Strange Confessions: Some of the music I have recently discovered is more execrable, lyrically wise, than the music I liked in high school and college, which was disparaged at the time as evil and disgusting. Worse yet, I was introduced to some of the current stuff by my bestest buddy, who is, supposedly, a Christian.
It seems that every fifteen to twenty years or so my tastes change in the type of music I mostly listen to. There have been some interludes of the classical (Beethoven), the grungy (Soundgarden), the jazzy (Spyro Gyra), the swing (Frank Sinatra), and the blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan). I’ve even found a band that got me liking my much detested Southern Rock genre, Drive-By Truckers. But your musical tastes are defined by the majority of what your listening ear leads to. Early in my life I found myself digging the comical musical stylings found by listening to Dr. Demento and the soft rock and disco popular at the time. Choosing the music I like started with heavy metal. Rainbow, Judas Priest and my favorite, Iron Maiden defined the era in high school. In College I was in a mostly transitional phase, but the major bands were R.E.M., U2, The Police and the Eurythmics. When I became a Christian, I found bands similar to what I liked at the time. Things really changed when a friend introduced me to Apoptygma Berzerk. I listened to a lot of Techno, Electronica, Synthpop, and EBM which culminated in the much appreciated Goa-Trance. Bands like Kraftwerk, Orbital, Covenant, Daft Punk, Infected Mushroom, Juno Reactor, Erasure, KMFDM, and much, much more, opened up a perpetual dancing heart within me. I liked to move, and this stuff was the majority of my listening pleasure for the last twenty years or so.
Recently I had found a band that really connected with me: Steam Powered Giraffe. But they seemed like a band that I would temporarily enjoy for a while, but they could never stand the test of time. To me it kind of seemed They Might Be Giants all over again. I really liked the hook and humor of TMBG, but I listen to them now and it seems dated… immature. I sensed a change coming in me… musically. It’s just starting to get a bit tiresome listening to the Techno/Electronic and strangely enough I’m not nearly as into Goa-Trance as I was. I use to be able to listen to that stuff for hours.
Then I heard Alt-J. I knew this was the stuff that could change the current era I was getting tired of. The melodies, harmonies, elegant and atmospheric drew me in instantly. I downloaded the album and listened to it constantly everyday. Some of the lyrics I couldn’t understand, because they distort or mumble or quietly chant their words, so I looked them up. They are a very poetic in their lyrics, and take some lyrics from some literary sources, in which some of the questionable lyrics come from. I find myself singing some of these lyrics that I don’t particularly want to find myself singing. I say that some of the books I’ve read have some sections that are disturbing, but as a whole they have a message, one that I can understand and ponder, maybe not agree with, but it is there nonetheless. If I read books that just had disturbing images one after the other, I probably wouldn’t read them. If there was a powerful enough image that was dark and disturbing I might write a song about the feelings that came forth from the reading. There is even a song he wrote about a time he was beaten badly by some soccer hooligans, and it sounds like a drug song. I see Alt-J as an extremely poetic band that needs second and third looks at what they are communicating, while their music is just plain righteous dude!
Which brings me to another band that I heard on the Alt-J station I just created on Pandora: I Monster. The first song I heard was apparently the most popular, Daydream In Blue. It had a mellow, sci-fi, retro, haunting early 60s, vibe with a bit of Electronica thrown in. I was instantly hooked. Then there was Hey Mrs. and Heaven and the crazily repetitive The Blue Wrath. I loved it all. It was undefinable, a bit scary, sci-fi, so retro, and did I mention undefinable? Check out this video, it’s the only original one I feel comfortable enough to post here.
A slight bit dark and a little disturbing, yes? I had to listen to some of the whole songs and came across other videos more disturbing than that though. Their lyrics sometimes seem innocent enough, but then you find out what some of the distorted stuff says, and wonder, “How did I get here?” Again, these guys a very poetic and perhaps a bit obsessed with male/female relationships. The one I particularly looked at seemed to be a play on romantic pursuits hiding true purposes and making fun of how we hide behind the masks of culture in our obsessions. Very good, very interesting, and again, dark and disturbing.
So I wonder if this stuff is healthy for me. When I started my Electronica phase I really liked a band called Rammstein. I constantly listened to it and repeated the harsh, hard, German lyrics that trilled on the tongue. At the time I worked with a Christian girl, and she asked me if I knew what they were singing about. I said no, and she told me that perhaps I should find out what I was singing. When I found out, I was shocked and horrified! It wasn’t just one or two songs, it wasn’t poetic, it wasn’t playful, it was really dark and obsessed with relationships (if you know what I mean). Even though this was a different language, I could no longer listen to it with a clean conscience.
This current music I like is different, isn’t it? I can listen to it myself, but should I recommend it? Would I make the weaker brother stumble? If I’m slightly disturbed by this music, I know there are some who would completely be offended by it all or fall into searching for other stuff that may excite senses that they have fought for a long time.
It seems that the world around us is getting darker. Some would say it always has been as dark as it is. In the immortal words of Billy Joel, “We didn’t start the fire.” I know I am to be the light, does this kind of stuff not make me not as bright? What about drinking alcohol? Is everything that could be abused or construed as evil be stayed away from? Should I disdain sugar and fat? Wow, that one hit below the belt, eh? We got to be careful within our own attitude and relationship, and not worry so much about what others may think about what we’re doing.
This has been what I had struggled with all year last year. What should I look like? But, really it was: What should others look like? I know God deals with me and my struggles and will lead me and guide me into what I would need to rid myself of or start doing. I am thankful for this perspective change.