January 29, 2005 11:39 PM   Subscribe

ElectronicaFilter. I really like Apparat, Mouse on Mars and Telefon Tel Aviv: warm, crunchy, melodic, intricately textured electronica that never, or rarely, assaults the ear with walls of noise. What else will I like?
posted by gentle to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I suggest you start with merck records. For my money's worth, they've cornered the "warm, crunchy, melodic and intricately textured electronica" market. You could throw a dart at their roster and always come up happy... but for immediate satisfaction maybe start with Helios, Proswell, Proem and Tiki Obmar.

Also please attack ~scape music's catalog from earliest to most recent.

Contact me via the info in my profile if you wish to geek it up about this music. Hope this helps...
posted by basicchannel at 11:55 PM on January 29, 2005

Some other stuff I just remembered liking: Múm, Skyphone and Swod.

By way of amplification, and to deflect some obvious recommendations, I would like to emphasize the adjectives I use above. Boards of Canada, for example, which I adore, is not "crunchy" electronica, to the extent that I have heard, and their songs are often quite simple in structure. Similarly, Four Tet and I Am Robot And Proud are beat-oriented IDM, neither "crunchy" nor "warm" nor "intricately textured". Fennesz and Isan are ambient. And so on. I'm not sure how to label this genre, if it's a genre at all. Experimental electronica? Indie electronic?
posted by gentle at 11:56 PM on January 29, 2005

arovane. fizzarum.
posted by juv3nal at 11:57 PM on January 29, 2005

apologies, that last was typed prior to your clarification.
recommendation still holds for some tracks, but probably less so than I would have though before...
posted by juv3nal at 12:02 AM on January 30, 2005

basicchannel: Thanks, I am checking those out. Still, do you have anything slightly less obscure, like something Play or Amazon (in particular, .co.uk, as I'm in Europe) would stock, or something that allmusic actually knows about?

juv3nal: yeah, those don't quite fit, unfortunately.

I also love The Notwist, and their assorted co-projects (Ms John Soda, Lali Puna, Tied and Tickled Trio, Console).
posted by gentle at 12:11 AM on January 30, 2005

styrofoam (i'm what's there to show that something's missing)

opiate (objects for an ideal home)

notwist (neon golden)

múm (yesterday was dramatic, today is ok)

isan (beautronics)

kraftwerk (tour de france is the latest)


the penultimate record lable for this stuff is morr music. they have audio samples on their website.
posted by ori at 12:13 AM on January 30, 2005

..also aphex twin's select ambient works vol. 1 is an absolute classic in this regard.

oh! and another great one: bola (fyuti, soup)

also broadcast (haha sound) tho occasionally abrasive.


ellen allien (berlinette - a great album!)

black dog productions (bytes, which is another classic)

posted by ori at 12:20 AM on January 30, 2005

...also b. fleischmann (also on morr-- check out 'pop loops for breakfast' and 'welcome tourist') ok. and manitoba (up in flames). five more will pop into my head as soon as i click 'post', but i'll leave it at that.
posted by ori at 12:26 AM on January 30, 2005

Merck Records seconded, and don't forget their sub-label Narita. Spezialmaterial releases might not be warm enough, but are real good for the other criteria, especially Intricate. Gooom Records has a lot of different styles, but some of their artists like Abstrakt Keal Agram might fit your tastes. Delikatessan has also released a number of really nice records, with astounding cover art.

The definitive label for this kind of stuff is probably City Centre Offices (released the Swod album and a few Arovane ones), and maybe a few Morr Music releases.

L'usine/Lusine/L'usine ICL and Matthew Dear, both on Ghostly International, would be worth checking out too. The Frank and Bill stuff is good, as is the Ludvig Elblaus on New Speak. EU's Warm Math might be what you're looking for too. Murcof's releases on the Leaf label are also stellar examples of beat oriented, well textured interesting composition. The new Secret Frequency Crew album Forest of the Echo Downs will probably match too.

Now that I think about it, I think Yasume is exactly what you're looking for. It's a collaboration between Xela and Logreybeam, released on City Center Offices. There's also a stellar remix of theirs on a Metamatics remix disc.

If you want to keep up, I'd recommend checking Boomkat for new releases every Friday, listening to their samples and checking their end of the year best of lists.

On preview: Discogs is what you want for this type of music. For purchasing Boomkat, Norman Records and Warpmart have been prompt and professional. Likewise for Forced Exposure and Wrecked Distribution in North America.
posted by too many notes at 12:28 AM on January 30, 2005

Lots of interesting recommendations here. Thanks!

Some of them are obviously not what I'm looking for, though. Styrofoam is poppy, song-based IDM; Broadcast is basically 1960s retro rock'n'roll retrofitted with electronics; Kraftwerk is German techno; Ellen Allien is IDM/DJ techno; I'm not sure where to put Manitoba, but he's way too poppy and song-oriented. I love them all to death, but they don't fit the description.

Dntel is great, though; I had forgotten about him. He's not much into crunch/scratch/glitch/noise soundscapes (I'm sure you electronica nerds have proper terms for these things), but he definitely has the right texture.

As for Morr, I know them from Ms John Soda; but recommending recording companies doesn't really work well in this case: I don't think all of their artists, b. fleischmann included, are of the same quality, or even the same style. Specific artist/record recommendation are more helpful.

That's odd, I have read Boomkat a few times, and for some reason I thought they were an online magazine, not a shop. And they're in the UK. Wonderful.
posted by gentle at 12:45 AM on January 30, 2005

Hey! I'm good friends with Telefon Tel Aviv. Josh came to my last house party.

I second scape records, and many of the above mentioned recommendations, especially Boomkat.
posted by orange clock at 1:59 AM on January 30, 2005

Even if you've heard Xela and B. Fleischmann, Mouse on Mars, especially Glam, is hard to beat.

By the way, they are most awesome live.
posted by orange clock at 2:05 AM on January 30, 2005

Oh, and, you know, Autechre's Amber is essential.
posted by orange clock at 2:06 AM on January 30, 2005

orange clock, are you recommending Mouse on Mars? Because, you know, they're in my original post.

Glam is too uneven for me. My favourite is Idiology, followed by Niun Niggung, Autoditacker and Radical Connector.

I have heard Autechre's Tri Repetae++, which I hated. Will I still like Amber?
posted by gentle at 2:16 AM on January 30, 2005

Wow, Boomkat has a lot of great stuff, most of it right up my alley. And their Jukebox Flash streamer is the most responsive audio clip preview widget I've come across. Much appreciated!
posted by gentle at 3:08 AM on January 30, 2005

i don't know most (almost any!) of the things listed here, so i'm worried people aren't mentioning this because it doesn't fit, but i think stereolab fits your description (more so than what i know of autechre, anyway!). maybe too much lounge and not enough crunch?
posted by andrew cooke at 4:16 AM on January 30, 2005

Air are probably the most mainstream group in this area and I recommend them wholeheartedly.

Telepopmusik are also down the same alley, and easy to find. Very inoffensive electronica. Red Snapper, also.
posted by wackybrit at 5:04 AM on January 30, 2005

Some random specific examples:

1. Dino Filipe as Flim Toby [schematic records] (sounds uncannily like Mouse on Mars)
2. Phoenecia : Brownout [schematic]
3. Andreas Tilliander : Elit [mille plateaux]
4. Various Artists : Lily of the Valley [schematic]
5. Metamatics : Rewired in my Manor [hydrogen dukebox]
6. snd : Tender Love [mille plateaux]
7. Komet : Rausch [12k]
posted by nylon at 5:56 AM on January 30, 2005

Judging from your follow-up posts - You should definitely look for the beautiful string-and-sample work by The Books (especially The Lemon of Pink).

And Four Tet's Rounds is so obvious I have to assume that you know it.

I wrote more about both of those records in my article on the best music of 2003.
posted by Marquis at 7:46 AM on January 30, 2005

I don't have the size of list that you do, by any means, but I can suggest Beefcake (not the crappy punk band of the same name, but rather this one)

They have their crunchy moments, sure, but on the whole they're everything you described.
posted by ChrisR at 7:53 AM on January 30, 2005

Jan Jelinek (aka Farben, aka Gramm)
Thomas Brinkmann
Burnt Friedman
Vladislav Delay (also in the guise of Luomo)
Boom & Birds (Roberto Carlos Lange)
posted by anathema at 8:02 AM on January 30, 2005

Amon Tobin
Cinematic Orchestra
posted by anathema at 9:19 AM on January 30, 2005

posted by noius at 9:35 AM on January 30, 2005

Pleased to be seconding Autechre's Amber.

Also... Amon Tobin, Akufen, Thomas Brinkmann and Cinematic Orchestra are nice, but way off the mark.
posted by basicchannel at 9:48 AM on January 30, 2005

Check out "Concubine" by Converge.
posted by baphomet at 10:19 AM on January 30, 2005

Yes, Autechre is awesome. Also check out "Plumblines", they have an album "Circles" that's easy to find. They're on Hydrogen Dukebox. Just saw they have a second album, Pinpoints.
posted by Nelson at 10:41 AM on January 30, 2005

maybe, just maybe, some ulrich schnauss?
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:44 AM on January 30, 2005

I think our friend Ulrich is too ambient.

I was going to say Stereolab is too spacy, but then I remembered this amazing music of their's I heard once at an art museum which would be perfect. If anyone knows what I am talking about, please share. Sorry to not be more helpful.
posted by mai at 11:47 AM on January 30, 2005

Ok, basicchannel. Akufen may be a bit too cut-and-paste, Brinkmann a bit too micro, Cinematic Orchestra too live, and Tobin too, hell I don't know.
posted by anathema at 11:58 AM on January 30, 2005

Funny the Sonig label hasn't been mentioned considering it is run by the guys in MOM.
posted by anathema at 12:00 PM on January 30, 2005

Actually, I think Ulrich Schnauss would fit the bill -- I like faraway trains passing by but a strangely isolated place is also very nice.

(I saw Mouse on Mars live earlier this year -- one of the best shows I've ever seen, I think.)
posted by ori at 12:09 PM on January 30, 2005

Not quite warm and crunchy, but not at all assaulting, I really like Tosca, album "Suzuki," to be specific, is a real classic.

And most of Autechre's albums barely fit with each other and Amber sounds nothing like Tri Repetae++. The track "Montreal" is really good for one.
posted by abcde at 1:33 PM on January 30, 2005

Mmm, </i>.
posted by abcde at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2005

mai, I guess you're thinking of Music for the Amorphous Body Centre that they did for a Charles Long exhibition back in '95. It's long since been out of print, but all the tracks from it were re-released on the Aluminium Tunes compilation.
posted by nylon at 2:11 PM on January 30, 2005

If you like the vocal stuff, like Notwist, you'd probably like Ice Cream Creatures.
posted by Espoo2 at 2:46 PM on January 30, 2005

2. Phoenecia : Brownout [schematic]

brownout is excellent, but I'm not sure there's any musical vocabulary wherein it would be considered warm...
posted by juv3nal at 3:08 PM on January 30, 2005

As much as I like "Concubine" by Converge, that is a terrible suggestion given the question asked. I think baphomet is joking, but not really funny. or helpful.
posted by drobot at 3:48 PM on January 30, 2005

Most of the old Warp Records catalogue (specifically stuff in the Artificial Intelligence series). i Nth the recommendation of Arovane, add one for Biosphere and one for Bill Laswell's Material project specifically Hallucination Engine. Maybe early The Orb (adventures beyond the ultraworld)
posted by softlord at 3:48 PM on January 30, 2005

Lots of good ideas so far. Here's a few more though that I haven't yet seen suggested:

Family by Global Goon on Audio Dregs - MP3

Aneamia by Melodium on Audio Dregs - MP3

E*Vax and E*Rock both on Audio Dregs too - E*Vax MP3 & E*Rock MP3

Oh yeah and did I mention the label Audio Dregs rocks. ;) I didn't think I was going to be listing only their stuff, it just happened that way. Pick up a sampler of theirs too, there's lots of other good music on the label too.
posted by pwb503 at 6:13 PM on January 30, 2005

Some of these recommendations are so wildly and hilariously off the mark that I suspect that not everyone read my original post. Stereolab's sweet smooth sugary Franco-British electronic pop is nothing like anything I mentioned. Same goes for Air. Amon Tobin produces jungle/drum'n'bass/trip-hop jazz, and I fail to see any overlap aside from the use of electronic instruments. And I specifically mentioned Four Tet as an anti-example to ward off precisely those kinds of recommendations. Let's just say that if you can dance to it, it's not what I am looking for.

But lots of interesting recommendations here, too. Much to check out. Thanks again.

Espoo2, Ice Cream Creatures sound nothing like the Notwist, but it does sound interesting, if a bit world music-ish, which is the same problem I have with Arovane.

I can't stand The Books, the same way I can't stand Frank Zappa, say, or Deerhoof. Deerhoof has some beautiful stuff here and there, like This Magnificent Bird Will Rise on Reveille, which is an island of beauty in a sea of harsh, amateurish-sounding lo-fi cut-up stuff.
posted by gentle at 7:08 PM on January 30, 2005


Mylo - Destroy Rock and Roll
Ellen Allien - Berlinette
Villalobos - The Au Harem de Archimede
Twine - Twine
Dntel - Life Is Full Of Possibilities

I'm having trouble with the 'crunchy' part of your request, and the intricately textured part is hard to combine with 'crunchy': I think most of the 'intricately textured' stuff lately has been in the tech-house genre and so not so 'crunchy.' By 'crunchy' do you mean like sort of static-filled beats?

Also check out records like

Kompakt Total 3 and 5
Michael Mayer - Fabric 13

-- which you might have already heard; they might be more repetitive than you're looking for, but deliver in all the other ways.
posted by josh at 7:27 PM on January 30, 2005

Ah, also: Ada - Blondie. That's great and pretty close to what you have in mind.
posted by josh at 7:28 PM on January 30, 2005

Some of these recommendations are so wildly and hilariously off the mark that I suspect that not everyone read my original post. ... I specifically mentioned Four Tet as an anti-example ... Let's just say that if you can dance to it, it's not what I am looking for.


Can you dance to Four Tet? (i don't think so...)

gentle, you're asking for recommendations with a fairly vague description, and then basically finding fault with anything that doesn't meet a different but totally unpredictable set of criteria -- your own personal taste.

I mean, it's hard to find something to go on when you say 'I like mid period Mouse on Mars but not Four Tet.'

(I mean, looking at some of your preferences - Mum, Boards of Canada, - it sounds like you like stuff that's pretty spacey and without regular [or overly present] beats, but then you don't like Isan and do like Mouse on Mars, so I suspect that a lot of people - and not just me - are bamboozled.)
posted by Marquis at 7:31 PM on January 30, 2005

Re: the Morr Music recommendation above, that's probably something like Lali Puna - Tridecoder. These are all great, but they might be too dance-oriented for you.
posted by josh at 7:34 PM on January 30, 2005

Okay, looking over this thread again I have different suggestions (although I think my more dance-y suggestions are still really good records).


Dntel - Life Is Full Of Possibilities
Twine - Twine
Daedelus - Invention
Herbert - Bodily Functions
Camping - Suburban Shore [haven't heard this, but it's been well-reviewed and fits the profile]
Chessie - Overnight
März - Wir Send Hier [long shot]
Bexar Bexar - Haralombos

and, more on the pop side of things:

Barbara Morgenstern
Junior Boys
Ms. John Soda (the EP)
Schneider TM - Zoomer

These are probably a lot closer to what you're imagining than the Kompakt records.
posted by josh at 7:49 PM on January 30, 2005

gentle, you're asking for recommendations with a fairly vague description, and then basically finding fault with anything that doesn't meet a different but totally unpredictable set of criteria -- your own personal taste.

I realize the specification is vague, of course. That's why I posted the follow-up clarification, which, upon re-reading, seems pretty clear if you interpret the terms the same way I do.

So maybe it's the terminology. By "crunchy" and "textured" I am talking about the particular "dirty" electronic sound as pioneered by the likes of MoM, Aphex Twin and so on -- I'm not so into the genre that I can pinpoint its evolution exactly; Peek 824545301 from The Richard D. James Album, or Granular Bastard from Apparat's Duplex, or MoM's Actionist Respoke from Idiology are great examples of this sound.

This sound is not smooth: it's cracked and scratchy and full of metallic particles of dirt. In Mom's and Apparat's case, it still manages to give off a lot of warmth; MoM's The Illking is a good example. There might be beats, but the beats are usually as complex in construction as the rest of the music; for example, compare Four Tet's simple drum track on She Moves She, which stays constant throughout the song, with Telefon Tel Aviv's sprawling blips and crunches (obscuring an essentially really simple beat) on the opening track of Fahrenheit Fair Enough.

BoC (which I love, but is a specific counter-example to what I am looking for) can be roughly divided into ambient soundscapes with or without beats. Their sound is predominantly pure; soaring strings, sweet vibes, bubbling synthscapes. Their songs, such as Roygbiv or Aquarius, are fairly straightforward -- a nice beat, some theme bouncing back and forth, some samples on top; structurally quite simplistic. Isan, on Lucky Cat at least, is pretty pristine ambient (though not in Eno's edge-of-hearing sense of the term) -- floating, soaring melodies, either without drums or with very subtle ones.

Can you dance to Four Tet? (i don't think so...)

No, but you can dance to Stereolab and Air (mentioned earlier in the paragraph you're addressing).
posted by gentle at 8:12 PM on January 30, 2005

josh, thanks. Yeah, Dntel is wonderful, even if it's less intricate than a lot of the other music in this weird, hard-to-pin-down category I'm trying to capture. I will hunt down the others you mention.

Ms John Soda is excellent -- I love their No P. or D. album. Lali Puna rocks, too.
posted by gentle at 8:15 PM on January 30, 2005

Thanks for that clarification, gentle.
posted by Marquis at 8:17 PM on January 30, 2005

The Morr Music releases I was thinking of were the Populous disc and some of the older Styrofoam (earlier than the last two full lengths), especially EP 2 (though that's not on Morr). I was listening to these around when the Telefon Tel Aviv "Immediate Action #8" came out, and they're inseparable in my mind.

The City Centre Offices releases I would say that are in this genre are Yasume, Dub Tractor, and maybe that Porn Sword Tobacco CD (though I haven't heard it). If the Dub Tractor is your style, anything by the Danish trio of Dub Tractor, Opiate and Acoustic (together as System, or Future 3) is worth checking out.

If you can track them down, these Delikatessen releases are what you want: Lusine ICL's "Sustain", Crunch's "10inch", Metamatics' Remix disc (selections from Rewired in my Manor, the one with the awesome Yasume remix), Funckarma's "Bourbon Sounds" and Myrza's "All You Can Eat". I haven't heard the Beefcake one, but given someone else's recommendation, that's probably a good bet too.

The Merck records releases you should check out are: All of Machine Drum's work, Ilkae's "Pistachio Island", Proswell's "Konami", Kristuit Salu vs. Morris Nightengale's "My Mines I", all of MD's work, as well as his stuff as Kschzt, and Lackluster's "Showcase". The label's early releases are all excellent, but those are probably closest to what you're looking for.

In a related vein, but maybe too different:
Brothomstates' "Qtio"
Dabrye's "One/Three"
Prefuse 73 "Extinguished Outtakes"
Heat Sensor's instrumentals on Viktor Vaughns "Vaudeville Villain"
Tim Koch "Shorts In Alaska"
Crunch "1"
Funkstorung "Appetite for Disctruction"
Setzer / Contrived Productions "Kettel / Setzer Split"
FX Randomiz "Goflex"
N5MD's "MD8 Compilation"

Monotonik is a free netlabel that has some releases that skirt the edge of what you're looking for.

I would heartily recommend:
Yasume's "Where We're From the Pretty Birds Sing"
Machine Drum's "Bidnezz"
Machine Drum's "Half the Battle"
Secret Frequency Crew's "Forest of the Echo Downs"
L'Usine ICL's "Condensed"
Murcof's "Martes"

Feel free to e-mail if you want more specific recommendations.

And oh yes, Mouse on Mars live were quite awesome. They kept breaking their snare drum; it must have been two or three times during their set.
posted by too many notes at 8:58 PM on January 30, 2005

assault on the ears, wallofsound stuff you say? it's not exactly electronica, but old school shoegaze back before it all became bland warm humming chamber pop comes to mind. some of the bands that never made it big but still do it in the vein of mbv and sianspheric and slowdive have songs you can listen to here. careful, it's geocities--pet it lovingly and use a magic crystal before you click and all that.
posted by ifjuly at 9:29 PM on January 30, 2005

oh my gosh! (laughing) i gave you the opposite of what you wanted 'cause i completely didn't see that "never assaults..." sorry. sorry.
posted by ifjuly at 9:31 PM on January 30, 2005

Chris Clark, perhaps?
posted by RGD at 2:50 AM on January 31, 2005

If you like Mouse on Mars, you'll definitely like Fila Brazilia as well. Really really awesome stuff.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 6:09 AM on January 31, 2005

Though at times it's a bit of a left turn into hip-hop territory, I'd strongly second the Prefuse 73 recommendation.
posted by flaneur at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2005

Thanks to everyone who contributed. The recommendations should last me a while.
posted by gentle at 6:24 PM on February 1, 2005

What you really should do is check out: http://www.audioscrobbler.com/ - it'll help you.
posted by pwb503 at 4:27 PM on February 2, 2005

pwb503, I'm already a member.
posted by gentle at 4:34 PM on February 4, 2005

Stereolab's sweet smooth sugary Franco-British electronic pop is nothing like anything I mentioned. Same goes for Air. [...] Let's just say that if you can dance to it, it's not what I am looking for.

I guess I did misread your original post, so let's re-read it right now:

warm, crunchy, melodic, intricately textured electronica that never, or rarely, assaults the ear with walls of noise. What else will I like?

Oh, silly me! I forgot that Air's music is a cold, yet danceable, dark wall of noise that attacks all the senses with its pounding beat and chopped up blasts of intensity. I very much appreciate you taking the time to subtly point out my error. I always thought Air produced that undanceable, crunchy, melodic electronica, but I was mixing them up with someone else.
posted by wackybrit at 1:38 PM on February 5, 2005

wackybrit, what's with the snarkiness?

Look, Air is as creamy smooth as electronic, song-based pop can get. There are some subtle clicks on Run on Talkie Walkie, but generally speaking it's not crunchy (as in glitchy cuts and clicks), and definitely not intricately textured, so it fails two of my requirements. How can you compare Air to the artists I mention in my OP, anyway?
posted by gentle at 12:37 PM on February 7, 2005

MaruMari sounds eerily like Mouse On Mars, so much so I sometimes have difficulty telling them apart when shuffling tracks...
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:58 AM on January 7, 2006

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