Monday, August 4, 2008

Pop Music Will Eat You Alive

So I am currently in the process of downloading some completely improvised duets that a teacher of mine from college, Peter Breslin, did in Santa Fe last year. I’m really excited to listen to them (I will write about them as a “record” in this week’s record report, I think). I am also hoping to catch his radio show sometime soon, that is broadcast between 2-4 on Thursday afternoons Central time.

Why all this sudden interest in the avant-garde? Well, the truth is that it’s not sudden at all. It’s been there for years, since college. Some years it has lain completely dormant; as I awaken to the possibility of doing music full time, I also re-awaken to the possibilities of MUSIC. There are many, and I ignore most of them most of the time, shamefully. Weird Files has been an attempt to acknowledge the world outside “pop” music, or “rock & roll”, or whatever you want to call it. At the very least, it acknowledges the fringe of rock, where these so-called “avant-garde” tendencies and ideas creep in. Of course, the response in Oklahoma has been negligible, if that. Weird Files is a project that I don’t even know if I’m happy with, currently. The practicality of putting together the proper live ensembles to perform the pieces as written is nil, so I’m stuck doing this one-man-band, laptop thing, and at that point the parameters start to become unclear. Where is the line between performance of a piece of music and just spinning a recording of it? Where is the line between DJ and musician? When is a DJ a musician and when is he/she not? These are all lines that get blurrier and blurrier as time goes on. Check out the article on Diplo in the latest Paste magazine if you have any doubts.

So, yes, pop music WILL eat you alive. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the “pop” music world and ignore much of the rest, for good and bad reasons. The good reason is that there IS challenging music within the “rock” world (Trans Am, Sonic Youth, The Residents are just a few examples of ones I’ve been listening to lately…I’ll be writing about all of them here soon), the bad reason is that there are so many people doing amazing things out there on a small scale that are worth paying attention to, and those things are not marketed through many of the same channels as rock, and so if you’re only going to certain sources for your information on things, you miss out.

P.S. Yeah, I know. This entry isn't so much about records or mixtapes. Oh well. Music is music. That's what we're talking about here.


Mixtape Jones said...

I should tell you that HIS (my teacher's) blog is, and that his radio show is called Inside Out, and streams on

Rodney said...

Not being a musician myself, I have the luxury of not having any reason at all to separate pop and avant garde. I'll listen to, say, Crumb or Webern right next to Francoise Hardy or Pulp.

I have a friend, Allison, who's fun to make mixtapes for because she likes for it to go pop song, noise, pop song, noise. And I love that dichotomy.

I really feel sorry for the people who can't "hear" the music in late Coltrane and stuff like that. They're missing out on the transcendent possibilities of music.

There's a great quote by Steve Albini (I'm too lazy to track it down and quote it directly) that goes something like 'I like Bill Monroe and Black Flag and Duane Eddy and Einsturzende Neubauten...' (and so forth for about forty bands) '...and if you don't then Fuck You."