wayne&wax

linkthink re: hip-hop, reggae, the US, jamaica, and anything else wayne wants to wax on

11.22.2005

look here



yes, i'd say, critics can change their minds.

case in point: every time i hear a damian marley song on the radio recently, i immediately think, "oooh--i like this song," often before i even recognize what it is or realize that it was something with which i wasn't so impressed upon my first or second listen. (though i do wonder whether my pleasurable reaction is merely a product of simple recognition, of revelry in the ability of memory.) at any rate, my previous critiques still stand; indeed, the music derives its meanings through such overlapping contextual frames--it is multivalent, offering nuff points of engagement. do i contradict myself? very well then.

also, i don't think critics, despite their (often suspect) claims to authority, represent any special case: everyone changes their mind from time to time with regard to aesthetic judgments--that's what elaine scarry's talking about when she speaks of beauty and being wrong.

jace recently had something similar to say, in a short exchange about my luomo "review," about some of the phallacies, paradoxes, and orthodoxies of contemporary journo-criticism:
reviewings' overrated! :) i certainly dont think exposition should be the default written response to art; suggestion implies continuation via transformation, amplification, mutation, contagion -- how the pieces seeped into or penetrated you.

the standard reviewer's critical body is falsely intact much of the time;

preferring tatters

/rupture

interestingly, his response recalled the opening paragraphs of scarry's beautiful little book--a passage that rises to the occasion in its economy and plainspoken poesis.

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in other news..



LTJ bukem's got a blogg! funny thing about it: he's selling condos.




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craftily craftfully seeking kraftwerk..



richie hawtin's transitions is, zwar, quite a piece of work. not nearly as banging an outing as closer to the edit (his previous DE9 release), hawtin's new one is at times flat-out bucolic, ebbing and flowing all the while, but for the most part hanging closer to the chillroom than the dancefloor. the accompanying DVD is not a bonus, it's essential: not only does it provide the full 96 minute mix in surround sound (of which the CD provides a less grand edit for the medium-challenged), the DVD offers a visualization for the mix that dynamically displays the artists and tracks as hawtin triggers them and fades them in and out. there's something almost pedagogical about such transparency, and i really like that. hawtin is similarly generous and forthcoming about his technique and thought process in an interview also contained on the DVD, and a couple short videos offer filmic representations of his mixing style: objects in the visual field gradually or lurchingly move around, appearing and fading again with the same beguiling subtlety and surprise as the layers in hawtin's music. definitely an expansive sonic vision, if you'll except such a mixed metaphor, and expertly executed at that.

envelope pushed. next?

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wanna thumb wrestle special?..



lejo's thumb animations are out-of-this-world wonderful. i hope sesame street in the states carries them, too (though i think they switched to a hurban format a while back, so i'm not sure these would fit). click on your respective language button, and then check out the videos, especially the ones on the top left (the DJ) and top right (the magician) and the one with the accordion (bottom left).

17 Comments:

Blogger onthedownload said...

It's not just that reviewers sometimes change their minds, the critical apparatus is far more wrecked than that: while opinion on the page is static (unless you bend it, which is discouraged by star ratings, rhetorical convention . . . and, uh, headlines), opinion in the brain is fluid and bell-curvy. My default example is one of my all time fave metal albums, Megadeth's Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good, which I hated for the first two weeks I listened to it, and my favorite punk album, the first Misfits compilation, which I fell asleep listening to the day I bought it. Plot the curve from there to cantlivewithoutit, then loooong downward spiral with plenty of EKG-like spikes in times of emotional upheaval. See, I'm also a firm believer that music, like Bill Belicheck's gameplans, is highly situational. We write as if a song's a painting on a wall, like everyone's got time to turn it around in their head and get it in its best light, but it's all of it ambient, all of it useful, all of it functional, and all of it in motion. Anyway some of my favorite songs are the ones I argue with, the ones I disagree with and love to death in spite of themselves. (And then I've had that same argument you mentioned: do I like this or did I just get familiar? Used to have the same argument in dorm rooms about girls. Don't know that I ever quite figured it out.)

11:46 PM  
Blogger Alice B. said...

Hey Wayne,
However reluctantly, you seem to be coming around on Damian. Enjoy, you won't regret it. I am proudly at my 1000th listen and it only gets better. (No no no, I'm not on his payroll.) Needless to say, I'm looking fwd to seeing him in New York soon.

4:11 AM  
Blogger Alice B. said...

oh and the best damian album is still halfway tree...

4:12 AM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

thanks, DL, for sharing your perspective. i guess that's something i was trying to get at, too: it doesn't really make any sense to ask whether critics can change their mind, since it's a conceit that one can have a stable interpretation of something anyhow. that's why i liked jace's reminder that art more often (more better?) animates other art, not surefire prose.

and, yeah, alice, you got me. what can i say? though i should note that i like pretty much every sean paul song i hear on the radio, too, including "never gonna be the same" which on first listen struck me as awkward. 1000 spins, though: dang! that's dedication. you'll have to let me know how the show goes.

6:59 AM  
Blogger erin said...

i don't think frere-jones is saying that jr gong is better, just that the album had a better debut (in terms of sales) than anything bob released...

i interviewed marley last week--i asked him about the "positionality" issue that seems to crop up again and again...i'll soon have the director's cut up on my dusty blog...

1:17 PM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

you know, erin--you're totally right (so i may fix that). i read the sentence incorrectly, fixing on "better than any of his father's albums" and missing the operative verb "debuted." oops. thanks for setting me straight. of course, the perception is still out there, as voiced in a pitchfork review of "jamrock" from a while back.

i'll be curious to see what damian says about the "positionality issue." it's an obvious issue, and one that he has probably thought plenty about. why no journalists have asked him yet (at least in the interviews i've read) i'm not sure. he's a savvy guy, though, it seems. and knows when not to comment. anyhow, i'll keep my eyes out for it. leave a comment when it's up, if you can!

1:27 PM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

never mind fixed, i nixed it instead--no need to perpetuate a misreading and use it as a jumping-off point for ungenerous criticism. better just to leave it here: i still agree with jeff chang ("best Marley album ever by someone not named Bob") and yet i find myself pleasantly surprised by the way some of damian's songs have grown on me.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Vitriolix said...

As a way of backing up your thoughts about reviewers changing their minds: When I first heard Kanye West I really didnt like his music, and I half-assed jokingly panned it on our blog. Then I started seeing the ads for Jarhead and every time it would come on I'd hush the room to hear the amazing music in it... so when I finally went online and tracked down the song... wouldn't you know its Kanye making me eat my words. Defintely one of the most haunting hip hop tracks of all time in terms of production, though the mc'ing leaves something to be desired. (Its kanye west - jesus walks, by the way)

4:57 PM  
Blogger Alice B. said...

what the hell is "positionality"?

7:18 PM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

well, since erin brought it up, i may leave any elaboration to her, but what i took her to mean by "positionality" was the fact that many, myself included, wonder how damian is able to juggle the sensitive questions around his "subject position" (i.e., the way he fits into US and JA society, in terms of everything from socioeconomic to racialized status) and the way he expresses himself. or in other words, how can an uptown brown (living in miami at that) represent for the ghetto without romanticizing and perpetuating the very ills he chants down (and yet clearly benefits from)?

but don't let me speak for you, erin--i'm curious: how did you ask that question after all?

5:58 AM  
Blogger Alice B. said...

I wonder, should we also be asking that positionality question to rappers who live in Beverly Hills mansions and vacation in Capri and yet rap about the ghetto?

6:16 PM  
Blogger Alice B. said...

Basically, so long as we are not singling Damian out for this type of scrutiny while letting Puffy, Jay-Z and Lil' Romeo off the hook, I'm down with this line of inquiry.

6:25 PM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

yeah, alice, i think you're right in that this basically comes down as that ol' 'authenticity of positionality' problem, wherein an artist is held to an expression somehow commensurate with their 'place' in society. obviously, it can slide into some problematic territory (and be pretty restrictive). and clearly, if it is to be applied at all, it is to be applied across the board.

but i also think, given at least no hypocrisy about one's singling out of targets, that this sort of critique can be productive insofar as it asks one to consider, even at a fairly basic level, one's place in the power structure. whether that precludes one's ability to chant it down is another matter. i think, at the least, that it requires a certain savviness and self-reflexivity if one is to attempt to confront such obvious socio-political contradictions.

8:49 PM  
Blogger ltjbukem said...

ltj here: sorry, not the real dj bukem, but just a huge fan who's got a yen for real estate in brooklyn, ny. come visit: ltjbukem.blogspot.com

2:23 PM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

just curious "ltj": despite your fanship, doesn't your blog title seem a bit, um, misleading, at the least?

2:48 PM  
Anonymous tV said...

The time I reviewed in "tatters" I was fired from stylusmagazine.com -- I've since taken to reweaving tatters into transversal cloth. In e/i. Good enough? tV

6:04 PM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

ah, yes, good point, tV. obviously, forum/context is a crucial consideration here. though one might argue, if perhaps against one's own usefulness to a 'trad' publication, that resisting the received forms of criticism is worthwhile still, if only for the good of that which elicits from us a response. (do we feel this sort of responsibility to, ahem, 'art'?)

in considering the "critic's new clothes," if you will, i suppose we should ask whether tatters or transveral cloth represent an improvement over the masquerading nakedness that has so far prevailed. if so, i say, let it all hang out.

6:23 AM  

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