Friday, November 09, 2012

A Theory Of Relativity?

Something that I often think about, more as a result of getting older than anything else I suppose, is my relationship with music now and in the past, and that of my friends, colleagues and associates. When I first started consuming it, Jimi Hendrix had only been dead for seven years and the Rolling Stones still felt fresh. More time has elapsed since the beginnings of house and hip-hop and the present day than that which separated the birth of the Beatles and the hey day of punk. This has always made me feel a little weird.

Yet so little real change in music has taken place in the last twenty five years compared to that which flooded the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties. The grandiose flourishes are over and what we have left is an infinite loop of cross-pollination. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with this statement, sweeping and general as it is, but I'm calling it as I see it permeating everyday life and making true and original statements in the process. Innovation and change is still a vital part of artistic evolution, but it doesn't flood the mainstream in the way it used to. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing of course.

When I was ten, I had little regard for the music that had been made around the time of my birth and, apart from jazz and blues, nothing has changed. Some of my peers though were just reaching double figures at the height of house and its big breakthrough, and when they were born post-punk had just evolved and was about to give birth to mutant disco, amongst other things. A parallel world had been created in which the underground mirrored the commercial but the two were not always mutually exclusive. I remember being in a queue outside Eric's in Liverpool and speaking to Pete Wylie. At the time he, bravely I thought, declared that '(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real' by Sylvester was his favourite ever record. I think 'Good Times' got a look in as well. 

Such a move wouldn't bat any eyelids these days, but it certainly did then. The clued up would have smiled secretly to their inward selves but still mightn't have gone public with their agreement, while those for whom it seemed shocking would have had a field day, but not to anyone's faces but those of their mates. The next time they heard one of the mentioned tracks, or something similar though, something might have clicked in their consciousness and dots may, or may not have been joined. Similar situations have, and will always exist, but even though many of us are as defined by our tastes and cohorts as ever, something has been lost within the rampant eclecticism that has homogenised and passed off as normal, when it is a virulent strain of celebrity culture trickling down the credibility continuum.

How is it for anyone into electronic music nowadays who was maybe in single figures at the end of the eighties, or just into their teens? What is your perception of it now and how well-grounded in it do you feel? I will interview someone to find out just this soon. Meanwhile, get in touch and let me know.

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