘Sequential Music.’ If you spin this record as background music, that’s what it’ll be to you. If you sit down with it and take notice of all the intricacies, it’ll be a much more rewarding listening experience.
Glass Ark Maniac’s ‘Helium Baboon’ is an atmospheric landscape of cinematic proportions. I love their use of percussion, synthesized effects, and very sparse acoustics. The final track, Scaling As Karma’s ‘Igor’s Jelly Castle,’ is equally as intuitive. That track is elegant in its brevity since the instrumentation is drawn out for effect.
‘Sequential Music’ is the coolest independent compilation I’ve ever reviewed. I’m thrilled to see Micro Spiral champion such a unique way to make music and I think everyone who digs their teeth into this collection will get something different out of it. As previously mentioned, some tracks blend together a bit too much, but the standouts take care of that monotony quickly. As also previously noted, it’s a record that feels disconjointed at times. That’s a result of the experimental nature of the compositions, though, not a fault of the collection. Overall, it’s a masterful record definitely worth checking out.
Check out the project here: http://sequential-music.com/