Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fetishizing Archetypes (Part 2 of 3 - in a series of rants reflecting on killing one's idols)

Read Part One: Perfect Sounds Forever

Of Montreal - 9/20 - Royal Oak Music Theatre - with Janelle Monae


I thought my questions were sturdy. But soon, I stammered.

Why does Kevin Barnes make me nervous? Because I put so much effort into letting myself know as much as possible about him. His oeuvre, his prolific output, his visionary operatic albums, his evolving sensibility. When you spend weeks on end, scattered across your youth, spinning the same records from the same artists then you’re certainly going to know why you like them so much – and in Barnes’, and his band, Of Montreal’s, case, it’s my personal appreciation for their delicate balance of the psychedelic and the psychotic. What started as a pastoral British-invasion-culling vaudevillian quirk-pop has cycled through a range of different sounds and settings, from the mind-splintering multifarious madness of a Zappa or Beefheart spooked-out nursery rhyme, to a simple and sunny Davies’s styled shuffling folk rock ballad, and onto the latest realm, of that last 5-ish years, that being the dance-floor eying, bass-bulged libidinous fare of beat-heavy struts and coy cut ups…still dressed with his literate lyrics and head-spinning metaphors.

<Of Montreal - news music videos etc>

See, I could go all day. And it’s that I allow my mind to almost fester in this esteem that I when I do interview him I wind up being the 7th grade braces-grinning zit face attempting to ask the cheerleading president of the student body out to the pizzeria after school.

Here’s my latest interview, from a wee bit back, where we discuss Of Montreal’s latest False Priest – and then – a link to a review.

The interview was…on Barnes’ part, splendid…he was open, reflective and patient, even though he sounded tired, while, on my part, …eh, I thought I could’ve held it together more. But that’s one nuance to the music-journo day job – you wind up talking to your heroes.

If it isn’t Barnes then maybe it’s Wayne Coyne or it’s Britt Daniel or it’s Stephen Malkmus or it’s freakin’ Morrissey. Insert your idol and follow the scenario of you talking to them and it’s likely that maybe your hand shakes a bit or your throat gets dry.

Are we worshippers? Are we just grateful that they put this music into the world? Or have we unknowingly drunk a Dixie cup of kool-aid at some point?

They’re just people. We tell ourselves. But that becomes surprisingly easy to forget when the phone starts ringing or they unplug from the stage and carry their instrument right by you.

Perhaps we should separate the human from the music. But is that so easy? It is their mind, after all, their heart, that were the engines of creation for the treasures we endlessly spin.

“Hi, yes, how are you? I just wanted to thank you for creating my own personal soundtrack, for my life and all…like, I remember this one time…”

I don’t know why it is; why it could be so hard to meet your musical messiahs, whoever they be, without it feeling like the first date from hell, where you fish for something to talk about that could possibly interest their luminous mind…

Idolization can make them seem non-human. As though there’s no way they even live on the same Earth. We all need to relax. Need to be more perceptive. And, also, I need to stop and realize that the age of going ga-ga over a singer/musician/or-ostensible “rock star” is at a weird point… With an expanded underground for all genres, from hip/hop to indie, the blogosphere has shone the star-boring spotlight upon many a bedroom composer and other-wise-small-town-nobody. But we never see “the next Bob Dylan” or “the next Rolling Stones” truly equate the magnitude of those they would resurrect. Whereas some may feel we’ve sufficiently killed the “rock star,” the mainstream has stayed sufficiently bloated in its ballyhooing worship.

Still, for me, there are some artists you can bring up that will jolt considerable nostalgia/admiration pangs through my very being – and Barnes tends to be one – so I can’t help playing upon his latest album’s title, False Priest. Whereas Barnes’ title is more psychological in nature (a self-imposed inner leash-puller that lays unreasonable limits) I would say that, in my reflecting upon Idols, do we not risk making them into veritable false priests, these mystical artist types who, with their bewitching song and soothing sounds, seem to carry The Word.

When and how does music become a religion?


In any case, before I give myself a headache – make sure to catch Of Montreal, Monday, 9/20 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.

more info


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