Monday, September 05, 2005

What Type of Person You Are

Bad recordings are better. Not the stock answer to
music-listening you generally hear, but in many cases, it
can’t be denied: a poor recording is simply more evocative of
what the musician is trying to get across. This has everything
to do with the alt. country aesthetic.

Some find dirt roads more pure than expressways, and smalltime
record labels and low sales stand in defiance of record
industry conglomerates. At the same time, vinyl enthusiasts
speak of the warm, soft feel of their record player, as
opposed to the cold, crisp, and digital sound of a CD -- even
though it literally equals more crackles and muffled sound.

It depends on what type of person you are: if you prefer the
dirt road sensibility, you likely hold an affinity towards
your record player, and so on. Music is a profession of
aesthetics, but consesus has it that how you align yourself
within the musical world has strong implications about how you
interpret reality.

It makes no difference really. We tend to forget: reality
often has no place in the music realm. The alt. country
aesthetic -- perhaps more than any other genre of music -- is
simply not real. As David Berman of the Silver Jews put it,
“It’s really a fetishization of Depression-era country life.”
Taking alt. country too seriously is like reading too much
Kerouac: it’s helpful in shaping one’s sense of self but
nearly impossible to put to practical use.

Even so, music exists to evoke any number of things (eras and
styles of life withstanding), and with this in mind, you don’t
have to be taking a strong sociopolitical stance to admit that
poor recordings are sometimes able to get the job done better.

Take Jose Gonzalez, for example. (After all that talk about
poor recordings and alt. country, this is really neither one,
but any description of music is only an attempt to depict the
aesthetic.) And one of the keys to Jose Gonzalez is that
recording doesn’t matter. His guitar could be completely out
of tune, and he’d still manage to make it sound good. The
acoustics of a room could be terrible; he’d play on. The room
and all of his listeners could vanish, and he’d sit in a field
and create his own reality.

He's new and Swedish, with a Spanish-sounding name, and
he's slightly Iron & Wine folk-like -- but that doesn't matter

All of the questions about music aren’t really questions;
they’re just the smalltalk of intermission, as we wait for
someone like Jose Gonzalez to come along and show us how life
can sound.


Blogger fred burgess! said...

If it wasn't obvious, this is a review of a Jose Gonzalez album that I recently did.

7:34 AM  
Blogger matt. said...


glad you have found that record as well.

i'm planning on riding my bike from quincy to champaign soon...i'll call you.

4:40 PM  
Blogger fred burgess! said...

yeah, hit me up.

how long will that ride take?

6:54 PM  

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