24 Feb 2011

Postmodernism as Topic #1: Deerhoof's Multicultural Metropolis

Pop music, or perhaps pop post-Beatles, is an inherently postmodern art-form. Specific areas of pop music go even further in embodying the idea of postmodern art: hip hop especially, with its reliance on borrowings, recomposition and the playful combining of fragments from multifarious musical sources, but also most dance music, along with a lot of electronic music in general. This is an art-form for which the delineation of meaning depends on the shared ability of both artist and listener to navigate a multi-genre, multi-cultural network of aural signs and symbols, one which stretches back through musical history and across physical and digital space. Yet this seemingly complex process of signification is too culturally ingrained within the pop community to be much reflected upon. Such postmodern tools of meaning production are used, as I’ve tried to argue many times in this blog, to articulate ideas outside themselves, beyond any reflexive compulsion to understand the systems behind the operation of these tools. Pop music can ‘mean’ too potently and too effectively to waste much time exploring how it comes to ‘mean’ in the first place.

2 Feb 2011

Halcyon Narcosis: Deerhunter and the Darkness Beneath

The more I listen to Deerhunter's Halcyon Digest, the more I'm convinced that it's haunted. As I familiarise myself with each track, so I'm sure that I can perceive the same shadowy presence beneath the surface of each. Reading around online reviews today, I wanted to see if anyone else sensed this presence as much as I do, and I was fairly surprised to find myself quite alone in my interpretation. And yet I can't shake it - the face that I can just see in my mind's eye (or ear), printed deep beneath each track, gains clarity with each new hearing. It is all the more convincing because, for me, this pervasive face which keeps flashing or flickering out of focus seems to hold the record together, and to provide the clues to why the album seems so much more than a 'celebration' of Bradford Cox's real and imagined memories. However the band may have wished to have constructed their latest album, the whole thing was built on a grave site from the start.