Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Between recent purchases, radio station promos and review promos, I've got about 100 albums piled up to listen to. It's crazy.

Favorites From The Big Pile: David Banner's MTA2: Baptized In Dirty Water, Kimya Dawson's Hidden Vagenda, De La Soul's The Grind Date, Go-Go's Talk Show. I'll probably go into more detail about some of these later, but right now I'm too busy consuming to critique.

Recently I've had some conversations about the nature of criticism. I've been stumbling with the notion that it has something to do with "expressing the subjective objectively," and I recently found an essay about Robert Christgau by Simon Frith that gets at how I feel:

The meaning of music lies in the music itself and in the critic's response to it. Criticism is necessarily objective and subjective. Objectively the music itself-what you hear, the melodies, instruments, voices, words, and, above all, personas-must be described. This may mean research, but it doesn't mean musicology. Neither does it mean that swirl of adjectives that Roland Barthes dismissed as bourgeois folly, nor even the fretful name dropping and genre chopping without which most rock critics can't manage. For Christgau the music is the only evidence for the rightness of his response to it. And the music is what is immediately there, not what it might suggest that isn't.

The critical response is triggered by the music but it is also shaped by the mood and circumstance of the listener (judgements change). The starting point for all criticism is emotional. A record must make the critic feel something, even if that feeling is, in critical practice, intellectual excitement...All music critics must resolve the same contradictions. Brain and body: moved by music and yet detached enough to explain its movement. Chaos and order: disrupted by music but steady enough to restore one's thoughts to order.

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