Two albums to listen to: A duo of experimental rock pioneers

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Portishead found success in a somber yet impactful sound on Dummy.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Eva Vermandel

Future Days — Can

Known for their tendency to switch styles from album to album, including influences from classic rock to psychedelic and funk, the 1970’s German krautrock band Can was far ahead of its time, blending heavy drone influences with funk elements to create some of the most distinct sounds in rock history.

With their fourth album, Can once again took a left turn, yet somehow retained what made them such a lovable group. Their melodic guitar work and hypnotic drums are some of the best ambient rock instrumentals, besting the likes of Faust and Neu! with ease. A lot of experimental rock music can sound pretentious — long forays, repeated guitar riffs and an unclear direction isn’t always easily palatable music. However, on Future Days, Can created not just a successful artistic endeavor, but something you can dance to, as well.

Tracks to listen to: “Future Days,” “Moonshake,” “Bel Air”

Dummy – Portishead

In contrast with Can’s experimentation, Portishead doesn’t aim to please. Usually identified as a trip-hop band, the group started in the early 1990s as an offshoot of the British dance collective The Wild Bunch but quickly grew into a full-fledged project after the exponential growth of alternative music during
the decade.

Although Dummy was the group’s debut, Portishead shows a massive amount of creative maturity during the album’s 49-minute runtime, stripping down hip-hop beats to a raw core and introducing heart-wrenching instrumentation and lyrics. Dummy is relentlessly beautiful, encapsulating a depressing feeling that very few albums can. In their element, Portishead works toward a massive emotional purge and, through their music, finds therapy for both the creators and the listeners.

Tracks to listen to: “Sour Times,” “Roads,” “Glory Box”