TuneDig is an in-depth and informed conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music — one album at a time.

In each episode, we go down the rabbit hole to spend a while in the strange world we discover. We take an honest look at creativity in all its complexity—from writing and production to history and cultural impact.

We promise you’ll learn something new every time, no matter how much you already love the album we explore.

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Episode 44

ObZen

Meshuggah

Meshuggah’s ObZen—an artifact of human creativity pushing the limits of what’s possible—will quite literally make you hear music differently. If you’re looking for a new musical adventure, and especially if you don’t think you like “heavy” or “weird” music, consider this your sign to push past your comfort zone.

Transcript

Note: our transcripts are mostly AI-generated for now. 

Cliff: You’re listening to TuneDig, a conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music, one album at a time. I’m Cliff Seal.

Kyle: And I’m Kyle Stapleton. Each episode we talk about a single album in depth, unpacking it through conversation to understand what makes it worth appreciating and learning a little bit about life along the way.

Cliff: If you’re listening for the first time because we’re covering an artist or a record you love, we promise you’ll learn something new or gain a new perspective by the end of the episode.

Kyle: And if you’ve stuck with us for multiple episodes, you know by now that you’re bound to expand your horizons. As we share a clear entry points for artists you may never have tried to get into before.

Cliff: Today we’re talking about ObZen, by Meshuggah.

Kyle: What if we told you dear listener friend of the podcast that in less than an hour, you could change the way you thought about music? If you listen to this podcast, you’re already a fan of music and you are probably where we have been in various parts of our lives and friendship where you don’t know where the unknown unknown is going to come from.

You don’t know how to break out of the here’s. What Spotify recommended. Here’s my friend that dragged me to the same concert. You’ve been in a two-year bubble. Hell of listening to the same things. I don’t know. Maybe you had a kid, maybe you’ve stopped being friends with somebody. I don’t know if you need a sign that it is a moment in time to break out of your comfort zone and push beyond the things you thought you knew, we certainly hope this episode can be the thing. This is another band that we both love. Like last episode.

Cliff: to be fair, you might hate it. Endlessly, 

Kyle: Totally. 

Cliff: but there’s also a pretty good chance. You can end up discovering something. that You probably wouldn’t have given yourself the chance. to listen to, unless we had maybe given you an on-ramp here or someone else gives you an on-ramp 

Kyle: the worst-case scenario. I think if you really love music and if you don’t, why are you listening There’s plenty of Um, if you really love music, the worst case scenario is that you’ll be like, this is not for me, but I appreciate it and I’m thinking a little differently because of it My bold hypothesis is that for any avid music fan, this record OBS in, belongs near the top of an “albums to listen to before you die” list, period, like of all music and it’s not just coming from me or us.

Alternative press. For example, is probably the clearest most pointed backer in that they named sugar, the number one most important band in metal in ’04. And for a community like metal you’re, you’re not as intimately connected to that community as we are. the community with a lot of opinions.

And to say something as the number one most important, anything when it did not come anywhere near starting, the thing is a bold would go so far as to say is the best and most important band in heavy music. in many ways, even though I like all of the stuff they’ve put out since immensely, this is as perfect and entry point as you’re going to get for the stuff this band is. So T TLDR, there is something to appreciate if you’re a music fan at almost every level here, because this is human creativity pushing the limits of what is possible. or as you said, at one point, this music is a mind fuck, but could not possibly be more rewarding. Um, so I have some essential questions to guide us through what is going to be some challenging stuff to get into any thoughts Hello? Not to put you on the spot. You sir. What do think about Michelle?

Cliff: am I on a podcast or something? 

Kyle: Are there hidden cameras? 

Cliff: No, I’ve just been waiting my whole life for someone to me if I’ve got anything to say about. I’ll let you carry on with 

your 

Kyle: That’s what the past three or four years of podcast have been leading up to just a big, long con to get you, 

Cliff: is 

Kyle: to give you a platform for talking about Moshe, go in, in, a couple of sentences.

Why do you love, why do you love Michelle? What is the magic of my sugar for you? 

Cliff: I’m going to hate myself for this, but it’s, it’s the right response in the recent Spider-Man film. 

Kyle: Oh my God. I almost did a spit take.

Cliff: Okay. In the recent Spiderman film, Dr. Strange is trapping old Spider-Man is some crazy mere dimension shit. Okay. All this Oh, Please put this to the side for a moment. There’s an interaction they have where whatever dark strains is doing some crazy like geometric stuff. with the world. He is like folding matter, according to the comic books. Okay. So but 

Kyle: I like to spend my Saturday do the geometric sit with the world.

Cliff: I could do more geometric shit, honestly. Yeah. So, uh, Anyway, there are two heroes in there, like fake fighting or whatever and they’re having a anticlimactic moment or something. Anyway, uh, old Tom Hardy, says, uh, you know, as cool or the magic math. And he says it like an eight year old, cause that’s his normal. tone. But his point was and in that moment, you could kind of see it visually, like what had appeared to be a series of like infinite and random shapes and things that were kind of folding out of each other were kind of shown to be like, well, like that’s like a Fibonacci sequence, right.

That’s like a golden ratio. And so that moment was a little bit of like weird cheese, but it was tying together this idea, which we see plenty of times in nature in existence. Right. Like magic and complexity is a placeholder for something we haven’t figured out how to understand in a way that makes us comfortable yet.

And So to me, so much of why I am really sincerely glad we’re talking about it, but to your point, like about the magic of this band 

Kyle: science is just validated witchcraft. 

Cliff: I mean, yeah. Yeah. That’s that’s a better ending than, I to have 

Kyle: yeah. You either get burned at the stake or you live long enough to see you yourself get published in a publication.

Cliff: But Yeah. I mean, I think, yes. Math is cooler than magic, but what it’s helpful for here is like a basic understanding of seeming complexity kind of helps you like take these layers of what feels like randomness away From things that you are encountering that you’re about to encounter musically.

If you haven’t listened to this band before, this is almost certainly going to be something different than you were expecting to hear or plant to hear And it’s, it. feels constantly like entropy. It feels like the wheels are always falling off and all that ends up happening is you find out that the wheel base is actually just like four miles long This bus is like a lumbering, caterpillar that goes down the highway.

So that’s, I love that we’re going to try to at least unfold this enough, because it’s not just some sort of clever intellectual exercise. There are like deep things about music and about the nature of collaboration and creativity and like what, what unfolds from basic simplicity, like all of that is like embedded.

And this is one of the several records they’ve put out um, that that really put a cap on 

Kyle: I suspect if you’re tuning into this episode, you are already, you’re in one of two camps. You’re extremely into this band or you’ve heard of them. And you’re curious, but haven’t broken on through to the other side yet. 

Cliff: Yeah. Maybe you saw that Wolf of wall street meme, and you’re like man, what are they jumping up and down? to that it was tight. 

Kyle: what is going on there?

What song was that? 

Was 

that bleed? was it rational gaze maybe? Uh, man, I got to rewatch Wolf of wall So I would say like the previous episode to a different degree, you are extremely in the former camp. You love this band. This is one of your favorite bands at top 

Cliff: I don’t know how to not love the span. So yeah, sure. 

Kyle: I am in the latter camp approaching the forum.

Seeing them with you. A number of times I would self-describe as a fan of this band, but when I really sit down and think about it, I rarely make it all the way through, uh, my sugar record. Uh, they’re extremely physical to listen to. It is pretty intense. It, it sort of demands your attention and I’ve only just started to like break through into the world.

I was making the joke right before we started recording that I can like casually be in the kitchen, flipping a Turkey burger and just, oh yeah. yeah. All right. Let’s do it like in death is death to, Hey, Google play in death is death while a, and also pull up a recipe for Turkey burgers. 

Cliff: It does have to be loud enough, though, or else it’ll just sound like your fridges started vibrating. 

Kyle: That’s right. They have a very interesting sound for sure. So. And if you’re in the third camp that I don’t think is probably tuned in, uh, where you’ve never heard of this band, and you’re just following this podcast episode to episode for the joy of music discovery… congratulations! You’re mythological to both of us and we would love to meet you. 

Cliff: that’s literally true. 

Kyle: Please tweet or Instagram DM us or whatever 

Cliff: especially if this episode. successful 

Kyle: Cause that’s amazing. And that very rarely happens with this podcast as it is. But I can see somebody reading the episode description for this and like Googling Meshuggah and then being like, you know what?

Hell no. No

Cliff: Sturgill Simpson, 

Kyle: Janell Monae. Honestly, if there’s any train that gets you on this podcast from Janell Monae to and then on a couple episodes, you’re going to go to Olivia Rodrigo with us, on honest to God, we would love to buy you a beer, like truly sincerely. And if you don’t live in our city, then we will Venmo you. I will Venmo you money for a beer and cheers you on FaceTime.

Cliff will not participate in any of those activities because 

Cliff: off the 

Kyle: that’s a social construct nightmare, but I will do all of those things. Cause that’s amazing. So anyway, there there’s, there are enormous fans of this band. Um, they are a band’s band for sure which we’ll we’ll get into. But I think on any level, there’s, there’s something to appreciate, like this is just a cool band and this is a band. Uh, this is a group of musicians at the height of their powers on this record. And I, I think you can sense it from the first note to the very last, so if you’re like, I hate metal, I hate technical or mathy stuff. I can not get into any of this on a Sonic level in any way. Uh, hopefully you can take away just this sensation of human creativity at work because it is astounding and it is invigorating. It’s hard not to be energized in my opinion, when you listen to this band, but especially this record. 

Cliff: I’d even add a little bit in support too, especially if you are not connecting to this musically, at least hear us out about some of the really cool ways that they write this music. It’s at the very least in my opinion, one of the more interesting things we could talk about in terms of songwriting. and in fact it was like my, my entire initial contact with this band was a guitar magazine when I was a kid. And they talked about how Meshuggah, which I’m sure we’ll talk about some more but how this band from I was writing music and recording it separately. And like, they didn’t use this word, but like asynchronously, they were basically like writing portions of songs and then sending them on to the next person for that next person to then iterate on top of what they had done in it.

But the original person had received more from another band member, which they were now iterating on. And it was basically just these concentric circles of people rewriting each other’s parts until they like landed on something. And I was like, that’s the wildest thing I’ve ever heard in whole life. Like you know, this is early two thousands.

Probably no, this had to have been in the late nineties, When I read about him, it’s Like, how are they even getting this music back and forth to. one another? And it just, it captured my entire imagination. So there’s a lot, there’s literally a lot to love here 

Kyle: thanks for coming to my conference sock. The future of work is . So I, I want to post three questions in John Oliver fashion for us to answer about Michelle guh.

Um,

Cliff: hashtag feminism, 

Kyle: now I want to, what is the one where he gets the painting of the two rats having sex? What is the what’s that, 

Cliff: a weird thing to explore verbally, but I’ll 

Kyle: bless his writers. So question one, what the hell is going on here? Um, let’s talk about what makes my sugar unique fundamentals of their sound, their approach to structure, to how the hell do you arrive at this kind of music, what you were just alluding to?

Let’s talk a little bit about their writing and recording process. The evolution of the band that got them to this point, because OBS has their sixth record and they’re 89 to oh eight. They’re 20 years in it at this point in their career. Um, and then how in the hell do you hang in there with this? Right.

If you’re in the camp like me where you’re like, I can do seven minutes of Mishawaka at a time, and then that’s all the concentrating I can do for the day, please. And thanks. Um, so let’s try to arrive at some deep listening or music appreciation moments. Uh, cause I. I think if you’re like me, certainly.

And you’re not like a cliff where you’re classically trained or you can just like sit with locker passages of music and hang with what’s happening in a cycle. Uh, it’s nice to be able to point point to very small moments and build your way up, like exercise your way into my sugar a little bit. 

Cliff: Yeah.

I imagine most people don’t think about math equations in their spare time casually. So I wouldn’t expect 

Kyle: You literally do the Zach Galifianakis GIF at the casino with the math in front of you or, or one owner rider onstage, the Oscars depending

Cliff: I’ve started thinking about it. I’ve got to finish the thought 

Kyle: your own personal rain man. 

Cliff: No. Thanks. So your first question was, what the hell? 

Kyle: the hell is going on here? Where does the most sugar sound? Why, why does it sound like they’re pulling in different time signatures at the same time? Why can I never count off with this band?

Uh, why, why does it make no sense to brain, but groove feel good and heart?

Cliff: I feel like of all the material that exists relative to this band, in general, right now, there’s plenty of ways to go on the like, Let’s take you one step at a time, all the way through how to start to begin to look at. Let’s just like cut to the chase on a few things. Okay. Uh, Cause I think it better answers your what, what the hell question.

is more or less what happens when two things are true. One of them we already talked about. when Instead of everyone in a band, assuming they’re very particular role, and sticking inside of it, if instead of band thought of themselves as a collective of people who could write a series of pieces of music and had access to writing whichever portions of that music, they wanted to and did it collaboratively.

So if you have that approach to writing music combined with 

And this is where we’ll try to take a different approach than everyone else. I am being sincere. There are plenty of explainer videos on YouTube for understanding sugar counting. And they are literally better than we could do right now because they add a visual element which will help you if you’re not already naturally finding the beat.

So let’s cut to the chase of that. you can find the simplicity in this music it’s just contained in slightly different places than you’d expect. So usually the snare or the. cymbal Is doing a basic 4/4 thing, almost all the time. You can find though, it’s the, like it’s extremely headbang-able music.

Uh, I wish there was a better like adjective. but You can find the rhythm. It’s just, um, it’s not in the kick drums. It’s not in the guitars ever, ever, ever, ever. ever. It’s not there. Uh, it’s hidden in snares and cymbals but it’s always just basic iterations on 4/4 time that go out in longer phrases. And, you know, we can talk about this a little bit more, but effectively, like what you’re hearing when you hear Meshuggah especially as they’ve progressed after the first few records and they move from a Thrasher direction into more of this, what, what OBS and really became a kind of masterclass 

They they’re really just taking their time, making small tweaks on very long phrases that overlap at like mathematical intervals, Which if that sounds dorky, just like, please, the music is overlapping moments at mathematical intervals. So like, all they’re doing is taking different numbers and all of a sudden you have, you know, a sense of like, uh, uh, factorial numbers, because in order to start understanding Meshuggah on first listen, so to speak, what you’ll start doing eventually is realizing okay, they’re doing this seven times then five, then three, then five then seven three three And then you start to like, get the feel for adding those numbers together. And if I’ve already lost you, then that’s not the right way to approach it yet. And that’s okay. let it unveil itself to you for people who are interested in it from that angle. Totally start there. Start counting, start trying to figure it out And you can start with track 1 on this record because it starts one 16th off the actual rhythm.

when you talk about like, from the first note of this, just kind of being exactly what they were trying to do, like literally I laughed when you said that because like, literally the first note of this, they are they’re throwing you off the very first beat you’ll ever encounter 

Kyle: the same way. Last episode, you talked about torches together being a perfect little microcosm of a litmus of “will I or will I not get this band or be into it?” combustion tells you everything you need to know about at any point before or after and their discography. It’s, it’s sort of the best little thesis statement, I think still in their career of, of all of the things that they’ve tried to do all old, old, and new it’s the perfect inflection point of older Thrasher and newer, you know, groovier or whatever. It’s a ripper.

Cliff: So have I answered your question. Kyle? 

Kyle: I think so. I mean, the thing that I,

Cliff: that was more facetious than you caught it, but that’s fine. Go ahead.

Kyle: you got to 

Cliff: Oh, 

Kyle: and, you know,

Cliff: got all shit grin louder. 

Kyle: uh, the, I thought I was weird for a long time when I didn’t understand a band like or between the buried and me or jazz fusion, uh, to be like, how do they remember how to do this? Like, I’ll never, I was, I always had this position. Like, I’ll never be a real musician because there’s a way that they know to talk about how to do five and then three and then seven.

And then whatever that I, James Brown and the JBs even right. It was like, they at least would shout it out. So I knew it was like, do seven now. So I always felt too boneheaded for music like this because of that inherently. But just knowing that that is a part of this band’s process too. They’ll write it with the math in mind, you know, they’ll, they’ll essentially like program it into the drum machine and I know we’ll talk about that, but they, they write beyond capabilities of human thinking or like natural design of human thinking a little bit, and then they essentially have to memorize it, like when you memorize a poem in school.

Um, so that was heartening to me and then layering that on top of the it’s all for four, it’s all Chuck Berry rock and roll at the end of the day. Um, so I, I want to like double down and have people really hear the, we, we write it in a weird way and then, and then we play. What’s written, like we don’t write it from playing it or jamming it out.

Like Thomas haka he said explicitly we don’t jam. And you, you talked about the asynchronous thing, which is like, that is fundamentally different than most bands with guitar, bass and drums. It seems very inorganic, but they’ve made it organic to them. Um, and I also appreciate that that approach has made them the subject of study.

Like there is an academic paper that you shared with me. 

Cliff: I assure you that was one of many. 

Kyle: they are on the curriculum. I learned at Berkeley college and it musicians Institute, um, Listed in Michigan’s bio. They are proud of that. Um, they both incorporate mistook as back catalog into their curriculum because it’s such a crucial element in any modern musical education.

So Misha has a band that helps musicians think about music, but fundamentally it has a solid recognizable groove underpinning. So start, start like me start like a caveman, if you aren’t. Sure. And I really do think the counting off thing and just like learning to catch little elemental moments or just even counting off to where do they drop off.

At the end of this, um, I’m not going to be able to catch the whole thing, whatever, but I know when they do blend, oh yes, I got it. You know, and just kind of working your way up from there. It gets to be a fun. It’s like doing the New York times, crossword a little, you know, it, it gets to be a fun, oh, I’m getting smarter at this. Like my muscles are getting better at it. And even if you don’t play an instrument, you start to feel more like a musician, you get your musical sensibilities built up by finding the way they come in. And out of these things, it’s very unique. Like it’s, it’s designed in a way that attunes you to thinking about musicality more than, and it’s the opposite of jazz, right?

Like it’s extremely not improvised. Uh, so that, that to me makes it feel more architectural. It makes it like you, you should be thinking about the math of it, or you’re capable of thinking about the math of it, because it was structured to be so. 

Cliff: The opposite of jazz is a really good way of putting it.

Actually, we had not really talked about that before. Yeah. Not in the sense that the outcome seems opposite, but that the approach to it is literally fundamentally 

Kyle: metrically 

Cliff: Yeah, like inverted. To your points as well about feeling like how, how could someone like memorize this too? It is phenomenological. Okay. I think I asked it, Uh, as someone who plays Meshuggah songs, on the guitar, after a certain amount of repetition, which I’m sure in no way matches the repetition, they clearly have, right. After a certain amount of it, it, it gets in your bones the way that.

Jimmy page’s guitar work gets in your bones where he’s not actually following much about what’s under the rhythm. You know, he’s, he’s talking to you with his Les Paul, and so in a similar way enough repetition makes this band droney. And if, if nothing else, I would really encourage people to, if you’re running out of ways to kind of hear this music, try to find a volume in an E Q setting that, that kind of flattens everything enough to where you can feel this more like drone, if you don’t like all the angles of it, because the pure repetition and length of it, if you will let it and you can identify with it, I don’t want to pretend everyone can, but if you can connect with it, it becomes very meditative, extremely 

Kyle: 100% 

Cliff: And It, uh, so to your point, like how, okay, so how do I find the rhythm in this? How do I find my. breath? And it was tragus 

song Okay. So I mentioned at the beginning, but like, literally this is true and we can play like combustion here to start with, um, to show you don’t follow the guitar, listen for either symbols or snares.

There’s always going to be a backbeat That is like a, there’s a perceivable, regular four, four, beat 98% of the time in any song And that’s part of what makes it like, it’s, it almost comes across like a condescending and insulting sometimes that like everyone talks to Michigan and it’s like, have you seen all these papers we did on you?

And they’re like, uh, we write for, four songs, like, okay, yeah. Jack ass. like I know. And like they do it there is no tongue in cheek, newness of it either. Like there is a sincerity to, um, they’re like iteration on something simple, but really, that should just encourage you that if you feel like I’m not getting it and I want to, it’s there take it, like take a deep breath because it’s there.

And In fact, I had, I had written down that to me, I think like understanding the rhythm, especially behind my sugar, think of it less, like you can get this cipher that helps you understand what’s going on or what the intent is or something like that. And think about the mathematics of it or the rhythm of it. more like, um, if you remember those like nineties auto stereo Graham things where like you could see a shitty space. while you were staring.

at something that looked like static. Okay. So, okay. So, you know, they would tell you just like stare at this picture for a really long time and eventually it’ll yeah.

Magic guy and eventually it’ll unveil itself. Um, man, we were laughing about Seinfeld there’s a Seinfeld episode for this too, but like when you realize that you could just cross your eyes and do it immediately, that’s sort of more of what understanding the rhythm here is like, now it’s not going to like uh, unfold into some like Lotus flower of deep philosophical, meaning you’re just going to go, oh, this riff 

Kyle: trying to surf and just surf the less do, the more you, 

Cliff: the more you understand it, the more you just go oh, that’s a heavy riff dude. that’s killer. And then you just love the downbeat of the whole thing. And so like the treasurer is just like by default, being able to find your snare and your symbol or whatever, that’s carrying the regular beat and just be able to chill to all of these songs, the way that you would like a good hip hop song. Like that’s what unlocking it feels like there’s no like nerd treasure at the end of this, which is why I do appreciate.

Uh, Thomas, uh, the drummer and the band, especially, but like anyone who gets interviewed from, this band, there’s no, like it’s not like the secret or like whatever creed fucking quest or whatever that thing was. where they were like, if you’ll ever pay enough, You’ll find this box hidden beneath a tree in a field. And it will have the ultimate creed. Now, do you remember that? 

Kyle: Are you talking about the band creed?

Cliff: Do not know about this. They had a Real, like, it was like, oh, uh, almost like a death grips level. Go chase things out in the world. Oh my God. No, I think it was called creed quest 

Kyle: All that. And the reward is more of the band creed. 

Cliff: Oh man. Uh, we’re, we’re really gonna have 

Kyle: point taken, say, 

Cliff: we’re going to have to follow up on this, 

bud Um uh Oh, that’s given me a lot of joy, but yeah, like, so be encouraged that like the reward to liking this music.

is just like finding music that super dope and no one else writes anything about, it. 

Kyle: so I want to push in on you describing this as chill, which one is an extremely useful thing to say, this is a core aspect of your personality, but also not wrong. And I think validated by the personalities of the band members and when they do interviews, they are so, uh, you know, Johnny Cash we’d play faster if we could just sort of like, yeah, we just do whatever we want.

We play what we want when we want and how we want whatever. Uh, There there’s an interview. There’s an interview quote with one of the guys it’s normally Thomas that does the interviews. So anytime it’s not him, I’m intrigued by it. And there was one interview where one of the guys said with each new album we’re looking for, we’re just looking for something different and something that we haven’t done before, we’re kind of on the opposite side of the spectrum is ACDC.

They want to do that same record over and over and over. And they kind of have to, or their fans would throw a fit. We have to challenge ourselves and come up with something we haven’t heard before and done ourselves before. So I think there’s a chill thing as Zen thing in the way that they’re just sort of pursuing an ideology and it happens to be with the sound.

Because they liked the way this stuff sounds. It’s heavy. It’s cool. It’s whatever. But there is a, there’s a noble farmer, like approach to the way they keep chipping away and unveiling this idea of how far can you break apart this one groove? How many different ways can you fractalize it until it’s unrecognizable and not us anymore?

And they’ve explored that in different ways, over 25, 30 year career. Um, but it, the longer that you lock into the straight a heaviness of that, like the more self-evident, it all becomes 

Cliff: yeah. In critically. And one of the reasons we wanted to pick and talk about OBS in is everything you’re hearing, although apparently written digitally was recorded.

Really. Okay. So that was not always true of all of their other records, um, for a number of reasons, but it’s really critical to note that like the boundary of their music in general is like for real though. Can we actually play this? Because the, the like critical piece of this whole puzzle, and probably the reason that they’ve. legendary status of this magnitude in this community, uh, I like, I like that I called the metal community, a community.

That’s fun. Um, all of the fuck bunches of people who love metal. but like, uh, they execute all of their songs with machine level perfection live every single time without fail. I have seen this band a lot. You’ve seen them a lot with me. I’ve never heard an off note. to have gone 

Kyle: which is like, okay, not looking for that.

When I go see a band record, I want to hear the imperfection and the humanity and the whatever. And wouldn’t mind it if I heard it with no sugar, but the fact that you go again and again, and you just hear it. So airtight full and alive though. It’s not like a replication of the record in that sense.

It’s like, oh man, they are doing it. It blows your mind. 

Cliff: Yeah. It feels 

Kyle: It feels unnatural. It feels like you are in the presence of something other worldly while it’s happening. 

Cliff: Yeah. Like like rocket fire spawned something. new And there’s like these new Swedish adults out there playing perfectly It’s it’s it’s disconcerting almost.

Yeah. And on top of it, I mean 

Well, I consider this my full throated endorsement to go to any miss sugar show. at any point, Not only because of how great they are, but like they attract greatness related to all this music. So like the guy who does their lights is like, incredible. He like, you can, we’ll, we’ll make sure to like link up his YouTube stuff or whatever, but like even seeing their show, you have to, so you have to picture in your head, the complexity of the music.

We’re already trying to describe on top of that being performed live like yeah. To a click track, but everybody performs to a click track. That’s that doesn’t make it magical or easy. Like, so it’s played in perfect time. Everyone’s executing their parts perfectly. But then there is a, a literally programmed, delight show for every moment of every song that they play And Like I’m not talking about, there’s a light guy back there who is a Michigan fan, who changes them when he knows a good beats coming in, I’m talking about every moment of every song is fully programmed by an expert who is not only very good at lights, Uh, but like knows every particular meticulous rhythm in every song.

And it’s like writing visual art to accompany it. So then you see yet again, live, you’re seeing the iterations of the iterations of the iterations. And now you’re seeing on top of it, another medium of iteration on top of that, like, it’s just, it’s a fractal thing that exists like conceptually in reality, 

Kyle: when you watch light show, it reminds you that there is geometry in all living things, you know, in, in the sacred design of the universe or whatever, it’s a very high thought, but it’s impossible not to have it when you’re watching their live show, because you’re just like, oh my God, it’s a lot for your senses in the best possible way.

I mean, all of it, the lighting, the music, whatever. I kept coming back to the analogy of pro athletes, like. about the miss sugar journey is like the way pro athletes approached their craft, where the things that they write, the experiments that they try to design in creating their music. Like they, they use that mechanism to push beyond the limitations of their brain and their, and the physiology of can I perform this?

So you have something like the kick pattern and bleed, which I know we’ll talk more about bleed. That’s a thing you write in the computer and then you worry about, oh, can I play it? And then you take five months to learn the seven minutes of kick pattern activity. Just for that the same way that you would train for the Olympics.

Like the, this is just a limpic level, dedication to musical craft. The focus of it. I think. the paradox in 

is the, is the focus right? When you listen to it, it comes across on its face as extraordinarily complex, but it’s just, it’s really simple ideas executed in a way that’s different than what we’re used to experiencing in music.

Right. But their focus on the way that they do things is so relentless and that’s what I really appreciate about it. Right. And when, when you think about the idea of focus or reductionism or intent, or like trying to hone in on one thing, like just finding the breadth of . I love that phrasing. Uh, it all becomes very Zen, right?

When you strip away all of the there’s 72 things I need to be thinking about because of the weird meter and the lyrics and the tone and the whatever. And it’s like, just do one thing, just focus on the snare, the symbol, and work your way outward next time. that is extremely rewarding. It’s like a glass of cold water when you’re listening to music.

And I think in that way, it does become very chill after a number of, of repetitions. Cause it, it just the way that, um, studies have shown you to just listen to stuff that you are familiar with to help you go to sleep rather than a certain type of music, it’s the same thing, right? It’s just, the vibrations are helping you dial in a certain thing in your brain.

It’s uh, whereas familiar music is an indicative that helps you go to sleep. My sugar is the ultimate sativa, 

Cliff: and if you’ve ever smoked too much sativa right before you were trying to go to you’ll understand the sensation that can happen. If you kind of hit this wrong, because it would just be like, 

Kyle: do I to get up and clean my kitchen?

Cliff: also does my kitchen exists in time? You know, really. When you think about it, isn’t the kitchen already clean? 

Kyle: Which kitchen do I still live in this house at this place? Or is it my childhood home? Is it going to be my childhood kitchen? If I get up and go out and investigate. And what is it going to mean to my 

Cliff: And since I’m here, what can I say to my young psyche to really bring him 

Kyle: Hey, man, I need to ketose

Cliff: Hey man, we’ll clean this kitchen later. All right, Kyle I 

Kyle: interstellar 2011.

Cliff: really cool thing about the length of the phrases that they have means that not only is there some sort of originally intended rhythmic synchronicity, but by the time you’re getting to the uh, like the raw length of phrase that they are, there ends up being, a lot of times, like multiple ways for you to hear the rhythm, because it’s so big.

So like to give. like Just one example, um, even off of, uh, nothing, someone was breaking down the first 30 seconds of rational gaze, right? And they said, so just follow me for a second here. The guitars and the bass can be grouped into four repetitions of measures in 25, 16 followed by a measure in 28, 16, the entire passage is then repeated while this is going on.

The symbols create a metric, superimposition. As the kick drum doubles the guitar and bass rhythms, the symbols maintain a consistent quarter note pulse complimented by snare drum hits on what would be beat three in four, four time. So I feel like that’s a really good example of fuck that dude w the symbol, just listen to the symbols, just listen to the symbols. There’s so like you, there’s a million unfolding fractals and all this, and you can care, but you don’t have. to. And that’s like, that is itself, like so much of the beauty of this record and why it’s especially interesting why in, in OBS in having the boundary of not only, you know, are we gonna want to play these songs live, but we’re going to literally record them all as is.

Um, it’s one of the reasons this one itself is worth focusing on because you get all of this complexity. Like I just spit out that came from one of those, Um, one of those research papers we wrote about like that came from recasting metal, rhythm and meter in the metal of miss sugar. So it’s, it’s the combination of that level of possible complexity combined with like the reality of them having written a bad-ass song and being able to play it that makes this album itself like this really interesting moment in metal, because bleed became this, like, I mean, seriously, just search, YouTube for like bleed drum covers it.

Game changer is such a terrible word. Right. But like it shifted the feeling and sensation of what was possible in technical music at once. And it’s, it’s one of those things where, um, Kyle, you and I like to, or you at least indulge me in talking about how. like, It’s so fascinating to me that like, we can never go more macro or micro without discovering some other level of thing we’ve never seen before.

And like, to me, this is, this is a great example of that. Like you, you can go into bleeds specifically and go watch yourself a YouTube counting video about bleed. And you’ll find out that what they did was it’s not triplets, which is what people will say It is it’s for notes. And the first, two are stacked really close together in close succession.

And then what they’re doing from there is taking that little drum pattern and then they add two extra notes to that drum pattern, and then they add two more and then they repeat it in this, and like you can unfold all of these numbers. And it’s interesting if you care about the numbers, if it’s not, you don’t.

need to, Instead, all you can appreciate, or all you need to appreciate is the fact that This human being can play this song with perfection and wrote it on the first time that they came back to an album that they decided that they wanted to record live. And like, that’s sort of like the nature of the way that I think, changes things in music and why anyone might consider them a most important band, despite them clearly not being like Metallica or any of the other ones you might want to kind of give that title to you.

I mean, for one thing, they’ve been around almost as long uh, and and they’ve had a pretty storied career, just not the same commercial success, but like when they decide to do things, they change the entire genre of music and new things unfold out from them, which like we will spend precisely zero time talking about all the shitty djent bands that have come out of this. Not only because there’s no reason to, but because there’s plenty of other people who will indulge that. But like, that’s just one of the million different little fractals that come out from the music that these folks make. and especially even just as a song, like bleed where, you know, W we’ve talked a little bit about, um, like their, their song writing process and all that.

Like one of the ways to appreciate this record in particular is that OBS in. So like we’ve mentioned was kind of the first time that they had gone back to saying, we need to be able to record this live. Well, they had on catch 33, right before this, they had pushed boundaries in a totally different way where they three is effectively one song that subdivided up into these parts, but they reuse and invert patterns from one song in a different song entirely cause, cause it’s all one song.

Right? And so they are, they’re not only stretching at that point, uh, on catch 33. They’re not only stretching music and rhythm like they already are, but they’re like, they’re stretching the concept of song itself. They’re stretching out the length of phrase. Like how long can you go before you remember that you heard a phrase before, and that includes though, like the actual lyrics and the vocal styles.

Like they were all literally trying to work with a piece of music that was basically like a hall of mirrors. In that recording itself, they had done entirely basically on a computer. Like the drums literally the drums were not played live in the way that most of us conceptualize recording drums, No one sat in front of the drums and literally recorded the written songs.

Instead they you know, recorded for those unfamiliar, like they just recorded individual drum hits and then map those to. Mitty notes On a computer, um, which is a pretty common thing at this point, but uh, was not used 

Kyle: in early two thousands, 

Cliff: yeah, certainly not to the extent that they 

And so they separated out all of those individual notes with different levels of, you know, think about how a snare drum sounds different when you hit it hard versus soft.

All of those are recorded and collected and collated and whatever, and then applied to specific notes and intensity and all this stuff, which meant that they could write out in basically like dot notation, what they wanted to do on yes guitar and all that stuff. But especially drums and that, whatever they decided to end up with on the computer, whether a human being could play would sound reasonably similar to a human being playing it.

And then on top of that, which is its own story. I mean, I feel like we could Really do some dork shit talking about like the little things that Meshuggah spawned, but I mean, they, they would go on to help productize that thing that they use to record catch 33, which is called drum kit from hell, which then again created this entirely new ecosystem of how metal got written at all.

Like, uh, I don’t want to draw too direct a line. cause I, can’t fact check myself on it, but like bands like agoraphobic, nosebleed, who all of a sudden, could be one guy in an apartment or like cloud kicker, like guys or not always guys, but like singular artists could now reasonably record their own drums without ever having to learn to play the instrument at all.

And instead we’re learning a new way to think about rhythm entirely. And so like, 

this is sort of why we get so wound up about this band and why it’s like at least important to acknowledge their kind of place in reality. ’cause like the album right before the one we’re talking about sort of like changed a metal on its, on its own, uh, just by like talking about what they did and sharing it.

And then you come back to this record and yet again, they write a song like bleed, which becomes this instant. Like this is the new bar for if you’re actually a good drummer. or not, you can play this kick pattern and bleed, which is insane. Um, 

in the 

Kyle: and probably their fourth sort of watershed moment to that point.

So the first one being Destroy Erase Improve showing that there were still, so that was mid nineties, right? That was like 95. So 15 odd years into the thrash experiment, showing that you could take it still to smarter, more intense places. Um, obviously they were heavily influenced by. Bay area bands like Metallica.

They name-checked, they, they often say they try not to have influences. They try to be a band that doesn’t work from influences, but when they do name check, they often name check Metallica and the bay area scene. And the bands that influenced Metallica, like specifically the new wave of British heavy metal, Saxon, Priest, Sabbath, and on, uh, so DEI, which is, it’s kind of weird that that’s the acronym for that record.

And then Chaosphere in the same vein. And then in ’02, they put out Nothing. Um, which you and I were. I was trying to decipher before we started recording how I’d first come across Meshuggah. And I think it was a Headbangers Ball comp where they were on the end of disc two of the discovery bands and “Rational Gaze” was on there. So they subverted their own sound and like went slow, so to speak, but Nothing is a super, super heavy record. And you have songs like ” Spasm” on there that are, are down tuned and start to sort of get at things that they would start doing later. And then you get into, so nothing was a whole big thing, took everything in a, in a new direction. Um, and, and I, I think we specifically mean reiterating that they’re a bands band, right?

Other big bands heard Meshuggah do this new thing or played on a festival with them. And have said as much in interviews like that, man, that is the band. They’re the high watermark. Um, so then they did I, which was the predecessor to catch 33. And I think your entry point, 

Cliff: Yeah. If that helps you understand me at all. I listened to I, which is one song, from Misha that goes on 

Kyle: one track, not like catch 33 where it’s one piece of music broken up.

It is 1 24 minute, 

Cliff: Yeah, 21 minutes. And I remember listening to it on the way to high school one morning. And just going, yes. Like, Yes. 

Kyle: This is me 

Cliff: this makes sense. Mom, Dad, I’ve changed. I am Meshuggah “I” EP. 

Kyle: That, that was its own thing. And you know, they, they talked in the making of catch 33 of it. Like some of that stuff was physically impossible to play and they weren’t really worried about that. They were just trying to make the record that they heard heads. Um, and then having the like vacuum sealed, lab experiment, drum machine from hell, impossible to play record, this was sort of a return to roots thing.

Cause they layered in the earlier thrash stuff, the really mathematical stuff. And then the pure roots, like let’s play it live. Let’s do it live and wrote their most complex record. Uh, 

And 

then djent happened all hell broke loose. And I think some of the stuff that happened after that was sort of a response to like, no, no, no, no, you don’t, you don’t get to do this.

We did this, we invented 

Cliff: you know how when people try to imitate chemical compounds, like, uh, that Delta stuff that people tell you is weed. I’m like, okay, okay. Now, okay. I hear you about it, you know? And yeah, I do have an experience and yeah, I can like relate it to, I understand why you may have presented this to me as weed related. I can I I get it right.

But it’s like, when, when you were making copies of copies of copies and you don’t know the kind of equation that it comes from, like that’s sort of my for lack of a better term, like beef with a whole bunch of bands that we’re not going to talk about. Cause like It’s not whether it’s that they don’t understand the math involved in it, whether it’s that they don’t understand the id of it… either way.

They don’t have a good enough grasp on what’s underlying it. And so what they create sounds like a computer trying to like AI its way into a Meshuggah song. Um, you know, with somebody doing bad vocals on top of it or something, it’s like, that’s so far a field, it doesn’t capture whatever’s happening. And like, especially inside of OBS and specifically, like, I want to drop a few of these in here.

Um, but like the main, or a key thing to know about these tracks in particular is like, you have to let yourself be drawn all the way in to get to the best parts. Like they are constantly on this record, hiding the best riff at the end of the song. Now the good part is that the end of the song, Uh, is describing a portion of music that goes on for minutes, because that’s how long an ending is. But like, uh, like almost five minutes into “Electric Red”, uh, like four and a half minutes or so into “Pineal Gland Optics”. And also “Pravis” or pray-vus, I don’t know how to say either one 

But both of them have this, like we’ve been building and building and building, and you’ve played this riff a total, of like, you know, six or seven times.

It’s finally done the right math to like line up a few times and you’ve gotten your downbeat and all that. And it feels like it’s coming back together and then they will break into something that belongs on like the Nothing record where they just a total like, oh yeah. And now you’re, you know, bakin’ bread in the kitchen and this is on, and you’ve gone from like smiling.

Cause this is interesting to like, you are now like caveman level head begging in voluntarily because of how heavy this riff is at the end of it in like the payoff is so good from having waited that long. for whatever like crazy heavy stuff they’re going to do. And even down to uh, on the very last track of the album, um, “Dancers to a Discordant System” you got to get eight minutes into this thing.

And then they hit this groove that just like, I, whatever the, like, uh, the like Reddit thread or Reddit community, oddly satisfying Like, I feel at these different little points. But especially that far into the record where you’ve, you’ve kind of 

Kyle: abrasive 

Cliff: yeah. Or like to your indica / sativa point earlier, uh, the good part about if you do a little too much, is that eventually you’ll come right back down to the right place, even if you’re only there for a minute. And it’s like, you just get those places over and over in this record where you felt like you didn’t really know what was happening, and then they gift you this, like last riff, that’s a lot easier to kind of latch onto But if they had played it first, you wouldn’t have caught it. Like, it’s really hard to explain how they like use the complexity to almost like draw you in far enough to where later, when they simplify, you just feel like a genius.

Like you, like you crack the code. on this riff all a sudden, because you spent five 

Kyle: The other aspect that I like, it sounds disrespectful to say this, but I like “didn’t count it” mentally in the music of Meshuggah, . It almost shows up as negative space in my listening experience is before those last refs, a lot of the time they do this thing. Now, maybe starting with this record, maybe starting more in the catch 33 era where.

Back out to the very basics of the main riff, and then they play the opposite of a solo and right. 

Cliff: did that pretty well. Right. 

Kyle: and I know they say it’s inspired by Alan Holdsworth and you can hear them sort of descending into it. If you listen to enough of, if you start with nothing and you hear them sort of reducing solos to the elements, because like guitar solos are a farce.

If you take them too seriously, they’re the dumbest thing alive, you know, it’s just pure ego bullshit. Uh, so the idea of like a black hole where a solo should be, but what if we did that with a guitar is the best thing I can come up with to describe what they’re doing with it. 

Cliff: And you know that they can play one, which makes it that much more insulting. 

Kyle: 100%. And it’s almost a, it’s almost like the palate cleanser. It’s not nothing or an ambient at all, but it’s a palate cleanser before you get into that last thing, it helps you remember to sand your backup straight and get the cooler, fresher air at the top of the room. Before you get back into the and thing, it’s a, it’s a sick move structurally on their part.

Cliff: So I think you said earlier, and I kind of want to reiterate, kind of hoping that. we have presented a decent case for getting some folks, uh, into this for the first time. Just, just just take the baby step. Um, I do think that as we’ve talked about, ObZen is an ideal place to get the kind of booster injection of Meshuggah and what they became.

Uh, and even though like records since then have have been great. No problem whatsoever. It they’ve got, it’s gotten so refined and this was, this was the place where you really get all of the energy of them transitioning from the mechanical, slightly back to the let’s play this for real in-person. Yeah. And so this is such a good example to kind of see that turn, But if, as we’ve talked about, it’s just not clicking to start with. I I do think nothing is a better entry point. If you are hopeful that you can like Michigan, but not quite sure about how to make that happen. Nothing’s a pretty good place to start. And I don’t think we’d be the only, or first people to say that.

Um, in fact, I think it was their most commercially successful record anyway. Um, it, is a no way simple or not but it’s just, um, a little slower, a little easier to parse the main beats of everything. And it really gives you a good feel for what’s there. Uh, another, another angle for, I feel like I may be talking to literally no one on planet earth, but just in case, if, if you’re looking to make this click in a different way.

but what you’d rather do is push more into understanding what’s happening. So when we mentioned the drum kit from hell stuff, like all the drum stuff that they’ve recorded all the middy, like you can literally buy me. drums playing the songs all the way through. D Like official, like really done correctly, um, divided out into the different parts of the song and all that.

So, uh, this is sort of like a shortcut to like watching a million YouTube videos about it. Okay. All the YouTube videos are gonna recommend, well, okay. Slow this down and listened like, w because it’s too hard to parse. If you don’t know what you’re listening to. Right. And it starts to, you start to interpret it incorrectly and so slow everything down, like way, way, way, way, away, all the way until you can really seriously like count the notes out and then speed it back up a little bit.

And you start to hear how it sounds different It speed and all that stuff. But just that idea of like stretching the parts out themselves. If you want to understand them, it’s really easy to do that with middy. like one of the reasons I got that, all that drum kit from health stuff, when it, when it was around her, when I learned.

about it, Um, like how it pretended, Like I bought it, um, I downloaded the shit out of that to start with, and then later bought it. But like one of the cool things about it is you, you can sit there and just turn down the BPM and just listen really slowly to what’s actually being done. And for, for anyone that I haven’t immediately lost, you’re gonna love it.

Like, it’s, it, it feels like magic actually. because what you’ll 

Kyle: And that doesn’t just go for my sugar, slowing down music. I like is one of my favorite things to do because it opens it up. I mean, that’s a basic tenant of chopped and strewed. I’m literally wearing a DJ screw shirt right now. As we talk about this, there are a lot of things about the way they do.

thing that reminds me of hip hop, like the, the different amounts of phrasing different length. It just sounds like bars, like when you were talking about, are I going at 30 or 40 measure phrase before they repeat? The thing that popped into my head was that black thought freestyle, where he goes for like 11 minutes without turning over repeating himself.

So there’s a, you know, if you’re a hip hop fan, I think there’s some interesting rhythmic things about miss sugar to get into, but there was a YouTube video of a song from the love below. I want to say it was, she lives in my lap where they slowed it down from basically like 45 RPM speed to 33 RPM, whatever that pitch shift is.

And it looks. It became a totally different song with a different agenda and feel, and you’re just like, oh, every saw a good song. Every one of them has many lives within it on, on different timelines, with different planets of gravity weight. 

Cliff: I’m going to pull you into the Marvel cinematic universe one way or another 

every day 

Kyle: to me. Oh no. Does that make me Peter Parker in this cause? So I quit. Uh, so if you have no takeaway from this, other than that, do that, take, take all your favorite songs and slow them down a lot and just listen to them that way. And only that way for like a week straight, it’s a fun listening and discovery experiment, but is a super rad ban to chop and 

Cliff: Th the reason it’s worth the extra nerd work to get the drum separate is a theme that exists for sure on OBS end, but also across previous records. The, one of the reasons my sugar sounds so absolutely confrontationally ridiculous is like the, the true down tuning and like seven and eight string guitars that they were also, we didn’t even mentioned that, like, that was another thing that they literally started doing before anyone else did.

And then changed the way that music worked. Because when, uh, I’m almost positive, that it’s catch 33, so we’re going to go with it. But they were trying to transition from seven to eight string guitars. They were having to have them custom made because they basically did not exist, but they wanted to be able to play a lower, I think it’s an F.

Okay. And so, um, as the story goes, at least like their handmade special guitars that they were supposed to be using didn’t didn’t get built in time or couldn’t work or whatever, they couldn’t get the guitars, but they still wanted it to sound that way. So, Man you’re really going to have to go with me on this, but like they took the seven string guitars that they had and down tuned them to try to match what the eight string would be, but okay.

The way that guitar tensions work is like, you need a longer neck to accommodate that. Otherwise the string continually down tunes. So what you’re actually hearing a lot of in their guitar recording on that record is the guitar itself constantly being down tuned and retuned as it’s recorded over and over again.

So like you get this jarring feeling of it being like this kind of note that’s hard to place almost like a whatever torch talks about these days, The note Z 

Kyle: the boom 

Cliff: the boom, um, 

Kyle: “Tune to Z.” So good. 

Cliff: But like, uh, so that’s, that’s at least one of the reasons to be careful just slowing down. As a whole, because by the time you down tune that to slow it down, it will you’ll sound like mud.

Um, and so the drum separation helps you again, because as you will see, if you try to listen to it actively like guitars and other parts that lay on top are gonna mislead you. And so it can really help to find out, like, just getting the middy for the bleed kick drum part and realizing, realizing it’s just

Oh, 

oh, okay. Okay. Okay. And now I can start to speed it back up and I got it again. And now you’ve got this really annoying finger tap thing that you’re going to start doing on the dinner table, and everyone’s going to hate you for it. Um, which I was, 

Kyle: the metal, version of “Grinding” by Clipse in the lunchroom. The hip hop analogies work! They work. The beat, the beat, the, 

Cliff: so nothing’s a great place to start.

If you want to check out the music, looking into how the band existed and how it’s impacted music, Culturally is another cool place to look. Even if you don’t like the music. So like the stuff we’ve talked about already, just like down tune seven, and eight string guitars, playing drums on middy, writing music, asynchronously, allowing yourself to write other musicians, parts for them after they’ve already written them.

Like, just learning more about that stuff. And then going and looking for like the research papers, which I feel like there’s no greater example of science and what it thinks about itself. Other than all of these research papers existing with about these like complex mathematical outcomes of And if you go back and you ask them how they got there, they say we just, we just wrote it in four, four, dude. I don’t know what to tell you. You know? And like, there’s just this like, well, 

Kyle: no, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. 

Cliff: Yeah. It’s like this whole mystery of the universe thing that we feel like exists because we were able to analyze it on this level, but it comes from Just repetitive simplicity with slight variation over and over… and like, a lot of patience, which is maybe a thing we could take away in our lives from time to time, uh, that might produce different results than we expect not to like overstretch this, but like, I feel like that kind of contributes to like that if I get better at something 1% every day over time that becomes like exponential growth and change. And I’m gonna talk about self-improvement shit. Cause like you’re fine the way you are. Right. But like anything you want to change or see different it’s those small accumulated variations over time. Like, like w the first time you ever saw somebody put a line on an X, Y graph and then do two more lines and then you go, oh, that creates like a curve.

And then they start to lay enough of them up there where you can’t tell that they’re individual lines at all. It’s like well, Meshuggah has made a spiderweb of 20 years of exactly that just like string string, string everywhere. And now it’s created this. pattern And you’re trying to find out what the origins of it were.

And they’re like, well, it was a string. So, So like, this is the wrong way to look at it, you know, just like lay in it instead and enjoy whatever got created. So yeah, it’s been, it’s been fun to just try to like, uh, like explore what kind of engages us about this music, because in, I won’t speak for you if you disagree, but I, there’s a, there’s a type of connection to Meshuggah that exists that it’s not better or worse, but it’s significantly different than Maggot Brain.

You know, like the D they’re both music, uh, they’re both impressive feats of strength and they both have like a brutality to them and an energy and like a complexity, but they are so of different types that it feels absurd to think of them as the same type of art at all. And then like, to me, that’s what sort of makes this whole rabbit hole worth dipping a toe into. 

Kyle: I agree with you a hundred percent. If I had to try to sum it up, I think the childlike, pure feeling of learning and loving learning the, the math and the magic of Meshuggah, distilled, taps into that same pleasure center in your brain. It feels like learning. It feels like your brain growing and developing new wrinkles in real time.

Whereas maggot brain just helps you shake your ass better. Mostly. I mean, your brain, your brain grows, but your Astros grows too. Um, it follows us. So I think, you know, I guess coming back to my original point, somewhat. If you are excited by the prospect of creativity, as, as a thing as, as, uh, a wonderful capability of the human species, if you need something to jumpstart your year, your brain, whatever, this is a new direction that you can take it in, you certainly can leave it after that, but hopefully we have encouraged you most of all, just to take it.

Kyle: Go to tunedig.com for your chance to win a free vinyl copy of the album we just covered. And follow us on Instagram and Twitter for even more info about the album, including playlist links to interesting articles and videos and even some stories that didn’t make the episode. Most importantly, though, please support your favorite local record store, concert venue, or buy merch from a band you love. Thanks for listening.

Original "Bitches Brew" Art

To celebrate the endless creativity of Bitches Brew—and especially its famous album artwork—TuneDig partnered with two incredible Atlanta-based artists to create one-of-a-kind, handpainted gatefolds.

With the spirit of the original art in mind, each artist brought their own vision to life. These pieces will spark conversation for any jazz fan.

Each piece includes a new vinyl copy of Bitches Brew. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist, so take this opportunity to support the arts in the raddest possible way.

Seriously. There’s literally only one of each. Make it yours. 😎

SEASON 6

Season 6—featuring our most eclectic selection of albums yet—kicks off Friday, March 11, with new episodes every other Friday through July.

TuneDig Episode 47: Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra”

When you think of “electronic music,” what comes to mind may not be a genre you deeply love — hip-hop, house, new wave, or even dub reggae — but all of it owes some debt, scientifically or otherwise, to Tangerine Dream. Dig in with us as we study a prime example of the band’s brand of effortful innovation, where they patiently and persistently labored at the cutting edge of electronic technology to open a portal to new worlds in our minds.

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TuneDig Episode 46: Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR”

Did you catch one of 2021’s biggest albums, or like us, did you almost overlook it? If you have any expectations of pop music, "SOUR" will likely subvert them. Teenage dream this is not; it’s an exquisitely universal portrait of a weird time to be alive.

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TuneDig Episode 45: Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit”

The story of Fela Kuti — one of the most famous people on an *entire continent* passionately struggling to liberate power to more people — is absolutely one worth deeply knowing, regardless of whether you find yourself drawn to Afrobeat or (cringe) “world music.” But once you know it, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Fela and Afrika 70 as their revolutionary grooves rewire your brain in magical and meaningful ways.

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TuneDig Episode 44: Meshuggah’s “ObZen”

Meshuggah’s ObZen—an artifact of human creativity pushing the limits of what’s possible—will quite literally make you hear music differently. If you’re looking for a new musical adventure, and especially if you don’t think you like “heavy” or “weird” music, consider this your sign to push past your comfort zone.

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TuneDig Episode 43: mewithoutYou’s “Catch For Us the Foxes”

A misunderstood wise man once said “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.” In our most personal and vulnerable episode yet, we do some seeking through the lens of songs that fill us with the bravery and sincerity to love ourselves and others fully. Dig deep with us as we fish for words about our tiny place in the universe and dance with gratitude for our ability to do so.

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FRIDAY HEAVY

For lifelong headbangers and the musically curious alike, a new podcast from TuneDig is here to push your palette with aggressive, abrasive art. Each short, fast-paced episode offers (1) a new metal, punk, noise, or experimental release we recommend, (2) a related playlist we’ve curated, and (3) a heavy issue to consider and an organization doing something about it. Join us in the void.

SEASON 5

TuneDig Episode 41: Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”

Let’s be clear: "Bitches Brew" is a challenging record, even to some of the best musicians in the world — but all of them say it’s worth the investment. It’s the kind of trip that, even if we *could* draw a map, it wouldn’t take you there. Let go of the need for meaning and enjoy the ride with us. We can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

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TuneDig Episode 40: Fiona Apple’s “Tidal”

On the heels of one of 2020's most acclaimed albums — Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters — we revisited Apple’s debut Tidal and wound up working to extract ourselves from the mostly male gazes that made its reception … much different. We arrive at a question much like writer Jenn Pelly had: “People would constantly prod Fiona on how an 18-year-old could write songs as mature as these ... Why did they not ask instead how she became a genius?”

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TuneDig Episode 39: Death Grips’s “The Money Store”

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient "The Money Store".

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TuneDig Episode 38: Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown”

Reggae music is easy to take for granted, but its impact is underappreciated and massive — in the case of dub in particular, everyone from Radiohead to Johnny Rotten to Run-DMC owes it a debt. Augustus Pablo and King Tubby together created what’s regarded as “one of the finest examples of dub ever recorded.” Join us as we dive into the culture, history, and unique engineering experiments that made it possible.

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TuneDig Episode 37: Rihanna’s “ANTI”

By every measure — sales, awards, chart-toppers, global name recognition — Rihanna is objectively as big as the Beatles ever were. In fact, ANTI is so big it’s still on the charts, a record five full years later. Take a closer look with us at “the record you make when you don’t need to sell records”, and get a taste of the true freedom that comes from focusing on your inner voice when faced with insurmountable expectations.

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TuneDig Episode 36: Son House’s “Father of Folk Blues”

All American music traces back to the blues, and deep at the root sits Son House. That the recordings on "Father of Folk Blues" even exist is something of a gray area that cuts to the heart of the great American myth, but wherever you land after hearing these stories, you’ll find that what matters most is what the great Muddy Waters once said of House: “That man was the king.”

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TuneDig Episode 35: Melvins’s “Stoner Witch”

The futility of describing the Melvins has stretched critics in the direction of absurd words like “Dadaist” for nearly 40 years now. They’ve belligerently flogged any attempt to pinpoint their essence simply by being themselves, but "Stoner Witch" remains a reliable mall directory for the Melvins’ vast and wild discography. Grab yourself some pretzel bites.

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TuneDig Episode 34: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

We should talk about Dolly the way we talk about Prince. Her extraordinary kindness and unique kitsch both make her universally loved, but what gets left out of the conversation is the very thing that made her famous: the music. Join in as we focus attention on the sonics and songwriting of the low-key masterpiece "Jolene".

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TUNEDIG RADIO

SEASON 4

SEASON 3

SEASON 2

SEASON 1

BONUS TRACK EPISODES

Kyle and Cliff

BONUS TRACK: How We Got Here

We got a bunch of interesting listener feedback in our off-season, and it encouraged us to shed some light on why we do things the way we do ‘em. Also, we reflect on our first writeup, which was ... interesting.

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WHO WE ARE

We're Cliff (right) and Kyle (left). We’re two dudes born and raised in ATL with day jobs in tech and sustainability, respectively.

We met in middle school, and in one way or another, music’s been the thing that’s kept us close for the two decades since — whether it’s sharing and talking about new music (like this podcast, except in our texts or over beers), going to shows, or working with our favorite record stores to help them survive and thrive.

We started TuneDig as a little art project that connects us more deeply ourselves and to the world through the infinite gift of music. We hope you’ll join us for the conversations, let us know what you think, and share discoveries of your own.

More About TuneDig

TuneDig began as a little something called MusicGrid.me, which we created after realizing there was no place online to directly exchange music recommendations with your friends. Our aim was simple: to make rating albums simple, useful, and social. We got some love from places like MashableWiredEvolver.fm, and Hypebot. We managed to foster conversation between music lovers, get thousands of reviews, and meet great people.

Along the way, we realized that record stores were an essential part of the music lovers’ community. After many a conversation about how we could helpfully connect them to the people who loved them, we began helping them leverage technology to create new revenue streams and embrace streaming services without giving up what’s unique to them: expertise and curation. (Long live the counter clerk who knows exactly which record will be the right introduction to jazz fusion!)

TuneDig is our vision to connect music lovers with the music they love, because no matter how much has changed in the way we discover and enjoy music, recommendations from people you trust and respect will always be the best way to find new music you’ll dig. With this podcast, we’re channeling the spirit of trusted curation pioneered by record stores, and bringing you something to take you deeper into music you can love.