This is Music Mondays, a weekly list of music recommendations. I’ll discuss the albums, artists, or songs that I’ve been listening to in the last week. Sometimes the recommendations will be dated, sometimes they will be new. Either way, music is great!
For this week’s Music Mondays, I’ve chosen one of my favorite albums to listen to while studying, writing, or doing homework. It is almost completely free of vocals. I hope you enjoy!
Isn’t the artwork for this album amazing? It was drawn by artist Pandamusk. (Source: misanthropealbum.com)
Brian Altano, “Misanthrope”
Brian Altano is one of the most talented people I follow in the entertainment industry. He hosts and produces shows for IGN, a pop culture site. He hosts “The Comedy Button”, one of my favorite podcasts, and does amazing, and often hilarious, graphic designs and artwork. I must also give him credit for being one of the funniest people I follow on Twitter. Listen to one episode of “The Comedy Button” or IGN’s “Podcast Beyond” and it’s immediately clear that Brian is a passionate creator with immense talent and a big heart.
In addition to all of this, Altano is also a music producer. His first solo album “Misanthrope” is an instrumental hip-hop influenced record. It combines industrial beats, piano, guitar, and vocal samples to make a dystopian, cyberpunk concept record that could double as the soundtrack for an indie sci-fi movie. The titular track is an electric, blood-pumping start to the record, and the quality and energy stay at this high through all ten tracks. The album’s lead single “Dial Tone” is a great summarization of the album’s sound and tone. “Break You Down” is similar in sound to “Dial Tone”. If you’re looking for songs without vocal samples, these two tracks are great picks.
Vocal samples used in songs like “It’s Payday, Mr. Jopeck” and “Misery Loves Companies” are strange and unsettling at first, but they add to the album’s sci-fi sound and cinematic vibe. While these samples can make the album sometimes difficult to write or study to, they are few and far between, and make the album more unique as a whole. (The aforementioned “Misery Loves Companies” is my least favorite track from the album. It has a creepier sound than the other tracks, and its beat is very catchy.)
The more guitar-heavy tracks like “Let’s Try This Again” are personal highlights, especially those featuring guitarist Thomas Rakowitz, such as “One a.M.” and “If You Need Me I’m Gone”. These two tracks are undeniably my favorite songs off “Misanthrope”. “One a.M.” sounds like it was taken from an exciting video game boss battle, while the quiet piano that works as the base of “If You Need Me I’m Gone” is used to create an intense and climactic penultimate song. The closer, “Take It All”, has a very eerie piano that sends off the record in a great and memorable fashion.
“Misanthrope” can be downloaded from the album’s website for free or for the price of your choosing. It can also be found on iTunes, Spotify, and Bandcamp. I’ve come back to this album on countless occasions since its release at the end of 2013, and its catchy, replayable nature means it has a found a spot in my “most-played albums” list every year. I highly recommend checking it, and the rest of Brian Altano’s creations, out.
P.S. I cannot wait for his next project to release soon.