REVENGE OF THE NURDS

Posted by: Matthew Duersten on October 27, 2008 @ 8:58 am
Filed under: Cryptogramophone, Culture, Music

Have California’s modernist composers become hip? There’s Steve Reich popping up on Pitchfork Media and at South By Southwest last March (interviewed by Thurston Moore!). There’s John Adams’ new memoir and its attendant “He’s Everywhere!” press tour (replete with controversial comments and the Met’s staging of his Oppenheimer opera “Doctor Atomic“.

Out here in L.A., there was the recent performances of the music of Lou Harrison, John Cage, Terry Riley and Harry Partch by the Santa Monica new music series Jacaranda; next month the Walt Disney Concert Hall will present the L.A. Master Chorale’s performance of Harrison’s La Koro Sutro paired with Chinary Ung’s two-part Spiral XII: Space Between Heaven and Earth. Hmmm, we are only left with the speculation of why this is happening: hipster fans of Sonic Youth and Deerhoof beginning to seek out their heroes’ heroes? Alex Ross, single-handedly? Hmmmm. We submit this: These guys not only have been subverting musical forms since Back in the Day, they have been offering a continuous commentary on the internal rot of American culture since before the Hippies, the Punks, the Beats, the Indie Politikers, the Noise rockers — something the young ‘uns are perhaps just starting to realize.

1 Comment

  1. As the resident indie-rocker here at Greenleaf, I may be an exception to most hipster fans of Sonic Youth and the like — I did go to music school, and do work for a jazz label with a boss who points me in directions I might never have gone in purchasing music — but I think that the internet has really opened up the market to everyone in that you can research everything in depth before running out to your favorite record store. And an artist is always the right person to point you in the direction of what to listen to.

    I think that Sonic Youth’s release, Goodbye 20th Century, opened me up to new composers like Cornelius Cardew and John Cage in a way that was way cooler than the last chapter in my music history textbook. Maybe it’s just that Thurston Moore was a better messenger.

    But it’s pretty awesome that I can go to a My Bloody Valentine show and have a conversation with someone about Steve Reich just as easily as one about Fennesz or Primal Scream. And more recently, Glenn Kotche’s release Mobile opened a lot of people up to World Music with his interpretation of the Monkey Chant (Mike’s favorite).

    And so many people are listening to everything now. Some people have pointed to earlier days when there was a Jazz camp and a Rock camp, and no one mingled. Chances are now, if you are into Jazz, you dig rock stuff, and visa versa. Everyone can appreciate good musicianship. And with so many people blurring lines, a safe and ambiguous credo might be: I listen to Good Music, and Good Music is Good.

    Cheers to a heterogeneous record wall!

    Comment by Jim — October 27, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

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