Algorithmic Pre-raphaelite pop party

People say that recommendation engines will be the death of creativity, but we have actually found them to be pretty handy guides for the recondite, ever expanding reaches of YouTube’s musical long-tail. There are several conditions that enable this:

  1. The works we explore have been created and uploaded by humans. What is the opposite of garbage in garbage out?
  2. The starting point of our journey determines the paths which open up ahead. Again, what is the opposite of garbage in garbage out?
  3. The recommendations are based on  previous journeys by other gloriously unpredictable humans. Any randomness / serendipity in those is magnified by an algorithm that, by definition, will make mistakes that take you to wonderful and surprising places.

Sometimes the algorithmic autobahn arrives at certain strange attractors where we get off the vehicle and take a leisurely stroll. People refer to those clusters of human-curated awesomeness as ‘playlists’. The two tracks we are posting today were obtained from one of those, which is maintained by Emma Zoia, and is pretty accurately called “Emma Zoia puts pretty good music in YouTube”.

Zoia seems to specialise on hidden gems of mysterious pop, which we are totally down with. The first album we wanted to tell you about is Medio Occidente, and the artist is Francesco Messina. Unfortunately, similar algorithms to those that took us to Messina in YouTube have been stumped by the proliferation in Messinas in Google, so we have little biographical information about him. But then this blog has never traded in information, quite the opposite.

To give you an idea, Medio Occidente is the sound of Earth if you replaced its greco roman gnosticism and concupiscence with a religious vibe that in some ways is more depraved than Vangelis’ full-on Dionysian party  (check the lipstick in the artwork). It hovers in some amazing cultural space beyond space and time, arbitraging memories of the past and premonitions of the future like a William Gibson dream of Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Exhibit 1: Club Mediterranèe, today’s track, sounds like a Franco Battiato cover version of Ozo’s Anambra produced by Brian Eno after an orgy of cheap Marsala, overlaid with synthetic polyphonies that take us to a spectro-virtual space worthy of Holly Herndon or Oneohtrix. Only in the Mediterranean…

Francesco Messina – Club Mediterranèe

Get more info at discogs.

Then there is Masumi Hara. Again, no information, only mystery (and a feature by the wonderful Listen To This). And again, mesmerising bizarreness arrived from the outer reaches of the pop universe with a message of romance and funk. Unsurprisingly, YMO were tangentially involved.

As before, the déjà vu is strong here, young padawan, and firing in a different direction with each track, including Computer Incarnations for World Peace style dubby disco, neon chanson and, in 月と星のドンチャ (Moon & Star Doncha (?)), an amazing medley of Maurice Fulton batucada and ESG (via Warren G) block-rocking beats.

Everything else in the album is equally amazing but in completely different ways, such is its power. Enjoy!

Masumi Hara – 月と星のドンチャ

In discogs.

Priestess of Delphi by John Collier