An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Mob Culture or Independent Thinking

I’m a very fortunate individual. I had the pleasure of visiting the city of Berlin this last weekend. What a fantastic city and what an interesting history and culture. It is hard not to feel for the Germans. They got wrapped up in some very clever propaganda and nationalistic pride from Adolf Hitler, an amphetamine pumped, paranoid with wild ideas and, I personally think, an appreciation for the working underdog. I feel that the Germans have nothing to be ashamed of any more, they are nearly three generations on and cannot be held accountable for the gullibility of a country once crying out for a solution to the state the country was in at the time.

The question, quite rightly, is still constantly asked, how where we duped into a nazi state?

I am a person who tries to constantly question every decision I make, and ask why I made it. I have always thought that music taste is a good parallel. With choices in life, why do we make the choices we do? Is it because of a genuine desire to pick that choice, or have we already made the choice before we come to make it because of preconditioning, the easy option, or going along with the popular option. I’m certainly not going to make a comparison between an individual's music choice and being a nazi, so please don’t think I am, but if you enjoy music and yet cannot make an individual and personal choice about what you choose to listen to, what else in life can you be making good choices about?

To most people, propaganda and the manipulation of the individual and masses are conspiracy theorists pipe dreams and have no relevance on everyday life. If you have the eyes to see, everyone is held by the scruff of the neck every day and force fed this stuff constantly, and it is truly disturbing.

So how on earth can music have any relation to who we vote for, the choices we make and the German people being brainwashed to do unquestionable things? I just feel that music can be a harmless way to reflect on yourself when it comes to making choices. When I went to see Florence and the Machine a few weeks ago, I saw a fine example of choices and music. I have seen this over and over again with music. People proclaim themselves as die hard fans, then in five years are onto the next big thing. The seventies music scene is a wonderful example. In the seventies, there were massive bands such as Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes and The Electric Light Orchestra. These were massive bands in the seventies, filling huge stadiums of 100,000 people or more regularly. Their albums sold multi millions, the band members were household names. These bands are still playing and touring, but cannot get anywhere near the numbers they used to attract. In fact, ask most people younger than 40 years old who these bands are and they have never heard of them. I have wondered how this was possible for a long time. Where are all those fans?

I have talked to some of those fans. It seems that time, trend, popularity and media coverage all dictate to the majority, what should be listened to and what shouldn’t. This has been a revelation to me. If a band's music is good, how does it matter when it was written and recorded? Does the music itself change if it’s popular? Do people forget good music simply because they aren’t reminded of it every day on the radio and tv? How does a piece of music you used to enjoy, suddenly become embarrassing to listen to because it became “so last year”?

The German people in the late thirties and early forties were influenced in the same way. Popularity, trend and aggressive media coverage skewed the general public’s thinking. The general attitude around the western world is that Germany was gullible. But I see the western psychology manipulated in the same way. And music is a typical and thankfully harmless example of this.

So when I look at myself, do I think that I am immune to modern propaganda techniques? Not really. It’s so difficult to know if you're being manipulated, so clever are the ways and means of modern politics and commerce. I smoke, need I say more!!

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