Sunday, December 1, 2013

Coming to terms

So, I realize just how pretentious it might seem for me to dictate terms, but please understand that I most want to get it straight and out of the way before I get back to what I much prefer doing- talking about Art that edifies.
So, some terms have been over-used to the point of being meaningless . Like "Punk", for example. For me, "Punk' refers to a structural formalism in music, mixed with an attitude of urgency.  As in, the "anyone can do it' element basically is saying "Look, follow these rules, and you'll get these results"- hence "Loud Fast Rules"- get the idea? But that urgency that can be confused with aggression- that's equally important. If you don't have a burning reason for the loud fast rules, you'll soon be playing rockabilly or show tunes.
"Psychedelic" is another term that I'd like to set down. Usually, it is taken to mean "trying to simulate a drug experience" which seems foolish to me, since experience is subjective and individual. I prefer to think of the term as referring to a rapid shift in perception that alters thinking. So, those whooshing guitars are meant to evoke, say,  jet fighters or a bullet train so that you'll think something different about both the guitar, and the jet fighter- get the idea?
Then, there's "Stoner". Again, usually meant to talk about drugs- Pot, to be specific. I look at the function of drugs, with this term- being Stoned is being chemically altered to be more comfortable with a situation than you would be otherwise.  There are lots of drugs out there that do that- Beer to Cocaine to Xanax. Likewise, add a lot of distortion and a steady beat, and some simple guitar line can seem awfully comfortable, and if you remove all that, the actual notes might seem awfully sing-songy or discordant.
So, if I refer to something as "Stoner Rock" I mean something very, very different from "Psychedelic Rock"- get the idea?
Let me get pretty concrete and real, here- I think Red Fang play Stoner Rock, and Baroness play Psychedelic Rock.  I think neither is punk, even though they apply a formalist structure to their songs. They don't have the urgency of, say, Kylesa, who do have a kind of punk approach to both stoner and psychedelic rock- starting to make sense? Furthermore, please note that none of these are value judgements- simply judgements - I like all three bands, and consider them all valuable.
So, if you disagree on terms, fair enough- but this is how I mean them, so bear it in mind as I do the next few discussions...

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