From Our Furious Schedule
By Beppe Colli
Apr. 23, 2012
Time for a long vacation: starting from now, tiny but mighty Clouds
and Clocks won't be updated anymore.
When will this hiatus end? Well, it's entirely
possible that it will be permanent (but the usual goes: the rent will be
paid as usual, contents will remain freely accessible, and so on - which
is the least we can do, by the way, to repay the kindness and the availability
of those who, in many ways, have talked with us).
This I can say: If my self-examination will
be positive, publication will start again with the first Autumn shades.
Otherwise, it won't.
The issue, it goes without saying, is quite
complex. When it comes to music I'm not at all tired, nor I have discovered,
all of a sudden, that all the good stuff is in the past. However, I have
to admit that, though many good albums have regularly appeared in the course
of the last decade - by the way, there are four or five titles scheduled
for release in the mid-May/mid-July time frame that I bet will keep my
attention fully engaged - it's also true that the quantity of stuff I find
to be worth my time is just a fraction of what it once was; and yes, it's
enough for a
"private relationship", so to speak, but far from enough to keep
the triangle musicians-critics-audience fully operational - and no, for me
"message in a bottle" model that's typical of blogs won't do.
There is something I have to clarify here.
As it's the norm nowadays, the role of, say, a music monthly is to offer
readers a panorama of "those albums that go on sale now", highlighting
"what's best" and comparing items in a quite small window. What
I've always done - while at the same time making use of "critical"
instruments - is to (implicitly) play a "consumer" role, asking
myself not only if "the new Cosa Brava CD is better than the new Thinking
Plague CD" and if "the new Cosa Brava CD is better than Legend
by Henry Cow", but also if "listening to the new Cosa Brava CD
is better than reading Paul Krugman's new book" (End This Depression
Now!, by the way, is out next week) - which is a question that when it comes
"goods" is totally absurd but which from the (pragmatic) point
of view of the different ways one can spend one's time makes total sense.
And this is the crux of the matter: In the
last few years, compared to what happened in the "real world" -
hence, my desire to read and study this stuff - to me music appeared to
have become just a shadow of what it once was, and the fact of the audience
being so small and tired did not exactly make for a strong stimulus for
the musicians - provided they were still able! - to do any better.
I'm perfectly aware that by now readers will
wonder how it could be that such long-standing trends could be reversed
in just a few months' time. But no, it's just that I want to be exactly
sure that personal reasons don't play more than a minor part in forming
main issue with music nowadays is that for the most part it appears to
lack any ambition. A lot of it we've already heard before, a lot of it
is very predictable, and most of it appears to lack any sense of real "urgency",
to "ask for" our attention instead of "forcefully demand" we
stand up and listen.
On a personal level, three things I find
supremely disturbing: a) those who after years of silence release an album
featuring music not too far from what Robert Wyatt and Henry Cow/Art Bears
released, say, thirty-five years ago; b) those who get their money working
inside a university framework and who, once in a while, release stuff they
call "rock"; c) those who are still at it,
"another day, another dollar". Opinions will vary, of course, but
the problems stay the same.
People are what they are. For the most part they are not interested
in complex matters, they choose on a "whim", "a heard of
independent minds" ready to follow any trail that somebody will astutely
make appear in the course of their Web explorations, unaware of logic,
functionally illiterate. This won't change
words about Italy.
For a long time now I've held the opinion
that for the majority of those Italian citizens who opposed Berlusconi
the experience was not that far from participating in a 24h reality show
on a mass scale, an experience that - due to the extreme disparity of available
forces - made the situation totally still, while giving those against him
the possibility of symbolically venting their anger by watching "their" TV
programs as a substitute of making their understanding of the world they
live in any better, also a giant alibi for those newspapers which played
a belligerent role while at the same time letting the quality of their
papers go down to such a point they are now not equipped to understand
and narrate what the ("unexpected") world crisis has in store
for us. (These are not personal "opinions", as the act of reading
The Guardian and The New York Times by clicking one's mouse and compare
them to the leasing Italian newspapers will easily demonstrate.)
Paradoxes abound. Individuals who travel
quite often for the sheer fun of it and can easily see the differences
between a modern European city and one located in Italy appear to be absolutely
unable to perceive themselves as being part of the problem. Individuals
whose lives are greatly improved by the fruits of other nations' patents
and labour appear to be unable to understand that a country which doesn't
hold any real patents and who is greatly handicapped by a giant debt can
only go under. A country that's by now unable to make a great movie about
complex illegal links on a European scale such as Dardenne Brothers' excellent
movie Lorna's Silence, and whose citizens make this movie die a death in
To put it simply: A country gazing at its
own collective navel, which - in the age of the Net - still thinks thoughts
in Italian and which by virtue of its own lack of interest in all things
worldwide shows it still believes itself to be the centre of the world.
was recently argued if the new dwarf recruited by an old monthly was any
taller than those who already worked at such magazine. As one can easily
see, when the crucial question asked is who's the tallest dwarf there's
not much space left for hope.
© Beppe Colli 2012
| Apr. 23, 2012