Silent Shout: Nothing In This Column Would Exist Without Prince

Silent Shout is our recurring dispatch from pop’s fringes. It may not be music for the masses, but — to paraphrase *NSYNC — this might be pop.

Well, once again, whatever nonsense I was gonna prattle on about in this week’s alt-pop roundup has been tossed aside due to the truly blindsiding news of a legend’s death. Prince is gone, and just like in the wake of David Bowie‘s death, I can talk about how we wouldn’t even have a nexus of alternative music and pop music if not for said legend.

Rather than write some sad, sentimental essay illustrating this, though, I’ll just briefly point out that the guy was simultaneously a rock star, a soul star, a funk star and a new wave star — look at this range! Nineteen top 10 hits, and not a one sounded like the other — which is staggering. And what’s more staggering is that he did this in an era where genre (and gender) boundaries were strict, and the type of music you listened to/made was supposed to broadcast your identity to the outside world. When he changed his name to a symbol, it was mocked at the time, but looking back, it was the ultimate manifestation of his existence, of an artist whose identity was his ability to defy identity and evade whatever labels you could throw at him.

Only a select few musicians have ever achieved that kind of singular, self-defined existence, but the musicians that did have given countless others the guts to at least attempt to reach that summit.

Now let’s celebrate Prince’s legacy by listening to some weird tunes.

TALK ABOUT POP MUZIK

children of pop — “R U I N I T 4 L U V ? !” In a press release, Houston-based artist Chase DeMaster says his latest track under his children of pop moniker is “Swishahouse meets Acid House, revisioned on a 303.” I do not entirely know what that means. I would describe it as “PC Music hyper-pop meets chillwave.” The average reader may not entirely know what that means. I may not even entirely know what that means. Which means you should stop reading and just listen to the thing. It’s off What Does 69 Mean?, out May 6.

Adamn Killa — “My Stance”

This is some wild dance x drill hybrid and it will give you life. It’s always really special when a producer and a rapper shine equally on a truly odd track, and that’s the case here. H!tkidd chops up t.A.T.u‘s bad-good “All The Things She Said,” of all the things, into a perpetual-motion bounce like “Back That Azz Up,” and the pink-haired Chicago MC counterbalances it with a casual, croaky flow that never leaves the pocket.

GIUNGLA — “Forest” On her debut single “Sand,” Italian musician Emanuela Drei channeled The xx and Beach House. She recently gave Empress Of‘s “How Do You Do It” an electroclash spin. Her latest track splits the difference, utilizing static blasts and understated vocals. Believe it or not, fuzz and guitars were once common in pop (see: Prince), and “Forest” is a nice reminder why. It’s on her Camo EP, out May 20.

Ice Cream — “Receiver” This Toronto duo describes their sound as “molecular pop.” The minimal synth tics of “Receiver” certainly evoke microscopic vibrations and a sound lab, but then a guitar jumps in, joined by a detached-cool chorus, and suddenly there’s no-fi and post-punk and flashes of Anika and BEAK>. It’s a lot more complicated than it seems at first, so maybe that’s what they were getting at with “molecular.” It’s the lead single from debut full-length Love, Ice Cream, out June 3 with that killer cover art.

Xeno & Oaklander — “Marble” Minimal wave has had a surprising little resurgence throughout the 2010s, and Brooklyn’s Xeno & Oaklander are one of the movement’s most dependable acts. The duo’s fifth album, Topiary, drops June 3, and this first taste suggests no huge departures. But there’s a touch of warmth in the twinkly synth line and Liz Wendelbo’s lilting melodies, adding a delicateness that’s often absent from such a cold, sterile subgenre.