It's all too easy to criticize what's wrong. Real curmudgeons attack what's right. Which brings me to my point: music today is too good. Maybe the Darwinian pressure of iTunes has reached the point where every single has to be a technicolor peacock in order to compete at all. Or low-cost digital recording has opened up environmental niches where small, high-metabolism genres can rapidly multiply.
In any case, I've had enough. I love the techno-baroque splendor of Rihanna's Disturbia (and techno-baroque splendor in general) but at the same time it makes me feel...tired. Or I read about a band, go to their myspace page and while I'm thinking "This is really good" I suddenly have no desire to listen further because I've already discovered five other really good bands this week. My music appreciation circuits have been in the red for so long now, all I hear is a dull roar of beauty.
My stick in the mud is longer than most (so to speak), so I have a little peevish nostalgia for the days when you bought an album knowing that you probably wouldn’t like most of the songs but you listened to them anyway because it was too hard to keep lifting the tonearm and you were forced by sheer laziness to develop both an appreciation for the emotional dynamics of song sequence and a more nuanced understanding of what music is for and what it is capable of.
But I like what’s happening now in music and blame myself, specifically my lack of taste, for getting sick on musical goodness. I’ve never had taste and it’s too late to start now. But I need something like taste, a filter that will reject most of what’s good in favor of something more interesting.
A few days ago, I read here about the Australian musical collective Tra La La Blip. (A lovely name.) The band members are mostly people with intellectual and physical disabilities but you wouldn’t know unless you were told. They sound like múm to me, another musical collective based in a distinctive culture that I know little about. Their songs are like messages from another world and that’s what I've grown to look for in music now. That is my substitute for taste. I’m interested in good music that sounds like it comes from a place I don’t know or once knew and forgot.
With Boards of Canada, I knew and forgot. It took me a while to remember the world they describe because I hadn’t been there in so long: the world of afterschool public tv in the 60’s and 70’s. I was going to take some samples from Sesame Street and give them a BoC makeover in Live, but I don't think it's necessary if you listen to this, this, this and this.