During his 2012 SXSW keynote address, Bruce Springsteen began a list of musical genres that had been born since the start of pop music. After going through the many variations of metal, folk, psychedelia, and hip-hop, he came to a great raised-eyebrow moment with “Nintendo-core, huh?” Bruce had a lot of other things on his mind that morning, so he was able to make his point with an incomplete list, one that was without my new favorite genre: Black Midi.
This is a data-driven musical style in which people jam as many notes into a composition as possible, so that if it were printed out in standard musical notation, you’d see nothing but black. See the example below, which clocks in at over 4.5 million notes.
Some parts of this end up sounding like a video game gone crazy. A sort of cartoon version of Philip Glass or something. I can’t say that it does a whole lot for me (I do dig the name though…even if it reads more sinister than the actual sonics), though I do find the idea of this underground community supporting it to be sort of fascinating. Music as competition? WTF?!
Dan Deacon isn’t a Black Midi musician, but he does put together electronic music that deals in fairly high note density levels. I stumbled onto a short documentary about him while doing some reading on Black Midi. Some people are turned off by electronic music because of a perceived lack of humanity. They need to listen to this guy.
“Slow With Horns/Run For Your Life” imparts some surprising emotional twists by playing with the dynamics of both tempo and density. The chiming piano that runs to the end of the composition is one of the most exhilarating things I’ve heard this year.