3 times the Spotify algorithm worked

I often put on ambient music while I'm working and occasionally let Spotify's algorithm take over. Here are three times my mind was blown.

I'm generally not a fan of letting a company else's algorithm decide what music I listen to, but I've been trying to be more open to it just to see how good (or bad) the algorithms are getting. These come from Discover Weekly or just letting the Lofi playlist keep running.

"Notre-Dame Est" by Anomalie

I normally listen to simple instrumental music in the background when I'm working. Simplicity is a hard requirement because it would otherwise consume too much of my attention. This song masquerades as a simple one but it'll unsuspectingly light up anyone's musical brain with activity to the point of holding a lock on your brain until it's over and you've repeated it 3 times.

There's so much color, ornamentation, and nuance in melody and harmony in this piece. These types of Lofi / Hip-hop inspired tracks tend to lean jazz, but this is a full-out "What if Nikolai Kapustin produced a Lofi track?" type of exercise. And it's expertly crafted.

"Giving, Not Taking" by Chris Mazuera and tender spring

I love the way the instruments are introduced. It reminds me of Stevie Nick's song Crystal. When you slowly introduce instruments, it gives you this ambiguity to play with. "What key are we in? What's the meter? Is it major or minor? Oh, there's the backbeat!"

The funny thing is by the time all the instruments have arrived in this Lofi masterpiece, the song is mostly over. Of course, a 2-3 minute Lofi song is par for the course. And it's not too different from the genre formally (fade in, fade out, very little development). I think this song just stands out to me mostly in its character; the staggered entrances evolve the sound from a feeling of loneliness to optimism and back to loneliness with this additive process.

"End" by Clown Core

I've been following Clown Core for a while now. Their absurd metal / jazz / electronic videos on YouTube are original, refreshing, hilarious, and virtuosic.

When I heard this song the first time and alt-tabbed Discover Weekly playlist, you can imagine the look of shock on my face when I saw that this track was somehow the same group that produced those videos.

What I love about this simple track is the melody. (Although admittedly there isn't too much more to it.) It sounds like it's played on a muted una corda piano, well-supported by consonant bass notes. It's played in a labored fashion: each note not being pressed until it absolutely must. The distinctive percussive action of the piano (be it authentic or artificial) supports this feeling.

This melody is so perfect that it repeats over and over. Although these skilled musicians can't even resist the urge to play slightly "out" at the end when the melody goes into another key temporarily but effortlessly slides back in to the warm key of Ab major.

To me, this nostalgic track is up there with Aphex Twin's Avril 14th or SP's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness title track. It's much simpler than those two but they all give me the same feeling. And I like that feeling.