Saturday, February 27, 2016

Reflekting on music: Locks and keys?

So a fascinating thing happened. I received the Reflektor album by Arcade Fire and immediately loved it. Until then I’d considered the band likable enough to hold onto three of their albums and listen to them now and then. Reflector, in general, seemed to blow the others away, and I listened to it quite a few times over the next few weeks. And then…

I listened to The Suburbs again, previously my marginal favorite, and quite wonderfully, most of the songs now sounded significantly better! I had to re-assess my opinion of the album. And then I went back to Funeral and Neon Bible, and suddenly enjoyed most of the songs much more than I had previously.

While Reflektor easily remains my fave, it did something hard to understand. It suddenly unlocked something which enables me to connect better with all – or at least most of – the band’s music. That’s challenging to wrap my head around. Every track exists independently of the catalogue… right? So what is it that became unlocked? What did Reflektor allow me to move past? Some kind of single weird prejudice in my psyche? Or some element of style common to so many of their songs?

Now – this has happened before a couple times but never to this degree, at least that I’m consciously aware of.

I have never thought – at least for as long as I can remember – that there is anything inherent in any song which truly makes it good, bad, genius or otherwise; that all these judgments we arrogantly spray at songs reflect only on our personal instinctive connections to them. That the songs which society generally approves of are only chosen because they happen to connect well with a greater number of individuals, which says nothing of inherent quality. So of course patterns emerge; common well-received elements which artists try to emulate out of awareness that these elements are generally well received. But our judgments of songs – or most art – reflect almost entirely on our own instinctive mind, and judgments from professional critics reflect academic success or failure based on patterns which does nothing to illuminate the true value of music which still remains clouded in the depth of instinctive mind.

How much of this great variety – or discrepancy – in the appreciation of specific music is due to individual barriers in listener’s minds? Doors which can be suddenly unlocked?


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