“Innovative music plays by many rules, just not the ones that need change. Innovative music often does not sound experimental at all.”
In 2002, Japan’s Melt Banana did an interview at the Los Angeles college radio station KXLU. When asked what sort of influences they had for their recent songs, they listed a bunch of radio hip hop—primarily Timbaland produced tracks. The DJ thought they were making some sort of joke. As a musician that loves both hip hop and experimental rock in particular, I knew this was no joke and it was embarrassing to hear the DJ’s reaction—insulting even. Melt Banana’s sound had recently made an incredible evolution with their rhythmic sensibility and how the vocals relate to it. Certainly they weren’t making hip hop, but they were doing things not heard in any form of rock, experimental of not. They were defying genre; a cool way of saying they were innovating.
Innovative music plays by many rules, just not the ones that need change. Innovative music often does not sound experimental at all. Nirvana defied genre with their miraculous blend of defiant punk and utopian pop. Defying genre, as an artistic pursuit is simultaneously an act of saying Fuck You to all convention and, at the same time, a noble pursuit of what will allow all people to experience what they already know in wonderful and magical new ways.
Being on the bleeding edge of any field can be frustrating though. The world more often than not isn’t ready for new ideas. Most frequently I’ve seen musicians with a deep sense of exploration not be embraced until long after they’ve made their innovations. A few years ago I had the honor of reissuing all the material from the mostly overlooked 90’s band rRope. While their music was nearly two decades old, most reviews of the reissue expressed the same thing: that these were the sounds of where music should go next, and that it was shocking they were from the past. In the mid-90s, rRope mostly just confused people.
The thing is, the rare cases that a band totally breaks through and melts everyone’s minds, is when that sense of exploration is accidentally timed perfectly with what music culture wants NOW (but just didn’t know it). Again, like with Nirvana. Or, say, Animal Collective. With my own label, Deathbomb Arc, this is the fortunate place which rap group clipping. currently find themselves in.
I’ve worked with all the musicians in clipping. for various amounts of time before anyone really cared, and they always have been geniuses working at the top of their game. clipping. didn’t become famous because “finally these musician’s got serious and did something good.” Not at all, they’ve always been doing amazing work. But again, typically forward thinking, genre defying artists, are operating way ahead of what culture is ready to pounce on. I blame commercialism.
My goal with Deathbomb Arc has been to be at least one small aspect of music commercialism presenting a different attitude. An attitude that music should be exciting, new, and explorative. Actually, that what truly is exciting is exploration. Let music and all art be a portal to new worlds and possibilities – entire mediums defined by science fiction.
With this mix, you won’t necessarily find sounds that are strange. Rather, here are tracks that did something shockingly new for their time, but often changed cultural perception in ways that now they sound normal. Of course, each song has it’s own unique way that it defied genre. If anyone has specific questions about tracks, please feel free to ask me on twitter or tumblr.
Also, mixed in you’ll find some notable tracks from Deathbomb Arc’s own catalog. The second song has never been heard by anyone yet, a teaser excerpt from Signor Benedick The Moor’s upcoming release “Madien Voyage”. Had to drop something new after all this talk of newness, right?
1. High-five Of Teenagers “Outside Castle (The Castle Outsiders)”
2. Signor Benedick The Moor “Maiden Voyage (excerpt)” [unreleased]
3. Leikeli47 “Bitch Switch”
4. Michael Gordon / Icebreaker “Trance 4”
5. Judy And Mary “Rainbow Devils Land”
6. Pape Thiopet “Play Leumbeul”
7. David Byrne “Make Believe Mambo”
8. Denzel Curry “Threatz”
9. Rollerskate Skinny “Violence to Violence”
10. Violent Green “We Lay”
11. Juvenile “Ha”
12. cLOUDDEAD “Bike (2)”
13. Star Pimp “Meat Grinder”
14. Bill Ding “The Power of the Microphone”
15. DJ Z-Trip & DJ P “Beds Are Burning / For Whom The Bells Tolls / Oh Sheila (Acapella)
16. Captain Ahab “Acting Hard”
17. True Neutral Crew “Can’t Stop Loving You (ft. Algodón Egipcio)
18. Rainbow Blanket “Self Lover”