Some of our favorite computer-generated sounds.
SWEET VALLEY – “Sentimental Trash” – as described by kevin garcia
Nostalgia contains one of my favorite etymologies. It’s a portmanteau of the Greek words νόστος (return home; travel, journey) and ἄλγος (pain, either of body or mind; grief). Though relying on this pain, a wistful longing for a happier past, often feels like a cop-out in the art world (cf. La La Land), it’s exactly what makes Sweet Valley so stunning. Their mixing of doo-wop, hip-hop, and classic video game soundtracks is clever and effortlessly smooth, and it hearkens me back to a simpler time when my biggest concern in life was trying to get through the Water Temple.
ARCA – “Broke Up” – as described by ena alvarado
“Where am I at the moment? I like Arca—that’s weird as fuck, in a good way,” said Thom Yorke, back in early 2013. He must have been listening to the Venezuelan producer, formerly known as Nuuro, a lot at the time, because he also included “2 Blunted” in a playlist he curated and posted online shortly after that interview. There’s a vast emotional ground to traverse in and with Arca, and I suspect Björk and Kanye fans will be most alert to it.
TOUCH SENSITIVE – “Pizza Guy” – as described by som-mai nguyen
I found this song last July, on a lonely, missed, blurry bus to Leipzig. The last year of my teens was fittingly the teen-angstiest of them all, and every sound I heard seemed a memory worth noting down, even in terrible, teen-angsty pretension. So in my ~Moleskine~, I wrote: “an 80s-music-video feeling you have the inheritance to hate but that I’ve learned to crave since I was five and lonely,” “sticky, sumptuous solipsism,” “this summer’s green all around.” (I’m good at finding bittersweetness where there’s none. Like a track titled “Pizza Guy.”)
COCOROSIE – “By Your Side” – as described by angelica jopling
This feminine, somewhat-childish, witchy, suburban junior high-type song is the perfect reflection of CocoRosie. The band consists of two etherial Parisian sisters, Sierra and Bianca Cassidy who have an air of Fiona Apple x Björk x James Blake x ??!! It is difficult to exactly pinpoint their sound. In their album, La Maison de Mon Reve, they have welded several musical genres to uncover this elegant, languid, somewhat coyly bored kind of euphony. This song has the air of an eerie lullaby that has the capability to both hush you to sleep and provoke an existential crisis! Their pitch-altered, fragile, fairy-like voices combined with periodic synth pules and repetitive metallic crunches create something powerfully weird and deeply original.
FOUR TET – “Angel Echoes” – as described by brandon truong
This opening track to Four Tet’s There is Love In You is invigorating, ethereal, and entrancing. As with most Four Tet tracks, I see myself intensely working to this just as much as I find myself laying back, turning it on, and ruminating on my inner space. It reminds me of a journey I once went on.
JANELLE MONÁE – “Violet Stars Happy Hunting” – as described by nikki tran
Can we take a moment to recognize the glory that is Janelle Monae? She’s a performer, songwriter, self-made mogul, and now bona fide movie star–making her acting debut in not one, but two Oscar-nominated films. This is one of her first tracks and one of my favorites. Her voice is jubilant and when she speaks (in interviews, on film), her voice oozes with that same kind of calming glee. Janelle Monáe, you are out of this world.
BURIAL – “Archangel” – as described by anthony milki
There is a special mystique behind a reclusive producer making such incredible music.
CALVIN HARRIS feat. FRANK OCEAN & MIGOS – “Slide” – as described by alejandra salazar
Is this even electronic, though? Technically that’s Harris’ genre of choice, but his latest (strange! Yet wildly effective! What is this!) collaboration with Ocean and Migos (seriously, how!) is much less grounded in synth and heavy drops than anything else he’s done. Instead, “Slide” exists in a strange inter-genre ether, suspended in time and space with one of the most addictive bass lines in modern pop since the advent of “Uptown Funk.”
Image from here.