The effects the Internet has had on human civilization can’t be understated. You can see it in our industries, our social behavior, and our very psychological health. The Internet is an invasive presence in our society, pushing us toward the future whether we’re ready for it or not. It’s thanks to the Internet that I have a job, yet it’s also thanks to the Internet that I become intensely anxious about what dumb status I’m going to post on Facebook. Our entire culture has shifted to accommodate the presence of this connecting force that nonetheless seems to isolate us, and now it’s impossible to imagine a reality where we turn back from this road we’re on.
Music has reflected these changes in splendid detail, giving us ample reason to be excited about living in such strange times. The possibility of directly reaching listeners all around the planet has paved the way for bizarre and exciting new formats to emerge, such as the hyper-saccharine pop madness of the PC Music collective, or the Chicago street phenomenon footwork, which has already sprouted fans and disciples as far away as Japan. If anything, it’s overwhelming how much incredible music we now have access to thanks to the Internet, the old guards of the industry cast away to make room for new ideas and artists capable of broadcasting to the masses from the comfort of their bedrooms.
The music of the Internet era has defined itself through diversity, and there are common, shared ideas that emerge from the ethos of digital art. Much of our recent experimental music finds inspiration in the uncomfortable merging of opposing forms—artists like Oneohtrix Point Never and QT spin fantastic new shapes through the juxtaposition of uncanny sound manipulations and inescapably alluring Top 40 mechanics. A DIY mentality also pulses through a lot of music today, as with the gloriously simple and infectious Internet rap of Lil Yachty, or the barebones, anything-goes mania of DJ Paypal. But to paint the Internet as an entirely positive force would be closing your eyes to its strangely imprisoning nature, a dynamic deeply explored in the schizophrenic rap of Death Grips and the pained electronic distortion of Holly Herndon and Arca.
All of the artists on this playlist share a common inspiration: picking apart the nature of society’s new favorite medium and the effects it has on our perceptions, memories, and experiences we subject ourselves to, given endless customization options. The old notion of genres has given way to an endless sea of individuality, where the mainstream has become underground and the underground has gone mainstream. The future is here, and it’s even more horrifying and beautiful than we ever could have imagined. Hit play to take a tour of the sounds emitted from our hyperreal, constantly connected world.