The Enigmatic Success of Experimental Song

i am fairly certain that songs do not convey the information we think they do.  for example, i was well into my 20’s by the time i actually started listening to lyrics (listening and memorizing share few genes.  if my mother’s memory serves her correctly i had all of Born in the USA memorized at age 3).  even once i started “listening” to lyrics i wasn’t aware of the spectrum fused within.  necessity, social relevance, femininity, violence – the very factors determining a media-flow or lack thereof – were all more or less umbrella-d under this larger denotation of Singing About Shit.  if i hadn’t started writing songs of my own i may never have sunk into this vaster, befuddling subtext that translates to gravity/disembodiment where sound and speech collide.  there is always sensation beyond the sensation, it needn’t even be invoked.

songs show us this.  if they don’t, they suck.  if you think you know exactly what someone is singing about (or if you think that the surface material is brought to you by catharsis) then you have not woken up yet.  songs teach us that there is more to simplicity than we’ll ever be able to articulate; we don’t know why we like something in the same way that we don’t know why someone likes us (or not).  songs = mindfuck.

the bigger point being that songs are dangerous.  they may be used against us and they are. constantly.  they tell us that they’re singing about the cars on our screens, the insurance we wish we had (on a much bigger scale then we’ve ever conceptualized).  they tell us it’s ok to be embarrassed, or not.  they tell us that we’re part of something bigger but not too big; what we consume is big enough.  they tell us that anyone looking for a deeper source is better off rummaging a landfill or toilet.

granted, i take music and performance personally.  i don’t expect most people to share my experience/opinion but a ruse is a ruse.  we are easily tricked into confusing habit with spontaneity.

It’s amazing how much of the above becomes clear once you begin to listen for experimentation (rapid change over time) within song structure.  there’s a shock and you’re devoured.  you don’t know what to expect anymore.  learn to grow in this space and you’ll learn to deal with all that isn’t said in front of you.

life itself lives where comfort and discomfort blend.

for me, experimental song is not easily relegated into this incongruous territory of prepared cowbells and atonal grace notes.  often, what seems accessible in recordings turns out to be anything but while witnessed live.  i don’t find separating music and performance to be particularly helpful.  there is too much room for error.  i enjoy both listening to and making records but the product exists outside my direct field of interest.  it is harder to be fooled by live performance; there’s gimmickry at play if the show feels gimmicky and you’re never going to find a shitty performance whilst scavenging for old pot in a relative’s basement.  i live to speak to/for Presence.  i believe that the artists that i find qualify as experimental songwriters (or song-improvisors) are, as a group, totally present in their creative and performative processes.  i can, with some confidence, say that the act of being present is the most experimental act of all.

this is how i feel, anyway.  so i’m organizing a carnival.

check HERE and back (here) for updates.

and while the following goes against most of what i wrote in the last paragraph, checking out some of the participating artists might be worth your time.  so enjoy:

there are and will be many others, rest assured and for the record, this is one of the things i do because my life depends upon it.  i mean, just so you know i know what i’m talking about & shit.

About thesupercoda

A weekly experimental cabaret
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2 Responses to The Enigmatic Success of Experimental Song

  1. Allan Andre says:

    How do I become part of this festival? I work in a similar vein and several of these people are friends.

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