What 15 songs and 15 minutes makes for one of 2018's most acclaimed new artists.
Why The artist that follows dear reader is the ominous warning about the attention span of the youth that elder generations have warned us about. The warnings usually include the accusations that we are no longer able to focus on anything longer than a few minutes and that we are constantly distracted. The inevitable product of chainscrolling on our phones and its effect on art has come true, or at least begun. Those who worried that music would be reduced to nothing but a short verse and chorus before the listener moved on to the next hit, please avert your eyes.
December's myriad of end-of-year lists throws up many an opportunity for genuine discovery. One name that has featured on many well-known publications lists this year is Tierra Whack, who released an album called Whack World on Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music featuring 15 tracks, all one minute each.
On first listen, listening to Whack World is akin to previewing tracks on your chosen streaming service – 60 seconds of music before you buy. Except Whack World is only 15 minutes in length on purpose. In this Insta-era, Whack World was first released as a collection of 60-second songs on the platform, accompanied by well-conceived mini short videos, accompanying surreal rap music. If that makes you feel old, then that's the point. It was intended to appear in her fanbase's native hangout spaces.
Perversely, the short format is a suitable way to be introduced to a brand new artist in the streaming world awash in a deluge of new acts. The stunt certainly helped her profile, but it’s Tierra Whack’s music which has lasted longer than the initial dopamine hit. Rather than further evidence of the degradation of the modern world, Tierra Whack is playing with new forms within it and showcasing her polymath craft at the same time. In this case, less is more leaves them wanting more.
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Sharon Van Etten: Jupiter 4
Having spent the last few years making her acting debut in the Netflix series The OA, studying psychology and having her first child, the NYC musician's returned with a fire in her belly with the boisterous Comeback Kid. It felt like a sea change for the singer. Further compounded that sonic switch, is the eerie, epic and Lynchian (the singer also featured in the Twin Peaks third season) Jupiter 4. The New Jersey singer's new album Remind Me Tomorrow is out January 18th and Van Etten plays Vicar Street on March 23rd.
Helena Hauff: The Smell of Sud and Steel
No one makes electronic music quite as beautifully textured as Helena Hauff. The Hamburg producer's second album Qualm this year was a mechanical collection of techno, acid and electro. It goes deep but its attention to detail is always at the surface. The Smell of Sud and Steel's eight minutes revel in those changeling details – as corroding synths and arpeggios fly, percussive muster and bubbling texture combine to create thrilling techno borne of a sound designer's brain.