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Before the written word, rhyme and rhythm documented the exploits of heroes. Song emerged as a mnemonic medium for Greek storytellers, spinning verse and into narrative choruses and epic poetry. The foibles of vision and memory meant that no two re-tellings ever conveyed the story exactly right. Rather, these sculptors of song expressed the contours of emotion with protean plots—winding tortuous paths to the same destination. This was the Homeric version of “you get the...
As a unifying element for a year-end list, “experimental” is pretty shifty. After all, artists from every genre test boundaries and explore new sounds, from pop to rock to noise to electronic, pushing those easily understood concepts into shit we can’t quite comprehend yet. Entries among the 20 albums below incorporate all of those things, but break past them, too. This was an unusually fine year for unusual music. 20. Zs - Xe It’s pretty insane...
In her songs, Julia Holter has trouble being herself. “I don’t think I can really sing and think, 'This is me, I’m just singing,'” she says. “It’s so weird for me, personally.” Instead of direct confessionals, the acclaimed L.A. songwriter has regularly projected herself backwards in time, building her records off of high-minded old fictions. Her 2011 debut, Tragedy, inhabited Euripides’ ancient Greek play Hippolytus. Last year’s Loud City Song mused on modernity, but...

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