Join me as I hit “random” on my MP3 player and write about the first 10 tracks that come up.  This should be fun :)

From a very young age, I was exposed to a wide variety of music.  Classic 60′s and 70′s rock from my Mom and Step Dad, classic hits from the ’50s from my Dad, opera and classical music from my Grandparents, all manner of electronica from my Brother, and rap from my Step Sister.  I’ve been lucky to have been exposed to so many different kinds of music for so much of my life, as it allows me to experience a multitude of soundscapes, each one appropriate for a different situation or experience in my life.  Here’s a small sampling of what currently plays on my MP3 player (a Creative Zen) when it’s set to random.

1.  “3″ from the album “In Absentia” by Porcupine Tree

I first came across Porcupine Tree while browsing the CD section of a Best Buy a number of years ago.  They aren’t the kind of music that I would listen to on a daily basis, but they’ve really grown on me.  Their lyrics tend to be poetic, although this particular track is very instrument-focused (there is nothing sung until the last half of the song).  Their overall sound has an ethereal feel to it; you can tell there are a ton of influences in their music, but it can be difficult to place them.  They can be hit or miss for some people, but they definitely have a hardcore fanbase; drummers especially seem to be drawn to their tunes.

2.  “Calgone” from the album “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” by Incubus

While I don’t really dig how Incubus’ sound has changed and evolved over the years, their early stuff makes you want to just go nuts.  Calgone is the insanely long last track on the album, with a huge amount of silence after the actual “song”, and then some hidden track-esque messing about.  The amp settings on the bass in this song is amazing, giving it a super-sludgey feel more reminiscent of doom metal.

3.  “Fun” from the album “Eat People” by Alex Mauer

Alex Mauer is a fantastic chiptunes artist.  His tracks are all very dynamic and well layered, utilizing old-timey electronic sounds to near perfection.  He’s done some collaborative work with Phogiston, and has even released a couple of NES-cartridge exclusive albums.  Alex Mauer recently gained a huge boost in popularity, thanks to his music being used throughout the first season of the Penny Arcade TV webseries.

4.  “Wellness Farm” from the album “Midnight’s Children”, by Saafi Brothers

I’ve written about Saafi Brothers before; I’ve likely logged more hours playing video games with their music in the background than I have with any other group.  Their beats are simple, but really addicting…it would be quite a challenge to try to listen to their music without moving your head.  Their stuff makes for great chill music as well, providing you with a sense of relaxation in your body and an uplifting of your soul.

5.  “Cmfam Freestyle” from the album “Portable Immortal” by Immortal Technique

I don’t get into rap too much these days, but Immortal Technique is one rapper that I love.  His rhymes flow together effortlessly, with a distinct style that combines humor, brutal honesty, and creativity.  His freestyle tracks are always enjoyable…in this particular one, he stumbles a little at first, but after the first minute or two he goes completely uninterrupted and without hesitation.

6.  “Fragments” from the album “Empires” by VNV Nation

There are a LOT of memories associated with this album for me.  I discovered VNV Nation during my gothy high-school years (anyone surprised? lol)  The number of nights spent with this album is immense…I can’t even begin to estimate how many times I’ve listened to this whole record.  “Fragments” is one of the best tracks from this now-legendary album.

7.  “Krigsmjöd” from the album “Jaktens Tid” by Finntroll

All of Fintroll’s songs are about trolls going to war, legends, and various tales…it’s really epic stuff.  Some of the tracks on this album sound extremely “troll”-like, and the singer even sort of sounds like a troll.  They’re a killer folk/black/death metal band, you should definitely check them out.

8.  “Lagging”, from the album “Music for Nitrous Oxide” by Star(s) of the Lid

I’ve heard them called Star of the Lid, and Stars of the Lid, so I’m not sure how to refer to them…all I know is that they are responsible for getting me into the “drone” genre (a genre which I am currently experimenting with in a project called “Implied Reality”.)  Their manipulation of drawn out textures is impeccable, and they have a knack for switching back and forth between “light” and “dark” tracks.  You never know what you’re going to get with them, but it’s guaranteed to be awesome.

9.  “Loop IV [Disorder Remix]” from the album “Position Chrome” by Position Chrome

Position Chrome was a Drum n Bass supergroup headed up by Panacea, a legendary D&B/Techstep/Darkcore producer and DJ.  Their tracks are dark, hard hitting, fast, and very German.  They made great use of samples, and to this day, created some of the best drum rolls I’ve ever heard.  They can be an acquired taste even for people familiar with the genre, but they are absolutely amazing.

10.  “Green Jello Theme Song” from the album “Cereal Killer” by Green Jello

Wow.  This one takes you back, eh?  Best known for their early-90′s rendition of Three Little Pigs, Green Jello was a very distinctive hard rock band.  They’re still around in a reunion capacity, but their glory days were long ago.  Danny Carey (drummer for Tool) and Maynard James Keenan (lead singer for Tool) were both active members at one point…there is even an entire section on the relationship between Tool and Green Jello on Wikipedia.

I’m honestly a bit surprised…given how much ambient and chill stuff I have on my MP3 player, only Saafi Brothers and Star(s) of the Lid appeared during this exercise.  Oh well, perhaps next time there will be more…it would make sense, since that’s the main kind of music I listen to nowadays!  I hope you’ve heard of at least one new band/musician that has piqued your interest.  Leave a comment if you check out a previously unknown band on this list!