May 22, 2010

I’ve talked before about the Rock mystique, or the myth of the rock star.

It’s an old story by now : with Twitter and vlogs describing the minutae of your favourite artists, where is the mystique, the awesome “otherness” that surrounded visionaries like Page and Morrison?

Watching The Fiery Furnaces at ATP last weekend, it confirmed to me just how false, and ridiculous, the idea of “mystique” is.

Mystique is manifest not in the artist but in the music and the way it’s presented.

It’s created in the feeling of “why are they doing THAT?” “how are they making that sound?” and most universally “how are they making me FEEL that way?”

Bottom line: Forget about the image. Make amazing music, dangerous music, nonsensical music. The music will take care of the mystique.


Some thoughts on “Slow Music”

May 6, 2010

The slow food movement has been around for years – stressing an appreciation of local produce, hand-preparation and eschewing food that’s been processed.

By “slow music”, I’m emphasising not so much the locally produced aspect (which I’ve always felt is highly valuable but a lenghty discussion of that value is for another post). Rather, I want to emphasize the idea of taking time to appreciate music – to really let it blossom.

I recently realized, to my disappointment, that there’d been far to many albums in the past 5 years that I’ve loved – and only listened to once or twice. One of the clearest examples being the excellent Portishead “Third”, an album that clearly deserves my time – but has, up to this point, not been given it.

Why this lack of attention? Because searching, discovering and sharing music has usurped truly *falling in love* with music. In my hurry to find the next great album, and the wave of music blogs, stores and “filters” doing the same thing, I’ve begun to notice that I’m missing something.

Recent online music startup mFlow has the tagline “Because discovery is the greatest thrill in music” – all well and good, but dead wrong. *Music* is the greatest thrill in music.

For me, there’s a hole where the love affairs should be; where in the past I gave my whole summer to “Kid A”, or my time in a new city to Aimee Mann, now there’s just a blur of albums and songs, the gems of which have been washed away among the tidal wave of new music coming at me every day.

So, there’s something wrong – what’s the solution? Well, if Clay Shirky is to be believed, there’s no “information overload” just a “filter failure”.

If that’s the case, I’d love an iPhone/iTunes app that is basically Instapaper for albums. When a record really REALLY moves me, I just mark it “Listen again later” – it’s stored in a special folder (a VERY special folder, as this won’t be for just ANY album). That way it doesn’t get lost in the deluge. I understand this can be done with a combo of smart playlists etc, but it needs to be as intuitive as Instapaper to really hit home so I can listen and relisten at my leisure.

I’d love to hear if you’ve experienced something similar, whether you think there’s a need to think about slow music, or how you’ve moved toward “slow music” habits already.

Props to the excellent Juggernaut Brew blog & the ever wonderful @ianmcnulty & @thoughtwax for inspiring this post.