Aural Umami?
April 30, 2015 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I like a quality in music that crosses genres and artists. The closest I can describe it is the physicality of a song, when a song has multiple layers and textures to it, as diverse as possible, like a single soaring voice above a dense harsh house base, or multiple stereo-spaced out tracks of different instruments and voices interwoven. I'm looking for more songs like these - below the fold are some favourite examples to hopefully explain this from my spotify lists. And whoot if there's an actual music term for this preference!
posted by dorothyisunderwood to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Rasputina - The New Zero ?
posted by WeekendJen at 9:25 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't have Spotify so I was only able to listen to a couple of your songs by searching YouTube, but I've heard some of them before. I'm sure someone else will have more technical comments, but some of what it sounds like you like is complex harmonies.

I like this, too! Off the top of my head, some suggestions:
What about White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes?
Or Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap
Do you usually like a capella groups? Harmony is kind of what they do. What about (widely varying) groups like Pentatonix or Ladysmith Black Mambazo ?

And, honestly, if you don't already listen to orchestral music, try it. Beautifully interwoven textures of different instruments and voices describes most classical orchestral music.
posted by spelunkingplato at 9:30 AM on April 30, 2015

I think what you're referring to (based mostly on the tracks you've listed) is the quality of songs that have been expertly mastered in the studio (as opposed to being spontaneously recorded, or recorded live). These are tracks that have a lot of meticulous planning, programming, and very subtle tweaks that when combined provide a very rich experience when you can listen to them in a setting that's conducive to hearing all the little surprises and subtleties. If you like this style of music, I suggest you invest in a pair of hi fi headphones--they make it much easier to bliss out by making sure you get all that energy focused right on your ears, not dispersed around a room that probably has acoustic problems and distractions.

Not all studio music is created equal. There's an urge (especially in contemporary tween pop) to just put everything imaginable in a mix (cough Katy Perry cough). Hitting it right can give you chills; hitting it wrong can make a bunch of expensive noise. There was sort of a golden age of brilliant studio pieces in the 70s, but that's subjective. Trip hop and downtempo sort of gave the idea a renaissance in the early 90s, too.

Some personal recommendations for you to explore:

Elton John--Basically everything he made before 1980, like Honky Ch√Ęteau and Tumbleweed Connection.
Sample: Come Down In Time

Brian Eno and David Byrne--My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
It's a good gateway drug to both artists and their respective projects, like:

Brian Eno with Roxy Music--Ladytron

David Byrne in Talking Heads--Born Under Punches

Fleetwood Mac--Rumors (especially if you like Alison Krauss)
Sample: I Don't Wanna Know

Sample: Glory Box
(Also consider their masterful live record which is once of the most studio-like recordings of a live show I've ever heard).

Air--Moon Safari
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:42 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Check out this question from last year about albums that are especially well mixed or produced.
posted by theodolite at 9:47 AM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

This immediately made me think of Hundred Waters, and in particular their song Thistle.
posted by saladin at 10:48 AM on April 30, 2015

Ooh, you'd probably like some of Queen's earlier, less-commonly-played material. The Prophet's Song (from A Night at the Opera) has some absolutely breathtaking multi-layeredness going on (as well as some really nifty experimentation with stereo audio; headphones are a must for the full experience).

I also can't overstate the awesomeness that is Phideaux (who make modern prog rock in a joyously homage-to-70s-awesomeness style)...The Search for Terrestrial Life is a standout track that might meet your criteria.

If you've got a taste for electronic music, there's some great stuff in the hardstyle genre that you might dig. I've been obsessing over this one lately - Live The Moment (JDX feat. Sarah Maria).

Anyhow, if you like those tracks, I can suggest more that have a similar sort of vibe to them. I don't know if there's a term for it, but I suspect your taste here might be somewhat similar to mine in a really weird way I've never been able to easily describe...I like stuff that sounds "epic" and "haunting" and "complicated" and those qualities are more significant to me than the specific genre a track might come from.
posted by aecorwin at 11:42 AM on April 30, 2015

I also enjoy that type of music, either with our without house bass. But I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend The New Pornographers "Sing Me Spanish Techno" or "The Bleeding Heart Show" (at work, so apologies for no links).

Give us an update on your choices! Best of luck in your search!
posted by singmespanishtechno at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2015

Everyman is an Island
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:30 PM on April 30, 2015

Sounds to me like you're responding in part to a kind of airiness in production with a (generally) broad dynamic range, as well as rhythmic syncopation, partly involving vocals. I have some suggestions along those lines in varying styles, but only one or two of these have the anthemic quality that it kind of sounds like you're also valuing.

Vampire Weekend - Diane Young
Azealia Banks - Chasing Time
Prince - Sign 'O' the Times (come to think of it, Prince does this a lot.)
Lily Allen - Sheezus
Little Mix - Salute
Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is the Move
Tinariwen - Cler Achel
posted by Mothlight at 7:31 AM on May 1, 2015

Way off the beaten path, but the instrumentals in APME are sweetness. Listen to "Carry Me" -- that's the best track IMHO.
posted by Kalatraz at 1:39 PM on May 5, 2015

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