From the dark edges of the 'galaxy of different'

(April 24, 2016)

It has long been said that ‘new is easy different is difficult’, it's certainly a favourite phrase of mine and I’ve used it here on more than one occasion. Now however, an increasing number of artists, facing the difficulties of ‘different’ have decided to go for just plain weird rather than different. In my humble opinion, different doesn’t mean coming at your music from a point so ‘left field’ that people are either completely bemused or feel compelled to hail it as a work of genius for fear of being regarded as slightly dim. Perhaps similar overtones here of a large amount of so-called visual art, which is patently weird for the sake of weird, while critics applaud because they dare not do otherwise.

Naturally, there are always those artists that appear to come from the dark edges of the 'galaxy of different', and do ‘different’ superbly well – love it or hate it there’s a line between acceptance and derision that includes, “Not for me but I can appreciate what you’re driving at.” For example, some avant-garde jazz and ultra-progressive rock touches me not one jot but I can see where artists are coming from, while other examples appear to me to be nothing more than sheets of noise. That said, some artists leap into something so entirely bizarre that most people find it hard to even relate or attempt to grasp at a straw of understanding.

Folk in all its facets is not immune from this strangeness. We see an increasing tide of music with the 'folk' word added that could easily have any other noun you might choose coupled to it. Different as a goal can be a dangerous quest when you simply don't have it in your musical soul to be different. The scope of too many of these abortive attempts to be ‘different’ either generate something that sounds like a drunken mates singing out of tune in a session, which should never have found its way onto a recording, or doom-laden pastoral mutterings more akin to the ramblings of the inebriated, or something bearing a startling resemblance to heated piano wire struck with lead pipe while roasted cats are slowly strangled.

Now, before you blow a min fuse, let me con firm that I understand 'expression' and should you choose to inflict such parodies of expression on the world, that’s entirely your prerogative. However, should your perceived ‘magnum opus’ receive a poor review or indeed no review, please don’t send me an electric snot-o-gram demanding to know why my mind is ‘a closed vessel’ and berating this site as ‘pandering to the middle road’. Neither is true.

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