Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I have previously stressed the fact that i try to avoid reading music reviews/speculation/critique anymore, it just tires me and i find it pointless. Sometimes i do though, particularly when i am feeling bored or have too much time in my hands (not too often). And every single time i am reminded of the reasons i have avoided doing so in the first place.

A large percentage of reviews is based on purely subjective criteria, which is quite normal i guess - especially when only a handful of reviewers can seem to bother concentrating on objective information. What i really find appalling, is when their subjectivity is expressed by corny humor and mild irony. I find it extremely disrespectful to the artist, even more so when i personally consider him to be quite serious about what he is doing. Art is not to be criticised, only enjoyed (or not) and i am really shocked to think that certain listeners can get cues of what to listen from reviews like that, without investigating further. Time is precious, agreed - and there is too much music out there, so one has to get cues. But from what i gather, there is a whole lot of filtering that needs to take place afterwards.


Anonymous said...

Well, first: thanks for taking the artists side! (Always the right one).

Two things: any passionate listener shouldn't trust any writer's opinion. In my experience 98% of writers don't have any privileged knowledge of music (even as mildly as telling minor and major apart or knowing the difference between a clarinet and an oboe - wavetable and subtractive synthesis etc. It's usually just cratedigger knowledge, if any).

So it's merely more than a first opinion by someone who managed to get his/her hands on a track a couple of weeks before everybody else could, right? Don't expect anything qualified. It's pretty much like some chode at the bar says something - it can be rude and inadequate, but why should it bother you?
In the end you must be really lost if you still use reviews as a guideline what to check out. (Hopefully you'll hear the good stuff in the club anyway and run to the DJ asking what that is!)

So what is it good for at all? Which is my second point: Actually I think these days ANYTHING is usually referred to as a masterpiece. If I go through a magazine, every new house 12" review reads like we are living in the most exciting era for music ever - which is totally contradictory to the listening experience going through the new releases at the store.

An extremely negative review is likely to set off an accolade of web 2.0 response - i.e. readers who step in to defend the records that really touched their souls! (I dream...) In the end: isn't a bad review that's telling this or that is aweful more helpful than claiming another "masterpiece"?

Which is also a great social experience for music lovers and artists alike: The before anonymous people raise their voices in favour of a piece of music. A better reward to the artist than any 5* review!

PS: Stravinsky anekdote! When Igor suspected an interviewer in having insufficient knowledge of the subject, he'd ask his guest in the most friendly manner to sit next to the piano while he would play chords, intervals, cadences etc. just for "a quick check" of the writer's capability to talk about music. I love this one!

Fantastikoi Hxoi said...

well said.

one of my main problems in hunting down big tracks i hear in a club, is that i actually dance to them (another forgotten practice of the 21st century, at least where i live) and by the time i even think of going up and ask what that was, it is usually too late.


coming to think of it, that is a rare situation anyway.