can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

The one and only.

Moderators: Antoine, niwi

Post Reply
mynameissally
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:00 pm

can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by mynameissally »

I've been lurking this forum on and off for a little over a year. I think google brought me here once when I was doing a little bit of research on Mattin and I saw that some of his disciples (the european obsessed-with-contemporary-philosophy ideologues) have a light record of mischief-making on this forum. I don't want to do that (and I can't because I'm not well versed in philosophy).

I've been working on a project for the past couple years, partly for school, mostly out of my own interest, thinking about the differences between the sociopolitical agendas of experimental musicians/artists of the 60's (i.e. Cage, early minimalism, Fluxus, Group Ongaku, ONCE Group, AMM, etc.) and "experimental musicians" today. The latter group gets the scare quotes, because we've all seen the tag applied ruthlessly to everything from consumerist heavy metal to folk. But, if we are to take "experimental music" to denote a group of practices inspired--aesthetically--by the above mentioned historical groups, particularly Cage (and, ok, Schaeffer), I'd go ahead and say that the aesthetic uniting this forum (erstwhile, wandelweiser, another timbre, ...) is paradigmatically experimental. There are a lot of problems with that statement, but let's go with it. The Cagean "let sounds be sounds" rhetoric has, I think, had a far greater influence on the works of Michael Pisaro, Vanessa Rossetto, and Jason Lescalleet, than, say, Laurel Halo. Correct me if I'm wrong about that; I haven't read much by any of those artists, but have read plenty of reviews that would dub the first three "Cage-inspired" or the like, and I would probably use that term myself. I hope what I'm trying to say is clear and doesn't need much elaboration.

What I've noticed over the past several years is that, in general, the sociopolitical agendas/ideologies that were bound to the experimental groups of the 60's (Cage's anarchy, Tony Conrad's ideas on authorship [if you buy them], Fluxus's communism, Ongaku's anti-art position, Cardew's shifting leftist positions) seem more or less absent today, or worse, implied. I think this is pretty clear. I wouldn't be at all surprised if most EAI musicians and you forum members were somewhere on the left, but there seems to be a lack of interest in theorizing ways (not only on this forum, but everywhere) in which contemporary experimental music can or should be politically productive. It seems to me like Cage, AMM, and the other historical groups are respected around here because their music is interesting and fun to listen to, rather than because of the politics of their aesthetics. And for whatever reason, the youngish contemporary figures interested in reconsidering the ideas of Cage, AMM et al. (I'm thinking of Mattin, whose book, I must say, is brilliant) are seen on this forum as the problem children.

I stopped by this forum recently to check what everyone listed as their favorite releases of the year so that I could see which must-hears I've missed. I think the most obvious was Songs About Nothing, which I found and enjoyed. It's fun. Someone on that thread asked why The Wire was so big on UK club music (or something like that) and someone else replied "just their jam, no?" I'm wondering if you folks on this forum are attracted to EAI-and-the-like because that music is "just your jam," or if you think there is something about the music that makes it more important/useful/subversive/whatever than other low-profile genres. IMO, the fact that The Wire supposedly "celebrates and interrogates the most visionary and inspiring, subversive and radical, marginalised and undervalued musicians on the planet" makes some of the items on their top 50 list questionable, perhaps even unacceptable. Do you guys believe in an objective criteria for evaluating music, or is that considered bullshit and elitist?

Let me be clear, I don't want to start anything here, but I'm under the impression that this community maintains some kind of shared belief about the value of experimental music, and I rarely see that belief printed on this forum.

User avatar
MRS
Posts: 2783
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 9:56 am

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by MRS »

Yes, this board has been dogmatic for over half its life. Please don't make this a Wire thread.

mynameissally
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by mynameissally »

I've got no idea what a "Wire thread" would be.

If your 'yes' is in response to whether or not you all hold a singular objective evaluative criteria, give me some links or write a paragraph. for someone not in-the-know the criteria might as well be label affiliations.

User avatar
MRS
Posts: 2783
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 9:56 am

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by MRS »

mynameissally wrote:for someone not in-the-know the criteria might as well be label affiliations.
Of course that's a huge part of it, you come to mordant points yet it seems you already know the answers to your questions, why wouldn't the presupposed label lionization be obvious to anyone "in-the-know"? This is great: "I'm wondering if you folks on this forum are attracted to EAI-and-the-like because that music is "just your jam," or if you think there is something about the music that makes it more important/useful/subversive/whatever than other low-profile genres." Kind of cloying, and why not opposed to other high-profile genres? No links, sorry.

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by jon abbey »

yeah, I don't exactly get this. I think the difference you point to is mostly a difference in general between that time period and now.

edit: never mind, I see you call Mattin's book "brilliant", so we probably don't have much to discuss.

double edit: and Jason Lescalleet has changed the world.

mynameissally
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by mynameissally »

Of course that's a huge part of it, you come to mordant points yet it seems you already know the answers to your questions, why wouldn't the presupposed label lionization be obvious to anyone "in-the-know"? This is great: "I'm wondering if you folks on this forum are attracted to EAI-and-the-like because that music is "just your jam," or if you think there is something about the music that makes it more important/useful/subversive/whatever than other low-profile genres." Kind of cloying, and why not opposed to other high-profile genres? No links, sorry.
You're assuming I know a little more than I do. I don't understand your comment about the label lionization. What I meant--and this is a bit of an exaggeration-- by my comment is that for someone who doesn't spend all of their time on this forum (such as myself), it would seem that you folks like everything put out by Erstwhile, Wandelweiser, etc., because it's put out by those labels. Are you trying to tell me that this is true, that this is an obvious assumption, or something else?

I wrote "other low-profile genres" because I didn't want this to turn into some kind of sociological argument. I'd value EAI more highly than, say, indie-rock, but not based on aesthetic criteria alone. I suppose the question is a little cloying, but I still have no idea what your answer to it would be.


edit: I don't really think that the general lack of political language in the experimental music discourses is a product of the times. We could just as easily contrast contemporary installation/performance art/theater/poetry discourses with that of exp music and come across the same issue.
Last edited by mynameissally on Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by jon abbey »

mynameissally wrote:it would seem that you folks like everything put out by Erstwhile, Wandelweiser, etc., because it's put out by those labels. Are you trying to tell me that this is true, that this is an obvious assumption, or something else?
ugh, this is both not true, and to the extent that it is true, it's connected to how this board initially came together, so yes, the areas of music covered by those two labels among others is a big focus here.

but honestly, there is nothing more annoying than starting a thread with your first post ever and immediately jumping into generalizations about "you folks". if you want to talk about music we're already talking about, do that. if you want to talk about music you think we should be talking about more (or Mattin's book), do that. don't do this.

mynameissally
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by mynameissally »

jon abbey wrote:but honestly, there is nothing more annoying than starting a thread with your first post ever and immediately jumping into generalizations about "you folks". if you want to talk about music we're already talking about, do that. if you want to talk about music you think we should be talking about more (or Mattin's book), do that. don't do this.
understandable. I have a general sense of this community from browsing through it over the past year, and have a question (or a few questions, I guess) that I think are specific to this community. I figured the most efficient way to ask these questions would be by registering and making a thread rather than sending someone a message, or something. I'm not really interested in becoming a member of any particular music community/forum to do this; If I were to post similar questions and thoughts about particular artists in existing threads I'd probably be accused of trolling.

I'm interested in whether or not the members of this community see any sort of political value in the artists on wandelweiser, erstwhile, another timbre, potlach, and the other labels that are a focal point of this forum. I've tried to come to a conclusion by reading brian olewnick or richard pinnell's blog, or reading an occasional review on tinymixtapes or dusted, but I figured a larger sample size would give me a more interesting response. If the answer is "yes, this music is very political, but it's complicated, go buy x album and read the liner notes," that's fine, and if the answer is "no, we value the artists on these labels for other reasons, look at x post," that's also fine. I have no desire whatsoever to start an argument. I've been listening to a lot of music on these labels (indeed, have purchased quite a bit) over the past few years, and have a curiosity about the music that I think is quite reasonable. I'm sorry that I appear to be rude.

User avatar
Charon
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 1:55 am
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by Charon »

Welcome aboard.

Perhaps not surprisingly to others here, I think some of these questions might be worth exploring and I'd be curious to see what the answers would be. I'm not a particularly political animal myself, but I'd be curious what other people's answers would be.

and as for this:
mynameissally wrote:
for someone who doesn't spend all of their time on this forum (such as myself), it would seem that you folks like everything put out by Erstwhile, Wandelweiser, etc., because it's put out by those labels.
I think we can all admit that, for someone on the outside looking in, there would be sufficient reasons for thinking that it might (at least in a slight majority of cases) be true, even if we don't believe that it actually is. I can certainly see why someone in such a position might think it was.

and this:
mynameissally wrote:
but there seems to be a lack of interest in theorizing ways (not only on this forum, but everywhere) in which contemporary experimental music can or should be politically productive. It seems to me like Cage, AMM, and the other historical groups are respected around here because their music is interesting and fun to listen to, rather than because of the politics of their aesthetics. And for whatever reason, the youngish contemporary figures interested in reconsidering the ideas of Cage, AMM et al. (I'm thinking of Mattin, whose book, I must say, is brilliant) are seen on this forum as the problem children.
while the phrase 'politically productive' sets off many alarm bells in my head, I think there may be something to this. Perhaps if you didn't limit it just to the 'political', you might be able to get further with the question.
Studious Avoidance - Badass electronic music

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by jon abbey »

well, I interact with quite a few of the musicians being questioned, and my impression is that they're generally very politically aware. how much that translates into their music is up for discussion, but for instance, when Keith Rowe sits with the track "Unbelievable" for a prolonged period in his live set from 9/11/11, he's almost certainly referring to the official version of events of that day.

but "politically productive" is I guess a different question. what music of any kind has been "politically productive" in the last 20 years, let alone that of such a limited reach as what we're talking about here?

RJMyato
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:43 pm

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by RJMyato »

i think mattin's book is awesome, and i think that making art that is "engaged" is important

but the issue to me, more and more, is that "art changing the world" seems to me a very silly liberal proposition, like people honestly believing "oh if we all just do our part and buy green we can change the world"

i think political changes come about through real direct political engagement and action, not roundabout through consumer choices, atomized action, or comfortable peoples' hobbies (aka most of the music we're honestly going to be talking about)

so yeah making art that aligns with your highest ideals is important for your art, and analyzing art (after the fact) is important for any number of reasons

but honestly fretting about "changing the world" or whatever from an art perspective is a waste of time and i think it's a really off-base question in the first place

especially if we're talking about Cage who really isn't that great politically

User avatar
faster
rasbliutto
Posts: 3278
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 6:54 pm
Location: The Internet
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by faster »

Sun Ra voted for Reagan.
You, of all people, should understand

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by jon abbey »

RJMyato wrote:but honestly fretting about "changing the world" or whatever from an art perspective is a waste of time and i think it's a really off-base question in the first place
right, I didn't really want to say it, but I think this is the main difference between now and the sixties, people understand this now, for better and for worse. that doesn't mean you can't have a huge impact on a micro level (even a worldwide micro level), but expecting it to filter up anywhere is about as unlikely as trickle-down economics actually trickling down.

User avatar
Jesse
Posts: 3613
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by Jesse »

good luck, lad, i'm sure you already sense you'll need it here.
http://crowwithnomouth.wordpress.com/

Experimental music should be something that suggests a way of organizing your thinking, your attitude toward the world, which suggests that the world could be different.
Christian Wolff 2014

User avatar
Jesse
Posts: 3613
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by Jesse »

i would send a moderator a token of my appreciation if the thread title were changed. :D
http://crowwithnomouth.wordpress.com/

Experimental music should be something that suggests a way of organizing your thinking, your attitude toward the world, which suggests that the world could be different.
Christian Wolff 2014

User avatar
Seth
Posts: 188
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:22 am
Location: Bristol
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by Seth »

Trying to change the world through music runs the risk of being a displacement activity, like Charismatic Christians engaged in 24/7 intercessory prayer. The idea that music makes a good carrier for these things is too seductive - the idea that you can model or sonify activism in a safe environment without putting yourself at too much personal risk by actually going out and doing activism. If you're one of the few who can pull off both/and then fine, but I think this is the main reason why many musicians keep their music and activism separate and have become suspicious of musical theologies that link them.

That being said, I love it when music successfully contains conceptual material. I just think it's very, very hard to do well. The one tends to overwhelm the other. It's risky - which IMO makes it worth attempting - but you have to be very careful with quality control. Too many people seem to be under the impression that the presence of a concept justifies putting any old musical results out into the public domain. It doesn't.

User avatar
schiksalgemeinschaft
Posts: 1428
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 6:43 am
Location: the low countries
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by schiksalgemeinschaft »

of course forward thinking people have a higher chance of listening to more forward thinking music. but I don't think art often changes the world - it's more that the world (o.a. technology) changes, and as a result art changes.

maybe the main exception is the rise of the novel and it's popularity (but the later is mainly due to technology as well), which enhanced our species' empathy by enabling us better to envision other people's mindsets. (one of the famous examples being Uncle Tom's Cabin.)

I'm not sure if Cage has had any impact at all on the people of the world's lives (outside impact on the artistic experiences of a very very small percentage of the world's population).

maybe one could argue art/music sometimes supports (in the broad sense) activists, politicians, writers, etc. by letting them wind down/relax, etc., and maybe, very maybe, inspire, although the latter probably isn't more than enhancing what is already there, not really change. (so, what Jon said about the unlikelihood of trickling down/filtering up.)

btw, the impact that mattin has had on the real world (politics, power, economy) is zero and will remain zero.

User avatar
jliat
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:11 am

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by jliat »

This has forced my hand… and I have to take issue with the above – music can be creative – and creativity brings about change. Ignoring the influence of experimentalism on popular culture – but its historically 'there' – (tape loop and sampling…) historically we find Adorno / Schoenberg – Nietzsche / Wagner … just two of the more obvious examples- if the arts – including music! did have no ability to alter society – it seems odd that censorship of the arts is a feature of totalitarian regimes. Whether it be the abandonment of bourgeoisie capitalist thinking, conventional musical or artistic forms… creative thinking and activity does bring about change, and is a sign of change. The break up of conventional forms probably will owe more to what originated in the Cabaret Voltaire than the guy from the Altstadt library…. I would argue that technology is fairly neutral in this process – only serving to speed up or empower both progressive and reactionary forces. The AK47 designed in and for the USSR and its allies is favoured by the Taliban – IRA etc. Just as the Saxophone appears in both progressive and reactionary musics. : )

I'm also listening to Mattin's 30+ hour DVD iMPROKUP! As I write this – so not absolutely zero.

User avatar
schiksalgemeinschaft
Posts: 1428
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 6:43 am
Location: the low countries
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by schiksalgemeinschaft »

That creative thinking can be a sign of change: agreed. That music can be creative: agreed. That creativity can bring about change: agreed.
jliat wrote:Whether it be the abandonment of bourgeoisie capitalist thinking, conventional musical or artistic forms… creative thinking and activity does bring about change, and is a sign of change.
Change in the arts itself (abandonment of conventional musical or artistic forms) doesn't count as real change in this thread's book (unless I misunderstand the OP).

So, could you give an example where music has really changed the world (economy, politics, power - not entertainment) and was the primal instigator of that change?
Because that's what we're talking about here: real world change, not the abandonment of conventional aesthetic forms, and as I said, music not only as something that supports (or maybe inspires), but music as something that brings about the change itself.

You don't think for a second even that Adorno or Nietzsche's influence on culture/society would have been significantly different without Schoenberg or Wagner, do you?

jliat wrote:I'm also listening to Mattin's 30+ hour DVD iMPROKUP! As I write this – so not absolutely zero.
I was talking about the real world. I'm sure the united workers of the world will thank Mattin in a couple of decades for his numerous contributions to the restructuring of the world's money and power structures and their resulting future happiness.

User avatar
schiksalgemeinschaft
Posts: 1428
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 6:43 am
Location: the low countries
Contact:

Re: can Jason Lescalleet change the world?

Post by schiksalgemeinschaft »

jliat wrote:I would argue that technology is fairly neutral in this process – only serving to speed up or empower both progressive and reactionary forces.
Most major social changes have been the (direct or indirect) result of technological evolutions. That's pretty much textbook.

You don't think the AK47 and other machine guns have changed the way of warfare, just like e.g. drones are doing nowadays in a whole new way? Saying they are "neutral" because some other country invented it is practically an insult to all the victims of AK47s in Taliban land. But then again, we might just be bickering about the meaning of the word "change" here, since you do acknowledge it "speeds up" or "empowers" "forces" - what actually is change in your book? The total victory of either "progressive" or "reactionary forces"?

So, let's pick something more "neutral", like dirty clothing: think about the effect of the washing machine on the status of Western women, and the result that had:



Also, why do you think impressionism, the first step towards abstract painting, started? Because of some creative urge of some Parisian drunks? Sure. Basically, because of the invention of photography, making realistic painting obsolete.

The list is endless, but would derail this thread.

Return to “I Hate Music”