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Recommendations

These are my music, film, cartoon, comic book, book, game, and other media recommendations. Not an exhaustive list of everything I've consumed; just a listing of the best of the best. Pics are clickable, BTW.

Music

cover of powapowa-p's astronauts song

Powapowa-P

Of all the artists that have graced this forsaken planet since the creation of the Vocaloid synthesisers, none were better than Powapowa-P. He was a child prodigy; while most of us spent our adolescence masturbating or distro hopping, he was producing some of the finest music known to man. It's difficult putting him in a genre, blending pop, electronic, and rock sounds into an unique mix that no one can reproduce. I can't count the times I've listened to his stuff, over and over again, every time I'm on a commute or on a walk.

His music isn't upbeat or happy, contrary to the happy-go-lucky impression westerners have of Hatsune Miku; nor is it commercialised emo rock, droning on about slit wrists and the horrors of making a billion dollars on tour. His was genuine pain, and unfortunately it led him to committing suicide. Not a single day goes by that he is not missed. In my opinion, his best work is Astronauts as published in his album 夢のまにまに; a song about shame, fear, and opportunity loss against a post-rock backdrop.

Now, I close my eyes
I plug my ears shut and I begin to walk
The sound of your voice, the shape of your smile
They may be invisible, but that is fine, too

cover of cell 7's re:cognition album

[ Cell 7 ]

Cell 7 are an Australian electronic music duo that appeared of out of nowhere, dropped one hell of an album, Re:Cognition, then disappeared into the void whence they came. They produce industrial electronic music, but their gimmick is that instead of being fast and hard, their songs are slow and emotional. Unlike the rest of the genre, their works aren't League of Edgelords: The Soundtrack, nor are they about a chick that scorned them 30 years ago. It's hard picking a favourite—I'm torn between Shell and Tesla—but I listen more to the former, so Shell it is.

cover of placebo's meds single

Placebo

Nothing says 90s and early 2000s alternative rock like Placebo. In my opinion, they codified the genre: a wide variety of instruments, creative distortion effects in the guitar, and nostalgic albeit strong melody. They express a culture of experimentation in love, in life, and in substance abuse, deconstructing the repercussions of living on the bleeding edge. Nothing exemplifies this better than Meds. More recently, Placebo have tried reconstructing a more positive message; Battle For The Sun is an evolution in both themes and production style. Though their competition has grown stale for more than a decade, their sound remains fresh. Longevity is the mark of genius.

stromae's carmen

Stromae

Stromae is the maestro, a francophone Belgian rapper with extremely high production standards, boundless charisma, and an almost autistic weirdness about him. Like all good rappers, his work satirises the hypocrisies and failings of modern life—and, really, human nature. He wrestles with our passions and exposes how our narcissism dissolves our ideals, reducing us to cogs for society's barely functional machine. Carmen, his most topical work, is a scathing critique of twatter—may its employees burn in hell. Of course, what made him popular is Alors On Danse a gigantic dance floor hit in Europe, ironically exposing the vapid escapism of the party and binge drinking culture.

cover of access to arasaka's void

Access to Arasaka

Imagine music that is barely music, but is still identifiably music. Access to Arasaka's work lacks a steady rhythm, identifiable melody, and breaks all conventions of musical production. There's lots of people out there who produce "glitch" or "experimental" music, but most of them are but a dance song with a few extra distortion effects. Access to Arasaka takes electronic music production to its logical extreme, casting aside collective wisdom about what you ought to do, and showing us what we could do if we had the balls.

dye -synthesis- cover

DYE -Synthesis-

The purpose of an album ought not to be a collection of tracks; albums are not anthologies, and tracks do not stand on their own. Ideally, it should form a consistent whole, wherein each part is lessened in isolation, and together they're greater than their sum. DYE -Synthesis- is AVTechNO!'s most notable work, and as you might imagine it revolves around synthesising, breaking down, and mutating its titular song, DYE. Itself a great work, combining electronic dance music with electronic chaos reminiscent of Access to Arasaka, the album reaches its climax with Treow's two part remix, DYE_Re:flection, followed by for+. Treow brings drum and bass, piano, and further glitchiness to the table, initially improving upon the original, then messing it up and changing it until it's just barely recognisable. Having context of its beginnings, the end result is all the more impressive; I don't think it's possible to properly appreciate it in isolation.

tk's fantastic magic album cover

Ling Tosite Sigure and TK

When I first heard Ling Tosite Sigure, I felt like I did when I first heard Linkin Park or Evanescence. I didn't think it was possible to be this impressed by this genre after all those years, that all my greatest memories of alternative rock were behind me, and it was all downhill from there in the land of dubstep and incomprehensible rapping. But here we are. Memorable, high-pitched motifs coupled with scream vocals, angry guitars that aren't distorted into extinction, complex rhythm and structure. Ling Tosite Sigure, and its lead vocalist, TK, are hands down the best the genre has to offer, the first and foremost amongst Japanese bands. After a hiatus, their next album is around the corner, promising to bring their greatest work with it. Until then, the most impressive song is Fantastic Magic, wherein TK goes full Placebo and brings everything and the kitchen sink in instruments to pull it off, by far his most technically impressive composition.

bt's suddenly cover

These Hopeful Machines

The problem with trance music is that it can't escape the trappings of its genre; it's difficult to recommend it to people who don't already enjoy its tropes. BT's Grammy-nominated 2-CD monster of an album not only does that, but elevates itself into one of the most compelling experiences ever released. From progressive trance to flirting with rock, BT explores the full breadth of his musical acumen and is not afraid to show it; every track is marathon length and takes its sweet time to come across with maximum impact. All twelve tracks are amazing, but the crown can go to none other than Suddenly for BT's iconic stutter edits.