A couple of significant press updates in the last couple of weeks, the first of which is a new long-form interview – click here to read it. The interviewer, a music writer by the name of Jedd Beaudoin, asked some very interesting and insightful questions, and it was quite enjoyable (albiet sometimes challenging) to try and find decent answers to some of the ideas he posed.
Along with the interview, there are two new reviews for Normalized – one almost embarassingly good one, again by Mr. Beudoin, and another mixed one from progressive music bastion Expose’. Both interviews can be read here, along with the general archive of my press over the last several years.
Getting reviews of one’s work is an interesting thing – a lot of creatively inclined people are very, very sensitive to having their work opened up for criticism. It’s an understandable concern; to a large extent, a person’s art is inextricably linked to their own experiences as a human being, and it can be hard for an artist to distinguish between a criticism of their work, and a criticism of themselves as people. (It doesn’t help matters that some music writers willfully and deliberately blur those issues themselves, and turn what are supposedly reviews of someone’s music into scathing character assasinations of the musicians in question.)
It gets even more complex when an artist has more than one major release, because once you’ve put out your first statement, you’ve created a set of expectations in the minds of your audience. Trying to deal with the difference between what someone thought an artist was going to do (based on their prior work) and what they actually did do (based on their current whims and agendas) can be a tricky thing to deal with, for both a musician and the audience.
This sort of thing was certainly on my mind as I got Normalized ready for release last year – as Rich Pike (undoubtedly one of my strongest and most vocal supporters) says on the front page of None Radio, “The follow-up to Disruption Theory sounds NOTHING like it at all!” There have definitely been people who found Normalized a disappointing follow-up to the first album (including a couple of folks who have posted reviews of my CDs at CD Baby), and there have also been people who find the second CD much more enjoyable than the first one. What’s maybe most gratifying, and relieving, about all of this is that somewhere between one third and one fourth of all of the people who have bought Normalized have bought Disruption Theory at the same time, which has been a very pleasant surprise.
In any event, my favorite reviews have tended to be the ones that demonstrate a true understanding of where I’m coming from, and what I’m trying to do. Sure, it’s great to have people say nice things about my work, but it’s even more gratifying to hear commentary from people who “get” the music from the point of view that I was approaching it in the first place. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the less positive reviews I’ve gotten (for both records) have almost always judged the music on the basis of what’s NOT there (i.e. what the reviewer would LIKE to hear me doing), as opposed to what IS there (i.e. what I actually had in mind when I did the stuff in the first place.)
Anyway – there’s an old saying that “any press is good press.” And while I’m not 100% convinced about that, I’d definitely rather have an ongoing dialogue about the relative merits and meanings of my work than to have it elicit no reaction at all.