Hit Me Baby One More Time (Please!)

I don’t know if it’s old age—gasp, the big four-O is creeping up—or if it’s that “center of the world” New York state of mind burrowing into my psyche. Whatever it is, I must acknowledge my seen-it-all, heard-it-all perspective on things, especially when it comes to music. How long has it been since you’ve been completely blown away by a new piece? And by completely blown away, I mean you underwent an utter transformation, everything was earth-shatteringly different afterwards, and now, following a considerable amount of soul searching, an absolute epiphany has hit—or something along these lines anyway. You get the gist.

It’s been awhile for me. Some of my own personal milestones include hearing (barely, that is) Bernhard Günter’s un peu de neige salie and my first (earplugs required) noise show at The Lab. Sadly, both of these life-changing events happened ten years ago. And hearing Quatuor pour la fin du temps performed in Jordan Hall in the late ’80s might as well have been eons in the past. The closest I’ve come lately is discovering the music of Klaus K. Hubler (not to be confused with the better-known Klaus Huber). Thank you for cluing me in Aaron Cassidy, but that was seven years ago! What will it take to prick up my ears again? The recent Julius Eastman hubbub didn’t incite me at all. Remember, I’ve heard it all before.

However, I’m not going to blame my jadedness this time around. In fact, I think it’s actually naïveté which provokes such cataclysmic responses to music encountered for the very first time. For instance, my immediate visceral reactions to both the lowercase and noise scenes a decade ago—which, by the way, really did change my life, no joke—were inductions into an entirely new universe, or at the very least, new musical genres that I was completely unaware of at the time. But encountering Klaus K. Hubler’s music was just an affirmation of a particular style and of various aesthetic concepts that I happened to already be interested in, all neatly wrapped up in the context of modern composition. Nothing more than chamber music, not that there’s anything wrong with it.

I can only conclude that I’m not going to be overwhelmed again by music until I step completely outside of what I know and probably even beyond the yeah-I-think-I-heard-something-about-that-type stuff. Of course the problem is that when you maneuver inside the circles of art and music long enough, even the most peripheral goings-on windup finding a path to your ears. So I guess it’s time to put on a blindfold and walk the plank, unless there’s some other way to stumble into the unfamiliar. Heard anything good lately?

3 thoughts on “Hit Me Baby One More Time (Please!)

  1. dalgas

    Change away!…
    When we’re young, it’s just about a given that something we bump into is bound to be life-changing, and usually many times over. There’s a point though, where I have to wonder why the whole point would be some need to keep finding “life-changing” encounters, unless of course someone wasn’t happy about who they are or what they’re doing. Not to sound hermetic; there’s always room for a fresh encounter, though whether with a new or old “friend” doesn’t seem so important.

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  2. amc654

    I’m glad my little Royaumont presentation on Hübler made an impact all those years ago, Randy.

    I can completely empathize with your current situation. I find it increasingly difficult to find work that really excites me, or, perhaps more precisely, work that gives me the same discomfort and fascination and awe that I had years and years ago when I first got really excited about new music. It is now exceptionally rare that I hear something that forces me to listen in a completely new way, something that doesn’t already fit into an extant stylistic box (no matter how terrific the piece).

    But, a few winners that have risen to that level in recent years ….. Peter Ablinger (with much thanks to Evan Johnson for his persistence), whose music was initially quite maddening and baffling but now excites me tremendously; Richard Barrett’s “Dark Matter,” which was surprisingly difficult to digest until even a 3rd or 4th listening; and the fabulously bizarre work of Sam Mirelman, who somehow was able to submit a dissertation piece at Buffalo that was exclusively for private, internal performance, for imagined sounds.

    Randy: do me this favor: ifwhen you stumble across something that is completely new for you, pass it along to me!

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