The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Wreath Lectures

"What Are You Doing In There?" The Rise and Fall of Bedroom Music
Tim Burrows , December 22nd, 2010 08:55

"I'm gonna start a revolution from my bed," once sang Noel Gallagher. Tim Burrows, on the other hand, argues that those bedroom-dwelling music makers who were hyped to change the face of music in 2010 aren't as ground-breaking as many first thought...

Add your comment »

2010 was meant to be the year of the bedroom recording, thanks to the swelling of a genre that has variously come under the umbrella of hypnagogic pop, glo-fi, or chillwave. The latter has stuck fastest, but all might be best described as "pop music refracted through the memory of a memory," as David Keenan put it in an article, published in Wire in August 2009, that coined the (since rejected) term, hypnagogic pop. It effectively heralded the beginning of the genre that nobody knew about, one that basically thrived on the evocation of fond dreams of the 1980s pop, film and advert music. The recreation of such sounds heard in the moments between sleep and waking – the woozy, longing bass lines, the the trashed guitar whimsy – all in a lo-fi fashion that has been fetishised since the Velvet Underground, the false prophets of the DIY scene (more on that later).

Although plenty of this music is exciting, it didn't quite cut it. At first there was something thrilling about the genre's appropriation of the different aural tropes – the overworked drum machine, the snyth lines stretched so far out that you could hear whole waves of noise splashing in their jagged ridges. In the best stuff there is something journey-like, akin to being transported in a calm, measured fashion across territory that contained hidden dimensions.

Yet the journey was never self-directed, and trod similar paths to to what went before. These fractured facsimiles have felt dusty, not revolutionary; to try and claim that there was something frighteningly new here was an error. Sure there have been some thrilling bits, but most of the good stuff can usually be pushed into another genres if you wish – Toro y Moi and Zola Jesus for example, or one of the genre's apparent originators, Panda Bear, could both be neatly filed away in quite a few other pigeonholes. But we have ended up at the mercy of a guttural splurge of Phil Spector facsimiles, and out of tune Brian/Dennis Wilson sing-songs through an over-compressed microphones, widdling guitar solos recorded on cassette Dictaphones, where the chief aggregator of the blogosphere, The Hype Machine, proclaims the interminably trad Best Coast as the most blogged about artist of our time. In short, we are beached in a climate of artificial heat.

KFC TV ETCETERA

"This reality is twisted, but for me it's really fascinating because seeing past the deranged hypnosis, or merging with it, can also represent our human potential," the experimental musician and hypnagogic hero, James Ferraro, told Keenan back in 2009. "So it inspires me in that way. KFC, TV etcetera are perfect examples of dark energy temples that alter people's reality in a psychotic way, but it also shows the power of dreams and it is a testament of our ability to plug into our dreams and experience them on Earth."

Part of me thinks this is why Bardens Boudoir closed in the end: Dalston's (quite literally) underground venue, where Ferraro played in 2007 in the guise of Lamborghini Crystal, was replaced by The Nest earlier this year. Perhaps it was cursed by too high a quota of colliding dark energy temples emitted by mumbling, laptopped and guitar pedalled bands, depositing bad vibes through the heady mix of self-consciousness and pre-gig fried chicken. The attempt to suggest that KFC – an admittedly necessary purchase at various kinds of time-poor/inebriated/frivolous states – has some kind of new age, transformative significance sums up the scene quite well. There is a refusal to look beyond what has been already experienced, a kind of kick back and ignore attitude that, if anything, does not make it unique. It makes it our cultural norm.

Much of the music is languid psychedelia, that fetishises a period which we should feel embarrassed to have been the product of – the 1980s and 90s – when Disney's Saturday morning cartoons pumped shoddy American consumerist values into the living room, amid advertisements for shopping centres that sold the merchandise that came with it, such as Argos and Toys R Us.

I begged my parents to take me to Lakeside shopping centre in Essex after being sat in front of that parade of movement and colour. For this writer – who, at 26, fits slap bang in the middle of the demographic, that should be making/buying this – much of it has felt like wallowing in a time that could have been, and still could be, left behind. A period in which the Special Relationship was sealed, right under our noses, and given legitimacy through cultural means, when Fukuyama's concept of "The End of History" might as well have been written on doormats and placed outside newbuild semi-detacheds of Thatcher's, Major's, and Blair's Britain: "The End Of History. Please Wipe Your Feet."

POSING ON YOUR MOM'S TERRACE

It is a culture that subliminally, apathetically wills on the closure of recording studios, happening more regularly due to rent increases or record downturns, so that this new DIY method can spread. Yet there is no excitement in the collapse of the last remnants of a music industry, as what you have left then is this atomised, stretched out mass of singular entities, sponging of their "mom" to make "awesome tunes". Even if they live in Surrey.

The overwhelming commonality between the bands, no matter where they're from, is the location of the culture's beginnings: California. And more specifically, California in its most bombastic, over-egged era, the 1970s and 1980s. The problem about the Americanisation of the scene in the UK is not some kneejerk, parochial reaction – "they come over here, take our gigs" – it is more the false consciousness that comes with the songs that are created that grates. It promotes a lack of any kind of drive to reflect a certain, personal power or authenticity.

If you've got any kind of inclination to be a musician, at least try and derive something from your own situation, right now, whatever it is. Or you end up here:

Vivian Girls with Male Bonding on Sound Opinions from WBEZ on Vimeo.

US girl trio Vivian Girls and UK boy trio Male Bonding are not particularly 'chillwave' (though the former have been included in a few lists) but I think their version of 'Perfect Day', recorded earlier this year, signifies some kind of end point that the current DIY surge has reached. In their hands, the song wilts into a lazy longing for a plenitude that cannot exist. The reason Lou Reed and the Velvets are false prophets of the DIY scene is that they were not DIY. Yes, they positioned themselves beneath the mainstream, but only by colluding with it, playing high society balls, and using the hottest NY artist of the period, Andy Warhol, as a ladder. That Reed remained relatively low-key until Transformer, produced by David Bowie, brought him to the attention of a wider audience, was down to the challenging aspects of the Velvets, not the small ambitions.

Ariel Pink enjoys a comparable position to the Velvet Underground in that he is, above all others, seen as the linchpin behind this disparate bedroom scene, but between the two there is a chasm in sentiment and quality. The Velvets used irony sparingly, as counterpoints to offse thrilling dirge, wild, cataclysmic noise and beauty. With Pink, it is laden so thick that these ears have trouble distinguishing it from parody.

NO MORE GENRE

Some termed chillwave a "post-genre genre" which has to be one of the most desperate scrambling to define something that might, or perhaps should be, pretty indefinable; it turned out to be a scene sculpted by the bare hands of writers who wanted a scene. Yet surely the most exciting thing about the instant culture that the internet has brought with it is the avoidance of genre. Let us proclaim the end of genre, of utopias, clearing the ground for more albums that could count Benjamin Britten, J Dilla, Einsturzende Neubauten and Britney Spears as influences. Hidden by These New Puritans, the obvious album of the year, is a product of toil in many spaces; the bedroom, the studio, outside and in. They are an aggressive, ludicrous band for aggressive, ludicrous times, who scrimp every penny they can muster from record sales, gigs (even high fashion modelling) to find a way into a studio to use the best instruments, orchestras, and choirs they can. Their recent Hidden tour, that saw the band take a childrens choir, the Britten Sinfonia and a huge Japanese taiko drum was propelled by an indie (as in independent) attitude, but not a modern indie (as in lazy) attitude.

Edwyn Collins was astonished at the C86 scene that he and Orange Juice had apparently helped create in the early 1980s: he could not fathom why these bands would want to fetishise the out-of-tune-ness, the crackles, the wobbliness, that Orange Juice had created in their early days. For him, that period was necessary, but ultimately he and the band improved as musicians to end up at the sublime point in which 'Rip It Up' reached Top Of The Pops. The current DIY scene will go down as the C86 of our age, and hopefully might just represent a calm before the storm, the last moments of an introspective indie slumber before the cuts start to bite. The hazy Polaroid aesthetic peddled by artists such as Washed Out makes hypnagogic pop the aural equivalent of the Hipstamatic print, the iPhone app that has become an all-conquering presence on Facebook. It's a good trick that can send a picture of you in your home, town or city back to a mildly warped version of an imagined past – just avoid catching those tell tale, 21st century glimmers in the background.

Stewart
Dec 22, 2010 2:56pm

You're lumping together some very different scenes. Beyond the lo-fi production, Vivian Girls have very little in common, sonically or philosphically, with Ferraro or Pink.
I'm with you in feeling all this willfully underacheiving hipster indie stuff sucks big time.
VG are indeed the epitome of half-assed schmindie - I had to turn off that Perfect Day cover after a few seconds. Truly dire. Ariel Pink, however, is one hell of a songwriter, and his music is too damn weird to be dismissed as ironic. The poor sound quality of his early stuff was a result of necessity, rather than contrivance.
Ferraro uses degraded tapes and samples in a psychedelic manner, and the emphasis is very much on artifice rather than some kind of misguided lo-fi authenticity. Again, like AP or Rangers, it's really well put together: there's serious musicianship and production going on under the fog.
These h-pop acts seem very different to the glossier chillwave acts.
Worth looking at Keenan's thoughts on h-pop, chillwave etc in the current issue of the Wire.

Reply to this Admin

jb
Dec 22, 2010 3:12pm

"Yet the journey was often never self-directed"

Get me an editor, posthaste!

Reply to this Admin

todd
Dec 22, 2010 3:49pm

i agree to a certain extent.
the idea behind bedroom recording at first seemed really very exciting.
artists now didn't need thousands and thousands of pounds/dollars to spend months in a studio, focusing on the details. they could do it at home, and spend a week on 1 synth sound or a drum pattern if they liked.
instead, we get a bunch of lazy fucks with a 'that'll do' or 'who cares' attitude. that definately sucks.
it will change. there's always a flipside.

Reply to this Admin

G
Dec 22, 2010 4:09pm

Talk of a recent bedroom music scene is like talk of a recent emo scene - both have been around forever and ever and are only new to people who think everything's new when they experience it for the first time. The cassette four-track made bedroom music possible decades ago, and there is a long and diverse history of musicians working on their own with consumer-grade equipment, simply because they couldn't afford expensive equipment or studio time. The 2010 iteration of this is just the latest in a long line, although it does seem particularly insufferable, adopted as artifice rather than out of necessity.

Reply to this Admin

Sam
Dec 22, 2010 4:38pm

"In their hands, the song wilts into a lazy longing for a plenitude that cannot exist."

It's always good to see sycophantic optimism being suitably skewered.

That despite clearly marking the targets the argument fails in trying to universalise all bedroom music. Where do you think James Blake or Nicolas Jaar compose? Or Islaja or Outer Limits Recordings?

There's great music being composed and recorded in bedrooms.

"It promotes a lack of any kind of drive to reflect a certain, personal power or authenticity."

There is an argument here but the more I read it the more confusing it becomes. I believe that this sentence is key to the whole piece but I'm struggling to understand it.

Reply to this Admin

Tim Burrows
Dec 22, 2010 5:18pm

In reply to Sam:

Of course, good and bad songs have always been composed, recorded, in bedrooms, hotelrooms... I'm getting at this particular branding of bedroom music - the hyp/chill/glo brand. The shared willing between band and blog to push forward this ideal of the bedroom as a vessel in which to make this hallucinatory new dimension of songcraft. When, to my mind a lot of the best current independent bands(of which I should have included Factory Floor, Wetdog to name just two more) will go outside and work in other spaces with other people. But there will always be fantastic songwriters who transcend wherever they are.
"It promotes a lack of any kind of drive to reflect a certain, personal power or authenticity": de-convoluted translation, I'm not asking for confessionals (please no) but something bloody-minded, meaningful, taken from ones own experience, usually fits the bill song-wise, which the current culture has seemed to have edged away from.

Stewart: I have been convinced one day I will 'get' Ariel Pink, and have acquired many albums but am yet to twig. And I think it is the artifice that grates me so with all this (to nod to G). I'm fine with artifice, if it is going in the right direction. As it is a lot of it seems such a backwards looking, retrograde put-on.

Reply to this Admin

Frances
Dec 22, 2010 5:20pm

Stewart, how would you describe the varying philosophies of Ferraro, Pink and the Vivian Girls, then? Bearing in mind that you've said they're different? That's a genuine question, btw, not a rhetorical snark! I can hear the differences between all these people, for sure, but philosophically I wouldn't know where to start, other than that James Ferraro seems to be into chaos magic. I see Ariel Pink as primarily, almost obsessively, driven by music&sound in and of itself, to a really interesting extent. Not sure if that's a philosophy, though - or do you mean more that they all have different intentions?

Reply to this Admin


Dec 22, 2010 5:24pm

"Much of the music is languid psychedelia, that fetishises a period which we should feel embarrassed to have been the product of – the 1980s and 90s..."

yeah, thank god for that worldwide socialist revolution and artistic enlightenment in 2000!

how are these times any less venal or consumerist than 1980-1999?
and are you seriously saying there's no popular culture worth remembering from those years?

and these new puritans are boring, worthy try-hards. having an orchestra and choir on your tunes is the ambition of every self-righteous post-rock loving sixth former.

Reply to this Admin

Johnny Nothing
Dec 22, 2010 5:25pm

Surely any artist that isn't X-Factored (or the like) falls into some kind of DIY category. The importance of the Velvets lies as much in what they didn't do as what they did do.

Reply to this Admin

Rich
Dec 22, 2010 7:28pm

Perhaps I'm somewhat missing the point of this article, I'm not entirely sure, but having remained relatively ignorant of this whatever genre aside from a few bits and bobs (I quite like the Washed Out and Toro Y Moi albums) by virtue of the fact that I find it actually quite disingenuous on the whole, the only thing that springs to mind is that this is music made by kids who grew up on Boards of Canada.

To the best of my knowledge few of these artist have broken their mid 20's (if that), and so I find it pretty hard to believe that they really understand the underlying conceit of warbled synths and muddy drum machines creating an evocation for people of a certain age. They can't possibly have the same memory of a time that they were barely alive in that someone of my age (33) would have, and so it simply comes off as contrived and insincere.

That's not to denigrate the music specifically, if it's good it's good, but someone who wants to make "bedroom" music now can download a copy of Cubase and a load of softsynths and whatever and has no reason to make lo-fi music other than for the cache of being part of a non scene for (primarily) US hipster blogs to cream themselves over.

Lets not forget Daniel Beddingfield was a bedroom artist too, but at least he was honest about where he was coming from.

Reply to this Admin

Stewart
Dec 22, 2010 9:22pm

In reply to Frances :

Frances, yes, intention is more accurate. Vivian Girls et al seem part of that C86 shambling indie heritage, and fetishise simplicity, sloppiness etc. Whereas the music of Pink, Ferraro, Rangers, Julian Lynch et al is intricately arranged and produced.
I would also add that while there are certain similarities between h-pop and chillwave acts, the latter are much more smoothed out, with none of the demented qualities of Pink or Ferraro say. Not to say the blissed out stuff is bad - I like the Toro Y Moi album - but there is a lot of bandwagon jumping stuff out there.

Reply to this Admin

Sam
Dec 23, 2010 1:51am

In reply to Tim Burrows:

Tim:

It's a good point. To take on the isolation which (to some extent) defines not only the producer but the promoter (bloggers) and listener as well. It's worth arguing that bedroom musics rarely transcend only the live stage and your examples of Factory Floor and Wetdog are spot on in this instance.

However, the reason Bedroom music is being afforded the Zeitgeist status by many a writer/editor/web native is because for many a lot of interaction with the outside world is from their office/bedroom via their router. You're not fighting a fad, you're combating a social shift which has bled into music.

Comparatively, Best Coast's recent shows in the UK found themselves parked in this 90's alt-America indierock fest a la Matador etc. That despite them still not being very good it was clear that the compromise was there to entertain the bigger crowds. A far cry from the Bedroom music live shows of Pocahaunted.

Reply to this Admin

Stewart
Dec 23, 2010 11:19am

In reply to Sam:

Fair points. I find the social history of how artists, writers and musicians network really interesting, and I think we're still trying to understand the different ways in which the internet has affected this.
I think that in pop and rock music, which has traditionally been driven by social interaction at the scene of production (bands, gigs, local scenes etc) we're less used to artists who've followed a different route. Of course there have always been bedroom artists, but they were exceptions proving the rule. Modern technology, from affordable 4-tracks to the Macbook, has enabled a massive increase in production. Add the internet and the possibilities for dissemination of music suddenly expand massively.
What I find doubly interesting is that far from kill of the live music scene, the internet has enabled it. DIY promoters have particularly benefitted from the internet.
You have to place Ferraro and other h-pop artists in the context of the noughties noise/drone explosion too. They may be bedroom acts in the sense that you don't need to hire a rehearsal space if you're just jamming with a bunch of pedals and tapes, but they've been playing live shows for years, becoming involved with local scenes and establishing supportive networks. The more recent wave of chillwave stuff is perhaps more about individuals bypassing a local scene, but they're still engaging with online communities. So while there's always a danger of solipsism, I think that individual artists still thrive through engagement with the outside world.
Pocahaunted are an interesting example of how bands evolve through social interaction, going from a psych-drone duo into a dub-funk post-punk party band featuring members of other scene acts like Sun Araw. And I've seen similar things happen on a local level, with solo noise dudes actively seeking out collaborations to move their music forward. So I'm not too worried about people being trapped in the bedroom, losing their connection with the outside world.

Reply to this Admin

Rooksby
Dec 23, 2010 12:12pm

In reply to G:

Nicely put. The main difference between the 80s/90s 4-tracking scene & the current "hazy Polaroid aesthetic" is that the earlier wave, though veering towards the isolationist, was creatively forward-looking & often purely improvisatory, whereas the current bunch seem creatively & emotionally retrospective (fuzzy, sentimental Phil Spector composites), & tied to the idea of "song" (Brian Wilson's, specifically).

Reply to this Admin

Angus
Dec 23, 2010 4:01pm

In reply to Rooksby:

Great article, thanks.

But yeah I think this 'retrospective' angle is the most compelling argument against chill/glo/whatever as an interesting movement in itself. Obviously we're awash with cross- and back-referencing in western culture at the moment, almost as if that idea of Fukuyama's has crept up on the leftist hipsters who would claim to reject it most strongly and now they've given up on trying to find new ideas, settling for a thick soup of old ones instead. Not to say that there aren't some fantastic artists who've found themselves under this umbrella.

This:

"Some termed chillwave a "post-genre genre" which has to be one of the most desperate scrambling to define something that might, or perhaps should be, pretty indefinable; it turned out to be a scene sculpted by the bare hands of writers who wanted a scene."

Is spot on, discourse for discourse's sake seems to have been the order of the day. Makes for pleasant reading but I'm not sure how much it helps the artists or the listeners in the long run. Meanwhile I'm sure there's been some bloody marvellous things bubbling under the surface which us journos have yet to pick up on.

Reply to this Admin

Ben
Dec 24, 2010 5:20pm

Hmm… lots of different ideas flying around in this article, but I dunno if they add up to anything very cohesive…

If there’s one thing to be taken from the emergence of the various artists mentioned, could it be that the long-standing critical paradigm of ‘new stuff=good, old stuff=bad’ has kinda outlived it’s usefulness, and seems unhelpfully simplistic when applied to a generation of musicians who are interested in splicing and recontextualising the past in a (hopefully) imaginative manner, rather than slavishly copying it..?

Re: the revival of ‘80s pop sounds you discuss, it strikes me that this has less to do with any kind of actual nostalgia, more to do with just the routine cycle of novelty and influence etc that happens periodically, perhaps sped up to match a new era in which the internet allows people to become more musically literate (and thus more bored with what they're hearing) more quickly than ever before. Ten or fifteen years ago, very few people in “underground” music would have been caught dead listening to African music or ‘80s pop, so naturally those are the sounds that have filtered through recently, sounding mysterious and exciting after so many years in the wilderness, just as happened with folk earlier this decade. Whatever the kind of sound/aesthetic furthest from people’s minds today is, that’s probably what will start popping up again in five or ten years. Meanwhile, everybody in the world will just keep on making every kind of music under the sun and… well I used to say “the only that shifts is media interest”, but since the death of any kind of monolithic, taste-making music press, it seems more like it’s just some weird music fan/maker collective unconscious that shifts… which in itself is kinda interesting.

Anyway, one more specific snark before I go and enjoy the rest of xmas eve like a sensible person:

I don’t really see what the Velvet Underground have to do with anything, and I don’t see how they are supposed to have “positioned themselves as false prophets of DIY” or whatever, other than just by not being very financially successful. All of their records were made in studios and released by major labels, and I don’t think they tried to deny the fact, any more than Lou Reed ever denied his obvious ambition to be a big-time rock star.

Reply to this Admin

Fergus
Dec 26, 2010 6:28am

What I find slightly more interesting is the writer's desire to skewer something so diaphanous as this seeming movement that really, for all intents and purposes, appears to have so many unrelated acts associated with it, that it barely constitutes a coherent thing worth deflating. Sure, someone stupidly attached a name to to this idea, but does that mean that the scene that was "created" (an action as loaded with artifice as the aesthetic object of attack) is now something that requires such an amputation? How about trying to kill such an affectation of "scene" by refusing to utter its name?

Its funny how the trend makers and breakers seem to enjoy blowing up and bursting each other's, and more tellingly, their own bubbles. A cursory search of articles relating to Chillwave/Hypnagogic Pop,etc etc in the past year (or even a semi-decent memory) suggests that those writers/fans who championed/used the term were also the first to decry its use a year or so later - ...they basically occupy the same position and are in many cases the same people...

Insofar as this idea is involved, I still think there's an awful lot in the idea of this kind of, admittedly overt, reimagining of the past, despite whatever neat asides or damning epithets are deployed to castigate in the name of "authenticity" . In fact, its always revealing when that word is banded around with a straight face..."fetishism" too. These are words that nicely self-aggrandise authors and sympathetic readers that appear borne from something close to a moral sensibility, as if to say that inauthenticity and fetish could in no way be a part of their worthy pleasures. Throw in a standard attack against the middle-classes (sponging off mum,etc), and the writer's own plea for authenticity becomes self-evident. The again, rather worthy, criticism of Ferraro's comments on KFC are again evident of an all-too common writing style that is so caught up in an object of attack (the interviewee should be criticised for his furthering of a kick-back and relax attitude/promotion of existing cultural/symbolic norms) that it misses its own glaring contradiction (the writer describes KFC being as necessary within his/her own existence), wilfully ignoring the thrust of Ferraro's idea (that these symbols should not be normalised and should be examined more closely as examples of cultural/symbolic power).

In fact, whatever the writer's ideas about the pitfalls of consumer capitalism, to deny that it has been OUR history, especially for the 20-somethings mining this resource, would be ludicrous. "Americanisation", as you put it, is not false consciousness. In fact its as close to material reality as it gets and certainly has been for a great deal of Britain's youth growing up in the 80s onwards.

Proxys are not always helpful, but it seems that the desire to prematurely swat burgeoning ideas isn't that far removed from the impulse that prematurely affixes undue significance to them... In their utterance, both struggle to find their true targets.

Reply to this Admin

Ryan
Dec 28, 2010 5:19pm

I bet you wouldn't be slamming Guided By Voices as lazy bedroom music. Ultimately, it falls squarely between the artist and audience what constitutes good music. This is the most pretentious article I've read on The Quietus, and almost a turn off. Leave the dismissive musical politics to Pitchfork, I read The Quietus because it generally supports music regardless of genre.

Reply to this Admin

John Calvert
Jan 4, 2011 1:32pm

I wonder if its possible to clean h-pop, make it commercially viable. In my opinion it cannot be made into clean, vivid pop without ceasing to be glo-fi. The whole sound is based on ambiguity. I think whatever chart-worth glo-fi may sound like it won't set the world alight as it has in its pure form, ie as it exists now. APink went the 'rip it up' way to an extent and has profited in album sales by dint of some stellar song-writing. But if you look at any glo-fi artists, from Pink, Ferroro to Sun Aruw, or any of the first wave, they don't make songs so much as tracks. And the beat-making like of Memory Tapes, TYM, Air France, W.O, Teengirl Fantasy, etc aren't making music fit for a dance floor - too withdrawn, enervated. Or maybe too 'artsy'.

Also I think there's a distinction between lo-fi and glo-fi that could be better defined in future articles. Lo-fi of all types is packed with little pop songs that with some technical prowess and a bit of money behind them could obviously stretch to entryist fare, without compromising the original vision - luddite rebellion. But in a far less superficial way, the stressed aesthetics of Glo fi make up it's very raison d'etre, as does the 'bedroom', which implies all types of things- deep self inspection, loneliness, remembering, ghostly, neglected tv kids now of age but still suspended in an unreal existence . It all counts to creating the aesthetic of h-pop and directly influenced the end product. H-pop can't be made into pop. It's a dead end.

Reply to this Admin

Will
Jan 10, 2011 11:10pm

This is a disappointing article for TQ in my opinion.

Lumping together and dismissing so many acts is exactly what 'music' doesn't need right now- especially in England. Let's see how some of these acts progress over the course of their next few albums- assuming the sounding of an early death knell of the scene you've just lumped them in with doesn't send them retreating back under the covers.

Reply to this Admin

Mannymanny
Jan 13, 2011 4:04am

In reply to Tim Burrows:

Fantastic article Tim. As a "bedroom musician" I agree with you that there is too much music out there that tends to drift off into the nothingness of the backwards loop. I also dislike the apathic, passionless meandering that informs the overall genre of pleasant adolescent-americana, the so-called "chill-wave" genre or whatever. However I sense you have an underlying, simple question that has less to do with this particular "genre" than what's missing from it. Namely there is a lack of engagement with the present moment, a lack of connection with the "power" of music at its most basic level. Could this be generational? I don't necessarily think so but I do wonder if there will be more emotionally engaging music made in the present/future to address/respond to our very unique times. Have been thinking of Bob Dylan not so much for the music per se but as a "figure" who stood for is time. Not looking for "major" musicians really, more for people addressing a specific (and present) sentiment and time.

Reply to this Admin

lowdown
Jan 28, 2011 5:16pm

This article seems to really want to dismiss an entire genre of music with little to back it up. While I agree that some bands are just trying to copy the Times New Viking sound, many of them are going for an aesthetic quality that you cannot create in an expensive recording studio. And I don't think spending money necessarily equates to better music - ie, your TNP analogy.

Furthermore, the quality of Ariel Pink Haunted Graffiti’s latest album is on a very high level in terms of production, song writing and overall concept.

And your statement the Americanization of the scene promotes "a lack of any kind of drive to reflect a certain, personal power or authenticity" is just an ugly and unfounded generalization that I wouldn’t have expected to pop up in an educated indie site like The Quietus.

You need to more careful or you are going to put off your American readers (ie, me). We are not all Sarah Palin followers.

Reply to this Admin

Shea
Feb 14, 2011 9:37pm

Referencing/mining the past isn't new, this generation of college students/grads/yuppies are just experiencing it for the first time.

I'm ashamed of you inflated Brits, see Thomas Chatterton. His case is eerily similar to some of the "bedroom" all-stars being referred to. His poetry was written in pseudo middle english, but was presented as authentic, as if Chatterton had uncovered these writings. He was highly praised, and died at the age of 17. His was a life this current generation of nomadic, community living hipsters would kill to have had. He seems like the ariel pink of the 18th century.

Referencing the past has been done and done again, you can trace poets up through Wordsworth and beyond. It's kind of one of the essences of art.

But what happens when culture references 30 year old culture that referenced culture 30 years into the future?

Here is the problem. This isn't just overt nostalgia for the past. There is an undercurrent that is being missed. The 80's and early 90's was futurism as popular culture. Carpenter, Vangelis, Bladerunner, these are part of a larger meme unit that represents the zenith of what music like Oneohtrix Point Never and the like can evoke.

Referencing a thirty year old past that referenced you is a paradox that could result in an antimaterial detonation resulting in cultural extinction.

We are living in the future that was hoped for, and it isn't populated with easily accessed wonders. The technology that should have created a bridge to outer euphoria has created a barrier of confusion and overload.

Instead of stepping outside and looking up at sky traffic, we take a reusable grocery bag to the store, because we could have sworn that there was something about a green revolution and global warming being talked about a few years ago, and if we left ours at home, we buy another one because they always seemed to be stocked next to the checkout lane.

The fact is that all of that wonder of the 80's has failed to carry us to where we thought we would be. Now it is in our questionable hands, and it's uncertain whether or not the equivalent of musical recycling will do a better job.

I don't see how this system of blogger/artist proliferation can support itself. There may be something to 2012 after all.

I'm going to go watch Twilight now.

Reply to this Admin

Timo
Feb 18, 2011 8:51pm

yes there is definately a plethora of hipster "i can play three chords" bedroom bands out there, but hidden umongst the hipsters you can find the odd bedroom genius. The kind who understand the true nuts and bolts of music. eg.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjGPipxT0vI

Reply to this Admin