Experimental and avant-garde music is all too often passively ignored, if not passionately rejected, by many music listeners:
Noise? Drone? Free jazz? Minimalism? Black metal?
Pointless. Unpleasant. Too weird. Hard work. Just not for me. Pretentious.
In its far-reaching variety, to write generally about it is difficult, and probably problematic, but an overarching defence of experimental music — music that pushes conventions and tastes to the extreme — is needed. I genuinely believe that all music fans can find at least one artist or genre to enjoy which falls somewhere under the porous, indefinite label of ‘experimental’.
With this belief as its starting point, this column will aim to convince the average music fan to see (or hear) that trying new and radically different things can be a rewarding experience. I’m not suggesting anyone give up on the more ‘traditional’ or mainstream music that they enjoy. I merely encourage you to expand your listening horizons. One can enjoy Carly Rae Jepsen alongside the pulverising alien noise of Prurient; or Kanye West alongside the beautiful ambient soundscapes of Tim Hecker. Different types of music are capable of different ends and capable of provoking different emotions: naturally, then, if you limit your listening to one or two genres, you deny yourself the unique experiences offered by others. You may give a genre an explore and find you don’t enjoy the experience or sentiments they’re offering, and, as with all genres, that’s fine, but I implore you to at least give it a try.
Each column will take an experimental music genre as its starting point, and from there will take you through a playlist of tracks: starting with ones which are relatively accessible, either influenced by the genre or a manifestation of it in a tamer form; progressing to purer, more challenging examples. My hope is that, by starting with what is accessible or familiar, but drawing attention to the more experimental elements, it will be possible to get into, or at least appreciate the more extreme side of music.
Read the first instalment of exPearimental here.