Monday, May 17, 2010

What is the attraction of extreme music? What can "extreme" even mean
nowadays, when the outer limits in every conceivable direction seem to have
been probed? Besides, extremity depends on context and expectation. If
"extreme" has any meaning at all,shouldn't it iin reference to extremity of
affect, the intensity of what the listener experiences? But then, as we can
all surely attest, it's often the softest songs, the most gently seductive
and caressing sounds, that cut you up most cruelly. Bursting into tears is a
pretty extreme reaction to a piece of music, but I can't think of any noise
record or avant-garde work that has done that to me. Whereas Al Green's "I'm
Still In Love With You" or The Smiths' "There is A Light That Never Goes
Out" infallibly devastate. The most recent thing to make this grown man sob
was Kraftwerk's "Autobahn", an innovative piece of music on many levels, but
not really "extreme" or noisy, on the contrary, all euphony and Beach
Boys-like honey to the ears. What choked me up wasn't the poignant melody
but the sheer aesthetic majesty of it, the spirit behind the work.
Conversely, I once fell asleep in a Diamanda Galas concert (and I was a fan
and admirer of her music!). The singer was aiming to conjure Old Testament
levels of affliction, abjection and grief (the work was inspired by AIDS as
a modern day plague). Yet the undifferentiated pitch of mind-rending anguish
had the effect of lulling me into a doze. On the level of affect, Galas's
work was on the same level as Mantovani. Or a mug of Horlicks.


  1. Oh dear. How lucky for us all that the subject of this little gob -your extreme performance:tears!
    is not available onstage.

    Around this time, you and your
    paunchy mates are seen to be leaving their wives and child-
    for a girl from the country--
    "an innocence resounded
    my own SOUL!
    for water!
    I HAD to leave!"

    Whilst years later your wife--having heard that your new pigeon is nursing your prostate cancer--contemplates her fortune in a bunny mug of horlicks passed-with a leer-from a young sailor.

    And she sheds not a tear.

    Sucker: your revelation is a playboy napkin by DEPENDS.
    Hold strong,MATE!
    To that urine.

  2. Re: Falling asleep at the Galas performance. I can see it happening in a number of other instances. Any mood, tone, etc. if sustained for an extended period of time usually becomes numbing, tedious, and dull after a certain point.

    And the problem with most "extreme" music is that it usually doesn't aim to be anything other than simply that. Which is a pretty two-dimension and adolescent aesthetic, I've found.