Sunday, 25 March 2012

I have out grown you . . .

So, with my own mortality thrust into my face, see my last post, I have been reflecting on how things move on. Whilst this is definitely true as we grow older and things like our taste in clothes changes, well hopefully, it is not true for a lot of people in their music tastes. A lot of people like what they liked at a certain stage in their life and that is it.

My explanation for this has always been that because a lot of people are only really interested in Pop music, they equate music to fashion, and as their interest in the latest fashions, not just clothes, starts to fade so does their interest in listening to new music. I do not think any of us are immune to this frankly. People still listen to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Cure, Nirvana etc etc.Whilst it is definitely true they were fashionable at one stage, people who aren't interested in that sort of stuff still go back to them because the music has become part of them in a sense to which they define themselves. I wonder if that is because at some point all of the the above mentioned bands were in fact anti-fashion?

But what happens when you no longer have that connection to the music? What about when you need to pick up and leave because the relationship you have has grown stale? Stale like those old couples you see having dinner and only staring at each other across the table in some sort of can't be bothered , not much in common, I think I may actually resent you, but I am not sure I have given it that much thought,  type of way . . .

Some Music

So that song and indeed the mighty Zep encapsulate the point to me. I really loved that song and that album when I was abut 19 to about 30. It was full of all kinds of rural and mystical imagery. But the thing is I have lived in the city, actually the large cities since then. Over time the connection with the countryside has gone and while it is nice to hear the song again, when it comes up on shuffle, I shuffle past. Why would this be? The song clearly hasn't changed, so using my incredible powers of deduction I have to make the leap to the fact that I have changed.

I think it has to be the simplest answer really. It is because the things in your day-to-day life change. You get bored with yesterday's information after a while and look to new things. This doesn't mean having to listen to the latest top 40 by the way, but finding different music with the same sound. For example when I played this song, now a global number 1, to some people who had never heard it, they described it as sounding like a song from the 60s or 70s. Is that why it is so popular? Because it is a new song with an old sound?

Despite the afore-mentioned incredible powers of deduction I do not think that I am particularly special when it comes to this sort of thing. A lot of men, well if you pay any attention to the media, there are no real men like our fathers anymore, so men, tend to listen to a lot of very angry music when they are younger. over time this tends to fade as the anger goes. I know a lot of people who were into more guitar based heavier music at one stage in their late teens, that would laugh at it now.

I hasten to add, this is not me. You don't listen to Slayer for one summer and then move on. Nor do Tool and Opeth leave the place under your skin where they burrowed.

But if I was to listen to NWA or even to Eninem now it can sound a little stereotypical in the way it portrays anger and aggression, it sounds a bit like a parody to be honest.

I am not trying to suggest that it was not a real and powerful message at the time. It was. But I didn't grow up in the ghettos of LA or Detroit and so I never really related to the actual content of the music. I related to the machismo and the anger of the sentiment. I am older now and perhaps do not feel the need to show how tough I am to the outer world.  It is interesting this, the whole, 'I am tough, look at me' idea that a lot of young men have at some time. Not all do, I completely appreciate this. But a lot do. It is called testosterone and it does its job . . .

Whatever, the point is we outgrow music. We leave it behind. It just no longer speaks to us in the way that it used to.

The good thing is we find other things to replace it. Which I will talk about in my next post.

What have you left behind?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Suicide is painless . . .

I do not know about you, but I had a crappy week. One of my friends from college decided that he didn't want to live anymore and killed himself. So I have had a week of fairly depressing and mixed up thoughts, along with a fair bit of reflection.

Mainly though the is a feeling of dis-belief. It is now an unfortunately all too real cliche that he was one of the last people I would have expected to do this. But he did, and now he is dead. I had not been in contact with him for a while and now I will not be able to be ever again. The finality of that is perhaps the thing that is hardest to deal with. Especially as he was living in a different country to me.

Music is something that I have always used to help me to perhaps magnify some of the moods or emotions that I am going through in order to explain them in a better way to myself.

I wrote in this piece here  that darkness is explored in a lot of music. In a piece of self indulgence I re-read that piece to see if it explained where I was. When I wrote it , I was trying to talk to a different friend who was going through a dark time. That piece however doesn't convey anything of what I am going through at this time. That is more about depression.

here is a song

Suicide is painless.

Except it isn't painless is it? In fact it is very far from fucking painless. Because in this case, his wife found him hanging from a bathroom extension being built. It wasn't very painless for her. It isn't painless for his parents. He was an only child. It certainly isn't painless for his friends.

It is a strange part of human nature, but when you know that an event is harder on other people than yourself, you do not feel it as strongly as you might. I am not sure if that conveys what I actually want to say here. In a longer form what I am saying is that because I know his wife, parents and closer friends are having a worse time than I am with this, I feel more for them than I do for myself. To a point, because self pity is also there. I am not a 'poor me' person I think, but there is some of that there.

Another song about suicide

So where am I? I am in a place listening to music, dark music , about people who are apparently are at the end. They say though that most suicide's are a very spur of the moment thing. This is why the people that are left to pick up the pieces are always so shocked. But there are signs and there are things to look for. I have no idea if there were in the case. Frankly , I am not sure it makes any difference. In fact I know it doesn't make any difference. Why analyse and search for things that only serve to enhance guilt? There is not point to that and I am not entertaining the idea that things could have been prevented.

No, I am a little angry. Angry at my friend. Angry because he didn't talk to someone about it. Didn't talk to me about it actually. It isn't about trying to influence things, as above, very difficult to do. No it is more that I would have hoped that this guy, an intelligent, highly educated, successful guy, would have had a reflex to realize that he needed to get help. One of my favourite sayings is that people who are mad have no idea that they are not reacting to their surroundings in the correct way. For example, you are currently sitting in a white padded room and not reading this. You only think you are because that is what your mind is telling you is going on. You have no real way of knowing this one way or the other. Am I saying he was crazy? Not crazy but certainly not reacting to his surroundings in a best for him way.

There is sorrow mixed into what I am feeling as well. Sorrow because I obviously didn't know him as well as I thought I did. I am surprised by his actions and that comes from the fact that I didn't expect them. So I didn't really understand him. That leads to a lot of questioning and there you start to look for explanation and perhaps this is not a healthy path to go down. What if there turns out to be a clear reason? He didn't leave a note btw. But if there is a reason then maybe . . and that way is a dark path which twists through things like blame and guilt. Not going there. Because it doesn't change anything.

So it has been little less than a week since I was told. Have to say that the person who told me has been doing it a lot tougher than me. Hours spent with the widow and also the family. Well done pal, you are a good person. Really mean that.

So where to from here? Well, as with all the other people who aren't contactable any more, I am trying to remember the good times shared. There were a lot. Like I said we were college buddies. We hung out a lot for four years. Four years of a lot of partying, fun and growth I guess. We hung out in various places around the world after college, partied there too. He taught me one thing that has always stayed with me. He only cared about what he called first circle of people around him thought. He told me many times that as long as those people were alright with him, he limited it to about 4 or 5, then he didn't care what anyone else thought. He really didn't and people outside of that circle, which I was perhaps in at one point, had difficulty with this.

I have always thought that it is a good way to live and carry yourself. Except that it isn't true anymore is it? Because those people, that small group. He has now hurt the most.

Strangely, I remember one night out above the others. the following song came on in the bar we used to go to every week. Seriously we would have been to this place 200+ times. This one night though, this song came on and he joined in singing the lyrics to the end last verse. I was surprised because although I knew he liked the band, I didn't realise this song had spoken to him. I asked him afterwards who he was singing about and he said that I knew.

I didn't , don't and I guess I will not now.

I am done with writing about this now. I thought it might help, might get things in my head in order. but I keep almost breaking down, and enough is enough.

I can' t comprehend it because it is not something I would actually ever do.

See you pal.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Endangered Seal sandwiches

I realise that recently I have been listening to a lot of music that is , well, difficult to listen to. It is harder to get into than perhaps your everyday run of the mill type of stuff. But then, even writing that reads back to me like a statement of the absolute bloody obvious.
If you have read many of the posts you would have realised that there is nothing particularly easy about much of my music taste. That is not to say that some of it is not easy on the ears. There are some truly beautiful songs out there. But I do find that even if the song is beautiful , the sentiment behind it is perhaps a little more complex.

I come back to this, Wouldn't It Be Nice by the Beach Boys

Lovely song. But it is about the song writer lusting after the his mate's wife. Not an easy topic. That is a simple illustration, but it gets much more difficult than that.

Take the excellent Ftanng

The music gets more complex when you start to explore Prog, Punk, Metal, and the various genres within that. Opeth, difficult, King Crimson, Dead Kennedys, Placebo, difficult difficult, Tool, well you get the idea.

As I said this is pretty obvious.

The question is why?

Now you could obviously very easily at this point jump into personal tastes and influences and well, take the easy path. But it is more difficult than that isn't it? It is not a pleasant stroll through a park on a sunny day. It is battling through a crowd in Tokyo at peak rush hour. It is the cold, it is the rain, it is the snow driving you back inside because it is so cold. . . . OK, well it might not be that dramatic.

The point I am labouring to get to is that whilst I am attracted to this music I am clearly not alone. Why clearly? Well someone made the music didn't they? It is out there for me to find. And you, you found it as well didn't you? Why, why did we even look for it?

Seriously, life would be easier, more pleasant if all you wanted out of music was Take That, or James Blunt or, I honestly am struggling, some other middle of the road, philosophy in a fortune cookie type of music. Life wouldn't be better . . let's make that very clear now. It would be a lot worse because you would only experience a narrow range of corporate fed emotions through the music. But, as they say, ignorance is a very nice place to be.

Personally, I have always held the following to be true:

the reason that things are complicated and that all art should also be  is because unless you take the time to understand the complexity you are just not trying to understand the whole, only a part of it.

The fulcrum to this point is that it is art. If it is not art then it is just some money-making organisation. Which puts the boy bands, the X factor artists and U2 into a very clear category really doesn't it?

Some music for you

I said in my last post that I had heard the quote from Geddy Lee in Rush, "we just wanted something that had some calories in it". I like that quote. It is a simplistic idea that it would be good to have some of the bad stuff. The stuff that isn't celery, or carrots. Have the six layer foie gras sandwich with a roast endangered seal. Not because it is more tasty (it really , really is) but because it may give you more than you thought it might when you put it into your system. Or you could have McDonald's . . .

Because if you do not pay attention to this sort of stuff you are missing out. It takes time and it is , well , difficult, but when you get there, and you understand a little bit of it, then you knew more than you did before. You have experienced a different emotion, even vicariously.

If I am honest I do not get why everyone doesn't want this. Why would you not want to use a very accessible medium such as music to help you to understand things more ?  It is funny, every now and again I ask my friends questions like that. I am always told the same thing. No it is just you.

But that isn't true is it . . because you are here now too . . . .aren't you?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Internal Soundscapes

I guess that my issue is I get a bit bored. I know I am not alone in this. However, I do get tired of listening to the same genre of music for any length of time. Almost every one of my 90 posts is about how the mood I am in affects what music I want to listen to, or how it can help to explain and define your mood. Sometimes it leads it, sometimes your mood leads you to the space where you can then pick what you want to listen to.

So where am I today? Well in fact this is where I have been for the last week or so.

Lost in the soundscapes of deep electronica, and the psych trance scene. I love this music , it is so multi-textured and complex. There is so much going on at any one time. It is very much the equivalent of the Prog scene for metal heads.

I think though that it is a little hard for people to get into because of a few things. It is sometimes hard to know where a song starts or ends for one thing. Unless you go to specialist radio stations through the web, it isn't music you really hear that much of. A lot of it is very underground and even when it was at its most global and popular it sat very much in the harder core of club culture. I think the other part of it that makes it inaccessible is that it is inaccessible. Sorry for the truism, but it isn't music that has a melody that you can sing along to, or is easy to simply pick up. You have to listen to it, let it wash over you in a way.

That said, some of it has made mainstream culture, such as this

So, most people do not know it because the music is complex and not easy to pick up and it comes from behind reasonably closed doors. There is also the fact that because it comes from the club scene it is assumed to have a fair bit to do with drugs. I think this is not an unfair assumption, but in the same way that all music at the cutting edge has something to do with drugs. Let's be honest, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson have both died recently from drugs related deaths , accidental I know, however, you get the point. Drugs are everywhere in music.

As you may have guessed from the nature of the music, the over riding drug for this scene tends to have been acid. In fact it is enshrined in this song by Hallocinogen.

However, as with all other music, just because it is associated with the scene, doesn't mean you miss out on any of it because you are not on the drugs. Who knows? Not me that is certain . . .

So that is why people may not have heard much of it. Why should they? Well, apart from the fact that it is multi-layered and complex. it is also very good. I listen to it a lot when I am in a reflective mood. this tends to happen when I am travelling and am forced to sit and be still. Something I am not great at. This music enables me to switch off a bit and go to another place. An interesting place that might not actually reflect the boring sky outside the plane window.

So where should you go? Where to actually start? Start with Hallocinogen and the album Twisted. Then go to Juno Reactor and then to Man with no Name. Come back tell me what you think.

As I said, this isn't easy music. But it is remarkably rewarding and once you get it, there are worlds that open up for you. Almost like doors.