Archive for September, 2002

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I’ve been rotten at keeping up with this Taxonomy, which is a shame. It�s critically important that people have other recourses for sharing information about music outside of the major channels. Just the other day my brilliant friend Dorothy read a nasty review of a musician-friend of hers in one of the blessed “alternative” journals. As the once-owner of a record label and a person with very specific tastes I tend to forgive those journals that write off music that I love hoping that I will get a pass myself. That said, it makes me furious to see weak criticism from literary sources that see themselves outside culture while at the same time embracing and reinforcing the homogenous checklists, name checks, normative values and normative aesthetics they pretend to dispise.

Dorothy turned her eye on this practice�her essay is below.

It is clear to me that in the current age this adage that �all press is good press� no longer holds true. Independents compete with an entire circulation stream, concept of genre, music and sound, which may seem diverse to the conservative, ideological and capitalist, but is utterly conditioned and circumscribed by major label profit making forces. Sound marches forward, harnessed, controlled, militant. The protagonists of love songs fornicate while the bombs go off and people are killed and sick in some other neighborhood that doesn�t get any airplay.

Can you see how these forms replicate? Not one thing is cut off from the others, even if it would like to sip its wine peacefully. The point about censorship has been made over and again, but dulled against the rough conditions it produces even as it ignores them. The issue of the censor cannot be fully discussed � especially not in this environment.

The national language of American was always owned and always came with mandates: (Thou shalt not think too much! � especially if you are a woman) And the moment that �you are either with us or against us� came into being, polarity, tautology and simplicity shone forth like an impossible sword, the shape into which even the oxygen seemed to gather. Meanwhile the necessary thoughts were relegated to the even deeper reaches of paranoid and dis-allowed knowing. Creators could not create. And who is not a creator when thinking?

There is no such thing as a merely aesthetic organization. To make such a claim is to echo the neo-liberal lie, and to avoid taking responsibility for the constant situation of unmitigated violence that flows from north to south and west to east, a bulldozer masquerading as a natural disaster. These are not mere incidents, isolated among the isolated: taste, cop, mis-hap stare at each other like foreign objects.

I look at his review and ask myself why a composer should have to be happy, normal or Christian? Why should a guitar player have to be physically well? Does anyone know about the guitar player with ms or the bass player who could not afford to eat? Does anyone really believe the musicians enjoy being bone thin and exhausted? When you imagine us, are we young, fertile, embodied and stupid?

I have asked myself why I am having this conversation and not talking just about the palpable effects of the US�s economic and military invasions. My answer is that I am always talking about that empire; there is no other conversation. There is a choreography of oxygen, water, sound waves of standard songs, acceptable clothing and sexuality that push the structures forward. There is no innocent aesthetic.

16 September 2002

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