Tuesday, October 16, 2007

gloom!

keyquote: "after much consideration and conversation, I can scientifically conclude that 2007 has been a stinker for rock music… 'indie' is a thriving lifestyle concept perfect for selling [products] and therefore artistically long dead and more discernibly derivative than ever…. my own pessimistic feelings towards music in 2007 are not because I'm a boring, out of touch fart. Rather, it's my enthusiasm for music that makes me so frustrated."

gloom!!

keyquote: "I think if Aly & AJ 'Potential Breakup Song' can't be a big hit, nothing of its ilk can, and the UK can officially be declared a pop wilderness."
and
(loonies getting even loner)

even more gloom!!!

keyquote: "It's safe to say, at least for the time being, that electronic music's futurist impulse has run its course."
also
this Guardian piece from a month or so back that subtly indicts the stasis quo of trendy dancefloors still being dominated by a style of music five years old

gloom and doom, moan and drone everywhere!!!!!!

Sufjan Stevens in this week's New York: "Rock and roll is dead. Rock and rock is a museum piece. It has no viability anymore. There are great rock bands today--I love the White Stripes, I love the Raconteurs. But it’s a museum piece. You’re watching the History Channel when you go to these clubs. They’re just reenacting an old sentiment. They’re channeling the ghosts of that era--the Who, punk rock, the Sex Pistols, whatever. It’s been done. The rebellion’s over.”


(Hey don’t look to me for cheer and good tidings. My most listened to “new” album this past season is the Daphne Oram anthology Oramics. Most played tune all year: Gas, track #5, Konigforst (no idea why either). Favourite album of 2007, Black Moth Super Rainbow, is glorious and enchanting, but is not groundbreaking in any readily quantifiable or arguable sense.)

Still peckish? Fancy some more gloom? How about this?

Sasha Frere-Jones on how indie rock lost its soul (and its funk)

Sasha has been banging on about this as long I can remember. I interviewed him for the 1995 piece I did in the Wire on Post Rock in America, and there were complaints (astute, acerbic, righteous) about the lack of funk/groove/swing in Amerindie, pinings for the lost NYC polyracial/polyrhythmic mutantopia of the early Eighties (ESG, Liquid Liquid, etc). Then again I banged on about it, at a slightly different angle, two years before that. And really, people have been banging on about this almost as soon as the postpunk mutantopia came to an end circa 1985, banging on about it journalistically and music-rhetorically (Age of Chance covering "Kiss" frinstance). So the "in recent years indie's gotten awful white" angle is a little bit of false peg. Indie rock on both sides of the Atlantic has been, exceptions and occasional periodic rediscoveries that dancing is fun yknow, on this rhythmically inert, mumbly and pallid-tone vocalled tip since C86 took the Chic and the Al Green out of Orange Juice.

In a way though that's just further reason for gloom--extra salt in the wound--just the fact that these things have been bemoaned before; that nothing changes, these socially determined patterns reconstitute themselves again and again. So that it gets to seem like complaining about them is futile, but then equally to not be frustrated and angered by the self-segregation in music is just as bad, because it results in a kind of fatalism, the racial counterpart to the "poor will always be with us"/"rich will always be with us" kind that is so prevalent today.

Then again, if Arcade Fire’s true rhythm that they feel in the fibre of their beings, is that shuffly canter thing, then perhaps.... good luck to them? Trouble is indie rock is nothing if not about being authentic, and what’s authentic to most white middle class collegiate types is still (amazingly, really, given 50 years of rock'n'roll/funk/hip hop suffusing the culture) a lack of "soul", exuberance, shouty demonstrativeness. If their true essence is diffidence, uptightness and all the rest of the things SFJ identifies in indie rock, that's going to come out in the music.

The best bit in the piece is the candid stuff about his own struggles to find a way of of singing in Ui that wasn’t faux-black.
(Hot Chip and Flight of the Conchords is one solution to that problem.
And talking about the white negro syndrome, I'm struck by Jemaine's uncanny facial resemblance to Mick Jagger. Which seems to highlight the fact that such transracial (im)posture can only be got away with today under the guise of comedy. e.g. this song "Business Time" )

But faux-black was once no problem at all; it was what you did, as a matter of course, to be pop, if you were white; the terms of entry. (Okay, there's exceptions, country/folk/showbiz sources, and "that voice", but by and large, it's true, for the 1960s at least, Pop in the moving-forward sense was black voices/moves/rhythms and white people putting on black voices/moves/rhythms, seemingly without a pang or a doubt that this was anything but the most natural thing in the world to do.)

So what SFJ is mourning here really is the loss of nerve--of gall, even--that enabled white rockers and poppers in the 60s to front. That white negro leap of courage. Faking it, basically, but in the process creating a new self that became your authentic self; a postracial superself.

No answers, no solutions... just further-gloom-inducing inconclusions that all point towards to that bigger sense of impasse and social/cultural deadlock.

(Still at least it has inspired the best ILM thread in many, many a moon)

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