Times — and intellectual content delivery systems — being what they are, I suppose it is only natural for an artist to shrug and think, “I'm done listening to producers and A&R guys — I'm going to do exactly what I want to do. Maybe it'll catch fire, maybe not. What have I possibly got to lose?”
In the case of T Bone Burnett and Devin Townsend — artists who occupy nearly opposing poles on the musical spectrum — my ears find the sonic results just a little off-putting.
Both artists are prone to their own peculiar reveries, of course. But Townsend has such a keen ear for the hook — it's what drew me to him in the first place. And while Burnett typically vortexes his song structures in elliptical orbits around the hook, he eventually acknowledges its fundamental gravity and succumbs — his albums usually have a couple of numbers a person can dance to, if so inclined.
Townsend's Empath and Burnett's The Invisible Light: Acoustic Space are 100% free-range, hook-free, impossible-to-dance-to albums — that's just an observation, not a criticism. Well . . . maybe it's a little bit critical. Hey, this is unquestionably a shadowy, liminal epoch we're enduring — structures we've depended on for centuries are literally aflame. Is it finally time to let go of The Hook and see what remains to buoy our sound-thirsty souls?
I love these guys — they will get my money no matter what they do. And I will devote further attention to these albums I've paid them for. But I kinda hope the next thing they cook up will have a hook or two to help keep me afloat.
I get a little self-conscious when I visit our local library. After exchanging friendly greetings with the librarian I head straight for the comic book section.
Reading comic books at my age is hardly something to be self-conscious about. But this is, increasingly, the only section of the library I bother with anymore. The fact of the matter is my house is packed with far too many languishing book-books, that I can no longer justify the weightier distraction that library books once offered.
Anyway, I select some of the more current omnibuses and slouch back to the librarian, figuring she can think what she likes of my ur-literary disposition.
“Ooo — Star Wars! Have you read Doctor Aphra?”
|Resemblance to Tank Girl intentional, I assume.|
Marvel Comics has, in general, done exemplary work with the Star Wars Universe (SWU). Under their management Darth Vader is once again a viscerally unnerving figure, and the rest of Lucas's Cliff's Notes archetypes prove to have intriguing back-stories.
As for Doctor Aphra, she is everything Alan Scherstuhl says she is, and more. Aphra is “chaotic neutral” to use D&D parlance. But the longer she utilizes her chaotic energy to get her out of the messes it creates for her, the greater the toll it takes on her emotions — she becomes increasingly less neutral, in other words. If you think this amounts to a Jedi win, you're in for a surprise.
Lovecraftian grasp of the Cosmos — an unexpected development which, the longer I think on it, makes imminent sense.
But enough — you'll want to check it out for yourself, I am sure.
Getting back to hook-free music — it is Easter, and I will be clearing some aural space for Bill Evans' meditative piano stylings. Evans was HUGELY adverse to the hook. It would also have galled him terribly to learn that people put his music in the background, the better to enjoy family chatter around the seasonal rack of lamb. So it goes. Hey, if you dig Evans (doesn't everybody?) you'll definitely dig Broken Time by Steve Silberman, his meditation on Evans and “Nardis,” the Miles Davis-penned koan that Evans returned to throughout his life.
Today's noise is tomorrow's hootenanny — to quote my favourite punk band. Wishing all my beloved artists every possible success — and everyone else a blessed Passover, a happy Easter, and a restful weekend.