A Journal Of The Dark Arts
i recently came upon this article, at The Guardian, in which music journalist Alexis Petridis gives some tips on how to “write the perfect album review” and announces to the world that readers can add their own reviews to The Guardian’s archive of over 3 million albums.
This topic raises a question that is near and dear to our heart, here at Forestpunk: How do you raise awareness of older music, in a culture that is fixated on the newest and flashiest? Almost every major media vessel will not feature music older than 6 months old and honestly, if you are reviewing an album that has come out more than a month ago, yr reviews are likely to fall upon deaf ears. More and more and more, new art and media comes rushing like a mercurial tidal wave, with less and less incentive to offer insightful analysis of that which has come before.
When i was getting into the music scene, it was possible to scour the major music periodicals, follow the most cutting-edge labels and genres, and win popularity and influence over yr peers, for yr troubles. It was possible to be perceived as an ‘expert’ and to be revered for yr tastes. Nowadays, we have all heard so much music, have been over-saturated for such a long time, than a passionate explosion about Tortoise’s ‘Millions Now Living Will Never Die’ meets with a blase shrug and an uncomprehending glare. What was once a cute party trick is now a turd in the punchbowl.
In New Age circles, they speak of The Akashic Records, a “compendium of mystical knowledge supposedly encoded in a non-physical plane of existence”. Archives like the Guardian are quickly coming to resemble such a concept, than can be accessed via smartPhone and laptop, almost universally. Seeing as how you are not likely to impress women (or men) with yr musical acumen, nor are you likely to keep up with even one genre in which you are passionate, perhaps the time has come to stop the grinding wheels of progress for two seconds, and assess, with all the tools at our disposal, that which has come before.
One of the myths we’ll be looking at, in the coming months, is that ‘classic’ releases are more valid than the curious ephemera that saturates our mediaLife. While genres are new and being explored, there is a period of wildfire exploration and alchemical transmogrification, while artists struggle with the style and the new way of hearing in new and unpredictable experiments and combinations. Noise and drone music are two excellent examples of this, and mainstays like Matthew Bower or Justin Broadrick will tell you that their experiments were superior due to limited technology or available information, or because people actually bought their transmissions on plastic or wax. If a bedroom producer can drop a sound into PaulStretch and make an interesting granular drone record, its just as viable as a million tape-edits or a bank of expensive hardware. Its just easier, faster, and more accessible, which often means that there is less attention and care, but that is up to the producer. It is up to us, as listeners and critics, to examine every piece of culture with fresh ears, free from the illusion that we have been here before, heard it all before.
This goes against the law of diminishing returns, but can yield amazing results in our own musical appreciation, as well as in our own creations, if that’s yr bag. I plan on slinging some reviews over at The Guardian, and highly encourage everyone to do the same. Go back and re-visit yr favorite records; see if they hold up. Help spread the word about the music that you are passionate about. We are all critics now.
I’ve always had a curious, obsessive mind, and a collector’s bent. I love to imagine endless stacks of books, magazines, CDs, vinyl, and tape, that contain our collective artwork, our collective creations, like Lucien’s library in The Sandman. Remember when you used to listen to music out of sheer curiosity, or a hunger to hear and know it all? Before you were trying to earn a dollar or impress a scene with yr exquisite good taste? I’m calling for a return to that adventurous, scholarly pursuit. From rain-soaked receipts to War And Peace, no creation is too great or small, to say something about ourselves, the artists, the manufacturer. Its like modern-day archaelogy, which is about as close to a manifesto as Forestpunk can muster.
Feel free to post yr reviews, in the comments section, if there’s something you think we all should see. Good night and good luck.