This piece is still in development – It started out as an introduction but quickly grew into 7+ page assault on mediocrity in contemporary music. I apologize for its poor state, spelling errors and typos…As far as I know Anthony Burgess is the only writer to produce 10 clean and perfect pages every day. And he had all day, I did this between 3-6 in the morning. .. but the section is called “When the Natives Rant and Rave”. This is both, maybe one day it will be a full on essay, but for now it’s just a not so subtle fuck you to musicians who want the life but not the responsibility of being a bard.
I love experimental music. These days it’s everything the music scene is supposed to be. Uncontrollable, free from marketing, a distinct lack major labels that screw both artists and customers, and as a whole there is very little ego driven posturing for the sake of being hip. The noise scene stands in direct opposition to the standard rock fair that has now become so generic it’s hard to tell the difference between talent and mediocrity. Indy music has become something of a dull lullaby offering nothing more than a foray into the worries and troubles of spoiled children limited to a small range of self masturbatory delusions in the guise of sensitivity and self awareness. It’s really sad considering that Indie Rockers were supposed to be the children of late 70’s Nowave Art punk and the British Indie Scene of the 80’s.
“Indie rock has become the Folk Art of BOBO’s and suburbanite trash.”
This is not to say that there aren’t some brilliant musicians out there doing good work. It’s just that well, most of them have been commodified , have given up, or are the voice which is echoed by 1,000’s of others. As good as it started out, it feels like 10 years ago someone made stick figure painting that sold for a million dollars and now we have become culturally overrun with oversimplified art. Indie rock has become the folk art for BOBO’s and suburbanite trash. That once sweet sad little bird is finally out its cage, (or in this case owl or whatever antlered beast is popular at the moment ) only it won’t leave the safety of the house , it’s shitting everywhere, chirping non stop and annoying the fuck out of us all.
I should make clear to you that I am a firm believer in social art and the theatre of Brecht who once said: “Art is not a mirror in which to reflect reality, but a hammer in which to shape it.” I don’t need to go to shows to pass the time, or to lull me to sleep I need something to that, as Nick Cave once said about why his early works were so heavy handed (and brilliant) : ” Points a damning finger …”.
The Smiths on the hypocrisy of murdering animals for food
Indie music used to have soul that expressed concern about the problems of society. Its aim was to call into question the hypocrisy of a damned society, and it did so in a manner more digestible and at a slightly lower bpm than punk. It sought to give the misplaced youth a voice for change. It addressed the severe isolation and loneliness of a pre-internet world where there was still nowhere to go and nothing to do. Nowave had been around for awhile but like a bishop charged with hearing the confession of priests, it mostly maintained the status of being music for musicians. We were all starving for a new society, a place where people could be who they were without compromise, without fear. Most importantly we wanted to be able to live without having to work for the growing mega corporations that sucked the lives from our parents.
The late 90’s were quite promising as more people were coming over to the side of revolt, taking a stand against globalization and turning once and for all away from the coked-out lifestyle of the materialistic trash -pop filled 80’s and the one hit wonders of the early 90’s. Or at least that’s how it seemed.
OH look, here is Johny Rotten talking about TORTURE IN SOUTH AFRICA and actually writing songs about it…
Since the early years of the MTV generation the world has changed in indescribable ways. To say that it is a whole new world is a severe understatement but now that it’s here people are still whining and not really doing anything other than capitalizing on it. For the first time the means of production are in the hands of just about everyone but what gets done? Not much. Throughout the past century, the later half anyway, the youth movements which actually fought for change were fueled by musicians and artists who took a stand, not for the fame, but because it was the right thing to do. This had changed slightly to the art punk movements of Nowave in the 70’s and 80’s who instead of preaching turned their instruments into weapons aimed squarely at plastic culture.
Now we are at the end of the decade of a new century and where are those fighting against those that wish to turn us all into a credit card numbers with easily traceable spending habits. Seriously what the hell is going on? Why are their so many musicians that just don’t give a shit about anything other than making a living. There are still some fighters in the punk and metal world where people have a tendency to want to rip out the foundation from this broken house we call civil society. But something happened in the late 90’s , just when everyone started to get connected people started to get soft. Suddenly everyone could start to see what everyone else was doing, and it created a cascading copycat effect that began homogenizing large sections of society simultaneously.
In retrospect it seems that the birth of internet tricked an entire generation into trying to become indy rockers, which would be fine if Indy stood for individuality instead of NOT ON A MAJOR LABEL. As a result of being forced to digest millions of hopes and dreams it appears that the gods of fortune vomited back only a few varieties of rock music which as a result has led most contemporary musicians to become so indistinguishable from one another that just about every band that takes the stage does so with the same predictability as a can of cranberry sauce sliding out of its aluminum shell onto a bland white plate . Out of the hundreds of bands that fall somewhere between mediocre success to full on stardom I’ve noticed only 3 different varieties.
1 ) The whiny longings of middle class suburban white males who croon endlessly about inconsequential mistakes , fabricated stories of lost love and other miserably boring tragedies.
2) Jaded pseudo feminists struggling in a world of men to make in on their own, only to do so by playing up their stilted sexuality while foisting upon impressionable young women the most contrived and self involved lyrics that teaches them that it’s basically ok to suffer in silence if you can cut an album on it after the fact.
3) Absolutely vapid kitch pop, that while being funny and “ironic” fails to capture any aspects of contemporary society. It’s only purpose seems to be to perpetuate the self centered and unmotivated core of American Youth.
The only actual irony is that 90% of the them sound and dress exactly alike, right down to the haircuts, ironic tattoos, and preference of beer, So I ask, what is so indie about being a cog is a culture machine. I am not kidding, at some point last year I was listening to this artist on Pandora that was playing at the local bar and after ten minutes I realized i wasn’t listening to them anymore, nor had I been for three songs, however I could not tell there had been a transition as every band sounded the same. I tried again this time with a semi well known female soloist. Same results, after her ten other women sounding exactly the same. When did conformity get cool? I guess the same time it became cool to be a capitalist. And by capitalist I mean someone who sacrifices their ethics for the wonderful convenience
I am not a fan of corporate art, and sadly, these days fashion is corporate art, as a result whether they realize it or not, just about every hipster I have met has become a casualty in the war on individualism. For the record, it’s hard to maintain you are an informed, contemporary connoisseur of taste if your existence relies solely on the support of industries that enslave children.
The irony thing is funny, but the joke is on them whether they realize it or not. Also for the record the whole infinite boredom and thinly veiled self loathing is no excuse for apathy. Back in the day Hipsters were the ones that got shit done, they fought for change, they didn’t download the fucking app. The name implies one who is in the know, it does not mean someone that shops at Urban Outfitters and knows all the latest releases by BLAH BLAH WHO THE FUCK CARES. Though it might seem contrary to trends in social networking it is not cool to go through life thinking that being part of herd is the same thing as being in a community.
Pay close attention and you will see that even though it might be somewhat enjoyable, hipsters make no great art, and all the bullshit their temporary society creates is lifted from other generations. What originality they do posses is the amazing ability to produce what I refer to as “music to forget by”, this means, music that will make you forget you are a drone in a corporate machine that does not care about you, that you have lost all connection to the earth from which you came, that your apathy has allowed for the expansion of a corporate power into government where it now frequently writes bills for politicians to sign and has been given person hood by the supreme court, oh and whom can now spend unlimited funds in political campaigns. Wow, I sure am glad I spent all last night at the bar listening to that awesome band from Canada instead of paying attention to what the fuck was going on in politics.
The destruction of artistic freedom is an inevitability when self centered, vapid brats get passed off as artists instead of what they actually are, marketers for a bankrupt lifestyle of distraction and apathy. Face it, the fucking indie scene is about as independent as your local Mcfuckburger, which will soon be running for office.
What does t hat have to do with anything. Well. Simply put, every society has it’s Avant Guard. It’s usually hated by the masses, misunderstood, persecuted, ignored, avoided and feared. It’s kind of like growing up, you don’t like what is good for you because you are not used to it. Evolution has ingrained in us the fear of THE OTHER as a survival mechanism. While initially an effective tool as it prevented us from trying to ass fuck a saber-tooth tiger, now that same fear has caused just about every problem in society from Nationalism gone wrong (Nazi’s), religious idiocy (my god is better, so i will kill you) and most frequently perpetuation of the herd mentality. It’s the later that has killed 90% of the music industry.
Part II- The importance of Improv and NOISE NOW!
In a world of homogenization where plastic icons are crapped out by media empires on a daily basis, where we have to get our news from comedians while our reporters drown themselves in the rancid milk suckled from the cancer ridden breasts of industry, it’s in these Noise and improv artists that we find the last line of defense against a culture gone completely insane.
Improv Session Featuring Ladonna Smith, Steven McGlurg, and Tatsuya Nakatani live at Greencup
These musical shamans embody the true spirit of music by allowing themselves to disappear into what they create. And unlike Indy rockers they don’t do it by quietly weeping over a slow acoustic number they wrote about their girlfriend that overdosed on heroin, when in fact, it was actually some one else’s girlfriend, but hey, it’s ok to steal to make art.
You can’t define noise, which makes it damn near incorruptible . It’s almost impossible to really sum up what noise is about, as allot of times equipment is built by the artists to fit their expressive desires. Everything is fair game and with a childlike sense of wonder coupled often with advanced technical knowledge of electronics there is no limit to the way in which sound can be created and manipulated. Some of its grainy, ear bleedingly loud, and some of it’s drony with a strong enough rhythm to hypnotize you or force. No matter what you call it, love it or hate it, if you have any ounce of humanity inside you (along with some good old fashioned drugs) you have to appreciate the sheer ingenuity of the artists. Unlike indy music Noise does not seek to lull you into slumber while is pushes you gently to the slaughter house. It instead will awaken a sense of wonder as you realize that harmonic dissonance is just as enjoyable. Music is music because it effects our brain a certain way, and the problem with standard rock, tones and chords and notes that have been played and played and played- it all sounds the same because deep down it is… “Indy” musicians know how to play sad, they know how to play sappy, they know how to play poppy and upbeat, they know how to play safe. And as long as they do, you can bet on one thing. like it or not, they aren’t connecting with you, they are manipulating you to feel for their benefit. Oooh, its magical.. no it’s not. It’s a sideshow, and you are the freak only you are paying to be laughed at.
Dissonance is not like that, often times tones and beats of this magnitude have until this point NEVER in the history of mankind been accessible. Couple this with the fact that most instrumentation is hand made and tuned according to whatever whims of the artists and you have something that can never be replicated by anyone else. Well, that’s not entirely true, some people can get some basic equipment and if no one puts effort into it, then POOF you have canned noise, but in years of shows I have only seen this within one small subset.