Someone wise once said something to the effect that 90 percent of x was shit, but that 10 percent was pure gold – and that if you wanted the gold you had to wade through the shit. The goal with that saying isn’t to solve for x, since x could be anything from literature, to music, to practically any human product or creation, but rather to recognize that much of what humanity produces is somewhat throwaway stuff — fluff, dreck, filler, spam, and for the most part nothing new. Stuff that comes on the scene, seems valid and valuable for the moment, and then passes on forgotten by most forever.
What comes to my mind when I think of that forgotten stuff is the record vault at the old Cabaret Club in Fairbanks Alaska, and not far from there, KFAR radio. The Cabaret where I DJ’ed a short while is long gone, and KFAR, where friends and relatives DJ’ed, has since changed from a music station to a wingnut talk radio muckpit. (Hannity and Beck shows featured…)
In those vaults were tons of vinyl LP’s – each with lots of songs on them, some even had a hit song or two on them. The great bulk of them were promotional and free, or arrived via a cheap subscription to chart services. Most of the tracks on most of those LP’s are long forgotten, never having risen to the level of transcending a week on the charts, much less a month or year. Much of the music was wholly derivative, repetitive and sub-sub-sub superlative…
That throwaway junk would be the shit, (and not the “good” shit…) and the few songs from that mountain of old vinyl still being purchased on occasion at Apple and Amazon would represent the gold. If you are someone like me, who has DJ’ed and spent most of their waking lives listening to a wide variety of music then a strange thing happens. The gold, or popular stuff that lasts, sometimes converts through some weird alchemical brain process from gold to shit because you’ve heard it wayyyy too much. Some songs you listen to past their shelf life because they’ve worn a groove or pattern in your psyche, or they bring back memories, or because it’s what’s on, but some gold goes beyond, some transmutes into a rarer element still.
It’s a real rare song or tune that can hold up over the years and survive the excessive listening gate (why I don’t listen to most of the Beatles, the Stones, The Who, the Doors anymore.)
So when you get to that state — you realize that you aren’t just mining for gold, you are looking for that rarest thing in human endeavors – something that’s good, and something that’s still spring fresh no matter how many times you hear it, something that’s great and that lasts forever — beyond the gold. You’re looking for art that transcends time, stuff that wins out not because it fits a pattern for a particular time or because it’s a novelty item, but because someone a hundred years from now could hear it or see it and love it beyond all time too.
But to get there you still have to give everything a chance, and so you listen to things awhile and you keep an open ear, some stuff you like and some you throw away. So you have to listen to the pop, wade through that stuff … Some stays on, some falls away. It always helps however if someone tells you what they’ve found, and what they think, especially if it’s unsolicited and not paid for, especially if it’s not their job. That’s how you wade through the shit and how you get by life’s hucksters packaging shit and telling you it’s gold. You have to get recommendations from friends and others you trust to wade through life…
That said then, here’s what’s tracking with me this week — will it survive? Who knows, but it’s caught my attention:
Nightwish, a Finnish band that came on the scene internationally at Eurovision a few years back — they are symphonic metal with goth influences – think Abba Meets Rush and Transiberian Orchestra in Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Blender…
Grouplove: This is really from last year, but I just found it so it’s new to me, they seem to effortlessly mix folk, pop, it electronica, into that weird infectious blend that signifies “today’s indie-alt”