Intense, surreal, remote, dynamic. Come along with us as we chronicle the adventures of the soul through psychedelic, drone, noise, experimental, pop music based around Chicago bands in particular and local bands everywhere.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a scene.

In what does a scene consist? From the outside, a scene appears to squash musical and creative freedom in the name of a group aesthetic, whereas within a scene the benefit of sharing a musical vision others is the resulting exchange in ideas. I often go back and forth about whether or not there is a scene in Chicago, or if there are many scenes, or if there are simply numerous aggregates of creative individuals floating about, surfacing with their resulting musical product. Aggregates lend themselves to some of the appearances of scenes without the cohesive connection of a scene.

Perhaps the debate is between the development of freedom in music, or the development of expression in music. How do we, as musicians, balance the necessity of internal, interconnected developments of aesthetic ideals in order to achieve the desired freedom of creation against the desire to manifest creative freedom in the form of a complete break? I don't think one development can occur without the other; as in political development, freedom is neither freedom from external constraint nor freedom as the development of a capacity or a capability; the positive, structured development of capacities or capabilities is necessary to attain a meaningful freedom from external constraint.

The development of a scene is focused around the constraints of resources -- who is playing, where they are playing, what stores stock their music, etc. -- as well as with calculated breaks from shared ideals and shared developments that previously advanced musical production in that particular group.

One of the tensions at the core of the psychedelic and noise music that we will be writing about here is the psychological, physical, and emotional tension between the need to express creativity or creation in the form of breaks from reality as we find it, in the desire to seek, outline, and attain novelty (or at the very least the novelty found in the attainment of a particular emotional performance); and, on the other hand, the need to fully develop ideals and performances in the midst of critically evaluative, supportive peers, venues, stores, etc.

Within this tension rests the demand of authentic emotional representation in music, or intense emotional evaluation in music. As in surrealist painting with the method of automatism, it is often psychological exploration on the part of the artist that stands the test of critical communities, drives the desire towards pure creation and novelty, and withstands the breakdown of scenes when they reach their inevitable conclusion.

A scene, in this sense, fosters a particular sort of psychological authenticity, where performances can be gauged not merely on their adherence to the norms or standards of a group of bands, fans, critics, etc., but also on the emotional and intellectual terrain of the performance itself. This tension is at the base of musical criticism, because at its core, the critic must sort between the environment, the groups, the historical context, the individual desires to create, and -- perhaps most importantly -- the psychological context and substance of the performance itself.

Perhaps this is what we seek in the justification for good art, without hard and fast boundaries for true judgment of art; where questions of group motivation, commercial viability, community, etc., will forever simultaneously challenge and foster artistic development, it is the very development of the artist, and specifically the journey of the artist in search of the realization or expression of their vision, that will stand beneath the scene as the critic peels away layers and layers of plot and subtext.

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