Monday, June 27, 2016

"Although music has a tremendous ability to create communal feeling, no community can form without excluding outsiders. The sense of oneness that a song fosters in a human herd can seem either a beautiful or a repulsive thing—usually depending on whether you love or hate the song in question. Loudness heightens the tension: blaring music is a hegemonic move, a declaration of disdain for anyone who thinks differently."
- Alex Ross, writing in The New Yorker

Also in The New Yorker, but a couple years ago, Malcolm Gladwell noted that in order to give their followers a sense of identity and resilience, countless religious innovators over the years required their followers to maintain certain fictions of cultural apartness.  This game of establishing an identity by accentuating their otherness, often in the most obnoxious way possible, is a very American pattern that extends from Joseph Smith and the early Mormons to David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. 

The communities that form around certain bands or, more broadly, certain types of music, also have to exclude outsiders every bit as much as they need to reward the loyalty of fans.  This is often accomplished by taking the music to extremes that might repel the uninitiated, but are pure nirvana to the adherent. Playing that music loudly, very loudly, is doing it in the most obnoxious way possible.

Swans will be creating a communal feeling among us adherents while repelling the apostates at Terminal West on July 22.  

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