Pitchfork & le rock indé : 5.4/10
n+1 publie un gigantesque article sur #Pitchfork (site de critique musicale « #rock #indé ») et la culture qui l’entoure et qu’il encourage.
L’article commence par retracer l’histoire du site (qui débute en 1995 comme fanzine web d’un bachelier du Minnesota) et ses premiers succès, jusqu’à sa position actuelle de « faiseur de roi », déterminant le succès commercial d’un disque ou d’un groupe.
Mais cette histoire est indissociable de celle d’un genre particulier :
It is worth noticing that “indie rock” is one of the few musical genre names that doesn’t refer to a musical aesthetic: the genre was founded on an ethic of production.
Et ceci, en parallèle avec l’apparition de #Napster, d’une nouvelle culture de l’écoute, du partage et de l’appropriation gratuite de la #musique :
Back when people still had to pay for music, money served to limit and define consumption. (...)
Those select few who did manage to hear everything—record store clerks, DJs, nerds with personal warehouses—could use this rare knowledge to terrorize their social or sexual betters (...)
Napster made all of that obsolete. Today, almost every person I know has more music on his computer than he could ever know what to do with. (...)
In the 21st century, we are all record store clerks.
En retour, le site et son influence ont conduit à la valorisation d’une conception postmoderne, pourrait-on dire, de la musique :
Did these bands suck? Was there something that Pitchfork had missed? Although Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, M.I.A., and Animal Collective all produced sophisticated, intelligent music, it’s also true that they focused their sophistication and intelligence on those areas where the stakes were lowest. Instead of striking out in pursuit of new musical forms, they tweaked or remixed the sounds of earlier music, secure in the knowledge that pedantic blog writers would magnify these changes and make them seem daring. Instead of producing music that challenged and responded to that of other bands, they complimented one another in interviews, each group “doing its own thing” and appreciating the efforts of others. So long as they practiced effective management of the hype cycle, they were given a free pass by their listeners to lionize childhood, imitate their predecessors, and respond to the Iraq war with dancing. The general mood was a mostly benign form of cultural decadence.
En fin de compte, la décadence s’avère politique. De musique pour petits blancs pauvres, dit l’auteur, l’indie est devenu une musique pour petits blancs riches.
This is a kind of music, in other words, that’s very good at avoiding uncomfortable conversations. Pitchfork has imitated, inspired, and encouraged indie rock in this respect. It has incorporated a perfect awareness of cultural capital into its basic architecture. A Pitchfork review may ignore history, aesthetics, or the basic technical aspects of tonal music, but it will almost never fail to include a detailed taxonomy of the current hype cycle and media environment.
L’article conclut sur rien d’autre qu’un appel au modernisme :
One of pop music criticism’s most important functions today is to perpetuate pop music’s favorite myth about itself—that it has no history, that it was born from nothing but drugs and “revolution” sometime in the middle of the 20th century. But the story of The Beatles doesn’t begin with John, Paul, George, and Ringo deplaning at JFK. It begins with Jean-Philippe Rameau’s 1722 Treatise on Harmony, which began to theorize the tonal system that still furnishes the building blocks for almost all pop music.
Most of all, though, we need new musical forms. We need a form that doesn’t think of itself as a collection of influences. We need musicians who know that music can take inspiration not only from other music but from the whole experience of life. Pitchfork and indie rock are currently run by people who behave as though the endless effort to perfect the habits of cultural consumption is the whole experience of life. We should leave these things behind, and instead pursue and invent a musical culture more worth our time.