For the last few decades, classical music and the experimental fringes of electronic music have been on a collision course. As living legends Philip Glass and Steve Reich became early advocates of electronic production, a number of the electronic generation’s upstarts are going back the other way; with genres like Ambient and Drone eschewing the pop and dance worlds’ need for hooks and simple melodies and replacing them with patient meditations and hypnotic loops.
In this playlist I hope to draw a bridge between contemporary Classical music and some of electronic’s more patient microgenres. This list is by no means exhaustive and should serve only as the most casual of introductions to these dense forms of music. Most of these tracks are contextualised immensely by their surrounding albums, but this should offer a tantalising taster for some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking music currently being put out.
Philip Glass – Metamorphosis One
Max Richter – On The Nature of Daylight
Steve Reich & Musicians – Music For 18 Musicians
Aphex Twin – Avril 14th
Tim Hecker – Chimeras
Nils Frahm – For
Loops Of Your Heart – Cries
The Caretaker – All You Are Going To Want To Do Is Get Back There
William Basinski – DLP 5
Fennesz – Endless Summer
Stars of the Lid – Even If You’re Never Awake
From the melancholy instrumentals of Philip Glass and more recent composer Mix Richter, the list takes in one of Steve Reich’s most vivid compositions in the form of Music For 18 Musicians. The big daddy of IDM, Aphex Twin, has tried his hand at purely organic music in the form of the achingly pretty Avril 14th, while Ambient legend Tim Hecker offers a typically dense soundfield in Chimeras. Nils Frahm’s For is a reverb-drenched affair that followed his beautiful piano-led album Keep, and it’s followed by The Field alter-ego Loops of Your Heart, whose slow-burn Cries fits surprisingly well into the mix. Next Leyland Kirby’s The Caretaker project and legendary loop-master William Basinski approach the subjects of memory and loss by decaying samples to different effects, and Fennesz’ glitchy classic Endless Summer somehow evoke the sunshine behind a great deal of beautiful electronic noodling. The list closes with Stars of the Lid, a familiar name in Drone circles, with their haunting (and beautifully titled) Even If You’re Never Awake.
It’s not too hard to draw the lines between classical and experimental these days as the borders soften between organic and electronic instrumentation, and I’m sure we’ll see an enormous amount of innovation and beauty continue to bloom from this heady intersection. But that’s not to say this isn’t happening already- I urge anyone who takes an interest in these tracks to go out and explore these artists; there’s a whole world waiting already.