07 February 2013

mister excitement!

so i spent a bunch of time today reading a bunch of posts i wrote here in 2007,  which was (incidentally; not coincidentally) this blog's most prolific year (61 entries).  [and also, i'm finding now, the last year i really wrote much at reminced, and all of this rediscovery is making it very hard for me to stop the past-poring and get on with actually writing this post.  but i'll try harder.]

pretty huge year for me re: my (musical) life of the mind – it was the year i submitted a paper proposal for the EMP pop conference (still reads like a pretty good abstract to me...i'd still like to get some of those questions answered!), which wasn't accepted, and then went to the conference (for the second time) and felt alternately inspired and discouraged about music-thinking-life.  it was also, later on, the year i started writing for AMG.

all interesting things to revisit at this moment, as i have just ended my tenure at AMG, and have also very recently re-started contemplating pursuing academic study of pop music...or, at the very least, attending EMP 2013, which is happening this time in a somewhat confusing, radically decentralized fashion – points for experimentation, i guess?

but mostly (to start off anyway) i was reading this series of interlinked posts on genre(s), centered around this one valentines mixcast/podpost [the musicplayer widget (which looked like a cassette tape) is no more – a lot can change on the internet in six years! – tho i still have the continuous-mixed mp3 it played...maybe i'll reup sometime if i figure out how to get more soundcloud space or equivalent...?] in which, among other things, i declared my newfound love of keith urban, thunk deep thinks about justin timberlake (hey, he's back too!  very guardedly curious about how this new project is gonna shape up, though maybe i oughtta have more faith), and theorized about reggae, and heck even managed a darn thoughtful essay about some academicky art-jazz.

(there's also one where i gushed a bit about my one-time semi-acquaintances panda riot, whom i've barely thought about since then, which prompted me to look them up...turns out they're alive and well, living in chicago, and putting out a new album (their second) in two weeks!!

(furthermore, i was reminded to discover that my old flame bertine zetlitz put out a new album last may; for which it is bizarrely much easier to find download links than album reviews.)

but mostly it reminded me how extremely exuberantly enthusiastic i was about music around that time...i was so so excited about Soul!  i was so so so excited about Teen-Pop!  and (vaguely bridging that gap, at least in theory) i was also excited, or interested, or at least really curious about Disco!  excited by these things and about them, but also actively engaged in thinking (and, evidently, writing) about them too.

and it felt like a pretty stark contrast to the way i'm feeling now.  i don't think i have any less interest in, or passion about, or love for music, generally, these days, but it sure does seem like a long time since i was so excited by so much of it (although, tbh, it hasn't been quite that long – 2010 was definitely a big year for excitement), and, more specifically, intellectually excited by it.

a couple ideas/theories about all this
1.  i can be pretty hyperbolic in my enthusiasm when writing about things i like – still true now, but even more so then – which might be distorting or overemphasizing the level of excitement i was actually feeling at the time.

2.  genuine excitement about music – or about anything – inevitably comes and goes in phases.  notwithstanding my standard contention that there is always good music out there being made (you just have to find it...), it's simply true that sometimes it is more readily evident than other times, and anyway it's probably just not possible (or healthy) to maintain a constant continuous level of dizzy enthusiasm about things.

3. the finding it is a tricky business...being someone who spends an inordinate amount of time keeping tabs on/reading about/tracking down new musicfor professional purposes, but also with a slight edge of completist anxiety about the possibility that i might miss something really good, there is always the very real possibility that i am trying too hard.  thinking too much about whether or not i like something rather than just liking it (or not), missing the forest for trees, not just letting things "find their way to me" "naturally"...

4. ...because the way we encounter and interact with music makes a big difference!  so much of my interfacing with new music is wrapped up in lists and other formal structures – release dates, publication deadlines, publicist correspondence, prioritization, itunes id tagging, ipod playlist maintenance, last.fm playcounts, ranking and re-ranking – basically all of it moderated through my computer (including my ongoing blog-sidebar tracking/sorting of new music – both physically and digitally – which tends to suck away any energy i would have for actual blogging)...it's, um, well, not really the greatest way to have music intersect with life.

4a. oh, yeah, and then there's the fact that i'm also trying to write about all of this stuff...i.e. more time, more mental energy, more distraction from the point, the enjoyment/experience of music qua music (even though these things certainly can and do coexist.)  probably not coincidentally, that fever pitch peak of 2006-2007 coincided exactly with the time after i stopped writing about music for publication (at stylus and dusted), and before i started again (for amg)

5. now, back in 2007 my musicking was plenty computer-based as well... but i had a much greater sense that i was harnessing (or at least, beginning to try to harness) the social power of the internet...participating in discussions/comment threads in at least a few small corners of the musosphere, or at least plausibly imagining that i was working toward that.  now i feel pretty divorced from "the conversation" even though in some ways i'm tracking it more closely than ever (and, at least allegedly, participating in it through my writing.)

5a. because, come to think of it now, the conversation i'm really focused on with tends to be the one involving publicists, release dates, tour schedules, critical consensus, year-end rankings, etc. etc. – the perpetual, businesslike push and pull between promotion/marketing and journalism/publishing – rather than actual ideas and feelings and love and excitement.  (and forget dancing!)

6. and, maybe even more to the point, it tends to be fairly solitary – as i mentioned, not much sense of online conversation/community, even, but also certainly with a limited IRL/social aspect.  there is some – some conversation here and there, some dancing now and again, and shared concert experiences for sure.  but i won't dwell on this here; i talk about it often enough...

7. tonight, however, i did manage to have some lengthy, in-depth conversations about music, with some new friends and neighbors...!!!!....like-minded music lovers (albeit with some strikingly not-alike tastes/perspectives, which should be interesting to explore) – about, among other things, not feeling excited about music.  alex posited that we're currently in something like a lull, a dull moment (in indie rock/pop/electronic/whatever), with too many artists making relatively safe choices and nobody really obviously shaking things up and pushing them forward.  or at least, doing so in a way that translates as exciting to us.  (which of course probably means that somebody is doing that right this moment, we just haven't heard about it yet.)

i don't know if i exactly think that's true or not...many of the artists he cited as having disappointing/safe outings last year (animal collective, beach house, grizzly bear) aren't necessarily artists i was that excited by in the first place.  it's always a tricky question.  (i will say that, as far as the last few years go, chicago footwork stands out as one area where new and unexpected things seem to be happening...)

*it doesn't, of course, need to be new music that is providing the source of excitement.  indeed, keeping constantly abreast of the newest of new developments has a way of making new music start to feel awfully stale.  and, anyway, older music – unexplored subgenres, unplumbed back-catalogs – often makes for more satisfying (and personal) discoveries and fascinations, and tends to lend itself more to thought

anyway, we decided that it was officially a goal for 2013 to find some music to get really excited about.  YEAH!  YEAH!!  that is the plan.  the plan!!!

what will it be?  who knows.  will i get excited about shoegaze, like i never have before?  (doubtful, but it does seem like a mini-moment right now, what with my blood valentine just having dropped their first album in 22 years – haven't really listened yet except through distracting dinner conversation, but i did listen to loveless twice today, and enjoyed it, more the first time though – and with panda riot, and bleeding rainbow, and this estonian band pia fraus, all of whom i guess count, all expressly on my radar this week.)  (i told my new friends that "loveless has never been an important album for me," and they thought that was "really weird.")

will i finally conduct a more proper, long-overdue investigation into the murky waters of vintage disco?  (i just copied david byrne's "old school club music" playlist, which i definitely need to hit up, as a place to start.  and i have some books to read on the subject too...)

will i figure out a way to interact with modern electronica, er i mean dance music, that feels at least vaguely like i'm actually experiencing/participating in a scene rather than struggling to keep up with something i read and think about all the time but still feel inadequately equipped to properly comprehend?

will i mosey my way back into out-jazz, alt-country, '60s vocal pop, scandinavian folk, cloud-rap, showtunes, ragga jungle, bossa nova??

hmmm...well, i'm excited to find out!

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