Release Date: 2015 Sept 1
Genre: Disco / Trip-Hop
License: CC BY-NC-ND
IIII/IIII Explorer represents, for me at least, one of the times when I have a complex relationship with a work that is fairly simple.. Sometimes I have a tendency to over think things, and sometimes a work brings out some complicated thoughts in me.
On the surface there couldn’t be a whole lot that is more simple than this work. All of the tracks are between 2 minutes, 45 seconds and 3 and 20 seconds. There are only five tracks. And they are named DISK01,02,03,04,05. Literally. Nothing could be more simple, right?
Well, actually, each of the tracks is quite simple. There’s no strange twists of harmonics, or structure. There’s nothing that makes the proceeding stand out: the production (while good) is nothing special, the engineering / mixing of the tracks is nothing special. And, if anything, the actual instruments and patches used are a bit crude (and I am still not certain if they were chosen deliberately, or just what the artist had available).
And yet I like this release. There is something satisfying about the fact that I don’t have to analyze it too much. These pieces just are pieces of music. They are brief yet complete. They are simple, but catchy enough that you want to hum along with them. And yes, part of the charm of them is in the fact that they have a retro sound and feeling to them.
In fact, in some ways, they remind me of the works of another independent, CC artist that I came across six or seven years ago. His works were crude, and lacked a level of sophistication, and yet there was a charm to them. They were raw and uncensored. Sometimes they were profane, and sometimes just bizarre (so much so, that sometimes the artist put the same work out under different names). And he was prolific, extremely prolific, releasing an EP nearly once a week.
This release from IIII/IIII (a name that I still don’t understand) is ‘Explorer’, and maybe that is the key to this work. The artist is exploring the musical landscape around him. Engaging in playing with instruments and sounds and rhythm patterns. Seeing what things he (or she) can come up with that are engaging, while not trying to make some grandiose statement.
And that is satisfying. It’s not the type of work that will remain on playlists forever. It’s not likely that we’ll look back at this one day and say that it was a genius work. However, it may become something like the Grieg Piano Miniatures that I am fond of: a set of works that one can listen to occasionally when they don’t want to be bombarded by complicated or pretentious music. And sometimes that is all we need.