Posted on

Get Thee Behind Me, Artwork

Last night, a diverting little discussion broke out on my friend William’s blog. For my part, there was wine involved but I think the reasoning remained roughly consistent (I’ll check later in the morning)
Through the night, and into the early morning the exchange has been turning in my head and it suddenly strikes me as reminiscent of what Burroughs used to say about writing – that it is 50 years behind art.
I think perhaps its time to explore whether the same could be said of music, or at least the critical reporting of musical work. Unlike art it lacks a supporting structure (marketing, publicity, criticism) that is conversant and comfortable with conceptualism. In fact, it occurs that William’s best press comes when his work is approached as conceptual art rather than music – it is possible that this was an intentional push? (not for me to say) Also, while on the anecdotal rather than empirical evidence trail, it occurs that h3o (the other discussant) receives as much (more?) attention – and more considered – for his packaging than he does with his audio work. From what he was saying last night, I would hazzard a guess that the artwork is, partly, a direct engagement with a recognised framework for reporting. Perhaps it would even be fair to suggest that the audio component is only part of the overall artifact. (again, not for me to say)
Even the more “out there” music magazines seem strictly limited by a very monotone palette of contextual references. There is yet to be a suitable semantic structure for the true originals of sound. The untouchable emotional intensity achieved when sound connects with a willing ear has yet to be appropriately reported. “Sonic Cathedrals of sound, melting like ice statues of Sinead O’Connor over sunrise at Ayers Rock” anyone? (tuppence ha’penny for anyone to source that quote)