For anyone who has never met me, I should mention that I love doing several things at once. I love music, I love writing, I love writing while listening to music. So, naturally, I thought I would give the new Olsen Twinns album, Found Things, a listen while emailing/tweeting/writing other stories. It didn’t work.
In my experience, electronic music, particularly the variety that doesn’t contain a lyrical component, has only served as background music to hanging out, dancing, or working. Granted, I’ve never gone out of my way to see an electronic artist live, nor can I claim to have heaps of James Blake on my iPod.
Mickey Davis, the man behind Olsen Twinns, changed my appreciation for electronic music from half-ass nodding to full-blown concentration. After attempting to write while listening to the first track on Found Things, “how am i supposed to follow that,” I had to close out of every other program on my computer just to soak in Davis’s complex sound. The layers of computer-generated and acoustic melodies, in addition to Davis’s masterful use of more conventional beats, make Found Things one of the most interesting albums I’ve ever heard. I started Found Things over again a second time and noticed sonic nuances that had escaped me the first time — bizarre, startling pauses; haunting samples of people (from a young child to a full-grown man) talking between the beats; and (shockingly enough for most inexperienced electronic listeners like myself) actual instruments interspersed with computer-generated rhythms.
Found Things is an album riddled with paradoxes. It’s a mellow work that sounds best when blasted out of huge speakers. It remains completely true to Davis’s musical roots (he’s in Macalester College’s choir and is being classically trained in music there), even though it was entirely recorded and mixed on a laptop. The track names suggest that Davis took a carefree approach to recording the album, but the sonic story that runs through the entire compilation is completely deliberate.
Davis is the farthest thing from the Skrillex-inspired electronic music I have long disliked. He is first and foremost a musician, not a sweaty dude standing behind a computer and pushing keys at random to create noise. Unlike many albums recorded these days, electronic or not, Found Things is the product of months of hard work and Davis’s self-diagnosed perfectionism. It’s completely self-supporting and unique from other Iowa artists’ recent works. You don’t need to be dancing or nodding or talking to someone to have this playing in the background — Found Things is the main attraction, and should be treated as such. So don’t be like me and try to find ways to occupy yourself while listening to Olsen Twinns. Shut up and enjoy.
Favorite tracks: The whole album should be appreciated as a whole for the first couple spins, but some standout tracks include “playdate,” “holy s,” and “weird lives.”
Listen to it: Blasting from your biggest speakers, in the car, or turned down on your headphones. Doesn’t matter how you listen to it as long as you actually devote the time to giving Davis your undivided attention.
Also check out: This awesome album release party coming up later this week, and pick up a hard copy of the album while you’re at it!