neutral milk hotel is fine, i definitely like some of the songs on aeroplane, but a lot of the lyricism in the latter half of the album is honestly subpar in my opinion. they walk the line between beautiful surrealism and straight nonsense- a little like the difference between say ulysses and finnegan's wake. Both postmodern, one has a vision, the other just feels like a circlejerk. I love the title track of their opus for instance, but i practically hate some of the follow up three part songs for their creative blandness.
basinski and caretaker i fundamentally disagree with on the grounds of their concept. 6 hours of ballroom ambient fading into white noise, is not music. a tape recorder winding down a faded tape is not music. Both of them take a possible idea of musical representation of a real life concept, and do the least interesting, most obvious thing possible with it. It's like say the difference between an interpretive dance routine that tries to convey the struggles of epilepsy, and just deciding to fake a seizure on the floor like a middle schooler. Both of these works are of the latter type.
black emperor is interesting because i guess i understand why people can appreciate the atmosphere that the band brings. Their albums have lots of similarities to classical in that sense. But pure atmosphere- just conveying bleak desolation as an idea doesn't do anything. There has to be something to be said, something to be done, something to be felt. On the grounds of creating a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, their albums deliver. That's great. But so what? The music never goes anywhere. There are moments of brilliance, certainly, but I am not content to listen to static for hours while waiting for these moments of magic. You can eschew traditional symphonic structure, traditional songwriting, and traditional production. All that is acceptable. But use your denial of orthodoxy to some purpose. And Black Emperor does not do this.
Where barber's adagio might use its shifting soundscapes to drown you in emotion, and carry you through the swelling strings to a heartrendingly cathartic conclusion, black emperor just leaves you on that swell, waiting for something more. Where mozart, beethoven, pachelbel, all our classical it's interesting, because i can understand their appeal. they have interesting ideas, that i would love to see in a better form. But ultimately I just find that they don't take their vision to its natural completion, leaving me instead with more and more dreaded noise.
That's kind of where I come from on regards to this sort of music. It just doesn't stick on the wall for me.