difficult listening

I grew up in a safe environment. Everything was safe. The food was safe. Society was safe. School was safe. Home was safe. But as I got older I learned that it wasn’t safe it was just protected.

There are people who still want to live in their own comfortable “protected” worlds. But protection is a myth. A legend elders tell children. It does not exist. And insisting it does exist, does not make it so.

Further I suggest that propagating this delusion is more harmful than preparing for the facts. The truth. Example: Climate change deniers often use their arguments as an excuse to keep from preparing for the consequences of climate change and taking action to slow it’s impact. And now with the pandemic, humanities approach to disease belies their own unpreparedness. Death and sickness has become unacceptable (even though it is inevitable) So they wear masks, they fight over it, they try to shame those who are “awake” and not afraid.  They want a safe world where things don’t change. The climate doesn’t change. People don’t get sick and die. The world doesn’t change. Everything is safe.

What does this have to do with difficult music/difficult listening?
Like the quote from William S Burroughs in the Laurie Anderson video,

“language is a virus from outer space.”

Difficult music challenges a listeners perception of the norm. It suggests there is something else we need to consider. It suggests that we look into the dark corners. Difficult music is to sound what abstract expressionism was/is to art. And most people who have abstract art work treat if more as wallpaper than as something that has something to say/contribute to the conversation of our times. And in music, people typically do not choose to engage it because it requires them to think about what they are listening to. It is often difficult if not impossible to just hang it on a wall as pretty wallpaper for the soul. Difficult music is often derided as messy, juvenile, scary, ugly, inaccessible (not conforming to any known genre parameters) and ultimately ignored. It is the red-headed stepchild of the music world.

But we can learn much from difficult music. It is not something to be afraid of. The shadows are not scary if you enter with a flashlight. It can teach us about ourselves in ways we haven’t considered or dared think about. But to encounter and engage difficult music one must be prepared and perhaps that is the problem with our “protected”, “safe” elders they are not prepared and they do not know how to prepare the younger generation for the facts and truth of existence.

So, do you want to explore difficult music? Don’t know where to start?
Step One: Turn off the radio and TV – they are notorious “taste makers” that would rather keep you safe than expose you to truth. There are many artists that have helped me in preparing for the real world. I started learning about many “difficult” artists just from reading the underground music press (back in the 1980’s) when popular music was experiencing an explosion of variety. But difficult music existed long before I started reading about it.

Here are some artists you can start with (in no particular order):

Laurie Anderson                                                Public Enemy
Einsturzende Neubauten/Blixa Bargeld        The Last Poets
Alva Noto                                                             Lustmord
Laibach                                                                Rapoon/Zoviet*France
Robert Fripp/King Crimson et al                     Ornette Coleman
Diamanda Galas                                                 Lester Bowie
Sun Ra                                                                  Terry Riley
The Art Ensemble of Chicago                          Steve Reich
Philip Glass (early works)                                Markus Reuter
Robert Rich                                                          Scott Walker (after 1994)
Merzbow                                                              Cabaret Voltaire
Swans                                                                   Nurse With Wound
Matana Roberts                                                  Godspeed You! Black Emperor

The above artists all have work available on Youtube so enjoy your excursion into difficult music. Maybe in the future I’ll write about some of the specific recordings. Again this is just an introduction to difficult listening. Maybe not what you want to listen to in these difficult times but the music does speak to the truth of the times we are experiencing.

I’ll start you off with this Nurse With Wound video for the song BOTTOM FEEDER

White Supremacy?

White Supremacy

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand
Leprous hand
White as snow
You sound like help and look like death

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
your heart is too close to the skin
you cannot see what I see
Your deformity prevents you
from feeling the pain you cause

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
I see the disease you bring
Hidden among your so-called gifts
Your virtues tainted by
The supremacy of your unclean hand

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
The diseased heart has spread to the hand
You build your gated communities, armed fortresses
Of wealth, leper colonies, prisons of your own making
Separating you from a whole world of wonder

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
You seek to unify YOUR family
By separating ours… mine
You burn bridges and build walls
Usurper of truth, teller of lies

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
The lesions of your thinking
Discolored by the deafening roar of hatred, intolerance & FEAR
I could feel sorry for you
If it were not for the swift kick
Of your Jackboot and the Searing heat of your tiki torch

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
The prophesy has foretold
You will starve, you will lose all you had,
You will die by your own white hand
And when there is no more white
Who will be left to dig your grave?

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand
Leprous hand
White as snow.

… on… becoming….

58 years ago at this time I was in the second trimester before my birth.

In only a few months I will come into being for the 58th time.

So much has happened since I was first conceived.

I continue to change and evolve –

Into a being who is genetically predestined by choice.

I am the paradox.

I am the quandary.

I am the essence of joy and sadness –

Working out my own salvation with care and understanding.

My own manifest destiny.

 

… on color or b&w….

Some people prefer color and others prefer b&w.

In an image saturated society which has more impact and why?
Of course there are several considerations to make before answering such a question.

“image saturated society” ~
What does that mean?
How does it shape our perceptions and tastes?
How does it determine our escalating sense of reality?
How does it change how we process/create the images we see?
Where is the “truth” in an image? – What is “true” in an image?

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