THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2016|
Posted by: Mike Montemarano
Let's be blunt about this: there is way too much gripe among the followers of countless musicians who complain far too much when said musicians explore and change their sound to a drastic degree. Some of the greatest music of any genre came through trials and tribulations and "experimental" phases in which artists tried to do something different. Those who push boundaries ought to be applauded for their ingenuity when they're doing something new that works and for exploring their own abilities where they see fit.
Musicians grow weary of repetition, especially those who belt out the same songs on tour night after night for years on end. Bob Dylan set a great precedence for the way musicians ought to take fan criticism for trying something new. When a fan shouted "Judas" at him for departing from his acoustic-only folk roots, he simply glanced knowingly at his band members and cranked the volume and distortion up to extreme levels and carried on. Without pushing any boundaries, there can't be any expectation for music to grow, develop, or change in any way, and that's not a world we ought to live in. Your favorite songs will always be there for you, and in the current pace of things, something innovative and distinguished should always be welcome.
I'll always miss the days of Tame Impala's Lonerism...where psychedelic, sunny guitars dominated the vibrancy of the band's timbre. Currents might not necessarily cut it for me as something prolific, but it's an evolution, and it's grounds for all sorts of potential. I still appreciate the record for what it does well with lush synths, but I'll feel there is a luster lacking without the shimmering guitars, and I think it's a void within the band's cadence that no other instrumentation will be able to fill. The edge has been stripped away from their aesthetic, but who knows what the future holds if the band fuses their sound or evolves from here? It's not bad; it's different, and I still will do my best to find positive qualities in the change. I think if they tried to stay the same, things would get cookie-cutter, almost manufactured through limiting creative space. I'm more thankful that such a thing didn't happen.
One of the most widely known examples of drastic change being a band's salvation can be found by looking no further than Radiohead. The transition between OK Computer and Kid A was the only thing that saved the band from losing the fight against predictability and wearing the ground thin by not treading to new places. Kid A, for many reasons, was the band's saving grace and what truly revolutionized their impression on music permanently. To accomplish this, the group had to break what was implied...they had to totally shatter their own predispositions and the conceived promise that their entire fanbase had regarding them.
Having a diverse repertoire of music has the capacity to immortalize a band's sound and give them constant growth and development. The band Swans is the epitome of what it means to never falter through constant and radical change. Emerging from the New York no-wave scene, they were part of a movement which never emerged from obscurity in its full form. Through Swans' ingenuity, they resurrected many of the best qualities to create a wonderfully atmospheric, avant-garde sound that few have tried to replicate in the same way.
If every New Order album stayed the same, stylistically, do you really think they'd be able to continue exploring their creativity as musicians under the premise of "let's make every album sound like Movement,'' thirty years down the line? I really doubt they'd still be together if that were the case. Don't get me wrong, Movement was great and certainly had its place among the emerging post-punk scene of the 80s. Also, it was a great platform for them to build their sound upon. It was what it was, and it changed, and I'm glad.
Needless to say, it takes great minds to find ways to revolutionize sound and push boundaries, and these aspects of contemporary music not only have the capacity to start movements and genres of their own, but they have the ability to save us from bands becoming too bleakly manufactured in their sound through a dulled repetition. It's a fundamentally necessary component of how good, distinguished music comes about in the first place, and we need more artists to dive right in. Of course, there is risk, but at what cost is pandering to a particular sound that you're banking on going to be worth it, years down the line?