Thursday, March 14, 2013

Notes for "Re-Wilding: Contemporary Psychedelic Music and Anti-Civilization Rhetorics"

For a paper currently under revision:

The sonic character of contemporary psychedelic music constitutes an argument (or at least an assertion) about the nature of signification.  Its claim can, however, be read in two ways.  Psych may be actively deconstructing the clarity of contemporary recording, just as Zerzan advocates for the erosion and eventual abolition of language.  Maybe psych is straining for some parallel musical form of the wordless 'pure experience' that Zerzan fetishizes.  Or maybe it's something quite different - maybe what psych is telling us is that the imperfection is where the appeal lies, both in music and in language.  Maybe psych is the valorization of the spaces between, of the failures - yes, of the apparent freedom those moments bring, but also of the continued struggle for clarity.

This is why were are specifically talking about contemporary psych, and particularly about its noisy tendencies.  Just as Pierre Menard could rewrite Don Quixote in the 20th century and have it received as an entirely different and brilliant work, contemporary psych musicians can harken back to the fuzz and grime and recording imperfections of their 1970s progenitors, and their sounds have an entirely different meaning.  They live in an era where some sort of perfection is possible, and they consciously reject that.

Also likely relevant - Greg Milner's Perfecting Sound Forever.

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