Thursday, December 2, 2010
White Medal "EP" 7"
We all know evolving a genre is a good thing, but it feels like at this point all we do is take other genres and mix them together and call it progression. We have to get out of this dead slump belief that everything has been done already and there's nowhere left to go. When J.S. Bach died everyone thought that music had reached its climax and there was nothing left to do, and then Mozart and Beethoven took the reins and completely broke down all preconstructed barriers and brought musical complexity to a completely new dimension (technically we still haven't surpassed the quality of the Big 3 classicalists yet in any genre, but I'm hopeful). And look at how many new forms of music have emerged in the 200 years since then. How about how much new music has emerged in just the last 50 years? To say that everything has been done, and that it was OUR generation that was so fucking brilliant that we were the ones that got into every possible nook and cranny of music development and left no stone unturned is just shallow. This is such a fucking wrong and self-important mentality and we should be ashamed of ourselves for being such megalomaniacs. Do you really think that 100 years from now there won't be new genres of music that we could never have even dreamed of? Do you think that 200 years ago, when they said everything in music has been done already, that they could have predicted rock and roll? Jesus. What we have to come to understand is that we have no way of predicting what music will sound like in the future, and we have to accept that it will be something we could have never imagined. It's the same as the technological singularity theory, that we've predicted that within the next 50 years we will have developed AI capable of logical reasoning and the ability to teach itself, but until that happens it is absolutely impssoible to predict or even imagine/comprehend what the next big technological leap will be. It's a tough fact to face, but we're not as smart as we think we are. Anyway, I do appreciate when bands try to push things in new directions, even if it just melding two genres together, despite my hateful rant. It's still good in an experimental way, because there's a chance it could lead to a unique sound which could then in turn be crafted into something of its own, which is how all musical genres have developed. Alright, enough being an asshole, let's talk about this White Medal record. I'll preface this by saying that I am going to tear into this record a bit, and it's mostly because I am very fond of Mutant Ape, which shares its member with White Medal, and I was kind of expecting more from him. First, I like the minimalist artwork very much, the empty inner sleeve, and I like the name of the band. I like records that look clean and iconic, almost like I have that little building itself from the record's cover in my shoebox, not simply a record, if that makes any sense. Song titles are stupid, "Chance" and "Northern Mist," just boring. Alright so this is a 90s style hardcore record presented in the form of pseudo-black metal, but I guess almost all bm today is "pseudo-black metal" anyway. Laden with octave chords and structured around building up suspended tension and releasing it into crystallic twinkles is the basic premise. The intro to the record sounds so fucking much like Godspeed's "BBF3" I had to go dig the record out of my closet and throw it on just to see if it was in fact a sample White Medal used, but, no, it was just a blatant, blatant, borderline copyright-infringement rip-off. I didn't analyze it fully, because I'm not really that interested, but the difference between the two is a matter of one or two alterations to the arpeggios. That aside, White Medal has some pretty strong points on the record, particularly the foreboding atmosphere created through layered octaves over long snare rolls, and I have to say the drumming is quite good and creative. This is def not for everyone. It's basically Orchid if they decided to make black metal, right down to the late 90's high-pitched squeaky screaming, so there's something to think about what that means to you. On the one hand no one likes to see a genre die, but in this case the best thing for that late 90s hardcore was to just fucking let it die, and maybe let it re-emerge in 20 years when it's no longer the epitome of un-hipness and can be appreciated for the truly complex nuances of the musicianship found within the free-flow and thought out music of some of the better bands, particularly in regard to the creativity of the drumming. But this won't occur until the shackles of its clumsily childish aesthetic can be seen through and maybe this won't ever happen until music stops being a vessel of valuing one's coolness, but whatever, there were still tons of things about that genre that really sucked, too. It's major downfall was that it was too hip, and whatever's hip at the moment is going to be considered the lamest thing on the planet the exact moment something new comes along, until the cycle repeats and it goes from "outdated" to "really old," and can be viewed without the stigmas of its past status. Anyway, that's a long way off and I'm thankful for that, but I can't lie and say I wasn't feeling at least a bit nostalgic to hear it again, be it in a new, black metal context, because it reminds me of careless days in high school smoking pot and not being sick, some of my fondest memories. Yeah, but still I'd rather hear progression towards a new end, not towards a blend of a dead genre and a genre desperate for some new life.