my brother from another mother j-temperence has done some superb work exposing the concept of "musical exhaustion" for the intellectually lazy bullshit that it is. i generally try not to cover the same ground that he has, but this column is too perfect.
it's one thing when someone complains about an album being too damn difficult to listen to ("sitting there doing nothing as music came from the speakers was just so TIRING"). it's entirely another when a critic pats himself on the back for mustering the strength to put up with it.
mark richardson talks about a lot in this article. he talks about hearing trout mask replica for the first time and not liking it (this is kind of a giveaway). he says, "at first, the music in my mind sounded so much better than the reality." wow --- the music in your mind, huh? better than trout mask replica, huh?
"difficult records serve as barometers [a tool for measuring air pressure], showing the limits of your current taste and understanding: here's where music gets too noisy; here is where it gets too atonal; this is that place where i don't know what the hell is going on." first, i'd like to quickly note that music can't be atonal in degrees. either you have a tonal center, or you don't -- there is no space between those categories. this is something most critics don't know. second, i'd like to slowly note that the way he conceives of taste is revealing.
critics never complain about music being too easy. such a thought would force them to revisit almost every assumption they have about rock music. if someone were to point out that vampire weekend's new album is really really boring because the band doesn't take any chances, then you'd have to start asking yourself who else doesn't take any chances (interpol, lcd soundsystem, sufjan stevens, black kids, black kids, black kids). NOT experimenting never raises any of these intellectual concerns. the "boundaries" that come up are always defined by the things that are too "noisy", or too "atonal" (i.e. "too fucking hard!!!"). the fundamental assumption is: everyone likes a good pop song, but nobody likes a nerd.
"when i was a teenager i read in some guide that john coltrane's a love supreme was one of the great jazz records. and when i first bought it, having been exposed only to coltrane's contributions to kind of blue and miles davis' records of prestige, a love supreme sounded atonal and nutty, like nothing i imagined music could be. this 'free jazz' is some bizarre shit, i thought to myself. which now sounds silly to those weaned on wolf eyes and deerhoof, and abrasive punk rock."
what. the. fuck. i'm having a hard time expressing my anger over this paragraph. a musician probably wouldn't make this mistake, would never think that wolf eyes makes coltrane's later works easier to listen to, by virtue of being more experimental. i'm of the opinion that many of the indie-tards who throng to noise shows in williamsburgh still wouldn't know how to handle ascension, out to lunch, or jazz advance. maybe the lack of digitized screeching would strike them as "boring" (nothing compared to wolf eyes). that's probably for the best. if they bothered to notice harmonies, the whole thing would become "too atonal".
and besides, ornette coleman was black which means he probably couldn't experiment as well as white people who've been to college and know how to make feedback.
FUCK! FUCK! FUCK YOU STUPID ASSHOLE PITCHFORK DOUCHEBAG!!!!!!!
that felt good.