Every once in a while, I come across a hyperspecific sub-genre of music that makes me say “huh?” I’m not talking about the slightly specific stuff: your grindcore, your post-dubstep, your liquid DnB; I’m talking about the stuff that’s so extremely specific that I can only imagine it describing one artist: “baroquecore”, “klezmer metal”, etc. I’m somewhat into this as a general concept; Makyo even compiled an earlier list of hyper-specific playlists, so let’s take a second to talk about hyper-specific genres!

After the announcement of the new Igorrr album, I started thinking about what “similar” even means to a band like this. Is the genre label even useful, or is it just a joke? “Baroquecore” is a word that elicits exactly two responses: for people who have never heard an Igorrr track: “is that really a thing?”, and for people who have heard literally any single track: “yep okay that’s actually the perfect description of this.” I feel like the same applies to “seapunk” and “chipstep” and “neurofunk” in a way that it doesn’t apply to “post-metal”; the added specificity makes it much more likely that you can at least guess at the sound, but good luck doing that in the last case without knowing what metal or post-rock are.

(A different blog post entirely: ask me if I think the same thing is true about queer identities, and why sometimes it’s useful to declare yourself as “queer” and other times it’s useful to declare yourself as “asexual panromantic.” Go ahead, bring it. :3)

Anyway, that rather wide digression aside, I decided to explore some of these bands by tossing them into Musicmap and seeing what similar means to an algorithm, instead of trying to define what similar means to me. So hey, let’s have some fun.

Igorrr

This one really, really surprised me for two reasons. One: I wasn’t kidding about that klezmer metal band up in the first paragraph, and here they are: Alamaailman Vasarat, literally the closest band to the center on the list, and thus, algorithmically, the “most similar.” They’re more like Igorrr than a) Venetian Snares, his most-often-cited influence, b) several of his labelmates on Ad Noiseam (DJ Hidden, Ruby My Dear), c) another band that Igorrr is in (Corpo-Mente), and d) a band that is actually just Igorrr under a different name (Whourkr).

This makes me doubt this algorithm quite a bit, but hey! No arguing taste, even if I can’t get nearly as into klezmer metal as I can breakcore or most of the music on Ad Noiseam.

Between the Buried and Me

BtBaM is in here because they refuse to classify themselves. Most critics/fans will just put them under the prog or death metal aegis, but the band itself won’t answer questions with a straight face: they’ve described Colors as both “new wave polka grunge” and “adult contemporary progressive death metal.” And that’s kinda fair: Colors is the only metal album I know which has a finger-picked banjo breakdown with sampled mooing.

Still, this band isn’t THAT weird, despite their own jokes about themselves, and sure enough, algorithms put them pretty close to other bands in the “metal with occasional weirdness” vein: Dillinger, Devin Townsend, Horse, etc.

Macintosh Plus

Aside: I typoed that as “macintosh plush” twice, and now I really want a plush Mac.

Anyway.

I’ve always been curious how artists genres that were accidents end up being grouped. I mean, vaporwave was a joke turned real, so now it’s unclear who is doing vaporwave ironically and who genuinely likes it. There are a few really strange things about this one: a) one of the similar bands is literally just “Vaporwave”, a tag connected to a bunch of bands not on this page at all, b) both XXYYXX and XXYXX, the latter of which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t even exist, and, most interestingly to me, c) Boards of Canada, a band which predates vaporwave by at least two decades.

I give up, I guess. I’ll never be able to explain what makes one vaporwave band like or unlike another.


Anyway, this has been my brief journey into hyperspecificity! I’m not sure that that’s a real word at all! Oh well! Thanks for reading!