As I write this I’m looking forward to an upcoming Damo Suzuki gig in Colchester. Suzuki spent around three years as vocalist with Can and was recorded with them on four legendary albums. Since 1973 he has been doing his own thing, much of it also involving making music, and much of it very interesting and creative by all accounts, but none of it quite as influential as the work he did with the Krautrock trailblazers. It’s hard to overstate the importance of those four albums, in terms of how great an influence they had on such a wide range of musicians, all over the world; although Suzuki’s global fame and star status can be gauged from the fact that he will be playing a mid-sized music pub when he comes to Colchester, in terms of his…
The more I write about different things, musical aesthetics, the music business, music industry politics, culture and all the rest of it, the less I feel like I’m writing about different things. It’s only when I take a step back that I can see how abstruse and theoretical some of the things I say about aesthetics, for example, must appear, because for me there is nothing less political about a topic like that than there is about any overtly social subject. Everything is political, everything is aesthetic, everything is emotional, everything is spiritual and everything is subject to fruitful theoretical examination …
My last Monday Musing was on the topic of music scenes; this time it’s on a closely related theme. Just as there are social networks of musical production and consumption (a confusing multitude of inter-related networks), so there are networks of cultural practice that contextualise our listening. It’s apparent to anyone who takes an interest that certain sounds are associated with particular demographics. Take a random sampling of ten people who listen primarily to new-folk, another ten who listen mainly to hip-hop, and another ten who mostly listen to post-hardcore, and as much as we might want to pretend that it’s all about …
There’s a music scene in your local town or borough. People obsessive or foolhardy enough to make the effort are inventing noises, and making them at other people. The chances are (particularly with small town scenes) that there’s a fair diversity of styles and genres involved, and you’ll probably find pub gigs where sludge metal bands share the bill with indie rock outfits, or punk bands with funk acts. This is the beauty of geographically specific scenes, because it’s always good, for musicians and audiences both, to make connections between musics: that’s where exciting new sounds come from.
On Saturday I went to RoastFest, a beautiful extravaganza of creative and utterly idiosyncratic music, all independent or unsigned, all uncompromisingly true to its various muses, and all performed for the sheer love of it (free entry to eight hours of music, including some acts who are pretty well known in their field). To see so much genuinely creative and original art on show in one place was more than a treat, it was moving; but it also struck me that I was seeing an accumulation of cultural capital to compare with anything mustered by a government funded national institution.
Two deaths loom large this week. The first is of a seminal figure in the history of the acoustic steel string guitar, folk innovator Bert Jansch. First coming to widespread attention as a part of folk/ jazz fusion pioneers Pentangle, his playing was influential on more than one generation of guitarists, starting with his contemporaries such as Jimmy Page. Here’s his obit in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/oct/05/bert-jansch and here’s one from The Quietus: http://thequietus.com/articles/07121-bert-jansch-obituary
Previously on Saturday Summary, Carmen is becoming suspicious of Raoul’s friendship with Anneka, while Jackson is paranoid that The Beast suspects him of involvement in Algernon’s disappearance… And also, I didn’t post any how-tos or regular bloggery, because I just got carried away with all the exciting Facebook news (yawn). So here’s a more balanced selection of links in the absence of any Major Events.
This week your intrepid investigative correspondent has conducted a great deal of painstaking and potentially dangerous research, to discover that the main story around the new music industries is the f8 Facebook conference. Frankly I find the whole thing rather tedious, as my personal interest is in the varied, individuated, customized and hackable, rather than the monolithic and conventional, but it’s moderately likely that the announcements have some real implications for people’s listening and sharing habits in the near to middling distance.
As far as I’m concerned, extending the copyright in sound recordings to seventy years is a depressingly retrograde step. The argument usually advanced is that royalties on recordings represent an important income source for aging session musicians who failed to make any provision for their old age. Well, I also have failed to make any provision for my old age, but when I’m old I won’t be asking anyone to carry on paying me for work I did in my 20s and 30s.
My thinking in various areas has been converging in recent months. For a while this weekly series of essays was alternating between pieces on the music industry, and pieces on music criticism: it’s getting steadily harder for me to maintain that distinction. For one thing, my valuations of music are not entirely independent of my position on various aspects of musical production: recordings that contain audible signs of artistic integrity tend to sound better to me than those that sound as though they were made with the market in mind.
A few scattered shots in the long range artillery duel over free music this week, but nothing dramatic. Lots of interesting articles though, on various topics. http://dj.dancecult.net/index.php/journal/article/view/81/134 This is a really interesting and in depth article on the role of militarist imagery in industrial music, but its observations are clearly applicable to other musics that utilise similar visuals. There’s often a deliberate conflict between the associations of imagery and the use to which it is put, but often it is a less aware appropriation, as made clear by the musician in this article who seems to think that saying he uses military uniforms because he finds them sexy is the end of the debate…
This week, Myspace gets humiliated again, and lots of people have thoughts about new models for the music business. http://blancomusic.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/whats-all-this-about-spotify-again/ An enlightening perspective from an independent label on Spotify’s business practices. While there is an undeniable parallel with radio, and presence on streaming services may be of real promotional value to some of the smaller players, unless you’re a major then the paid streaming model is essentially based on theft: someone other than the rights holder being the financial beneficiary of distribution.
This is my first separate weekly post of links and news: it’s number 14 because there were thirteen earlier posts that were joined on to my series of pompous essays (still known as Monday Musings).
I write this blog; I also write reviews for two excellent websites, the music magazine eBurban and very wonderful independent bands’ … More