A Token of My Extreme

Soapbox time: I think adjectives like “inaccessible,” “noise,” “heavy,” “weird,” “eclectic” etc. are rabidly and inappropriately abused copouts when it comes to describing music.

Think about it. Take the average Joe/Jane Q. Public you know from down the street. S/he has probably referred to Korn/System of A Down/Metallica/Slipknot/Killswitch Engage as token “heavy” bands; anything with a drop-D guitar, or bass-heavy beats with poetry over top, or less than forehead-slappingly obvious melodies in 4/4 time as “noise”; or anything that hasn’t crawled out of the swamp of horribly plodding post-grunge, Nashville pop with cowboy hats, booty-promoting R&B, limpdick adult contemporary, and brain dead “classic” album oriented rock as somehow “weird” or “exotic.”

Now I recognize that all sounds like total elitist prick generalities, but we live in a world where Nickelback and Avril Lavigne are called on to perform at Olympic ceremonies and rake in millions a year on corporate-sponsored tours promoted as “KICKASS RAWK,” so… yeah. We are surrounded by people who barely even comprehend what lies beyond the “on” position of their car’s FM radio dial, let alone the truly strange, trashy, demanding, dissonant, art-damaged and utterly fascinating fringe of popular music. And while it’s tempting for us embittered, obsessive music geeks to call the general public stupid and remain smug in our assumed cultural superiority, I’m sure many, many of these people hold down jobs, raise families, and live at least somewhat fulfilling and happy lives* without attending any music shows outside a stadium venue, spending hundreds of hours cruising Amazon review pages, or having the faintest idea of who John Zorn or Captain Beefheart are.

*Unless of course they’re Kid Rock/Ted Nugent fans. Fuck those guys.

This column is for both Us, and Them. I wanted to make the inaccessible accessible. To introduce anyone that happens to stumble upon this dusty little corner of the internet to something they’ve never heard of or only in derogatory tones by others as “unlistenable garbage” and put a face on it, make it knowable. I wanted to put the most out-there jazz, the most austere and unforgiving electronic music, and the hairiest of extreme metal all on the same artistic plateau. Maybe even make people wonder why “noise” was ever considered a bad thing.

Oh, and that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with accessible, simple, and melodic music from masters of that form. I have worn out at least one Ramones CD, Motorhead still gets daily play, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend and Ray Davies all share space with Wolf Eyes and Meshuggah, and good ol’ fashioned blues is still my bread and fucking butter. You can always come back to those standards, like your favorite pair of comfortably worn and broken-in loafers. But after hearing what’s out there on the fringe, you will come back with a broader and freshened perspective and cravings for some real weird shite. Or a screaming migraine accompanied by nosebleeds. Possibly both.

First review to come.

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