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Black Sheep @ the Bristol Festival
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Hunter T Wolfe
Hunter T Wolfe
1591 posts

Re: Black Sheep @ the Bristol Festival
Sep 23, 2009, 12:27
The thing is, this debate has being going on forever, but what people class as 'noise' and 'music' changes all the time, and I think very few people would class what they listen to as 'just noise,' even if to the sceptical critic it might seem that way.

Everything from Elvis and Little Richard to The Beatles and The Stones to The Sex Pistols to LFO to Girls Aloud has been dismissed as 'just noise' by people who genuinely couldn't find any redeeming musical or melodic value to it. People famously rioted at the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring because of its supposedly primitive and atonal qualities. No doubt critics at the time thought that people who liked it were just pretending to do so in order to look cool.

I'm not saying that the Emperor's New Clothes syndrome doesn't exist; I'm sure there are people who force themselves to enjoy something just because they think they should. I'm sure I've done the same thing on occasion, and not just with stuff that seems an atonal, arrhythmic bloody racket- the same can be said for listening to pop music that you secretly suspect is saccharine, predictable and bland as owt, but your mate whose opinion you usually respect is telling you its a work of genius if given a chance.

And sometimes this perseverance can pay off- you may find yourself loving a piece of music that normally you wouldn't have given the time of day to, and eventually through repeated listens you find it's something extremely rewarding and spiritually nourishing. That's my definition of 'challenging' music- not something that you have to force yourself to enjoy each time, but something that, though initially daunting, does eventually reveal depths and qualities that enrich your soul. If it doesn't, then don't bother.

I'd consider myself a pop kid first and foremost, and I think that melodic, structured, well-crafted songwriting can be the best thing ever. Sometimes it can be a boring load of toss, though. And I often find myself enjoying unstructured, noisy improvised music, especially live- in fact, it usually has to be live, when sometimes, through the chaos, the musicians hit on something magical and unique that's worth sticking around through the rubbish bits for. But you do have to be open to it- and all I mean by that is that you listen optimistically, not defensively thinking 'these people are just taking the piss, well I'm not gonna be fooled.'

Finally, noise and atonality can be the spice that lifts melody up to a new level. You cited Psychocandy, which is a great example. I'd also mention certain records by Sonic Youth, John Coltrane, the Velvet Underground, even Neil Young. Hell, that's kind of what seperates rock music from Pat Boone and Fabian isn't it- a bit of noise and energy and punkness to give the tunes some edge. It's up to each individual's taste how far they want to go, though!
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