Tuesday, November 15, 2005

For Its Own Sake

A couple of weeks ago, Jerry posted on the mothership about the Fiery Furnaces' new CD *Rehearsing the Choir.* Yesterday, as I was on my way to Andy Kershaw's weekly world music show on BBC3 I clicked on the New Music link and found this, a live recording on Mixing It of the Fiery Furnaces, recorded October 24 this year and broadcast November 4.

I'm not sure where my line is, and I'm certain I won't find it using logic, but at some point I find that music goes from being experimental for innovation's sake to experimental for experiment's sake. I find the Fiery Furnaces to fall into the latter. To put it another way, there is a line where the music stops being about the music and instead becomes all about the project; the music is created not to call attention to the music but to call attention to the production of the music: weirdness becomes the trademark, weirdness becomes the goal; not sounding like anybody else is of paramount importance.

Listen to the first set of the BBC recording by three musicians I am totally unfamiliar with, Kevin Blechdom, Janine Rostron, and Elizabeth King, placed on the bill one has to suppose because a promoter saw similarites between their project and the Fiery Furnaces. I find Blechdom-Rostron-King's music just as experimental as the Fiery Furnaces (note the BBC page calls FFs "defiantly experimental") but far more fascinating than the Fiery Furnaces' music. B-R-K seem, to me, to be interested in the music (which happens to be experimental at points) while the FFs seem to be interested in the experiment (which happens to be music at points).

This is, of course, another aspect of "newness" as value, and all values are personal. Still, I remember buying the first Fiery Furnaces album, *Gallowsbird Bark,* with excitement, and I listened to it again after Jerry's post a couple of weeks ago, and what sounded new and fresh in 2003 sounded old and static in 2005. Perhaps this is the difference between music that experiments for music's sake and music that experiments for experiment's sake: the first lasts, the second ages fast.


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