Ever consider that you might be listening to music incorrectly? I mean- take Envy, for example. I slept on them, just like everyone else. When I first heard them, somewhere around 2003-2004, all I heard was another knock off ‘screamo” band. I had no idea that they were an authentic OG “post hardcore” band who had been around for 10 years at that point. Then, when I was re- introduced to them around 2011, I thought they were fantastic- a fearless “Post metal” band. But do you see the pattern, yet?
If we are to consider music, especially commercially released music to be an art, we have to drop the thinking of faddishness, which includes so-called genres, and styles. Sometimes the best way to communicate through music is by a clear, clean simple melody, and sometimes, the best way to communicate through music is with an aggressive screech, and sometimes, a swirling mass of indistinct notes, and sometimes, even with quiet, murmuring noise. The difference between “high” art, the “canon” of established art, and “low” art, the body of popular entertainment has been long since proven to be a function of time and technology. This renders most of what we dismiss as ‘fashion” and that even includes genre as our own wrong-headed short sightedness.
Our tools shouldn’t be references- as has been said before- we should listen without prejudice, and simply determine if the art communicates a message to us, that we can incorporate into our world view.
Listened to, in that way- I find Envy’s latest record “The Fallen Crimson” to be an evocative success. I don’t speak Japanese, and I haven’t looked up any translations- the result is that I mean in a purely musical way. It’s the beauty in the way sunlight reflects on the barrel of a gun, and the way that love never seems more intense than when it is dying. The use of distortion, either on the instrument or the voice, is just a tool to indicate aggression, intensity, passion, and action. The use of melody is another tool, used to indicate order, and passive acceptance. The use of other electronic effects just is used to indicate uncertainty and restlessness.
Are you starting to see that it’s impossible to accomplish the task? We cannot listen truly without prejudice, we bring secret histories and occult creeds to our perceptions. However- I would suggest that for so-called ‘genre-defying’ artists like Envy- the wisest way to get the maximum enjoyment out of it is to attempt that impossible task, and abandon linear meaning.