Monday, January 30, 2012

Uncomfortable conversations

Having spent 30 years making music that's largely ABOUT uncomfortable conversations, this article really struck me. If "indie rock" isn't challenging in any way, why bother? Also, the writer conveys why the faceless smugness of Pitchfork has always bugged me:

"In Sufjan Stevens, indie adopted precious, pastoral nationalism at the Bush Administration’s exact midpoint. In M.I.A., indie rock celebrated a musician whose greatest accomplishment has been to turn the world’s various catastrophes into remixed pop songs. This is a kind of music, in other words, that’s very good at avoiding uncomfortable conversations. Pitchfork has imitated, inspired, and encouraged indie rock in this respect. It has incorporated a perfect awareness of cultural capital into its basic architecture. A Pitchfork review may ignore history, aesthetics, or the basic technical aspects of tonal music, but it will almost never fail to include a detailed taxonomy of the current hype cycle and media environment. This is a small, petty way of thinking about a large art, and as indie bands have both absorbed and refined the culture’s obsession with who is over- and underhyped, their musical ambitions have been winnowed down to almost nothing at all."


Substance McGravitas said...

Most of all, though, we need new musical forms. We need a form that doesn’t think of itself as a collection of influences. We need musicians who know that music can take inspiration not only from other music but from the whole experience of life.

Maybe this is substituting Pitchfork for the musicians themselves, who may think they're doing that. A lot of them are wrong, but that's not new either.

I speak from a position of ignorance though: I don't think I have ever visited the Pitchfork site. One of the things that struck home in that article was all the un-listened-to music everyone has. I've been trying to make an effort to listen to what I own, and free of context that people like the Pitchfork folks or Chuck Klosterman seem to think trumps the actual output, I have the freedom to listen to the way things sound and how they're constructed.

Thanks for the article, it was interesting.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The triumph of the twee. I think the problem with a lot of "postmodern" youth culture is the lack of conviction- visceral emotion is out the window, and it's all pose, all "irony".

J Neo Marvin said...

Thanks for the LG&M link. Good comment thread.

My main personal beef is that we make music that for lack of a better description could be called "indie rock" (though we like to throw around phrases like "chamber punk", etc.) but the term has become so debased by various bland artists that it's hard sometimes to hold one's head up high and say so.

Joe Wallace said...

I've never, EVER liked Pitchfork. There are a variety of reasons for that, but essentially my distaste for them has a lot to do with the tabloid feel of the site in general--as though they're dumbing down indie culture for soap opera fans or somesuch.