Sunday, August 29, 2010

An introspective rant

As many of you know, I tend to place a lot of emphasis on musical discovery. I strongly (note: strongly) feel that most of the Western world is caught up in a miserable black hole of repetition, fed constantly by a bloated and desperately flailing music industry in its death throes, and supported by a public who doesn't know any better. The conventions currently in place have been in place for a frighteningly long time, considering how fast the 90's and early 00's evolved styles even within the bounds of their creative depravity. Most music listeners in America have a single style they prefer, and most of them have only a handful of artists that they listen to on repeat.

As an avid music listener whose averages at ~20 tracks a day, I can honestly say i have never once used the repeat button. To me, listening to music is like exploring a verdant, untamed landscape, with new surprises and discoveries around every corner. To stay in one place and never move is a massive waste of enjoyment. I can't imagine how long ago I would have tired of music if I had never discovered progressive metal, or post-rock, or Toby Driver. For an album to be spun 10 times in the span of a year is a LOT for me, and is probably one of my favorites. I just don't have time to listen to anything more than that because I have eleven untouched albums to listen to.

Well, last week I attended my second Porcupine Tree concert in three months. It goes without saying that it was brilliant in every way, but that's not the point of this post. Steven Wilson & Co. taught me something last week. I have listened to all of my Porcupine Tree albums a great many times each. I know ever sound, most every word, and recognized each of the songs played live by the random electronic samples played at the beginning of all of them. Yet seeing them performed live, with such care given to detail and sound quality, made me realize that sometimes it's good to explore every aspect of an artist, or even of a song or album. Now this obviously requires music that can be explored in such detail, which can't be said about any artists currently in the top 40, but that goes without saying. Knowing a piece of music backwards, forwards, and inside out can sometimes add greatly to the enjoyment of said music. It's a special kind of enjoyment, different from the thrill of finding a new great artist. And it's one that I'm not really used to experiencing.

That being said, I would still argue that more people need to explore music rather than attain equilibrium with the music already owned. But everyone also needs those few special artists that have endless appeal, leave room for endless enjoyment, and offer the surreal live experience that Porcupine Tree does for me. Things like that are what make music what it is.

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