Pretentious music, musicians and fans

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Re: Pretentious music

Postby space. invadere » 10 Oct 2018, 14:22

So?
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Toby » 10 Oct 2018, 14:23

I can't think of anything really specific that I find pretentious. I mean, to your ears, I suspect a lot of what I might find "experimental" or whatever, you'd say "that's pretentious". But then I like a lot of music that is exploratory and not afraid to take risks with the audience in a live context to do that. It's difficult - sometimes you want "a performance" - to be entertained, to hear songs you recognise and to see people "perform". But then, sometimes, I want artists to mess with that paradigm and go "ok we're going to do something different". I guess, it depends on what your expectations are of the performer and the boundaries you think that they inhabit. I do cringe when I see artists engage in what I might call "musical tourism", when they call upon some African guy playing an instrument made out of a gourd or something, and they play with them. It can be heartfelt, but it can also be awfully pretentious, like they are trying to demonstrate that they are reaching out beyond their expected boundaries or something. Perhaps people don't do that so much now that we've moved on from "world music" or whatever.

Perhaps on reflection seeing Nurse With Wound play. Unmitigated, boring nonsense that no-one in their right mind should have to suffer. There's a whole racket of noise/experimental rubbish that has done the rounds for a few years and has now reached a sort of "academic" status. Mainly it's just massively untalented blokes in their 50s called Colin who had the fortune to squiggle around with a few noise boxes back in the 80s, somehow had some records released that no-one bought and then they get called "seminal innovators" and now play the Tate Modern. That's pretentious.

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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Jimbo » 10 Oct 2018, 14:29

I find it hard to believe a band of three, four or five members can really enjoy playing the crap the leader has shit out of his or her head. While he is nodding his head or smiling the drummer is thinking, "It's a gig."
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby space. invadere » 10 Oct 2018, 14:38

Toby wrote:I can't think of anything really specific that I find pretentious. I mean, to your ears, I suspect a lot of what I might find "experimental" or whatever, you'd say "that's pretentious". But then I like a lot of music that is exploratory and not afraid to take risks with the audience in a live context to do that. It's difficult - sometimes you want "a performance" - to be entertained, to hear songs you recognise and to see people "perform". But then, sometimes, I want artists to mess with that paradigm and go "ok we're going to do something different". I guess, it depends on what your expectations are of the performer and the boundaries you think that they inhabit. I do cringe when I see artists engage in what I might call "musical tourism", when they call upon some African guy playing an instrument made out of a gourd or something, and they play with them. It can be heartfelt, but it can also be awfully pretentious, like they are trying to demonstrate that they are reaching out beyond their expected boundaries or something. Perhaps people don't do that so much now that we've moved on from "world music" or whatever.

Perhaps on reflection seeing Nurse With Wound play. Unmitigated, boring nonsense that no-one in their right mind should have to suffer. There's a whole racket of noise/experimental rubbish that has done the rounds for a few years and has now reached a sort of "academic" status. Mainly it's just massively untalented blokes in their 50s called Colin who had the fortune to squiggle around with a few noise boxes back in the 80s, somehow had some records released that no-one bought and then they get called "seminal innovators" and now play the Tate Modern. That's pretentious.


Thanks.

I'm interested in Ray's idea of artists 'claiming' to do something that's beyond them - how are these claims made manifest through their music? because that's what we're judging.

It's much easier to regard a statement as 'pretentious' but when we're talking about art, defining the term is much more slippery.
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Darkness_Fish » 10 Oct 2018, 14:49

Toby wrote:Perhaps on reflection seeing Nurse With Wound play. Unmitigated, boring nonsense that no-one in their right mind should have to suffer. There's a whole racket of noise/experimental rubbish that has done the rounds for a few years and has now reached a sort of "academic" status. Mainly it's just massively untalented blokes in their 50s called Colin who had the fortune to squiggle around with a few noise boxes back in the 80s, somehow had some records released that no-one bought and then they get called "seminal innovators" and now play the Tate Modern. That's pretentious.

But I'd have to argue that Nurse with Wound have released some of the least pretentious 'arty' music of any underground stalwart. The Sylvie and Babs Hi-Fi Companion for example, with its collages of easy listening tracks, comedy songs, and silly noises. A Sucked Orange with track titles that describe the actual sound of the record. He quite often just wanted to make fun sounds. Or, quite often, just described exactly what he did to make the sounds - that's as unpretentious as you can get: "Here's an album where I waved my hand over the top of some guitar pedals wired together".

Never fancied seeing him live though. I mean, he didn't play for decades because his first tour in the early 1980s was so bad.
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Darkness_Fish » 10 Oct 2018, 14:51

As an alternative, isn't Bruce Springsteen more pretentious? A multi-millionaire touring in stadia all over the world, giving it his blue-collar working class man of the people schtick?
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Rayge » 10 Oct 2018, 14:52

Jimbo wrote:According to my thesaurus a synonym for pretentious is "hoity-toity" and if your rock and roll is too dense, too deep, too weird, too eclectic for my taste then you smarmy twats can keep it, force it into your heads and feel the enlightenment of "getting it."


Yo La Tengo aren't 'hoity-toity' any more than they are pretentious.
And I'm not sure they have ever claimed to be rock and roll either, although they have made some fine basic rock songs, along with the melodic stuff, the inspired by Velvets-second-album tracks, the film soundtracks, the Sun Ra covers, collaborations with Jad Fair and all the other stuff on what is around two dozen albums now.

You don't like the band, fair enough, I wouldn't dream of trying to get you to change your mind: we all, after all, manufacture our own truths.
But what you're actually doing is accusing the people who do like the band, who find their music often affects them on a basic level, of being pretentious (not to mention 'smarmy' - another one for you to look up in your thesaurus - and twats, or 'cunts' to translate), of claiming to like them because they want to be seen to be 'cooler' than you. That's insulting.

FWIW I like them because Blue Line Swinger really touched me at a time when I was emotionally vulnerable, and has come to be one of the dozen or so songs I can play that I know will elicit an emotional reaction that I enjoy; that song and the album it came from led me to explore further, and find some great three-minute pop songs, some nice ambient stuff and some balls-out power-trio guitar noise work-outs, all of them in my wheelhouse, as fange would say.
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Darkness_Fish » 10 Oct 2018, 14:54

Personally though, pretentious is a criticism I don't ever proffer. Clambering on stage with a guitar saying "look at me, I've got something to say" is a pretension in and of itself. I mean, should everyone strive to be exactly what they are, be as mundane as possible, and we'd be left with a world of Ocean fucking Colour Scene? Nay, I say, nay.
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Rayge » 10 Oct 2018, 14:57

HEN wrote:I'm asking YOU what kind of music would make YOU say 'that's pretentious'. We all do it.

Ah I did not get that.
I'm not sure I do - say it, I mean :) – but I think that's basically the reason I hated (narrow definition) prog so much - because it claimed to be progress when I felt it was a grubby regression.
Manic Street Preachers also fit the bill to some extent, because of the dissonance between their claims and the stuff they served up. The La's, too. That sort of band.
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Jimbo » 10 Oct 2018, 15:00

Rayge wrote:
Jimbo wrote:According to my thesaurus a synonym for pretentious is "hoity-toity" and if your rock and roll is too dense, too deep, too weird, too eclectic for my taste then you smarmy twats can keep it, force it into your heads and feel the enlightenment of "getting it."


Yo La Tengo aren't 'hoity-toity' any more than they are pretentious.
And I'm not sure they have ever claimed to be rock and roll either, although they have made some fine basic rock songs, along with the melodic stuff, the inspired by Velvets-second-album tracks, the film soundtracks, the Sun Ra covers, collaborations with Jad Fair and all the other stuff on what is around two dozen albums now.

You don't like the band, fair enough, I wouldn't dream of trying to get you to change your mind: we all, after all, manufacture our own truths.
But what you're actually doing is accusing the people who do like the band, who find their music often affects them on a basic level, of being pretentious (not to mention 'smarmy' - another one for you to look up in your thesaurus - and twats, or 'cunts' to translate), of claiming to like them because they want to be seen to be 'cooler' than you. That's insulting.

FWIW I like them because Blue Line Swinger really touched me at a time when I was emotionally vulnerable, and has come to be one of the dozen or so songs I can play that I know will elicit an emotional reaction that I enjoy; that song and the album it came from led me to explore further, and find some great three-minute pop songs, some nice ambient stuff and some balls-out power-trio guitar noise work-outs, all of them in my wheelhouse, as fange would say.


I see how my "smarmy twats" is uncalled for but if you like YLT, douzo, keep it, own it, see them live and endure.
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Rayge » 10 Oct 2018, 15:05

HEN wrote:I'm interested in Ray's idea of artists 'claiming' to do something that's beyond them - how are these claims made manifest through their music? because that's what we're judging.

Only just seen this. I don't think their claims are made manifest in their music: for me, pretentiousness is a quality of people, of artists, rather than their art, and I was contrasting what people say in interviews and hype pieces with what they actually produce, hence my putting in a nomination for the La's and MSP.
I know the thread's called 'pretentious music' rather than musicians, but since it was Jimbo who thought up the title I just assumed he was mangling the language as usual ;)
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby The Modernist » 10 Oct 2018, 15:06

Darkness_Fish wrote:But I'd have to argue that Nurse with Wound have released some of the least pretentious 'arty' music of any underground stalwart. The Sylvie and Babs Hi-Fi Companion for example, with its collages of easy listening tracks, comedy songs, and silly noises. A Sucked Orange with track titles that describe the actual sound of the record. He quite often just wanted to make fun sounds. Or, quite often, just described exactly what he did to make the sounds - that's as unpretentious as you can get: "Here's an album where I waved my hand over the top of some guitar pedals wired together"..


See I probably might label something like that pretentious because it seems to assume that stupid gestures deserve to be released on record, but thinking properly about the term it's probably more accurately described as incredibly self-indulgent. It reminds me of when Lennon and Yoko did all those sound albums about their lives, I never liked that naval-gazing side of him. Its just very unattractive in any artist I think.

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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Rayge » 10 Oct 2018, 15:07

Jimbo wrote:If you like YLT, see them live and endure.

I do, and I'd love to, but the only time I got tickets (them and The Fugs) I had to cancel because Chip got her cancer diagnosis a couple of days before the show.
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Rayge » 10 Oct 2018, 15:10

The Modernist wrote:I never liked that naval-gazing side of him.


Really? I thought The Crow's Nest Tapes were among his most cogent works
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Re: Pretentious music

Postby The Modernist » 10 Oct 2018, 15:11

:D

Would've worked even better with "Yellow Submarine" !

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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Deebank » 10 Oct 2018, 15:12

Toby wrote:I can't think of anything really specific that I find pretentious. I mean, to your ears, I suspect a lot of what I might find "experimental" or whatever, you'd say "that's pretentious". But then I like a lot of music that is exploratory and not afraid to take risks with the audience in a live context to do that. It's difficult - sometimes you want "a performance" - to be entertained, to hear songs you recognise and to see people "perform". But then, sometimes, I want artists to mess with that paradigm and go "ok we're going to do something different". I guess, it depends on what your expectations are of the performer and the boundaries you think that they inhabit. I do cringe when I see artists engage in what I might call "musical tourism", when they call upon some African guy playing an instrument made out of a gourd or something, and they play with them. It can be heartfelt, but it can also be awfully pretentious, like they are trying to demonstrate that they are reaching out beyond their expected boundaries or something. Perhaps people don't do that so much now that we've moved on from "world music" or whatever.

Perhaps on reflection seeing Nurse With Wound play. Unmitigated, boring nonsense that no-one in their right mind should have to suffer. There's a whole racket of noise/experimental rubbish that has done the rounds for a few years and has now reached a sort of "academic" status. Mainly it's just massively untalented blokes in their 50s called Colin who had the fortune to squiggle around with a few noise boxes back in the 80s, somehow had some records released that no-one bought and then they get called "seminal innovators" and now play the Tate Modern. That's pretentious.


Another good example (I have no problem with Nurse WIth Wound though).

Damon Albarn on the Today Programme droning on iabout Chinese music and culture and his fucking awful Monkey musical. Then playing an extract from it which sounded exactly like he'd hit the 'Oriental' button on a cheap Casio (skip to 12.25 to hear exactly what I'm talking about).

I've been talking about writing a book - 25 years of TEFL - for a few years now. I've got it in me.

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Re: Pretentious music

Postby Darkness_Fish » 10 Oct 2018, 15:16

The Modernist wrote:it's probably more accurately described as incredibly self-indulgent. It reminds me of when Lennon and Yoko did all those sound albums about their lives, I never liked that naval-gazing side of him. Its just very unattractive in any artist I think.

I guess that's where you and I differ. Or more aptly, just one of the many places where you and I differ. I think an artist should feel free to release and record whatever they wish, I don't think necessarily trying to target yourself at an audience's expectations is a good thing. I mean, I'm not defending Lennon here (and I don't have a knee-jerk hatred of him, as I do with McCartney's rancid output), as I don't have a good working knowledge of his records. But you could argue that Yoko has always been more self-indulgent, and she's always been more interesting to me. Some would say that Lennon disappointed millions of his record buying fans, but does he really have any kind of obligation to keep them happy, and retread familiar ground?

It's the end-product that matters, really, isn't it? The method, or theme, or rationale behind the work can be anything. And if the artist is happy with it, they have a reason to release it. Then we sit down, listen to it, dance to it, see what kind of immediate gut-wrenching emotional impact it has, let it shape our lives, and say B.
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Re: Pretentious music, musicians and fans

Postby driftin » 10 Oct 2018, 15:27

This thread is pretty much how I view BCB as a whole.Can't wait for some of you to attempt to listen to some of my 70s cup submissions. I hope it prompts more old men yelling at clouds.

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Re: Pretentious music, musicians and fans

Postby Darkness_Fish » 10 Oct 2018, 15:34

driftin wrote:I hope it prompts more old men yelling at clouds.

That's my third track, have you not been asked to change your selection?
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Re: Pretentious music, musicians and fans

Postby driftin » 10 Oct 2018, 15:36

Darkness_Fish wrote:
driftin wrote:I hope it prompts more old men yelling at clouds.

That's my third track, have you not been asked to change your selection?

I picked the third movement, where they play it backwards and ask a shrill-voiced girl to scream Communist manifestos over it. It's wonderful.