A Tribute To Music Is Art: Favorite Moments (part 1)

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Without a doubt, Music Is Art (musicisart.ws) will always be my personal favorite music website (and favorite statement about music). Music is Art has been a major source of inspiration and certainly instrumental in the conception of this website. Before the phrase “Internet Influencers” became commonplace, Danielle Maree was one of the most influential online curators of the past decade, instilling her passion and utmost dedication into her blogging. Combining the love of music with that of poetry, writing and knowledge of visual art, Music Is Art immediately caught the visitor’s eye with its amazing design. Maree was always adept at maintaining an aesthetic which combines pictures, verses, citations, album covers, personal thoughts, great playlists and music discoveries she hoped to share to the world.

Danielle Maree was simply one of best music “tastemakers,” managing to capture history in a bottle with her extensive and prolific music posts. From the age of Hype Machine and the golden days of indie rock – to the second dawn of “producer-first electronic music,” Music Is Art saw and documented all. While I always kept an eye on the website, either at work or during holidays (when I had more time to scroll back and process every post thoroughly), there were some moments which I remember fondly even now (the most powerful one being the discovery of The Knife’s Marble House, which changed my outlook on what electronic music could be entirely).

I will try to recreate some of those moments below with the help of the Internet’s Wayback Machine, explaining what made them special, and end this post when it catches up to the year 2014. 2014 was a pivotal year in music, one which saw the balance shift to producers and producer-driven sounds. It is also the year in which I stopped listening to music from a nostalgic point of view and just started to listen to the present, something I always try to promote on this website as well. While an investigation of Music Is Art between 2014 and 2017 is important, it would be too much to do it in the context of a nostalgia-driven post, and as such, I’ll reserve it for a future article.

[Note: Since April 2022, the domain musicisart.ws redirects users to https://musicisartmag.com, a website now called “Music Art Mag”, which – going by its history – seems to acknowledge the old website and aim to be a continuation in name only. We have no idea whether this new website has Danielle Maree’s blessing, and the writing style is a massive red flag pointing towards the domain being hijacked and just used to bring in more views for a website that has nothing to do with the original. But since I’m not big on conspiracy theories…]

Below are our favorite Music Is Art moments, structured by year. You might have to wait a bit before all the pages load, as there’s quite a bit of content in there and we felt that just showing, not telling, was more effective.

First Impressions – 2007

Quite possibly, the Music Is Art website knew I would enjoy Aphex Twin, CAN, Nouvelle Vague, Four Tet and Sun Ra long before I did. The first contact I remember having with the magazine was the “Metamorphosis of Sound Search (Alone Together)” post, which not only had a cool-sounding title, but also contained an analysis of Kant at a time when I was crazy about philosophy, a verse about solitude and ruminations on indie music and art. Needless to say, I fell in love with the website, its cohesive, creative look and feel which made it look like a product of love, and I knew I would return almost every day. 

“I Knew More Than I Knew Before” (Feist Spotlight) – 2007

Music Is Art was an indie music blog, and kept on being one until the “indie” label lost some of its relevance. Nowadays, there are indie artists and DIY artists and a thousand shades of “indie,” but back then – indie music was at the height of its appeal, and if there were artists I discovered by myself (like Imogen Heap or Tegan and Sara), there were many others I read about on MiA first. Feist won my heart with the Mushaboom/I Feel It All/One Evening hat-trick, with her soulful voice and stunning guitar-driven performances (like her Paris concert). I had just started college and had transitioned from a metalhead, Dream Theater & Opeth t-shirt wearing “complex music” listening habit to that of indie music. I found indie rock (like Tegan and Sara’s Speak Slow, which I blasted non-stop in my dorm room) a lot happier and celebratory than anything metal-related, and while I kept listening to post-metal, artists like Feist or The Ting Tings just made me enjoy the present more and reconcile my new life far from home.

“Labrador Summer Sampler” (2008)

It feels great when one’s favorite music blogs intersect, and while Warmer Climes dove deep into Labrador Records’s music (sunny Scandinavian music which was often described as “twee”), Music Is Art also did a post on it, at a time when I was already having Club 8 and Ingenting (plus Swedish heavyweights like Annika Norlin/Sakert) on heavy rotation.

“Once You Touch You Don’t Feel” (Ladytron Spotlight) – 2008

Such was the power of indie in 2008, that when I read this MiA post about Velocifero (quite possibly the band’s best album ever released) I didn’t think to label it “electronic music” – I still considered it indie music. Runaway impressed me so much I actually composed a song called Runaway years later and only realized what exactly had influenced it much later. One of my favorite moments was hearing Mira Aroyo sing in Bulgarian on Black Cat. I listened to the whole of Velocifero (which I associated in my mind with Leonora Carrington’s “I Am an Amateur of Velocipedes,” an influential surrealist artist I mentioned in the very first AEB post) so much that I lost count, and I think it made me a fan of synth-driven music before – again – I ever knew I was one.

“Remember You’re A Superstar” (Tricky Spotlight) – 2008

Trip-hop was a genre I got into because of Natalie Walker‘s Urban Angel and Without You albums, only to later discover Thievery Corporation, Portishead and Massive Attack. This Tricky post (which I didn’t actually read at the time), just by knowing that it’s there, warms my heart. I was not a fan of his until much later, but now I can go back and listen to his music and appreciate it after gaining a better perspective on the “sound of Bristol” and a lot of artists which paid tribute to this extremely talented man. Tricky’s beats and signature dark sound are virtually unparalelled and trip-hop remains a very influential genre (Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever album, for example, wears its trip-hop influences on its sleeve).

you set fire to my heart… (Bat For Lashes Spotlight) – 2009

When I saw the Bat For Lashes video for What’s A Girl To Do, I was captivated by the lyrics and stunningly simple video with powerful imagery that reminded me of the cult movie Donnie Darko, a film that my high-school friends debated endlessly. Thanks to Vimeo, there is now a high-quality version of the video, and following Natasha Khan throughout the years, she became one of my favorite artists.

thoughts for tonight: the good natured (Interview with The Good Natured) – 2010

Kitsune was a major label at the time of this post because of one simple reason: La Roux. Her Bulletproof and In For The Kill (later remixed to utter bliss by Skream in one of dubstep’s finest moments) came at a moment where artists like Ladyhawke were already popular and made the Internet simply explode every time they released a new song. The MiA interview with The Good Natured introduced me to another great musician in the synth-pop/electropop scene with a decidedly British sound. Although she hasn’t released anything recently, her music brings me a smile as I remember how fervently I posted each of her songs on my Facebook.

Zola Jesus – 2011

I first came onto Zola Jesus’s music because of her being featured in the UK show Skins, which I watched late at night during my college days and even blogged about on a Romanian TV review website (reading those reviews absolutely makes me cringe right now as I realize I wrote in a “teen voice”), proof that I had boundless passion and energy to write about stuff I liked as far back as 2012. At the same time, I was a fan of David Lynch and read about the “hikikomori” phenomenon, something unique to Japan and the UK, and when Zola Jesus released a track called “Hikikomori”, everything just clicked.

“Hurry Up We’re Dreaming” (M83 Spotlight) – 2011

I have no idea whether I discovered M83 entirely through MiA, but the website’s three-line description of his music is just so well-written that I really hope to write something as good as “silver electricity” one day. MiA was just a great website on every level, and there was never an M83 song or remix I didn’t like with all of my being.

“Tender New Signs” (Tamaryn Spotlight) – 2012

Shoegaze was my major addiction ever since hearing Sigur Ros’s Untitled III in Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin. What was this wonderful, new, holy sound? I quickly discovered other Araki movies, together with his undying love for Slowdive, and if I liked Machine Gun and Alison quite fine, my mind was simply blown when I listened to Shine and came into contact with what is known in shoegaze terms as the “wall of sound.” A music brave enough to drown its lead vocals into boundless reverb, a sound which took from its listener about as much as much as it gave? I was enthralled. Slowdive was my favorite band for many years, and I visited websites like ReverbNation and other shoegaze-related blogs, but I am still proud of having discovered Tamaryn via MiA. Her music has everything I love about Slowdive, and the videos are a delight to watch.

“No One Will Ever Know” (Ghost Loft Spotlight) – 2013

I honestly don’t remember much about Ghost Loft, but I chose this post because it gives me a chance to discuss chillout channels like Mr. Suicide Sheep, which was simply massive back in 2013. Collecting every possible shade of chillout music, even crossing into melodic dubstep territory, channels like Sheep marked the evolution towards the new playlist-oriented, producer-first type of music, a huge paradigm shift in music which dominated the trends alongside with the golden age of Soundcloud (which I wrote about) until the eventual decline of Soundcloud and the “producer fatigue” (which, to me, started to occur around 2017-2018).

“Introducing Oceaan” – 2014

In 2014 we were already bathing in the world of producer music, ranging from Soundcloud bedroom producers to the signature sounds of artists like Shlohmo, SBTRKT, Arca, Lapalux or Slow Magic. Oceaán was one of my personal favorites, his brand of twisted electronic R&B managing to be so far ahead of its time it was almost unfair to the rest of the music world. At Your Feet has managed to stay in my mind in a very busy 2014, a song I always want to replay when I’m in the right mood. We tracked Oceaan’s last activity to a remix of Raye in 2018, and definitely hope to hear more of his music in the future.

*

This is the end of the first part of the “tribute to Music Is Art” series, and we feel that 2014 is the perfect year to end on. For now, you can listen to our MiA tribute playlist which also features other bands we’ve discovered via the website but have not mentioned thus far (among them Mother Mother, Miracle Fortress and Stars), because surfing via The Wayback machine isn’t quite the simplest thing when it comes to searches. You can listen to it below:

Featured Image is “A Few of My Favorite Things Painting” by JR Rapier.

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