Darling James (aka James O'Brien) on
Apr 29, 2016
It’s fair to state that 2016 has brought some serious blows to the music community, Bowie, Prince, and George Martin just to name a few (and it’s only April) these deaths made all the more shocking given each figure’s seeming immortality.
Local musician DarlingJames aka James O’Brien (also the former frontman of The Boat People) has penned a piece following Prince’s death reflecting on just what these recent losses means for the music community and what it says about how we consume and appreciate are modern day geniuses.
The trouble with searching is that it takes time. It takes time and it takes mistakes. Or perhaps missteps. I don’t think it would be controversial to suggest that if the uninitiated were to take a random dip into the work of Prince or Bowie there’s every chance that they could end up hearing something that would make them wonder what all the fuss is about. After all both these artists put out albums before their ‘golden periods’ and kept producing work (sometimes good work) in those fallow years between their commercial peak and their rediscovery or ‘heritage artist’ status.
Performers putting out music right now don’t get a lot of time. Whatever they put out needs to hit home and hit home quickly. It’s a cramped, sweaty, noisy cage that you throw your tracks into and you need to equip them to survive and conquer. If they don’t make it there’s literally millions of songs waiting to take their place.
[include_post id=”471874″]This means no time for searching. It’s a battle of tracks for maximum effect no matter how flimsy they are upon further investigation. At its worst we hear music that is little more than an aesthetic indulgence, often bathed in irony to the point of detached pastiche. This can be interesting no doubt, but it’s more an extension of curation, which is an important but different discipline. Critiquing the past, grappling with context and using these to show your aesthetic allegiances is part of being an artist but they are skills, not goals. On the flip side there’s music that is so calculatedly emotive that it can be hard to imagine who takes it seriously. But this is far from a new phenomena.
Thankfully there are lots of artists out there happily circling and jabbing. On my list there’s M.I.A., Courtney Barnett, Animal Collective, Violent Soho, FKA Twigs, Jason Isbell, Gold Panda, Hot Chip and many, many others. Whether they’ve put out one album or 10, whether they’re a singer-songwriter or dealing in warped electronics they’re all artists whose work has a clear through-line, an unattainable goal they’re desperately gunning for, just like David Bowie and Prince.
If we want artists of the calibre of those greats to continue coming through the ranks we need to invest our time, money and energy in the people that are doing the same kind of work. Reward and stand by those artists who are on the search.
Darling James & Machine Age
‘The Itch’ Co-Headline Tour
Fri May 6 | Brighton Up Bar, Sydney
Thu May 12 | The Workers Club, Melbourne
Fri May 13 | The Milk Factory Facebook event.