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“Herein lies the truth of experimental art, spread-eagled and hoarse: it embodies humanity’s basic inability to communicate its deepest needs.” It’s tempting to blame the loss of a desire to explore new modes of musical communication on the irrationality of venue owners who drag art down with them. Indeed, as consumers, we tend to fetishize marketing to the degree at which an idea feels incomplete, untamed and childish if it lacks the structure necessary to keep it short, package it, plug it in two sentences, and describe it over cocktails. When you try to get a word in, a note out and a message past the programmed cacophony of our Information Age, you will feel that you’re up against a slave driver, and the unspoken minority reacts by talking to themselves, in freely improvised code. In the case of experimental music, the code is intentionally obscured to the point of pure reflexivity. Like taking it upon yourself to create a new language for your child – as opposed to teaching them their native tongue – and then laughing in the face of humanity when the child can’t express its need to eat, sleep or use the toilet. Herein lies the truth of experimental art, spread-eagled and hoarse: it embodies humanity’s basic inability to communicate its deepest needs. Transitively, experimental artists portray a child-like obliviousness in understanding that this breakdown in communication, and little more, describes the reality of what they practice: They say what they say because they can’t say what they really want to say. Two years ago I decided to put myself in an uncomfortable position. I armored myself in the few years of experience that I had gigging as a cellist in NYC. I brashly swallowed an opportunity to transform the café that I was working at into a legitimate venue, and discovered what it means to be a full-time curator of experimental music. If you’re a curator of experimental music, you blame the problems with venues and the problems with artists on exclusivity. It floods public perception. It brainwashes musicians. It’s a deadly rash. Case in point: I can count the active experimental “promoters” in this City on one hand. Compare that to your average indie-head talent buyer, and the ratio peels in at about 200/1. This is not because other genres of music are cheap. It is because they understand that exclusivity kills.

The Unconscious Imitated By a Cheesecake [iv]*

Experimental music operates under the principles of spontaneity.

There is no association, idea and chord too absurd. There is no known structure worth adhering to in ritual. In an experimental context, your work is rated relative to the speed and capacity of your imagination and reflexes. You live your life in avoidance of the question: Who are your influences? The fact is everything that we want to be listening to is breaking down. Influence has overcome musical propriety. Blame Pandora or praise the coordinating gestures of Modernism, either way, it is happening. You hear it bold and garishly in Hip Hop (the birthplace of sampling). You face it slightly desperately in the new generation of Classical Musicians (see LPR’s Wordless music series). Mostly and most elegantly – you hear it in electronic music, because the element of newness here is... newer (see Tim Exile’s “Family Galaxy”). Yet music has always been mutating, extending and overtaking. So why have we convinced ourselves otherwise? Why have the most experimentally minded among us decided that deconstructing a genre is a necessarily exclusive process? Is this an inevitable model?

Have You Seen That Movie “Untitled”?

I’ve toured the world, and experimental communities are strong in their intimacy. New York has an experimental community dozens of times larger than anywhere else. Sadly, the community is fractured – subject to the same scene-driven mentality dominating other genres; genres that can actually withstand being broken down into cliques due to corporate marketing of audience surplus. I’m baffled that this subdivision exists in the experimental community. Maybe it’s something we ate. A consequence here is that experimental music has become characterized simply by lack of audience. This is a problem for everyone. Nobody knows what’s going on underneath commercial success. As much as I’d like to accredit an intrinsic lack of curiosity and deafening self-interest on the behalf of those who aren’t bothering to tune in, I can’t. Life is driven by curiosity, anticipation and surprise. The question is how do we share and [iv] A chapter title out of William S. Burrough’s Cities of the Red Night.

the deli_21  Winter 2012

The Deli Magazine NYC issue #29  

The Deli is the magazine focused on the emerging indie bands and artists based in the most exciting music scene in the world: NYC.

The Deli Magazine NYC issue #29  

The Deli is the magazine focused on the emerging indie bands and artists based in the most exciting music scene in the world: NYC.

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