1.22.2009

RA Critics Discuss 2008 Part Two

Well, as Simon states, I am only interested in the "abstract contours" here, and the second set of emails (which were published hours after the first, and on the same page) begins the process of shying away from them. So I don't have much to add to what I have previously posted.

Peter and Phil add some helpful specifics on the sound of music in 2008, and I am looking forward to checking out the records they mention. Since Simon is reading, I should mention to him, and to everyone else, that, as discussed in the exchange in question, the terminology has really failed the music. Sure, there are some records which bite to heavily on Theo Parrish's style, but the interesting story to me was the "slice of deep" that used house as a way of undoing the introversion that had plagued the minimal sound. Rather than being anti-minimal, although the producers may have thought they were, these records modified the minimal sound palette to bring a new sense of openness and communication back to the music. The ketamine aspect of the music, the sound of lying around in your own world, was replaced with a new ecstasy-like sense of unity. The idea that all of this music shies away from innovation is one borne of the language used to discuss the music, not the music itself. So Simon, everyone, try listening!

I really do appreciate Ronan's attempt to keep the more abstract aspect of the debate going. I also appreciate his call for deeper analysis into issues of the production and dissemination of the music (ie the industry). 

Lastly, under a picture of Diplo, someone commented that "Diplo's distaste for minimal techno made much more sense in 2008." Really?

Here is a story about Diplo. A friend of mine, who is not, in any way part of any critical discourse on music, and who grew up listening to pop and r&b, whose perspective is "authentic" within the context of this discussion, even if I still maintain there is no such thing as authenticity in general, recently got turned on to the whole Diplo/M.I.A./Santogold/Baltimore House axis. He went to go see Diplo play, and reported on the night. Not knowing the anything about hipsters, he mentioned the silly, superficial conformity of the people he encountered, and stated that Diplo was mostly playing early 90s house hits. He couldn't understand what the big deal was, why Diplo had such huge popularity from playing records like "I Like To Move It". He likened the experience, the playlist, to dances he went to in High School, and all of the easy, safe musical choices that that entails. He asked me, without any prompting, whether the underground was dead. Can we really say, based on the records of 2008, that techno and house was so bad, so uncreative, that we would rather be one of the people paying "£20 To Get In" to hear only the most crowd-pleasing classics thrown back in our faces "ironically"?

2 comments:

shuja x said...

"The idea that all of this music shies away from innovation is one borne of the language used to discuss the music, not the music itself. So Simon, everyone, try listening!"

right on. the couch (and the accompanying spliff, as philip put it) is one essential site of listening behavior, but allowing it to dominate puts us in danger of living up to the stereotype of the out-of-touch critic, of reducing critique to autobiography.

:-p said...

Thanks. Sorry to call out Simon on this one but even given his general tastes towards the more extreme, the hardcore continuum, etc., it really is a case of the rhetoric getting in the way right now. All of this talk of "deep", etc. obfuscates the weird, big-room qualities of some of these "deep" tracks.