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View Full Version : Who are the most 'important' acts of today?



Buick6
04-07-2005, 07:04 AM
I'm talking sonically, ideologically, politically?


Is it M.I.A ?

Coldplay?

Is it Eminem?

Is it all the 'queer' artists: Rufus Wrainright, antony, Le tigre...?

Is it the White stripes?

Missy Elliot?

Seriously who would you say is really important in today's rock/pop/techno muzak climate?

soundslike1981
04-07-2005, 07:32 AM
What's the working definition of important here? Will become canonical? Will become standard issue must-buy "pop history" that kids getting into music will buy in 20 years to know what the early century was about? Is musically innovative? Is the current commercial trend?



I've felt like Bjork is/will be one of the "important" major label/mainstream artists of the last 15+ years. I think the things she synthesises represent a truly modern pop.

Other than that, there's no body that I ever think of in those terms at all. It's just "what I like". But "nowness" isn't a criterion that I use much.

Nick Gutterbreakz
04-07-2005, 07:51 AM
It's just "what I like". .

Same here. Messing my head up right now are Plasticman, Vex'd, Toasty, Skream, etc...

gabriel
04-07-2005, 08:38 AM
"will become canonical" seems like a decent definition.

soundslike1981
04-07-2005, 08:26 PM
"will become canonical" seems like a decent definition.


HMV 3 for 20 canonical, or people-who-think-about-music-50%-or-more-of-the-day canonical? ; )

In Moll
04-07-2005, 09:25 PM
Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective, Ariel Pink, Devendra Banhart

zhao
04-07-2005, 09:31 PM
without too much thinking over:

Ryuji Ikeda

Pan Sonic

Alva Noto

Sizzla

Jack Rose

etc etc etc...

Buick6
04-07-2005, 11:55 PM
"will become canonical" seems like a decent definition.

yeah that nails it. I guess 'canonical' aesthetically is the more relevant term, but I was wondering also artists that have a social relevance like say Public enemy or Rage against the Machine or Bob Dylan - but music as a political tool these days generally gets laughed at. You know i'm think along the lines that you know listening to the Velvets or the Stooges or nick Cave might make you interested in great literature or heroin or art or whatever.

i mean do ColdPlay or even U2 inspire you want to seek out lesser known and greater art than their supposedly own?

minikomi
05-07-2005, 02:17 AM
i think a few will be

oval, afx, keith fullarton whitman. . .

just for the fact they produce amazing creative output that very much 'current' (to us)

Pearsall
05-07-2005, 05:08 AM
Wiley

Rachel Verinder
05-07-2005, 06:05 AM
gillian welch
christian fennesz
brian higgins/xenomania
neptunes
drenchng/pleasure improvers

order negotiable

gabriel
05-07-2005, 08:47 AM
HMV 3 for 20 canonical, or people-who-think-about-music-50%-or-more-of-the-day canonical? ; )

haha, good point. 'me canonical', i think!

qwerty south
05-07-2005, 10:15 AM
eminem

jay-z

roots manuva

skinnyman

simon silverdollar
05-07-2005, 10:28 AM
dizzee, villalobos, lenky, and may be someone like Black Dice.

brotherjames
05-07-2005, 10:42 AM
Lightning Bolt
Animal Collective
Sigthings
Outkast

dozer
05-07-2005, 02:11 PM
venetian snares. hands down...

dozer (http://dozerblog.blogspot.com/)

Lee Trundle
05-07-2005, 03:32 PM
Don't front on Crazy Frog.

Lee Trundle
05-07-2005, 03:35 PM
Don't front on Crazy Frog.

And Roll Deep also. There's isnt too much to choose between 'Avenue' and Crazy's Frog's new joint.

nonseq
05-07-2005, 06:36 PM
dizzee, villalobos, lenky, and may be someone like Black Dice.
I was going to say I haven't heard much from Lenky lately, then I found out about his new riddim Bubble Up.
Did I miss something or did he do, after Dreamweaver, only remixes and exclusive production?

Badmarsh
05-07-2005, 06:41 PM
I'd say Roll Deep, DJ Hatcha, Digital Mystikz, and a few key behind the scenes engineers who trust me are so important to what u hear and see...but don't get the recoginition (they dont particularly want it) but bigthem up anyway.

soundslike1981
05-07-2005, 10:40 PM
Outkast as canonical I won't mind seeing. They'll be taken as the Sly & The Family Stone of the 90s/00s.

kingofcars
06-07-2005, 12:13 AM
as fas as canonical early 21st century music, i'd rank timbaland and the neptunes right at the top. they've had more impact on pop music and countless niche facets of 'underground music' than basically everyone else put together.

gabriel
06-07-2005, 08:04 AM
I was going to say I haven't heard much from Lenky lately, then I found out about his new riddim Bubble Up.
Did I miss something or did he do, after Dreamweaver, only remixes and exclusive production?

the only thing he did between dreamweaver and bubble up was the 'qv weaver mix' which was the vocals from dreamweaver riddim remixed over a superfast soca-style beat. he's just put out a one-off single from wayne wonder (ie nothing else on the riddim) called perfect combination, also on the 40/40 label.

labrat
06-07-2005, 08:56 AM
Gay Dad
S.m.a.s.h.
Campag Velocet
Orlando
These Animal Men

huffafc
06-07-2005, 09:10 AM
in specifically canonical terms, not necessarily my favorites, but what I think will be remembered in top ten lists covering the past 10 years or so:

Ill reiterate the neptunes and timbaland for all things pop, electronic, or hip-hop

the boredoms, boris, keiji haino, and maybe lightning bolt for the noise and the rock, especially the more open-ended kind

tim hecker, wolf eyes and fennesz for more experimental electronic stuff

animal collective, devendra banhart, and jeweled antler collective from the weird (I would love to see some Scandinavian bands like avarus and lau nau get recognized as well.)

venetian snares, donna summer, richie hawtin and dj/rupture from the more beat oriented underground electronic

dipset, swisha house, and wiley for the slightly sub-superstar hip-hop diaspora

of course, all this assumes an english/american music nerd centered viewpoint. it would be much harder to pinpoint who would be canonized on a more cross-cultural and global scale.

labrat
06-07-2005, 10:25 AM
Five Thirty
Adorable
Levitation
Baby Amphetamine
Brigandage

michael
06-07-2005, 10:41 AM
Five Thirty
Adorable
Levitation
Baby Amphetamine
Brigandage
Heh, I really hope you just made those up... :)

owen
06-07-2005, 04:31 PM
i actually agree with nearly all of these *musically*, specially wiley, fennesz, lenky...but ideologically, politically? no fucking idea. much of this stuff is in a bit of a vacuum there.

labrat, you've forgotten kingmaker

satanmcnugget
06-07-2005, 05:15 PM
gonna go with Dizzee Rascal, MIA, DJ Rupture and GodSpeedYouBlackEmperor (no, really)

nonseq
06-07-2005, 06:10 PM
the only thing he did between dreamweaver and bubble up was the 'qv weaver mix' which was the vocals from dreamweaver riddim remixed over a superfast soca-style beat. he's just put out a one-off single from wayne wonder (ie nothing else on the riddim) called perfect combination, also on the 40/40 label.
cheers I'll check em out

soundslike1981
06-07-2005, 11:02 PM
gonna go with GodSpeedYouBlackEmperor (no, really)


If this is true, then things really have fallen considerably in the world of "rock and roll". I mean, I'm not a huge Joy Division fan, but I can still see the confluence of influence and popularity and mythicality. But God Speed You Black Emperor? Yikes.

Buick6
07-07-2005, 09:50 AM
I've never heard of any of the shmeckeckie bands.

They all sound like that pratty fucken shit that NME and MM useta chapion every week.

SHIT SHITE AND MORE SHITE!

It's amazing how irrellevant magazines like NME become once you get laid or turn 25 or both!

But I remember when I was last in London back in January 1989(!!) and Lou Reed was on the cover after releasing 'New York'(!!)

It seems that the NMW and MM and Select and VOx and all the other crap just became Mojo, Uncut etc..etc et. bloody cetera.

The only UK magazine I may buy once a blue moon is WIRE or SIGHT and SOUND and the odd Mojo.

Elan
09-07-2005, 10:49 AM
Ummm....

in no particular order

K0S
Buck 65
Broken Social Scene (I feel like I am cheating there because I want to include all those who are involved, and that's a lot - Feist, Stars, Metric, etc)
Rufus Wainwright
Arcade Fire

Godspeed...may indeed be 'important' but it's so hard to say what will be canonical in the future, or even who's canonical now. And God knows, when I listen to the radio there's evidence of different 'canons' all over the place - even with this list, some get more across-the-board airplay than others.

piratestyle
09-07-2005, 02:03 PM
labrat, you've forgotten kingmaker
wot no Fretblanket?

piratestyle
09-07-2005, 02:29 PM
If this is true, then things really have fallen considerably in the world of "rock and roll". I mean, I'm not a huge Joy Division fan, but I can still see the confluence of influence and popularity and mythicality. But God Speed You Black Emperor? Yikes.
Godspeed could be seen as important in how they've led so many self-important male bores with a guitar to drag whatever spark or worth post-rock once had into the widdly overwrought obvious-build-up WOW 27 MINUTE TRACK!!! mire. imho.
I can't decide if this is like blaming Marx for communism's wrongs etc. But after I fell asleep stood-up at the last Godspeed show I went to I've never revisited one of their records. And swore never to buy another after the last 2 Silver Mount Zzzzion ones. More politically/ideologically important in some respect, I can give them that. But people will no doubt conflate that with musical worth, it's already the case now...

Buh yeah. Timba/Neptures, Rupture, Wiley/Dizzee, Radiohead, Snares, Wilco, Lenky, my personal obv ones. Of recent years. For assorted reasons, some more contestable than others. Anti-Pop too perhaps, rather than Anticon... Liars maybe, if the next record is as great a step-up as the last one was from their debut. TV On The Radio, though it's early days yet. I'd like to think Wolf Eyes too (though I wouldn't have said that until I saw them live)...

I get this nasty feeling the likes of Coldplay esp have had 'canonical status' already ascribed to them way in advance by too many quarters, on all 3 levels (sonically/ideologically/politically); or at least will unquestioningly be considered so, a long long time before any of those people have mentioned ever will. Ho hum. I'm wishfully trying to pretend The Libertines/Strokes won't be though, against my better/cynical judgement..

Ness Rowlah
10-07-2005, 12:53 AM
I've got a feeling that the Red Hot Chilli Peppers might create
something really great one day (as in stick to less than 50 minutes
of music and really let those outside influences they sometimes quote
get through).

originaldrum
10-07-2005, 01:56 AM
heh heh. this thread is pure jokes, i'm surprised someone has mentioned trim yet

Elan
10-07-2005, 07:59 PM
Coldplay may well be canonical now because of the other groups who sound like them that have suddenly sprung up, not to mention their own self-generated competition with U2 - they want to be big. (I can't even tell if the videos for "Speed of Sound" and "City of Blinding Lights" are imitating each other or what.)

I don't think there's many jokes on this thread...to each their own, y'know?

Loki
11-07-2005, 08:36 AM
animal collective, devendra banhart, and jeweled antler collective from the weird (I would love to see some Scandinavian bands like avarus and lau nau get recognized as well.)

Second that; the twin spokes of beardy weirdy sub-rock, acid folk etc etc coming from Finnish scene and the multiple afterthoughts of the Jewelled Antler / Animal Collective/Joanna Newsom brigade will definitely be remembered and re-invoked in years to come if only because they've dragged home-recording back into the frame when every other 'indie' label is really a sub-set of a major or a fishing pool...

In 2023 we'll all be marvelling at the Animal Collective comeback gig at Glastonbury Festival (and by then it'll be entirely under some kind of geodesic dome, air-conditioned for arthritus knuckles and selling mulled wine steeped in salvia by the tumbler-full...)

Looking forward to it, if only so I can be as smug as the tossers who pretended to have seen The Velvet Underground....

Thinking about it, I'd better book my A.C. tickets now...

blissblogger
13-07-2005, 02:10 AM
If this is true, then things really have fallen considerably in the world of "rock and roll". .

"importance" in that sense has ceased to be a possibility hasn't it, really? the mechanisms that create importance in that old rockist (not a dirty word) sense -- ie. the 40 minute album that you listen to all the way through, reverentially, and take as an integrated Statement; the single that is singular and not just a CD-selling marketing tool (remember when rock bands prided themselves on doing singles that weren't on the album? oh, sorry, you're too young aren't you); centralised mass-media outlets (Radio One), rock press that was read and taken seriously etc etc

that particular formation (album/single/radio/rockpress) was ailing from the mid-Eighties, hit by the near-synchronous arrival of the CD (meaning you don't listen to the album reverentially as a Work, but program the best bits), MTV (different mode of engagement -- and severely impacts role of radio), decline of the pop chart in sales terms, explosion of niche markets and fragmentation, decline of serious rock press...

mp3s ipods etc would seem to augur the final absolute demise of that formation

"it's all about the song" now -- ie. the individual unit of consumer pleasure

up til now "importance" in that old rockist/auteurist and social/resonance sense continues as this sort of emptied-out half-life that only has meaning with things like the Mercury Prize, quality newspapers drawing up lists of the best records etc ... cf things like the Oscars, meaningless,,,

but i wonder how much longer even that will survive given the nature of how music is produced, consumed, distributed etc in the mp3 era

...as well as the structures and mechanisms that create "importance", another thing that's gradually faded of course is the will to believe in such a thing -- people aren't looking for it so much, they're more looking for entertainment, diversion, or a drug-surrogate mood-modifier kick-buzz/chill-pill

so all that's left is "important to me -- and maybe a small number of likeminds"

i think this -- both the technological determinism angle and the consumer-side decline in demand for "importance" -- it must have something to do with why the Noughties has not produced a figure comparable with, say, Bowie.... or even with Bjork or Beck.... i'm not talking "as good as" artistically, i'm talking that nebulous quality "important" which is something like "really good artistically" but in such way that it's taken as "significant" by a large number of people, who then listen and await further statements from the artist...

the nearest equivalent to this, this decade...i dunno... kanye?

soundslike1981
13-07-2005, 05:45 AM
I think my point about GSYBE was contingent upon the the point you're making, Blissblogger, not opposed to it. I meant: shouldn't the apparent freedom of choice now available to a listener/consumer of music (or even of "indie rock"), and the purported lack of hegemonic figures (for better or worse) like Bowie (or even Radiohead) making culturally pervasive albums, result in something better than GSYBE as a representative of "important"? In other words, if the popularity of music is no longer driven by mass-pop-cultural/marketing phenomena, but rather by the tastes of listeners alone, then it would seem to follow that there would be a premium on inventiveness and fun, rather than marketability. And yet, I'd say both culturally and qualitatively, "rock and roll" has maintained the blinders of the mythical "LP age" (or the non-LP single age) and even lowered musical standards. And yet, from what little interaction I have with people who still believe in "rock and roll," the LP-era sense of "importance" (defined as something bigger than "what I like") is still very, erm, important. I wasn't lamenting the passing of this definition of importance; to the contrary, I was lamenting the continuation of it, coupled with a diminution of musical importance (in the post-punk sense). I was lamenting the fact that freedom has apparently resulted in blandness affecting innovation (within the sphere or r'n'r, at least), if GSYBE actually represents a high water mark for contemporary rock and roll. But maybe that became a given as soon as "indie" ceased to refer to a mode or production/distribution and became a codified aesthetic--one which seems to feel unambitious even as it superficially liberalises its musical borrowing points (in contrast, at least to me, with the post-punk zeitgeist).

I've assumed that "canonical" is a bankrupt concept in pop music, given the diffusion of the genuinely popular experience on the Beatles or even Bowie scale. In theory, this would be a good thing. And yet, I think it's just any sense of standards for determining a canon that have disappeard, not the concept of the canon itself. And this seems to result in music that sounds like it's trying to become canonical, given to the most banal sort of musical safety/"seriousness". One good thing about the idea of a canon is that, at the very least, it should minimise the centrality of fashionability. And yet, GSYBE seems to combine the worst aspects of canonical hierarchicalisation and fashionability---they epitomise the empty "canon" that that has currency with an underexposed, fashion-as-content, neo-centric mind still concerned with the (false?) sense of "importance" that made sense in the pre-internet era. GSYBE, and the way in which their (younger) listeners describe them, belies the idea that kids aren't looking for cultural significance/LP-style musical reverence in their music.

I guess I'm just a curmudgeon. I feel fortunate to have essentially no limits to the music I can hear/consume/appreciate other than my own readiness to "get" any given music. And I don't see that freedom as being at odds with the continuing significance of location/scene/time: if I were a musician, I think the opportunity to listen truly broadly would only up the ante for my own musical ambition. But for whatever reason, at least for young people, the freedom of the mp3 age seems to be mostly talk--kids aren't listening very broadly, or if they are, it's not causing any musical awakening. Supposedly, kids "won't be fooled again"--no one will believe in music as important beyond its aesthetic/personal bounds. But the pervasiveness of something like Pitchforkmedia in determining what gets heard/liked seems to have all the trappings of a "movement" except any sense of meaning or purpose. I'd rather see no movement/importance, or one that takes the risk of considering itself overtly meaningful; but this nowhere hybrid seems particularly vapid.

Tim F
14-07-2005, 05:18 AM
It's hard, from the perspective of someone who missed out on the glory days, to really understand the importance of the domination of Radio One/Melody Maker/"meaning in rock" etc. etc. as a pre-conditional adjunct to this really mindblowing experience of the importance of music.

I have to pretend that there is some quality of intensity to all yr relationships to music back in the 70s/80s that I simply don't have access to, cannot conceive of. This appears dubious to me only because I can't really imagine how my relationship to music could be <i>more</i> intense bar devoting my entire life to it - and it's not like prior generations haven't struggled with balancing life/work/relationships/hobbies etc.

If the argument rests on a more limited point - the point that we can no longer take for granted simple "truths" (like the "truth" that [x] is a universally important artist) - then I think we have to recognise that, as much as iPods, this is something that "we" have achieved. The very insistence on the freedom and the <i>duty</i> to deviate from the public opinion that enshrines Coldplay or whoever as innovators is the same insistence that tends to undercut and erode any counter-narrative of widely regarded <i>important</i> artists.

I was in Synthaesia today (a Melbourne record store chock full of noise, krautrock, hyper-esoteric IDM etc etc) and despite the absolute score find of a second hand 12 inch of 4 Hero's "Students of the Future" in a secluded crate, flipping through all those handcrafted packages of found-sound curios and the like was an unsurprisingly ennervating experience. "How", I wondered to myself, "does anyone think they're achieving anything by getting their heads around all this stuff?" But of course I had to remind myself that I reserve the very same prerogative in relation to grime, dancehall etc...

I can see the attraction of there being some level of hegemonic consensus surrounding what is "important", but then I've rarely come across a music critic who didn't appear to feel uncomfortable the moment they <i>realised</i> they were part of such a consensus (the alternative of course is to blind yourself to the fact by always maintaining that you're part of an ongoing counter-narrative against the masses, as if being a Dylan fan has some permanently rebellious quality).

Loki
14-07-2005, 01:54 PM
It's hard, from the perspective of someone who missed out on the glory days, to really understand the importance of the domination of Radio One/Melody Maker/"meaning in rock" etc. etc. as a pre-conditional adjunct to this really mindblowing experience of the importance of music.

These are your glory days. Every age is golden - there's always more good music out there than there's ever been before...

Or maybe it's just me.

labrat
14-07-2005, 02:00 PM
Sheep On Drugs
Stump
Tangerine
Apoll0 440
Foreheads In A Fishtank

DigitalDjigit
14-07-2005, 05:25 PM
The original question was pretty clear to me until some of you started muddying the water by trying to figure out what it meant. Answer what you think the question is asking.

Anyway, right now I would say the whole DFA stable is important. In fact there are 2 threads about them at the top of the music category right now.

blissblogger
14-07-2005, 05:43 PM
If the argument rests on a more limited point - the point that we can no longer take for granted simple "truths" (like the "truth" that [x] is a universally important artist) - then I think we have to recognise that, as much as iPods, this is something that "we" have achieved....
I can see the attraction of there being some level of hegemonic consensus surrounding what is "important", but then I've rarely come across a music critic who didn't appear to feel uncomfortable the moment they <i>realised</i> they were part of such a consensus

this is another factor, you're right...

i can track it personally through something like Pazz 'n' Jop, which is a machine for constructing consensus (within a critical community) (as if that mattered! or had anything to do with "the real world')... when i first started voting in it in the early nineties, i would do 'tactical voting', believe it or not... i guess at that time my favorites intersected a bit more with the consensus or something... it seemed like it counted for something (i can't imagine what!) if artist X placed a bit higher... so i would shuffle my point allotments around, leave out somebody that was so obscure nobody else would vote for it ---- sound absurd doesn't it! ... but in recent years -- maybe the last six or so... i haven't been arsed to do this, just submitted exactly the same list of faves, more or less, as i'd submit to Wire, to Uncut, and do on my website/blog... and i get the impression that whether through loss of belief in the very idea and point of critical consensus, or just desire to flaunt their idioysncracy, this is more and more the norm with pazz voters... although you still get a certain core of consensus-subscribers whose list of personal faves has that chosen-by-committee quality (often these are like the resident rockcritic at a newspaper, or editors)...
the pazz chart, in its upper reaches at least, tends to be based around some kind of idea of "importance".... although too often it designates "would be construable as important--if people other than critics liked it"


"important", it's a word i'd never be able to use these days.... partly cos it's innately kinda lame and drab sounding but also it rests on all these almost completely eroded assumptions.... if i felt the impulse to use it in a review i'd immediately switch into sceptical mode, 'important--to whom?' .... 'important" plugs into all those grand questions of what power music has, can it change anything etc... alll best avoided thinking about! ... yet i'm sure some while back that word would have tripped off the typewriter fairly easily, 'the young gods are the most important band blah blah' (well i'd have tried to phrase it using more exciting language but the underlying concept would have been there)

re "glory days"

i'm not lamenting the unviability of "importance" so much as just recognising that the structures, mechanisms, etc that enabled its use have all but gone

at the same time you have to acknowledge that certain kinds of affects, engagements, convergences etc were made possible within that formation*.... and it's not clear yet what the new structures of distribution/ etc are enabling, in terms of affects, etc

the other thing to acknowledge is that the past moments of consensus are myths... dylan/woodstock/sex pistols/Smiths/acieeed/nirvana... yes X-huge number of people were gathered in this one "spot" but what all the people who weren't.... like 'god save the queen' was #1 but punk in 77 was outsold by prog rock and by disco.... the "unanimity" is constructed around various exclusions of certain kinds of consumers, by race, sex, class etc

this is all true and yet it's also true that these illusory convergences have proved to powerful myths, in terms of motivating and mobilising... productive illusions

it's not clear that the state of dis-illusionment we currently inhabit is necessarily a better place, or productive of anything

i suppose what i'm talking about is really a kind of grand recit, a macro-narrative, that has largely crumbled

it's the absence of that, i think, that makes the bustle in that hipster store you went to seem inexplicable or inconsequential... i feel that sometimes in the equivalent record stores in nyc.... or reading the Wire...
the way hipster music culture just perpetuates itself, reshuffling the influences, draws up its lineages... to what end?

what happens, though, is that instead of the "unexamined assumptions" of the macro-narrative, you just
get the unexamined assumptions of micro-narratives -- genre-ists who happily debate within the terms of that genre where they've installed themselves, taking its crucialness for granted, rarely making the case for it as a whole

^^^^^^^^

* "that formation"
for various reasons i'm thinking that formation could be designated Analog, and the succeeding formation that emerged-- initially overlapping, then eclipsing, and now burying it--could be called Digital

Buick6
15-07-2005, 10:05 AM
this is another factor, you're right...

i can track it personally through something like Pazz 'n' Jop, which is a machine for constructing consensus (within a critical community) (as if that mattered! or had anything to do with "the real world')... when i first started voting in it in the early nineties, i would do 'tactical voting', believe it or not... i guess at that time my favorites intersected a bit more with the consensus or something... it seemed like it counted for something (i can't imagine what!) if artist X placed a bit higher... so i would shuffle my point allotments around, leave out somebody that was so obscure nobody else would vote for it ---- sound absurd doesn't it! ... but in recent years -- maybe the last six or so... i haven't been arsed to do this, just submitted exactly the same list of faves, more or less, as i'd submit to Wire, to Uncut, and do on my website/blog... and i get the impression that whether through loss of belief in the very idea and point of critical consensus, or just desire to flaunt their idioysncracy, this is more and more the norm with pazz voters... although you still get a certain core of consensus-subscribers whose list of personal faves has that chosen-by-committee quality (often these are like the resident rockcritic at a newspaper, or editors)...
the pazz chart, in its upper reaches at least, tends to be based around some kind of idea of "importance".... although too often it designates "would be construable as important--if people other than critics liked it"


"important", it's a word i'd never be able to use these days.... partly cos it's innately kinda lame and drab sounding but also it rests on all these almost completely eroded assumptions.... if i felt the impulse to use it in a review i'd immediately switch into sceptical mode, 'important--to whom?' .... 'important" plugs into all those grand questions of what power music has, can it change anything etc... alll best avoided thinking about! ... yet i'm sure some while back that word would have tripped off the typewriter fairly easily, 'the young gods are the most important band blah blah' (well i'd have tried to phrase it using more exciting language but the underlying concept would have been there)

re "glory days"

i'm not lamenting the unviability of "importance" so much as just recognising that the structures, mechanisms, etc that enabled its use have all but gone

at the same time you have to acknowledge that certain kinds of affects, engagements, convergences etc were made possible within that formation*.... and it's not clear yet what the new structures of distribution/ etc are enabling, in terms of affects, etc

the other thing to acknowledge is that the past moments of consensus are myths... dylan/woodstock/sex pistols/Smiths/acieeed/nirvana... yes X-huge number of people were gathered in this one "spot" but what all the people who weren't.... like 'god save the queen' was #1 but punk in 77 was outsold by prog rock and by disco.... the "unanimity" is constructed around various exclusions of certain kinds of consumers, by race, sex, class etc

this is all true and yet it's also true that these illusory convergences have proved to powerful myths, in terms of motivating and mobilising... productive illusions

it's not clear that the state of dis-illusionment we currently inhabit is necessarily a better place, or productive of anything

i suppose what i'm talking about is really a kind of grand recit, a macro-narrative, that has largely crumbled

it's the absence of that, i think, that makes the bustle in that hipster store you went to seem inexplicable or inconsequential... i feel that sometimes in the equivalent record stores in nyc.... or reading the Wire...
the way hipster music culture just perpetuates itself, reshuffling the influences, draws up its lineages... to what end?

what happens, though, is that instead of the "unexamined assumptions" of the macro-narrative, you just
get the unexamined assumptions of micro-narratives -- genre-ists who happily debate within the terms of that genre where they've installed themselves, taking its crucialness for granted, rarely making the case for it as a whole

^^^^^^^^

* "that formation"
for various reasons i'm thinking that formation could be designated Analog, and the succeeding formation that emerged-- initially overlapping, then eclipsing, and now burying it--could be called Digital


Sorry to be so blunt, but with a discourse like that, does that then relegate all the books you've written to mere pulp?

blissblogger
15-07-2005, 05:16 PM
does that then relegate all the books you've written to mere pulp?

not necessarily, A/ cos they're documents of moments when significant numbers of people thought what they were doing was important, and B/ they're celebrations of music that is fabulous regardless of the criteria of "importance"

but i think the question i've been posing is implicit in the very scare quotes you put around 'important' in your original question...

there was a time when the tentativeness of those quote marks would never have felt to be required

but over the last--i dunno, decade maybe--people have gradually ceased making those kind of claims of importance.... or at least what we could risk calling informed opinion has stopped using that kind of justificatory language

that tells us something

for instance i think the Ariel Pink record is fabulous, the Ghost Box stuff is incredible, ... as music i think they're up there pretty high on an all-time scale, and feel reasonably confident they'll endure in my esteem and continue to measure up ... but i would never think to claim importance for them....

even the description "criminally neglected" seems a wee bit over the top and presumptuous these days....
cos as well having the idea of the artist not getting their just desserts there's a sense too of
people missing out or ignoring something that would enrich their lives... there's a kind of implicit "important" lurking behind it

DigitalDjigit
15-07-2005, 05:23 PM
What is the cause of this abandonment of the concept of importance. It coincides with the Internet age and therefore the ease of access to pretty much all of recorded music. This gives a better perspective and maybe people realise that their movement is not unique and utterly special. Or is the cause the accumulated weight of history pressing down where it is possible to be completely immersed in music recorded 20 years ago and still find new stuff. Or are the reasons due to a shift in philosophy in general?

Tim F
16-07-2005, 02:51 PM
Simon i have a reply to your post before last that I started writing but it may end up being abandoned like most things I start writing at the moment, so I just wanted to say that I agree with basically all of it! I'm glad you clarified where you were coming from.

"what happens, though, is that instead of the "unexamined assumptions" of the macro-narrative, you just
get the unexamined assumptions of micro-narratives -- genre-ists who happily debate within the terms of that genre where they've installed themselves, taking its crucialness for granted, rarely making the case for it as a whole"

Yeah I think this is a key point. The alternative between a grand narrative and micro-narratives is a false one I reckon - just because you're not assessing everything first and foremost in terms of widespread socio-cultural importance, that doesn't mean you can't look at the overall connectedness and inter-relatedness of genres, see how certain impulses which start in one area will replicate themselves in others, recognise that if one area of music started taking cues from an other area something really exciting might happen etc. etc. And just generally maintain a skeptical attitude towards the "self-evident" quality of genre - I wish there was more recognition of how genre-identity only ever exists in relation to stuff outside it. <i>War of position</i> innit.

I'm constantly struck by how formative an influence my love affair with UK Garage at age 17/18 was, in terms of shaping how I think about music generally, especially in terms of the ambiguity of its identity: here was a genre that was so obviously a composite of different, external stylistic tricks, and yet so clearly its own thing; a genre which strode the pop/underground divide so precariously but so confidently; a genre whose most generic moments could also be its most novel or creative. Recognising and falling in love with these ambiguities in UK Garage has made me seek the same things in other forms of music, and attempt to establish relationships of equivalence and metaphor... in effect, to create a macro-narrative out of a micro-narrative.

I guess neo-rockism as I understand it is pretty much the same manoeuvre, except that the elements out of which are built the relationships of equivalence (community, geography, integrity etc.) are elements of certainty rather than elements of uncertainty...

blissblogger
17-07-2005, 04:48 AM
I'm constantly struck by how formative an influence my love affair with UK Garage at age 17/18 was, in terms of shaping how I think about music generally, especially in terms of the ambiguity of its identity: here was a genre that was so obviously a composite of different, external stylistic tricks, and yet so clearly its own thing; a genre which strode the pop/underground divide so precariously but so confidently; a genre whose most generic moments could also be its most novel or creative. Recognising and falling in love with these ambiguities in UK Garage has made me seek the same things in other forms of music, and attempt to establish relationships of equivalence and metaphor... in effect, to create a macro-narrative out of a micro-narrative.

I guess neo-rockism as I understand it is pretty much the same manoeuvre, except that the elements out of which are built the relationships of equivalence (community, geography, integrity etc.) are elements of certainty rather than elements of uncertainty...


well talking about recits, grand or petit, that's a story you're telling yourself, Tim, and a compelling one, and a narrative that other people would probably subscribe to also -- but as well as being a story, it's based on stuff that's incontrovertibly true, or factual -- you didn't come up with it out of thin air -- also i think there's good chunks of the UK garage phenonemon that relate to community, geography... maybe integrity not so much ... UKG definitely was more Popist slanted than Grime which is Rockist (as i define it) through and through as far as i can see

but yeah, all these Narratives are part myth, part history -- a tissue of the real and the projected

jon savage has a piece in the new Observer Music Monthly
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/story/0,13887,1527583,00.html
that eerily parallels some of the things i've been talking about -- the Analog Vs Digital formation -- and he also notes how although History says the 1960s was Dylan Stones Beatles etc, or that 1977 was Punk, the sales figures show other stuff was more popular... in the Sixties, 'the sound of music' sold more than sgt pepper's... elton john and rod stewart outsold the pistols...

Punk was a story that people told themselves, and there were a lot of trial runs at getting that narrative started... from 1970 onwards, repeated attempts to make the argument that Music's Gone Wrong, Got Too Bloated and Out of Touch, We Need a Return to Basics, A Populist Rock Sound for the Kids... but it took until 77 for that narrative to become compelling to large enough numbers of people to take off... up til then most people were happy with Seventies music, superstar rock, prog, etc ... even Mark Perry ... he said in a Wire interview that he was basically fairly content even in 76

^^^^^^^

going back to "important", one thing people have suggested upthread has been Important meaning it's going to be seen as Landmark music, or Influential/Ancestral, by future musicians... important to the successors.... but that's a bit of a dodge i think, because that rests of the idea of a Canon -- whether it's a Rock Canon, or a Electronic Music canon, or a Street Beats Canon, or whatever... it's actually quite close to Harold Bloom's idea of the canon, how we won't know what writers today are canonical until the future when subsquent writers will embrace them and engage in the Oedipal dance called Anxiety of Influence...

but the question lurking behind this definition of importance is -- what's the importance of the Rock/Rave/Street Beat/whatever canon per se -- what's its point -- why is it a good thing

if you asked Harold Bloom, or Terry Eagleton, or other litcrit top boys, they'd doubtless come up with a macro-meta type argument re. the role of Literature

being a much younger discipline, popcrits don't tend to do this very often, although you can often infer from their approach and style and libidinized terms what their foundational assumptions re that are....

Tim F
17-07-2005, 04:11 PM
"also i think there's good chunks of the UK garage phenonemon that relate to community, geography... maybe integrity not so much ... UKG definitely was more Popist slanted than Grime which is Rockist (as i define it) through and through as far as i can see"

Yeah this is true. I guess the mediation point is that while community and geography were pretty integral to garage, its other "popist" qualities undercut the self-evident importance of these - ie. 2-step is a "london thing", it could only emerge out of London, but at the same time the end product "works" outside of this referent much more successfully than grime - which requires a basic working knowledge of its social origin in order for the listener to understand the sonic, lyrical and performative decisions being made. A lot of music could be rated according to this split I think: Baltimore Breaks maps almost perfectly onto 2-step, whereas dancehall, baile funk and reggaeton are closer to grime but not quite as extremely (the sensual component of all except grime is key maybe: it allows all sorts of listeners to construct their own "relationships of equivalence" and has probably been the driving force behind the gradual entrenchment of the "international language of booty" we currently have).

But there's an interesting contrast here in that while to understand 2-step requires less contact with the scene, : the very fact that grime makes more sense according to rockist principles (necessitating an awareness of geography, community etc.) also makes it tempting to draw easy conclusions eg. the fact that grime MCs are eager to prove their sincerity makes it tempting to simply rate them on that basis - leading to bizarre conclusions like "Dogzilla is a realer MC than Donae'o, therefore better". Whereas I think there's a sense in which 2-step is harder to account for critically - there's less of a blueprint for explaining the innovations or "importance" of e.g. Dubaholics or Bump & Flex.

Re: canon - I don't tend to like discussions of canons that actually rest on the "will people listen to this in ten years time" test, not because I'm wholeheartedly devoted to the ephemeral but because it seems like an abrogation of critical acumen to some hypothetical future population, when we should be taking responsibility for our positions here and now. On the other hand, one sense in which this understanding of the canon can be useful is by focusing on how it <i>does</i> operate in the here and now: ie. how is the music and its proponents acting to secure its own legacy. I'm fascinated by the mini temporary canons that spring up in the short-term while the "official history" is being written e.g. any discussions right now as to what the "important" Timbaland and post-Timbaland singles were, or (even more extreme) any attempts to construct a grime canon.

Ness Rowlah
17-07-2005, 11:51 PM
it's all about the "song" now -- ie. the individual unit of consumer pleasure

that's spot on Blissblogger. And with the focus on the song comes the RE-action to it.
The OPPOSITE of song. Namely prog-rock, concept albums and really _long_ songs (well -
the idea of cramming as much as possible into one piece - ie the first track of Jaga Jazzist's new CD).

DigitalDjigit
19-07-2005, 12:30 PM
For me an "important" act is someone who is spearheading a wave, a new an exciting thing. Someone who is pioneering new ground within a genre or reviving old sounds and enjoying success for it. So someone like Ferry Corsten wouldn't be important because though he may be one of the leaders in trance, trance is going nowhere and noone cares for it. DFA is at the front of that whole punk-disco thing and therefore are important.

The importance of the canon is that if you want to understand a genre, that's the stuff you should check out. These are definitive statements of that movement. It's like a shortcut. Someone had to be really into the culture for a while to work all this out and say "these acts/albums/songs represent everything that was good about that time/place/culture" and now you can check them out and see what the hype was all about. That for me is what the canon is all about.

I do not think that canonical and important need to be the same thing. For example The Prodigy were an important act because they were the face of rave in 1992. But their sound was their own thing and noone really sounded like them or took their sound further. Thus I would not place them in the rave canon. They were a facet of it but they wouldn't be a part of a compact definition of rave whereas I could take EQ - "Total Extacy" and put it in the canon. It may not have been groundbreaking but it is textbook 1992 uk hardcore.

Ness Rowlah
19-07-2005, 03:36 PM
For me an "important" act is someone who is spearheading a wave, a new an exciting thing. Someone who is pioneering new ground within a genre or reviving old sounds and enjoying success for it.
.

That would mean The White Stripes would have to go in there as a canonical band?
Even if Jon Spencer Blues Explosion came to market earlier, the Stripes seems to
be the shortcut to Punk Blues (and bands like The Black Keys, Gin Palace and so on).

Or maybe Punk Blues is not big enough as a genre (for the masses) and the same goes for Grime?

Does there even have to be a wave or genre? Can't there be standalone standout acts
in their own little genres (modern day Captain Beefhearts)?

blissblogger
19-07-2005, 04:24 PM
For example The Prodigy were an important act because they were the face of rave in 1992. But their sound was their own thing and noone really sounded like them or took their sound further. Thus I would not place them in the rave canon. They were a facet of it but they wouldn't be a part of a compact definition of rave whereas I could take EQ - "Total Extacy" and put it in the canon. It may not have been groundbreaking but it is textbook 1992 uk hardcore.

i think you're confusing 'canonical' and 'generic'. Canon, as used in literature, means the pantheon of Great Work. Something could be canonical precisely because it stretched the limits of literature or took it in a whole new path or was its own sui generis thing.

i like that Total Extacy track just fine but i don't think it's Canonic Rave in the way 2 bad mice 'bombscare' or urban shakedown 'some justice' or bizarre inc 'playing with knives' is...

indeed i'd say that anything that is so textbook as that tune would almost by definition not be Canon-worthy.

so frinstance Lenny Kravitz is no way Canon-Worthy vis the Rock Canon cos he doesn't contribute anything new

BUT he, and similar reproduction antique artists like him, are precisely one of the negative side-effects of having Canons in the first place -- ie. people trying to do it the Way it Was Done Before and the Way it Should be Done

the Kravitz Syndrome is why some people argue that we shouldn't have Canons in the first place

DigitalDjigit
19-07-2005, 05:55 PM
i think you're confusing 'canonical' and 'generic'. Canon, as used in literature, means the pantheon of Great Work. Something could be canonical precisely because it stretched the limits of literature or took it in a whole new path or was its own sui generis thing.

Is that the canonical definition of canon then? Because m-w.com says it means "orthodox". It's funny how words come to mean their opposites.

juliand
19-07-2005, 08:45 PM
Is that the canonical definition of canon then? Because m-w.com says it means "orthodox". It's funny how words come to mean their opposites.

Strictly speaking you're right--historically the canon connotes the law of a church. Its root is greek, "kanon," for rule or rod. It has the sense of discipline--the strict standard by which all things ought to be judged, a limited set of examples to follow.

This is complicated in the modern era by the beginnings of the avant-garde, and the notion of cultural progress. Thereafter, "canon" conflated both "modern" and "classical". To be canonical, a work must be absolutely of the present, looking towards the future, yet discovering there, as if by accident, the model of the classical past (Jameson's "A Singular Modernity" is great on this, but its everywhere in the familiar modernist works, from Baudelaire and Benjamin to Joyce to nearly every artistic manifesto written in the first half of the 20th century)

Thereby White Stripes would probably not count--not avant enough, though you could argue; neither is "Total Extacy" avant enough or properly "classical"

Instead: Animal Collective accidentally stumbles upon "Strawberry Fields", only here it looks so different

This may not be a sustainable model for discussing what's important in music today, as you'd need to agree on what constituted the classical past. But such an operation is certainly in place: constructing such a thing has got to be one goal of the reissue market, Soul Jazz, "Essential Masters", "Mastercuts" et cetera.

nonseq
09-08-2005, 12:02 AM
Dubstep & Reggaeton acts.
Note Jamaican influence.

Monolake.

mms
09-08-2005, 12:24 PM
Monolake.

i don't get monolake frst couple of albums were great esp the first but the last one and the new single .. bone dry and really really boring.

Ivan Polygon
09-08-2005, 06:50 PM
Dizze Rascal (no doubts about this one)
Animal Collective
Devendra Banhart
The Streets
Wilco

Ivan Polygon
09-08-2005, 10:21 PM
and Kanye West.


The question of 'importance' and 'canon making' is a very interesting one. I think nobody has mentioned yet the issue of people living in a country which 'traditionally' has been outside the scope of direct influence of English-speaking countries (I hate using the term traditionally, being so ideologically charged as it is, but it very well underlines my idea of relationships between English countries and non English speaking countries as being radically altered by the emergence of tradition in the Englit environment), I myself live in one such country, Spain. Here we receive a canon (note the ideology behind a 'received canon') which comes from England or the US and we are supposed to have to take it for granted, this has always been so with Shakespeare, and Im afraid it still very much is like this. The same happens with music. Until the emergence of internet as an alternative community-maker, we had to wait for the Spanish magazines to echo what happened in England /US, and when that happened, we received the information that this (The Smiths, Oasis, etc.) is what we had to listen to, that this is important because it is what the English-speaking community has 'chosen' to be important. Of course we could always be helped by the friend-who-had-just-came-from-London for information about what was important, but then this info was alwasy third hand, because what they usually did was to buy the NME and buy the LPs with best reviews. Yes, there was a time when doing that was enough for you to claim to be an authority on importance in Spain, silly as this argument was. However, this proved to be an essential aspect in the evolution of Spanish pop during the post-punk era, when Spain, and especially Madrid, echoed with a scene of its own what happened in London and New York.
As I see it now, canon is always a question of power, England and the US had the cultural power, and it was very difficult for Spanish bands to fight against that 'received' knowledge'. Fortunately, there have always been exceptions (some name dropping could be good here: Sr. Chinarro, Veneno, Sisa, Camaron...).
With the arrival of internet, its being easier for Spaniards to subvert certain limitations, and this explains, for instance, last year's success among the underground kids of The Arcade Fire, even though their album wasnt published until this year, or the increasing number of people following Animal Collective's music.
However, I would like to say that canon making is all the time self-renewing itself, maybe the relations of power change and the 'tradition' is consequently affected by this, but it seems to me that there will be a hegemonic canon for a long time still. Internet is clearly subverting our conceptions of Importance, but it is difficult to see where they will lead us, but as long as social relationships take place, there will always be a series of canons overlapping for a period of time, fighting for the hegemony. This doesn't necesarilly mean that we have to submit to one of them, but our own perception of music will be shaped by our relation to one or several of these canons.

dsp13
10-08-2005, 05:58 AM
shitmat - sonically, idealogically and politically for his "i don't give a toss, lets make mad crazy beats and have a good time" attitude.