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I must say that all this talk of how we categorize (or at
least describe) our music has really struck a nerve for me.
I hear a lot of you saying that this has been a point of
irritation; I'm to the point where it is not merely annoying,
but fairly angst-ridden.
I identified somewhat with the "newage" moniker when
it was fairly new and, like any new genre, I suppose,
was at least in some ways "pushing the boundaries".
There was some serious experimenting going on. We
all know what kind of watered-down "inoffensive
background noise" it turned into. Now I listen to my
first CD (released in '92) and it absolutely *sickens*
me to hear "newagey" elements in it, and to think that
it has been categorized as such. And while the music
that I've written since then has certainly evolved and
changed, my fear is that it will still be heard as "pleasant
Thus I think the question "What do they hear?" is a
bloody brilliant and relevant one to be asking. I'm
becoming more and more aware that at least for me,
there seems to be a widening discrepancy in how I
experience the music I write when I write and perform
it, and what is heard by the audience. I experience it
as deeply emotional, complex, and "boundary-pushing";
a comment I get a lot is "that was really nice... relaxing".
Naturally this whole issue sends me into a tailspin of
Is this inevitable? Is it our mere choice of asthetic? I
remember the revelation of listening to German "noise
band" P16.D4 who use *exactly* the same composing
processes as Brian Eno ... but instead of Eno's choice
of swirly synthy sounds, they use things like found
environmental noise, car crashes, weird unidentifiable
sounds, etc. Thus they're experienced as much more
"experimental" and "boundary-pushing" when the only
real difference is choice of sounds.
I've always played what I consider a variety of styles,
but this whole issue of being categorized as "newage"
has been subtly working at me over the last few years,
and I find myself introducing more and more aggressive
elements into my music ... wanting to "toy" with the
audiences' relationship to the music (i.e. attention level,
etc.) rather than having the music of such a type that it
allows the listener to define that relationship for themselves.
However I'm afraid this will lead me down the path of most
pop or rock music (which I tend to dislike for the same
reasons I dislike new age), which is extremely limited in
the kind of relationship it demands from its audience.
I know I'm rambling here, but I've always been addicted
to the cerebral bits of how and why we do what we do. I
could ramble indefinitely about how we conceptualize
the relationship between performer, music, and audience,
and various ways we as experimental musicians wish to
manipulate that relationship. I'd love to know what the rest
of you think about this, and if there's really any hope
regarding how we're labeled and the asthetic we choose.
Thanks fer listenin'
Jason N. Joseph
Comfortably Obscured Productions