Towards Better Democracy

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Endless Melancholy – Fragile

Endless Melancholy – Fragile

I would never have dreamed that Minimalism would last so long as a genre of music. After all, In C of Terry Riley’s was released in 1968 at the height of the Beatle’s fame. I did not hear it, and live at that, until 1974. Rainbow in Curved Air by the same composer I heard the year it was released; 1969.

I attended a dance performance in 1974 which used as its music Come Out by Steve Reich. When I listened to his Music for Eighteen Musicians in 1976 I was so taken by it I dashed downstairs with the vinyl in hand to the next door neighbours’ and insisted on playing it to them there and then. This left them puzzled as to what I saw in the music. I still listen to it regularly and it is as fresh and compelling as it ever was.

Simeon ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato I did not hear until last year, courtesy of YouTube. It is still absurdly popular considering it was first recorded in 1979. There are many composers who have gone on to compose in this style. There is no point in mentioning them all.

And here we have a recording, made in 2014, which hews faithfully to the Minimalist style as do many of these individuals or groups who produce what is now known as Post Rock. Absurd title for this music is not rock even when accompanied by drums, absent from Endless Melancholy.

Quite why so many bands and individuals in all corners of the world compose and play in this style is beyond me to understand. Minimalism when I was first listening to it was very much a minority taste. Now, the sheer number of bands and the popularity of many of them on YouTube attests to both the musical style’s staying power and popularity.

This particular band, although only one artist, Oleksiy Sakevych, is credited, is true to its title and many of these bands exude this same melancholic mood if not just in the music then in the name the band has adopted. A lost innocence, perhaps. A realisation that we have entered a sort of post world and there is no going back to the old. In fact, the music overall is one of mourning. Most of these bands, when playing live, play in almost complete darkness. And the irony has a distinctly post modern twinge to it. The Tired Sounds of the Stars of the Lid, for example. A Winged Victory For the Sullen. Ah, sullen. Yes, that’s it. We won’t get what we want: a better world.

How different it all is from those days when rock started out as so hopeful, ready to change the world. The world has changed, true, but not in the way those rock pioneers wished. Nor we.

But we’re still here. And listening to music which gives us a great deal of pleasure. We don’t need the teenage girls screaming from the front row. I don’t think they would now anyway.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 24 June, 2017


Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

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