What’s Up With Dance Music, Steve Albini?

Listen to the tune:

OK, so I found this and didn’t really like the underlying message. Everyone can and should have an opinion but an opinion should not be viewed as a universal truth. The pseudo-scientific approach employed by Albini is questionable on a number of levels and this is exacerbated by the unchallenged access given to his diatribe by Mary Anne Hobbs and the BBC. I think we should be in a suitably enlightened position, particularly ones as experienced as Albini and Hobbs, to forego the ‘my music is better than your music’ merry-go-round.

I believe Albini to be so wide of the mark as to make the quintessential mistake of many by narrowly constructing music based on their own taste. In many ways Albini will probably claim some ‘punk ethos/methodology clap trap as giving him license to make such sweeping statements masked as unbiased thinking. It’s not. What Albini has perpetrated is an argument that is often presented by those of the high music art world against all popular music. These are the twin arguments of enrichment and impoverishment. In short, popular music (constructed to include folk, jazz and all other genres and sub genres including those that Albini is a part of) is not sufficient as a form or practice to be considered enriching and you need to listen to things that are ‘better’. In many ways Albini has played into the establishment ideology that continues to erode music making in schools and music making as a social practice. Clearly not one of his better days but also not a great day for the Beeb and Mary Anne Hobbs. In many ways one could sum it up using a Boards of Canada album title ‘Music Has The Right To Children’. Albini doesn’t like the ‘offspring’ but Music is a constructed and deterministic act whether conscious or not, artistic or economic. It’s use value is one that is determined by the listener and not necessarily just by an authority (authoritarian??) figure.

My response could have been one of anger and ranting at the injustice of it all. Instead I decided to put it in a piece of music. I submitted it to Fresh On The Net and to my surprise it got accepted and is on the listening post. Thank you to Louis Barrabas for his review and eloquence.

Also thanks to Steve Albini for the rant and the degree of ‘sprechgesang’ that seems to be a part of his speech pattern. I did very little editing of his speech in general. The bassline for the tune comes from his ‘specifically, for dancing’ section of the recording. As such this demonstrates an interesting internal correspondence between the music and his speech.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the tune and, more importantly any thoughts that might come up as you try to navigate the world of music and consider the politics of taste.