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?