It Will Stand
So The Future is over - thank god for that. It was fun for a while back in the late-90s, but any notion of Cool Tomorrow-type music must/soon will STOP - surely. It is so last century to imagine a brave new world of crazy computerised beats being made right now by Young Pioneers. The only people still doing that are Dance magazines and, of course, The Wire. The latter, I have to say, take it to admirably absurd lengths involving 'systems' for 'algorithmic music composition' and so on. Mouse On Mars look positively archaic compared to those playing the generative music game. The Wire must invest in The Future, though. I mean, where else is there to go?
Thankfully, as an individual who's not involved in an organisation that's chained to the perpetual promotion of The New Something-or-other, I can declare The Future to be dead. Isn't that the fun of being a 'free' person faced with so much cultural consumer choice? If I decide to buy a leather jacket tomorrow and have 'Gene Vincent' written on the back in gold studs, I bloody well will. To acknowledge ourselves amongst the supposed general flow of things is a right liberty.
The temptation, for the liberal eclecticist, is always to want the best of both worlds - a fine philosophy, and one which we adopted at The Rumpus Room back in the mid-90s. Today's pick'n'mix approach to the culture counter of this crazy post-modern world is not quite what we had in mind, however. Cheesy Disco, MOR Rock, Hip-Hop blah blah - all very messy, very modern, in fact. With a Pop century to plunder, the temptation to do so without entertaining the idea of Taste is irresistable. Old notions of artistic hiararchy are long gone because to work out what is good and what's Bad is just too...difficult? Too picky and choosy. That's the trouble with Freedom of Choice - ask the Russian government. Let the masses do what they want and you end up with chaos. Bring back The Style Council! (No, not the band, the idea).
When I say that The Future is over this is a fact because I declare it to be so - don't try arguing. If I was to narrow the choice down to two simple elements, I'd say that you can either go with the forward-motion flow, or go back to wherever you want. That damn fence in the middle is such an uncomfortable place to sit. There is no simple choice, of course, unless you've reached a stage where The Future seems irrelevant (in it's musical form) and The Past is calling so very strongly. Ah yes, the lure of the familiar.
I see people turning their backs on The Future every day, and no, they are not revivalists or ignorant saddoes. They might be website creators who find more inspiration in Dylan than the latest digital thing. They might be friends who once courted the cool modernism of Olde back then, but now prefer to sit at home strumming a guitar. The obvious source of discontent is not only what passes for Future Music today, but the naff appropriation of all that by everyone from the Rock establishment going to see Air in concert to every other tv ad featuring a 'twisted' or passé 'trip-hop' soundtrack.
Music's Golden Age ended a few years before The Dome closed, but that particular disaster seems like a fitting final event. It should have looked and sounded like the 1962 Seattle State World's Fair, where 'fantasy prevailed in structures shaped like bubbles, stars, sunbursts, flowers, snowflakes, honeycombs and rippling ribbons..' - all to a, 'Electronique Outer Space' orchestral soundtrack courtesy of Attilio Mineo (Subliminal Sounds, SUBCD-4). Instead, it was rubbish. We missed our last chance to get The Future right, which is a shame.
© Robin Tomens