This is just one of many variations on a common argument these days about artistic oversupply, inter(hyper)connectivity and the general ennui that many of the more vocal type of music fan seems to find themselves in these days. It’s too easy; it’s undervalued; a whole generation does not value what we used to value; the embarrassment of riches.
I don’t understand these arguments. I do not “get it”. I keep trying and failing.
(Somewhere, someone with a degree in missing the point sums up all of these things as “first-world problems” or, more commonly, “white people problems”.) Continue reading →
Now, I’m not a fan of Panda Bear, Ariel Pink, or the rest of the shit-pop-drowned-in-reverb “hauntology”* thing; I’d even go so far as to say the entire concept should drop the Derrida-isms and just call it pastiche. It’s the T.G.I. Friday’s of music, much like mashups are the backyard wrestling of DJ’ing. But to expect some degree of discipline when the objects of sound art contain no inherent cost for most of their listeners is foolish.
Having spent more than a few minutes revealing the lazy fakery on the part of students submitting papers they swear were written days ago and somehow lost in the electro-aether (a modern “dog ate my homework” excuse, but even less believable), I’d even go so far as to call it generational.
These kids grew up with cultural objects being easy to appropriate and basically free to distribute. Yes, it probably means they appreciate music far less than record nerds from 20 or 30 years earlier do, but that’s not only true of most everyone else who grew up back then but also the nature of living at a certain time. We all appreciated not getting polio very, very little in the 70s and 80s.
So “free stuff yay!” is a condition of their existence**, and it’s not going to change unless various doomsayers are right and we get all post-apocalyptic up in here. Having grown up on doom-and-gloom (contrary to popular reimaginings, narratives of impending nuclear and ecological destruction were constant companions in grammar school), I suppose “free stuff for everybody yay!” is something of a decent half-step up in terms of childhood memetic clusters, but it seems to make for fairly shitty proto-adults with no concept of the Real.
That this is an echo of an argument made about every generation since generations were generated is just another bittersweet ha-ha on the road to death.
*Yes, I realize this term is also applied to groups like Demdike Stare and anyone else who samples records from the 70s. It’s still T.G.I. Friday’s, and wholly unremarkable in that sampling and thematic throwbacks have been with us for a long, long time.
**Cheap jokes about bailed-out billionaire banks and spoiled public sector unions and everyone else feeding from the rotted nipples of Leviathan can be deployed or discarded as you wish.
It’s more than a bit dismissive of some of his points to declare this conservative reactionary nonsense, but it’s about as far removed from my lived experience with music that it might as well be in Russian. Then again, I’m not a music writer trying to live in a world where bands “hustle” in a multivariate mediaverse because of the 800lb elephant he ignores – people don’t buy music like they used to, and the barriers to entry have fallen or split into dozens of tiny pieces.
I’ve seen a similar notion pop up about the creation of a trans-national musical monoculture (the favorite term of the nattering nabobs of the fearful future) or some such rot, simply because the world we live in is different than the one most of us (meaning post 25-year-olds) grew up in. I am convinced that this is a kind of romanticism, and not just the old cultural cachet of being in the know (the “firsties” of the end of the 20th century), but of a slower media environment. When finding things was more deliberate, perhaps, or at least more easily digested.
That said, a slower pace is not unavoidable. All it requires is a little bit of effort. And more to the point, Robert Christgau invented Twitter-snark decades before the kids who made Twitter existed.
Richard D. James Album [Elektra, 1996]
Jungle sure has livelied up this prematurely ambient postdance snoozemeister. His latest synth tunes are infested with hypertime electrobeats that compel the tunes themselves to get a move on. And where once he settled for austere classical aura, now he cuts big whiffs of 19th-century cheese. He even sings. Hey, fella–I hear Martha Wash needs work. B+
Both Autechre and Warp Records are to be commended for offering an absurd variety of ways to listen to Oversteps. Vinyl, .mp3, 16-bit .wav, 24-bit .wav and CD. Since 320kbs is how most of my music ends up, I only spent ten dollars. I still feel a bit weird about that, since I have every other available CD release sitting on the shelf behind me. I know it’s the future and all, but I still feel a pang of regret, like something has been lost.
There are few regrets on Oversteps – it’s a little bit old, a little bit new. As I’ve mentioned before, the key to each Autechre release are their cover art. A black circle, clean upon first glance but on closer examination appears to be a bit smeared. A mighty grey san serif runs in the left-hand corner, top to bottom, with their name half-eaten by the black stamp.
About twice a year the folks, the kids, myself and the related people get together at the Brooklyn Brewery to get that stupid sort of drunk you get from having a very short amount of time in which to drink. Apparently the neighborhood kids have gotten hip to the wiseness, because while their Saturday tour-n-drink events were always a bit tight we have never witnessed a standing room only day. Good for those guys, for sure, but if we hadn’t cannibalized a table it would have been shit city. The 8% coffee stout helped tremendously.
Before the main event I had some time to kill, so I visitedSound Fix, which I am old enough to remember as the original location of Beacon’s Closet. I haven’t been to EarWaxin a while and SF is on the way, and I figured it would be a good place to pick up John Fahey’sRed Cross album. I’m getting up in years and in this turbulent, Illuminati-controlled economic climate getting basted and then shopping for records is a sure way to end up with a lot of poor choices in your pocket. Continue reading →