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Old 01-31-2011, 02:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm slightly concerned that I've missed some of the nuances in the bass; my headphones did not seem very receptive to the album, unfortunately.
I noticed it sounded better on my Koss headphones than it did on my JVC's and it was the bass.
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Old 01-31-2011, 07:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm upset that we've resorted to attributing the word 'pretentious' to music yet again... It makes absolutely no sense. Anyways:

Millions of little frequencies running amok all over a soundscape. I listened to this on speakers once and wouldn't have it, as its multitude of sounds simply come across as high-pitched nonsense. In order to truly understand the accurate positioning of all of the sounds contained here, you need to hear it in a good pair of headphones. A lot of electronic music makes that sort of demand, and anybody who chooses to listen to it in ignorance of that fact likely will never ever get their money's worth from it.

Anyways, when the wide range of frequencies finally settle into place the listening experience is sedative. Very centering and enjoyable in the appropriate mindset.
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:23 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm upset that we've resorted to attributing the word 'pretentious' to music yet again... It makes absolutely no sense.
You don't think music can present itself (or be presented) as something more than it is?
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:21 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by OccultHawk View Post
You don't think music can present itself (or be presented) as something more than it is?
That's not pretentiousness. That's just a disguise. Like somebody coloring up a simple pop melody in heavy orchestration and calling it 'classically influenced'. That's not pretentiousness; that's inaccuracy. It's a problem, but it's not pretentiousness. Pretentiousness occurs in the music industry, but not in the actual music itself. I've talked with people who think that free jazz albums are pretentious because "THEY'RE TOTALLY ASSUMING I WANNA LISTEN TO 20 MINUTES OF WAILING WHY NO GOOD SIR?" In WHICH CASE, the person SAYING that is pretentious as they're ASSUMING based on their PERSONAL IMPORTANCE that these people should not make something that doesn't register with them. THAT'S pretentiousness. A human trait, not a musical one in any sense.

A copy-paste from a list I made a while back:

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Dictionary definition: 1. characterized by assumption of dignity or importance.

Music cannot assume anything upon itself. Music doesn't live. If you use flowery language, you might metaphorically say that it does (ie: "This music is brought to life as it leaps off of the page into your ears!" or something lame like that), but it does not live. It cannot assume ANYTHING upon itself. It may be loud, or abrasive, and sort of demanding of your attention, giving off a "LOOK AT ME!" kind of sound, but that doesn't equate to it assuming it's important. It indicates that the author of the music WROTE IT THAT WAY. Yes, a person can be pretentious, and VERY WELL the musician making Godspeed You! Black Emperor's music might be a pretentious guy! I really don't happen to care about his political views, so I don't know per se, BUT it's what people say. Some people may draw a line like this: "Okay... So music CAN'T be pretentious... But the people making it CAN BE, and thus the music was always be fueled by self-importance and there IS self-important and pretentious!" Not quite. If that were the case, most pretentious musicians would all come from the same train of thought. Pretentiousness is a fairly one-dimensional concept; if you ARE pretentious, there's only one way that you will make it live through your music. Some musicians known for being pretentious are Noel Gallagher, Thom Yorke, Efrim Menuck, and Morrissey. NONE of them seem to particularly sound similar. If they were in fact somehow converging their pretentiousness with their music, wouldn't we HEAR something very similar in all of their music? Their styles are so distinct from one another that it's simply a nonsensical brand, one that you ONLY say if you have nothing interesting to say.

2. making claim to distinction or importance, especially undeservedly.

See 1. Music cannot claim importance to itself, and even if its authors do, they cannot translate their pretentiousness into music in a noticeable way. "Undeservedly"? **** off; dislike a happy-go-lucky band all you want, but I happen to love how proud they sometimes manage to sound. Would you really rather the creators of the music you're hearing didn't give a **** about it? I love how enthusiastic musicians can be, continually interested in musical development and wanted to be proud of what they make. Without this ill-defined "pretentiousness", music would make NO progress, because nobody would give a ****.
So yeah.

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Old 02-01-2011, 07:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Let me see if I can collect my thoughts this late in the night.

This album is very intriguing. When I heard it's supposed to be glitch, I went into my first listen with a bit of hesitation and that's mostly because the last Autechre album I've heard recently, Quaristice, with it's clicks and cuts and too much fragmentation, gave me a rather hard time. But, I managed to get into this much easier. I think it's because Alva Noto's Transform is more minimal and employs a bit of industrial noise over or under the relentless electronic beats, tying everything together. So, despite fragmentation there's a sense of the whole. Some parts, those that are the most repetitive (at least on the outside) and noisy, reminded me for a moment of Pan Sonic.

Many of you mentioned that this is a very cold music, and I agree. But, what makes this different from the cold music that doesn't do anything for you, meaning, 'yeah I see this is all very interesting formally, but not really engaging and immersive" ? It's the fact that here coldness is the expression and not just form. I mean, I must say that the second track 'Module 2' is probably the coldest, but very immersive and hypnotizing. The best word I can think of to describe it is not digital or cyber or mathematical or any other non-descriptive word, but radioactive. The main tone throughout is quiet actually, but so piercing and deafening that it feels like it's shaking your bones. The sensation goes beyond hearing. I don't know why it reminds me of radioactivity, since I thankfully have no idea what it's like to be in a zone of high radiation. But it does.

I've noticed that the first few tracks are very quiet and often start with these sharp, piercing tones carrying some heavy pressure that can be felt in the chest. Underneath is some rhythm trying to develop, but remains fragmented, it goes in and out. In the 'Module 3' this beat finally sets in, becomes driving, even catchy. The last few tracks, I think from 'Module 6' and so on, are louder. There's a bit of that industrial noise and tension. 'Module 7' with its repetition, noisiness and hypnosis reminded me of Pan Sonic the most. 'Module 9' even lets you move a little to the beat.

It seems like this album has a concept of some kind. It starts quiet, minimal and piercing, but gradually becomes noisier, heavier, more driving, with many different electronic sounds battling, richer. You can even dance a little

So this is still my first impression after a couple of listens. Not only it is interesting, it gives a promise that after more listens it will let me fully absorb it, which is something that I need to repeatedly get back to an album.
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Old 02-04-2011, 01:04 PM   #16 (permalink)
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i hate to bring up Coil again...but...this entire albums reminds me of a collection of intro's to many Coil songs....

i love the minimal use of sound and then creating the hypnotic, almost mind numbing effects with them.....personally i really feel this guy is amazing artists and would really love to see him live and see just what he does with his multi-media

pretty much i really enjoyed this and really feel it falls under the avant-garde umbrella....great choice Janszoon
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:43 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I find this discussion about pretentiousness very interesting, so I'll add my two cents:

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Originally Posted by OccultHawk View Post
You don't think music can present itself (or be presented) as something more than it is?
I definitely agree that this is a legitimate thing to say for any work of art. That's indeed what makes something pretentious. Although I don't agree that this album is.

@clutnuckle

I think you're nitpicking here. If I follow your logic then I couldn't attribute any adjective to music that I would to people. So I couldn't say some piece of music is emotional, or cold; even you said 'demanding of your attention'. Well, that's human trait, right? I could say, if music can demand something, then it can also claim importance. But, the thing is, if I, as a listener, find that importance is justified, because going deeper into it I was rewarded, I wouldn't call it pretentious. However, when there's nothing beneath to justify it, well, then, that's when using the term 'pretentious' is warranted.

Completely opposite of you, I would never call an artist pretentious, only his work. I don't know him as a person and I don't care what he's like. I only care for what he puts in his art. People are more complex than art. Ultimately, no matter how deep, layered and broad some work of art is, it's only an artist's expression, a point of view, an act in time and place. The artist himself is much more than what he presents there. So I could say, pretentiousness is not some absolute, inherent character trait, but only exists as an act, the way someone expresses himself in time and place. And art is only the most elaborate act.
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:55 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I don't understand how something as agenda-less as this can be pretentious. The only thing I find pretentious are things like U2 which constantly preach, and shove their holier-than-thou opinions down on you. I see this piece as ambitiously unique. If it achieved what it was trying to, or not, it's not the artists fault for aiming high, neither is it pretension.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:19 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Like I said I don't think this particular album is pretentious. And there's nothing wrong with aiming high. But, I didn't feel this album aimed particularly high on purpose. It has something unassuming, so it achieves more than it appears on the first hearing. That's what makes it even better.

But, yes, I can find that even pure music that doesn't have any 'themes' or 'agendas' can be pretentious through the way it uses its form to insinuate greater depths than it has. For example, it can look more complex on the outside than on the inside. That's when I would use the word 'pretentious'.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:34 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I think you're nitpicking here. If I follow your logic then I couldn't attribute any adjective to music that I would to people. So I couldn't say some piece of music is emotional, or cold; even you said 'demanding of your attention'. Well, that's human trait, right? I could say, if music can demand something, then it can also claim importance. But, the thing is, if I, as a listener, find that importance is justified, because going deeper into it I was rewarded, I wouldn't call it pretentious. However, when there's nothing beneath to justify it, well, then, that's when using the term 'pretentious' is warranted.
That's not what pretentiousness is. That's just inaccuracy misleading you. Because the song in question NEVER told you it was going to be mind-blowing. Perhaps a pretentious artist did. That artist is likely pretentious in that context when discussing that particular song/album/whatever.

Terms like 'emotional' and 'sad' I can sort of see being applied to music - they're so utterly general. But it's like calling a song something incredibly specific like 'jealous', not based off of angsty lyrics, but just off some sort of arbitrary decision. Such specific, situational terms never work for musical analysis.

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Completely opposite of you, I would never call an artist pretentious, only his work. I don't know him as a person and I don't care what he's like. I only care for what he puts in his art. People are more complex than art. Ultimately, no matter how deep, layered and broad some work of art is, it's only an artist's expression, a point of view, an act in time and place. The artist himself is much more than what he presents there. So I could say, pretentiousness is not some absolute, inherent character trait, but only exists as an act, the way someone expresses himself in time and place. And art is only the most elaborate act.
If people are complex, why are we applying such nit-picky, overindulgent terms like 'pretentious' to music and not the artist? Don't the artists need the extra description if they're so much deeper and complex than what they create?

I don't really know what to tell you for that last part - pretentious IS a character trait by definition. Yes, a person won't ALWAYS be pretentious, the same way they won't always be jealous about something, but they've still exhibited the trait.

Though I will admit I like the bolded point, just not in terms of how music gets to carry all of the artist's personal problems; the music is pretentious because the artist was an ******* for a week? Not very fair at all.
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