Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"The Consensus" an unresolved philosophical dialougue

Paul Bruno is a DJ and musical asthete (You can check him out every Saturday at Brooklyn's Camp, < 179 Smith St btw. Warren and Wycoff). Since list season he and I have taken to discussing the value of consensus in evaluating musical value. Here is our most recent online discussion brought on by the publication of last week's Village Voice: Pazz and Jop Poll and an article by former Pitchfork writer current curmudgeon Chris Ott (You can read the article here). I've decided to post this unedited for realism, not as you might suspect for laziness. For your convenience I've noted when we truly begin our dialougue with a bold title.

(12:29:16 AM):
whats up brother?
fillmerejive (12:29:47 AM): not much, you?
betternoise (12:30:03 AM): i just got home from work
betternoise (12:30:35 AM): unfortunate i'm out of cigarettes so i have to go back out which sucks
betternoise (12:31:02 AM): are you going to the show on friday?
fillmerejive (12:31:36 AM): what show?
betternoise (12:31:50 AM): murray, dead set on destruction at the cup
fillmerejive (12:32:35 AM): oh i don't know my friend is having a birthday party at union hall
betternoise (12:32:58 AM): what? you have friends in brooklyn since when?
fillmerejive (12:33:37 AM): since like foreva!!!
betternoise (12:33:46 AM): no way!
fillmerejive (12:34:16 AM): my one friend from college who i still keep in regular contact with is a brooklynite
fillmerejive (12:34:28 AM): also corrine lives in brooklyn and mike finuzzi
betternoise (12:34:41 AM): yeah but i know them
betternoise (12:35:07 AM): so when you said "a friend" instead of either of their names i become confused and scared
fillmerejive (12:35:26 AM): well you indeed did not know this friend
betternoise (12:35:35 AM): how is that possible?
betternoise (12:36:14 AM): i was pretty sure i knew everyone you know
fillmerejive (12:37:16 AM): i'm actually very sure that is not the case, i'm a popular cad about town, i go to at least two wakes a month so i must know alot of people to feel obligated to tolerate that much mourning
betternoise (12:37:44 AM): two wakes a month?
fillmerejive (12:38:11 AM): on average
fillmerejive (12:38:25 AM): i've been to 4 actually since the new year
betternoise (12:38:32 AM): jeez
betternoise (12:38:45 AM): maybe youre bad luck
fillmerejive (12:38:49 AM): yup, alot of them are sort of proxy wakes
fillmerejive (12:39:23 AM): my dad's best friend's (who i call uncle) brother and terrence's grandfather for example
betternoise (12:40:09 AM): ugh i havent been to a wake in years thank god
fillmerejive (12:40:22 AM): lucky you
betternoise (12:40:36 AM): i'm hoping the next one will be my own
fillmerejive (12:41:07 AM): that's morbid and unlikely
betternoise (12:41:33 AM): i'm just saying i hope no one i know dies until i do
betternoise (12:41:49 AM): it'll save me from going to any wakes at least
betternoise (12:42:03 AM): but i actually i was thinking...
betternoise (12:42:22 AM): its only a matter of time until some i know is shot outside martini red
betternoise (12:42:41 AM): those stapleton night clubs have been a deathbed of late
fillmerejive (12:43:14 AM): i guess
fillmerejive (12:43:21 AM): it's not too scary yet
betternoise (12:43:34 AM): somebody was recently shot outside edgewater hall you know
fillmerejive (12:43:58 AM): ok that's one
betternoise (12:45:01 AM):
betternoise (12:45:50 AM): i can't believe the cop actually used the word "beef"
betternoise (12:45:53 AM): how lowborw
fillmerejive (12:46:27 AM): have you ever spoken to a police officer?
betternoise (12:46:32 AM): sure
fillmerejive (12:46:56 AM): they don't use like the queen's english
betternoise (12:47:58 AM): yeah i suppose there werent too many sleepness nights deciding if they wanted to be a poet or join the force
fillmerejive (12:48:16 AM): exactly
betternoise (12:49:48 AM): Ebanks was shot a block away from where 18-year-old Robert D'Amato was killed Sept. 24, when a fight allegedly spilled out of the former Vibe Lounge on Broad Street, then erupted into a full-on street melee.
betternoise (12:49:59 AM): it's a crime zone i tells ya!!
betternoise (12:52:42 AM): i'm listening to the new times new viking if youre at all interested
fillmerejive (12:53:03 AM): how is it
betternoise (12:53:16 AM): it's good, if a little skimpy
betternoise (12:53:24 AM): 15 songs in under half an hour
fillmerejive (12:54:10 AM): you can't put a value on albums in minutes
betternoise (12:54:38 AM): i know but 5 of the songs are previously released
betternoise (12:54:49 AM): they were on 45s, one of which i have
betternoise (12:54:57 AM): but i'm still digging it and all
fillmerejive (12:55:08 AM): good
fillmerejive (12:55:35 AM): nothing much
fillmerejive (12:55:40 AM): sorry wrong im
betternoise (12:55:53 AM): did you see that review of the what's your rupture comp on pitchfork?
fillmerejive (12:56:11 AM): yeah, it seems totally extranious
fillmerejive (12:56:20 AM): i skimmed it i didn't read it
betternoise (12:56:19 AM): explain?
fillmerejive (12:56:51 AM): there's just not much that you can't get on albums, i also only have a passive interest in cause comotion
fillmerejive (12:57:03 AM): and the 4th band i know nothing about
fillmerejive (12:57:17 AM): i love love is all and long blondes though
betternoise (12:57:42 AM): fair enough but when cause comotion blow up can be sure to tell everyone how i got them to play at martini red back in the day?
betternoise (12:58:48 AM): and anyway, the long blondes cuts are good, "giddy stratospheres" is better than the album version and "autonomy boy" is one of their best songs
fillmerejive (12:59:07 AM): i saw them with oxford collapse they were ok, i don't see the blow up really happening
fillmerejive (12:59:24 AM): well i already have that ep downloaded at this point
betternoise (12:59:36 AM): one 9.3 and everyone will be up in their shit
fillmerejive (1:00:14 AM): the fork doesn't just hand over 9.3s, they don't have a 9.3 in em
betternoise (1:00:49 AM): ooof a damning statement if i ever heard one
betternoise (1:01:13 AM): what did they give that piece of shit clap your hands and say yeah debut album?
fillmerejive (1:01:17 AM): not at all
fillmerejive (1:01:41 AM): 9.0 which it very much deserved way more than any cause comotion album
fillmerejive (1:02:11 AM): i'll be honest there's a ton of bands i'm quite fond of that i sincerely don't think have "9.3"s in them
betternoise (1:02:16 AM): well cause comotion doesnt have an album
fillmerejive (1:02:24 AM): futureheads for example
betternoise (1:02:43 AM): and secondly, the CYHASY album is as dull as dishwater
betternoise (1:03:08 AM): so who can say what they'll deem a 9 or better
fillmerejive (1:04:36 AM): it's pretty easy to feel out there taste, and i think that album had very strong songs, a cingular vision with a diversity of sounds, that are all very comendable
fillmerejive (1:05:06 AM): even though i don't really care for the band because they're terrible live and they're new album is a david freeman art project
fillmerejive (1:05:29 AM): well cause comotion have done nothing to indicate they have a great album in them

SO IT BEGINS. (I really could've cut alot of that huh?)

betternoise (1:05:46 AM): hey did you read that thing i posted on myspace today regarding critical consensus?
betternoise (1:06:20 AM): its funny because there was an essay in the voice about almost the exact same thing we discussed a week or so ago
fillmerejive (1:06:49 AM): it's true and the (former pitchfork writer) landed right on your side
fillmerejive (1:07:17 AM): it's like christie todd whitman leaving the bush administration and letting her lips loose
betternoise (1:07:29 AM): yeah i guess
fillmerejive (1:07:36 AM): i'm just kidding
betternoise (1:07:45 AM): i didnt even realize he was a PFer
betternoise (1:08:07 AM): but it was a good read and i think he hit the nail on the head
fillmerejive (1:08:55 AM): i don't, i think consensus is healthy, i also think rebelling against consensus is what causes big musical shifts so i think that push and pull is all very good
fillmerejive (1:09:08 AM): but i'm not walking down that road again
betternoise (1:10:02 AM): he just had this one great line
betternoise (1:10:07 AM): Everyone who's telling you to listen to the same 50 records is caught in a closed loop of incestuous self-assurance, and you owe it to yourselves to leave them behind.
betternoise (1:10:31 AM): which is pretty much exactly how i feel
fillmerejive (1:10:43 AM): of course because there's no way that those 50 records are worth your tiem, i'm not sayign that's it those are the only things worth your time
fillmerejive (1:11:07 AM): i don't see the boris album on the pazz and jop list and i think the dylan album is crap
fillmerejive (1:11:38 AM): but i also don't think it's really made for me nor do i think the boris album is made for the critics makign that list
betternoise (1:12:22 AM): well who is it made for then?
fillmerejive (1:13:18 AM): people who've bought every dylan album for the last 50 years, people who are hemming and hawing over the new lucinda williams album like it's a transmition from the heart of america
betternoise (1:14:03 AM): thats who the list is made for?
fillmerejive (1:14:46 AM): that's who that album is made for, i'll bet that the average age of the people who make that list is mid 30's or later
betternoise (1:15:06 AM): thats certainly plausible
fillmerejive (1:15:07 AM): i'll also bet that those people are 80% male
betternoise (1:15:13 AM): also plausible
fillmerejive (1:15:25 AM): and i'll surely bet that they are 90% white
betternoise (1:15:27 AM): but tv on the radio was ranked 2nd
betternoise (1:15:32 AM): ad you do like them
betternoise (1:15:40 AM): so tv on the radio is for you and them?
fillmerejive (1:15:44 AM): of course it did, it's the consensus cool "kid" album
fillmerejive (1:16:00 AM): the strokes was second to love and theft
fillmerejive (1:16:14 AM): ok computer was second to time out of mind
fillmerejive (1:16:29 AM): hmmmpaterns
betternoise (1:16:40 AM): so your point is..?
fillmerejive (1:17:38 AM): it's not really alist i care to put any thought into, because their consensus will be wittled away by age, i enjoy the buzz of new things anyway, those albums are all so last year paul
betternoise (1:17:52 AM): oh dear
betternoise (1:18:28 AM): well there goes your consensus argument
fillmerejive (1:18:35 AM): no it doesn't
betternoise (1:18:39 AM): cant use that one again
fillmerejive (1:18:49 AM): the bob dylan album is certainly worth a bit of time
fillmerejive (1:19:11 AM): the tv on the radio album will have lasting influence and prevalence do to consensus
betternoise (1:19:27 AM): yeah just like pm dawn
fillmerejive (1:19:45 AM): but my objective music listening and enjoyment of these lists is not the impulse that drives me to albums
fillmerejive (1:20:04 AM): yes paul just liek pm dawn
betternoise (1:20:46 AM): fine but earlier you took the stance than consensus is more valid than personal opinion
betternoise (1:20:54 AM): now youre contradicting that
fillmerejive (1:20:56 AM): it is to a point
betternoise (1:21:18 AM): what's the point? when your opinion differs from it?
fillmerejive (1:21:49 AM): objectivity is more valuable in the long run for the bigger picture than subjective love of your own taste
betternoise (1:22:12 AM): what?
betternoise (1:22:18 AM): in english, please
fillmerejive (1:23:40 AM): i really think that is a pretty clear sentence
betternoise (1:23:50 AM): not really
betternoise (1:24:04 AM): it seems like a bunch of malarky to me
betternoise (1:24:37 AM): the bigger picture? that's a load
fillmerejive (1:24:50 AM): maybe it is paul
betternoise (1:25:37 AM): that's fiction, the biggest picture as far as anyone is concerned is as small as the space between their headphones
betternoise (1:26:05 AM): taste is subjective, period
betternoise (1:26:26 AM): beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yadda yadda yadda
fillmerejive (1:26:41 AM): so why then do you dedicate so much time dogging other people's taste?
betternoise (1:27:01 AM): i'm not dogging your taste
betternoise (1:27:08 AM): i'm giving my opinion
betternoise (1:27:23 AM): youre free to disagree
fillmerejive (1:27:49 AM): if there is a large group of people who are happy to declare the bob dylan album the best album of the year, what is the functional value of arguing against that album
fillmerejive (1:28:03 AM): the thing is you stake your argument in a negative light
fillmerejive (1:28:14 AM): it's never i really love this long blondes album
fillmerejive (1:28:24 AM): it's cyhsy is dishwater
fillmerejive (1:28:41 AM): you end up just nay saying
betternoise (1:28:49 AM): oh i dont know, whats the value of being against the war in iraq when everyone is for it a couple of years ago
betternoise (1:29:07 AM): history is made by those who say "no"
fillmerejive (1:29:21 AM): it's a good thinkg your standing up to the tyranny of bob dylan
fillmerejive (1:29:32 AM): people will have running water as a result
betternoise (1:29:39 AM): oh give me a break
fillmerejive (1:30:03 AM): if opnions are all subjective and consensus doesn't matter than let the baby have it's useless bottle
betternoise (1:30:14 AM): i'm just saying it's if you think a lot of people are into some bullshit, why not call them on it?
betternoise (1:30:50 AM): like the pm dawn thing!
betternoise (1:30:59 AM): did everyone have their head up their ass?
fillmerejive (1:31:56 AM): i said i don't like the bob dylan album but i see no reason to create a federal case about it because apparently alot of people get something out of it i don't, so good for them, i wish i loved the bob dylan album, more good musicis better than less good music
fillmerejive (1:32:11 AM): no at that time alot of people really liked pm dawn!
betternoise (1:32:30 AM): yeah and 15 years later who cares about them?
betternoise (1:32:37 AM): theyre a footnote at best
fillmerejive (1:33:02 AM): i don't know if that's entirly true
betternoise (1:33:09 AM): oh give me a break
fillmerejive (1:33:15 AM): i'll bet cee lo took alot away from the pm dawn album
fillmerejive (1:33:28 AM): i'll bet there's alot of people who still liek that album
fillmerejive (1:33:58 AM): i'll bet more people still listen to their pm dawn album than listen to the dave bazan album
betternoise (1:34:29 AM): i somehow doubt that but i dont see how that's a valid argument anyway
fillmerejive (1:34:36 AM): and who are you to consider yourself better than those people? huh paul who are you?
betternoise (1:34:56 AM): i dont think i'm better
betternoise (1:35:02 AM): i just think i'm me
betternoise (1:35:31 AM): them, not being me, can have no idea what kind of music i like
betternoise (1:35:50 AM): what i'll consider quality
fillmerejive (1:35:54 AM): being critical is one thing but you seem to see all of this as some kind of threat to the msuic you love
betternoise (1:36:11 AM): not really
fillmerejive (1:36:26 AM): likie people like wolf parade more than the fall and that is going to make your life harder
betternoise (1:36:38 AM): of course not
betternoise (1:37:12 AM): but i do think tha being into "underground rock" is pretty much meaningless nowadays
betternoise (1:37:27 AM): its all accessible
fillmerejive (1:37:39 AM): the internet is great liek that
betternoise (1:37:45 AM): great maybe
fillmerejive (1:37:56 AM): democratization is i think the best thing to ever happen to music
betternoise (1:38:01 AM): its a double edged sword, in my opinion
fillmerejive (1:38:16 AM): why shouldn't as many people like pavement as like u2
fillmerejive (1:38:17 AM): ?
betternoise (1:38:28 AM): no reason
fillmerejive (1:38:30 AM): pavememtn are great, they deserve every fan they get
betternoise (1:38:36 AM): of course
fillmerejive (1:38:57 AM): ya know what garth brooks isn't great but i begrudge him no fan, good for everyone
betternoise (1:39:29 AM): fine, but dont you think theres a degree of gentrification going on?
fillmerejive (1:40:17 AM): actually no, i think that the pendulum swings so fast now that between backlash and hype people weed things out for themselves
betternoise (1:40:28 AM): i couldnt disagree more
fillmerejive (1:41:16 AM): the fact that the tv on the radio album did well on lists doesn't matter because somewhere a guy who wanted the tapes n' tapes album to better is not going to put on the tv on the radio album because someone told him to
fillmerejive (1:41:28 AM): and if he does then he was a sheep anyway so oh well
betternoise (1:41:39 AM): of course he's a sheep
betternoise (1:41:49 AM): but dont you think many critics are?
betternoise (1:42:07 AM): dont you think they feel the pressure to be "correct?"
fillmerejive (1:42:39 AM): maybe, either that or their contrarian just to be the happy bomb thrower
fillmerejive (1:43:00 AM): it's not liek all of the sudden this occured it's not like the percentages just went haywire
fillmerejive (1:43:26 AM): there are more critics but i'd say there are just as many who stand outside the popular opinion as there always have been
betternoise (1:43:39 AM): i dont know about it
betternoise (1:43:47 AM): didnt you read that essay?
betternoise (1:44:22 AM): consensus
betternoise (1:44:27 AM): you should ignore it
betternoise (1:44:57 AM): its meaningless not just to me but to you
fillmerejive (1:45:06 AM): in forming your own opnions probably, but it's sometimes worth noting that other people's taste has some value
betternoise (1:45:29 AM): not to you it doesnt
fillmerejive (1:45:32 AM): i like to look at things objectivly, it's what seperates me from the republicans
betternoise (1:45:38 AM): hahahahaha
betternoise (1:45:58 AM): well i'm saying theres no way of being objective with art
fillmerejive (1:46:31 AM): sure it does, cause i like readin lists and i liek to know why things end up where they are, i like it like some people like sports, it's fun, you route for certain things but than you objectivly handicap these things
fillmerejive (1:46:49 AM): i'm saying that you're totally wrong
betternoise (1:47:31 AM): okay but does the dylan album being number one make it sound any better to you?
fillmerejive (1:48:48 AM): nope, because i'm sure there is something that i would see in that if i was a baby boomer
fillmerejive (1:48:57 AM): or even if i was in my 40's
fillmerejive (1:49:07 AM): russell really likes it i respect his opnion sometimes
betternoise (1:49:25 AM): but it doesnt sound any better to you!!
betternoise (1:49:38 AM): end of story!
fillmerejive (1:49:56 AM): but i can see that it's good in spite of my personal prejuduce
betternoise (1:50:23 AM): no you can't
betternoise (1:50:37 AM): because if you dont want to listen to it its not good!!
betternoise (1:50:50 AM): and if you think anything else youre fooling yourself
fillmerejive (1:51:22 AM): i'm a hell of a huckster
betternoise (1:51:34 AM): your personal prejudice is part of what make you yourself
fillmerejive (1:51:50 AM): jeez half of me feels so totally duped and half of me thinks i'm just about the slyest cat around
betternoise (1:51:54 AM): when you act in spite of it youre throwing away your individuality
betternoise (1:52:03 AM): and youre just another sheep
betternoise (1:52:22 AM): fuck that noise, man
fillmerejive (1:52:35 AM): baaaaaaaaa
betternoise (1:53:07 AM): alright fine
fillmerejive (1:53:13 AM): if i give in to your argument i'd be a rabid individualist like yourself
fillmerejive (1:53:16 AM): and chris ott
fillmerejive (1:53:19 AM): and russell
betternoise (1:53:30 AM): at least you have enough personal conviction to not agree with me
fillmerejive (1:54:11 AM): and bowie actually follows your argument
fillmerejive (1:54:15 AM): eric too actually
fillmerejive (1:54:21 AM): marisa
fillmerejive (1:54:34 AM): in fact most people i know follow your line of reasoning pretty much
betternoise (1:54:35 AM): but you should just be honest with yourself and say if you dont like it, its bad, and if you do, its good


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