Friday, March 2

But it's Art! Experimental Art! DO NOT CRITICISE THE ART (please)

The Pharaoh and I were talking recently about the art collective musical ensemble band named Of Montreal (wikipedia link; stupidiculous vanity site) a few days ago. He thinks they have good hooks in thought-provoking, progressive pieces. I think they have decent hooks that they ruin with a lack of songwriting skill (learn what meter means, fuckers). In other words, he likes them and I don't.

It seems to me that the notion of experimentality, of avant-gardishness, is just a defense mechanism against criticism. "It's not bad, it's ART." OK, I suppose you could be challenging the definition of "art" or "song" or "quality", but the road down which those challenges lie - i.e. postmodern relativism -- leads almost exclusively up its own asshole. The perfect expression of any craft -- whether it's musicianship, carpentry, painting, game design, whatever -- comes from creativity within the bounds of the form. Difference without alienation; creativity without abandonment of form; novelty with familiarity. On that front, Of Montreal's experiment fails; their music doesn't sound good.

Some rules you can bend, others you can't. Mastery of a form is knowing which is which.


Pharaohmagnetic said...

Mastery of the form isn't as banal as simply knowing which rules are bendable and which are not.

All the rules are bendable. Mastery of the form is having the ability to bend them well. By extension, it also includes the ability to express ideas with virtuosity while still confined by them. Therefore, adherence to the rules is orthogonal to mastery.

I need only direct you towards of E.E. Cummings, John Cage, Philip Glass, or Joan Miro to prove my point. And, I only need to direct you to a billion awkward angsty livejournal poetry pages to show you that rhyming and metrical poetry can be the worst in the world.

Of Montreal doesn't prove my point. But I never said it did.

Fraxas said...

*sigh* You're right. I took something you said out of context, and ran in the wrong direction with it.