Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Musician, Keeping the Dancers "There"

Musician Dan Deacon claims that composition of dance music has always faced a fundamental problem : the dancers frequently turn off their brains to enjoy it. When I first heard this, being a dancer myself, I was offended. I don not turn off my brain, thank you very much! But then I got to thinking about what he means when he says "dance music" and I kind of started to agree. You go to a dance club nowadays and what with the pulsing beats, the repetitive nature of the songs, well, it's easy to see how people just check out. And -no offense meant, Jimmy- discotheque isn't exactly mind-stimulating.

So Deacon has moved to face this problem. Being more electronically-based in the past, he's added more acoustic instruments to the mix, and has begun to play in the middle of the audience, rather than from the stage (perhaps feeling that they can't ignore the music if he's right there, bumping shoulders with them). His new album, Bromst, features a more thorough blend of acoustic and electric instruments than his earlier stuff, and he claims this is part of an effort to make what he calls "more substantial" music. He says "I just wanted to make a record that wasn't escapism. Like, I didn't want to write another record that was devoid of meaningful content."

Interesting thoughts. Do you think electronic music is more prone to encourage escapism? Do you think dancers "check out" mentally, like Deacon says? I have to say now, that Cage would probably scoff -if he was actually capable of scoffing, which I doubt- at the attempt to make music have meaning (isn't it's highest meaning simply to be meaningless?). But it's good to know that musicians are out there thinking about this stuff, rather than just doing what sells to make a buck.

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