Monday, March 29, 2010

What's Wrong with Thinking?

I'm a bit annoyed with the state of popular music. I'm not alone. There are more discussions about poor music than good music these days. No one with at least an average i.q. listens to the radio, music television is dead and the major rock n' publications may as well be, as they simply sell music that exists only to sell something else. This is not meant to address those who listen to music they were introduced to through a car commercial, reality television program or major motion picture soundtrack. This is adressed to those with delicate sensibilities and intelligence.

I DJ twice a week in a small bar. There's no dancefloor, though, on occasion a few heavily intoxicated folks think there is and stumble around to the sound of a Talking Heads track that I've played under duress. I've dealt with this for a long time and frankly, I'm very frustrated and over it.

I always enjoy going to metropolitan areas and coming across dj lounges. Chicago has a plethora of these, Danny's, Rainbo Room, etc. These bars cater to throngs of people who enjoy thought-provoking and cerebral music that doesn't necessarily require booty-shaking at 140bpm while doing three car bombs at a time to qualify as appealing. These "thinking" venues generally have vibe I emulate with my djing and the response is interesting.

Most people do not like my djing. Although most of the tracks I play hit the popular music charts at one time and are archetypal tracks in certain subcultures, they may not be staples in the hipster dialectic or may not be mindless uber-eighties cuts. Many tracks are in a minor key, have slower tempos and might not invoke the false happiness that accompanies three chord anthems about getting as drunk as possible and escaping reality. I've never really been into much of that music. For me, the likes of Joy Division, The Cure, My Bloody Valentine, Spiritualized, Bauhaus, CAN, Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth, Swans, Cocteau Twins and Slowdive can be club anthems. Not because these are dark, somber or melancholy but because having a good time doesn't necessitate "forgetting it all" or escaping reality. I enjoy contemplation and introspection in music. I actually take issue with music that doesn't invoke those feelings.

At the risk of heresy, I don't even need a beat. I can get down to Drone. It was refreshing to attend Big Ears last weekend. I sat on the floor with my eyes closed, listening to William Basinski's brilliant soundscapes. Looking up and realizing that most others were doing the same put a smile on my face. In contrast, I can go to a dance club for intelligent Minimal Techno and simply nod my head to the beat. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not bashing anyone's tastes. Periodically, I enjoy some silly Garage Rock or Indie Rock too, but it never leaves me feeling satisfied. I feel as if it is time wasted because there is no emotional content or connection to the world around me.

I consider myself lucky to have a core group of people in my life that share this opinion. I only wish it was more popular. I have no desire to be elitist or keep music to myself and a snobby handful of people. I despise the fact that I buy wonderful records that I want to play in public but don't because I assume they will add to my pre-existing repertoire of songs that the masses don't understand when they hear them. I long for an environment of open-minded ears. I want to expose people to music they are not necessarily familiar with. I want to share everything.

I ask you, what's wrong with thinking?