Thursday, July 24, 2008

paper wraps stone

I would like to bring to your attention a stylish demolition of Primal Scream's new album in excellent on line music magazine The Quietus by Chris Roberts. "The Scream" are not the most unlikely of targets perhaps and they are certainly ripe for it but Roberts manages the task with flair and elan. The line about putting a damp cloth over your intellect is particularly fine. As is his dismissal of CSS, although I actually quite like them. I'll find it more difficult to do so now though, which is the kind of perversity I take much pleasure in.

Worryingly, I haven't enjoyed reading any music criticism so much for ages. Worrying, because along with Taylor Parkes' new Fall album review, The Quietus seems to have resuscitated the entire staff of Melody Maker from 1990. They all disappeared and now they have returned en masse like veterans from a twenty year tour of duty in the Astoria. Where have they been? How did they survive? Did they all live together, like The Monkees?*

What does this say about me? That I have atrophied into the kind of man who has no sense of curiosity about the world? That I'm looking in the wrong places? Well, there is Wire and, indeed, Mire**, but I'm not sure I enjoy them in quite the same way. I feel improved, educated, more in the know, sometimes invigorated, often inspired to go and buy something. But not quite as thrilled and not quite as uplifted as by Chris Robert's delightfully rude review of Primal Scream. I had to go back and re-read it. It's still very good.

Is the enjoyment of music linked to the enjoyment of criticism? It is for me. Somehow the critical discourse around gives it meaning and a way in that I know many people would find oddy slavish to some over intellectualised form of predetermination. Actually, it's the same with architecture. In here, a great deal of what we do stems from outrage at what everyone else is doing. That is from a primarily critical impulse (the results of which probably have a similar reaction on everyone else). For me personally words and criticism precedes creativity (horrible self aggrandising word I know). But, words, perversely, are somehow important in forming things. In the anti-intellectual climate of contemporary architecture, criticism is mostly seen as a destructive thing, a necessary evil at best. Too much theory is supposed to limit creativity. In as much as I can lay claim to any creativity, I would say that, for me, the opposite has always been true

*Apart from Simon Price, who I see at every concert I ever go to. He's a very noticeable sort of fellow that Simon Price, although it might also have something to do with my wife dragging me to an awful lot of Brett Anderson concerts.

** Actually, while writing this I have been reading the Mire again and it's actually very good.

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