Sometimes people listen to music because it makes them feel part of something. Maybe even most of the time. Generally in life we connect, automatically, obliviously, with people around us. We find ways, interests, hobbies, art, music. Sharing CDs, going to gigs, blogging, DJing, all these ways of getting along with others, even if the joy of music as a shared experience sometimes feels like a Coca Cola adopted marketing scheme that somehow nobody realised was killing modern notions like "passion", "meaning", "sincerity" etc.
Shared musical experiences always left me cold, at least until I began going to see DJs every week in 2001 or so. Something about the authority of collectivism that always makes me doubt whether I have a choice in how to feel, whether it's sitting around the Christmas dinner table or just liking a CD that someone else likes. Sometimes I wonder if I trust people who feel differently. Not these days anyway.
Because other times, people listen to music to make them understand being alone. Again, the concept seems so clichéd, the popular way and rule of how we consume music and "how it makes us feel" seems so learned sometimes, it subsumes everything. You give it an inch and it takes a mile. So I'm not talking about listening to sad music because you feel sad. Films, ads, blogs, they murdered any meaning in this a long time ago, at least for me. Truly disconnected music is music which is hardcore, which doesn't compromise, which sounds utterly of its time, which does not care if you like it or not. Ok, so that sounds like bigtalk, alpha male techno cliché....it's not meant to.
When I think of uncompromising music, I think of truly avant garde sounds, repetition, wig outs, heavy dubs, noise, minimalism. Music which is heavy, which weighs on the senses, which can never be subsumed into neat boxes of human experience like the proverbial "and music made us have the best times of our lives dude!" of the Coke ad (which is way too prevalent in the music press, more's the pity).
Here's an example, you know when you put on a CD in a public place, perhaps when you're stupid enough to do so at 14 or something, and people or friends say "that's depressing", and this had never occurred to you? You never thought whatever CD it was was depressing, you probably thought it was happy. Maybe you were right. Is alternative music actually depressing or are people just depressed by music which doesn't allow them to empty it from their head instantly? Or which doesn't allow them to formulate whatever usual emotion they formulate when listening to music? Eg "happy", "sad", "dance", "rap". Sometimes I think people are like robots, you change the inputs and "DOES NOT COMPUTE" appears on their display screen. You deviate from the normal answers and "ERROR" appears.
Lately, in what is probably a death wish for someone who wants to write about music, at least in the commercial gravy train of reviews etc, I find myself seeking to hack off any connection my taste has with that of others, with consensus, with written reviews, with generally accepted opinions, existing genres. I don't know if I'm succeeding, someone may read this post and laugh. I am trying though.
What music is there when you don't want to connect with people, either by feeling sad or by feeling happy? When how you feel is more complex? When sometimes you feel dead, disconnected by circumstance, robotic. There is so much of it out there, and I suppose it's ignored to some extent. I listen to music now to make feeling alone have a soundtrack, I actively seek out records that seem to need seeking such are their poor social skills. Needless to say, all this minimal house has come at a good time. Of course, others probably rejoice in the same sounds, but such is the melancholy/euphoria split in dance music.
It's funny when, sometimes, people I know wonder what music I like, or if I like any at all, because in the last 18 months I've constantly been trying to sever all links with the taste of others, and even my own past taste. Self effacement I suppose. And yet I know there are plenty of people I share taste with, I guess the real beauty of music is the freedom to different interpretations, there are probably people out getting smashed to the tunes that I play on the radio, which to me just feel weird and disconnected, but mostly devoid of feeling, saying nothing but "here is sound".