yay-The Joy Ballad

Yup, the decade is ending. This is so crazy. I remember 1999 when everyone was panicking about Y2K like it was yesterday! What happened to all the time?! I’m dreading yet looking forward to recapping the decade. Luckily for me and you, we have blogs that are way more ambitious than mine is. Ahem. Pitchfork is definitely one of them. they are currently recapping the top albums of the Decade, after already having recapped the top songs of the decade. They also got a guest top list too, which I find a lot more interesting than the staff picks…and I think, one in particular, by Jeremy Greenspan (luff luff) of Junior Boys (hearts hearts), wrote a piece that really resonated with me:

My Thoughts on the 00:

I guess I should start by saying that I am out of touch. I think I’ve been out of touch for years. At least somehow, despite the fact that I still listen to music all the time, and think about music all the time, I’ve lost the directions, that secret knowledge of what’s goin’ on. This age of digital proliferation, of instantaneous access, has confused me to the point of total paralysis. Yet, in many ways the last ten years have been exciting for me. I started a band, and have had the opportunity to release three albums, work with some of my heroes, and go on tour with amazing bands, (Caribou, the Russian Futurists, Hot Chip, San Serac, Mouse on Mars, Ratatat, Circlesquare, and Max Tundra just to name a few) and meet many great people. when I think of the last ten years in music, I’m reminded of some truly stunning releases like Kelley Polar’s I Need You to Hold on While the Sky Is Falling, Fennesz’s Endless Summer, Berbury Poly’s The Willows, Jonathan Kane’s February, Kode9 & the Spaceape’s Memories of the Future, Marsen Jules’ and just recently the great new album by Fever Ray. I’m reminded of countless amazing 12″s by Carl Craig, Theo Parrish, Morgan Geist, Matthew Edwards, Shed, Isolée, Ikonika, Petr Dundov, Todd Osborne, Superpitcher, Vladislav Delay, etc. etc. I’m reminded of seeing great shows by Liars, Pan Sonic, the Field, Liquid Liquid, Mantler, Kraftwerk, Dan Deacon, and LCD Soundsystem. And so many great reissues of everything from Cambodian Funk to Arthur Russell, Ron Hardy, Chaz Jankel, Steve Reich, Patrick Adams, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and on and on.

And despite all this great music, and despite the great things music has brought me in the last 10 years, as a music fan, there seems to be something missing. Maybe I am getting a bit older. Maybe everything seems more exciting when you are 16 and discovering all these things for the first time. But honestly I can’t help but feel betrayed by the promise of a bold new future that got me giddy as a teenager in the 90s. Were things different back then? To me it seemed so. It felt to me like rock’n’roll was over, like the music industry was irrelevant, and that new technology was ushering in an unprecedented futurism in music that would last forever. In dance music it felt like there was an audience of dedicated listeners, who cared more about being absorbed in the music than they did about who was taking their picture or which cast member of “The Hills” was DJing. For me dance music has been reduced to something people “do” when they are drunk, kinda like “beer pong”.

I remember a time when guitars were genuinely embarrassing. I remember when finding music was hard enough to make it special when you did, and that albums weren’t reduced to soundbites that are reviewed and traded, half digested before they have actually been released. But maybe I am whinging. God knows I would never lament the death of the music industry, the Internet was the impetus that got my band signed after all. And I for one can’t wait till that physical trash called a “compact disc” is nothing more than a distant memory. And god knows that there is nothing worse than the “old guy” who goes on and on about how much better music was in “his day,” completely unaware of all the new cool things that are happening in different cities, in different cultures with different technology.

But I feel a sense of frustration with the way in which music doesn’t engage with the sweeping changes that the Internet has produced, and I sense that I’m not alone. I can’t help but lament the way in which the modernism of the 90s was stamped out and the triumph of modern indie rock, which although produces the odd good band, the odd good album, can hardly be mistaken as a sweeping paradigm shift in music culture. Music wasn’t better back then, not at all, it just seemed like it was “getting better,” and that’s what I miss more than anything. The global promise of a new type of music, a new type of experience, new methods of production, new forms of release and a connection with the looming uncertainty of the future.

This is my reflection on the past 10 years. But I’m not particularly worried that there is no future for music. Ray Kurzweil, the famous technology guru, often writes about the exponential growth of technology– that the startling changes of the past 100 years are nothing compared to what the next 100 years will bring. As the unimagined potential of the future draws closer, music thankfully won’t be able to maintain an obstinate stance, but will of course,like everything else, become unrecognizable, unclassifiable, and unprecedented.

What are your thoughts on the decade? Your tops? The worsts? DITES-MOI! TELL ME! =)

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