Wise Man Thurston Moore
So often the aesthetic goal of underground music is assumed to be the pursuit of novelty or newness, an idea inherent in the word avant-garde. Then the music can be criticized when it fails a newness test, which all music does because most sounds (or any other form of expression) has existed before. Thurston Moore has a great counter to this in The Wire’s piece on Sonic Youth:
“I don’t like the idea of reaching out to do something new with [our] music, it’s kind of a living organism in a way. I talked to Evan Parker about it once, and he said, ‘We focused on certain aspects of those ESP records, because we liked the ending parts of these pieces, where they were really playing free, and we would just take those and make whole pieces out of them.’ That’s what they wanted to do, those were the moments they wanted to expound upon. I think somebody in that scene called it ‘the living music’. It’s not about any concept of newness—who cares? I have no interest in newness.”
I particularly like the formulation of the goal being to expound upon something you have experienced, therefore it follows upon something.
He’s also got this great take on the noise scene:
“I just think [that scene] has created its own identity outside of any pre-existing genre, and that’s what I’m most interested in, where genre terms become blurred. I know, like, when I get involved with playing with people in the avant garde jazz tradition, they have such a history of language development, with harmonic concepts and fairly sophisticated melodic concepts. I feel like I’m more involved with a scene that kind of explodes that.”Seems to me this gets at what is so vital about it. It also seems to be a scene that can put down roots everywhere, unlike things like avant garde jazz which has a more of an exclusive character.