I’m sequestering myself by not reading about an album I’m primarily interested in because of one of my favorite music writers. And I’ve written a blog post about it. The Internet is a weird place.
I love reading about music. I love the descriptions, the debates, the cultural contextualization, the personal preferences — there are so, so many songs and albums I never would have heard had I not read about them online. (I really think this interweb thing is going to bring people together, ya know?)
That said, every once in a while, it’s fun (important, even?) to listen in a vacuum. To dive into a lake knowing you’re the only one making ripples in it. That’s what I’ve been doing yesterday and today with EMA’s new album, The Future’s Void.
NPR is doing a First Listen, and instead of reading the accompanying article and searching familiar sites for early reviews, I’m just listening. Forming connections that are totally subjective and possibly unique. Applying the lyrics to what’s happening in my life. Making it mine.
It surprises me a little that this is happening, because I had a hard time forming an emotional connection with her last album. There were songs on Past Life Martyred Saints I really liked — I called it “interesting and rewarding” a while back — but I always felt like it was keeping me at arm’s length. OK, now I’m projecting. To be honest, I think I was a little intimidated by it. One of my favorite music writers, Mark Richardson, absolutely loved it, and since his preferences and mine often align, it frustrated me that I couldn’t find a way in. As much as I liked “California,” it seemed like I was missing something, or that there was something I was incapable of perceiving. It’s not unlike the way I greet certain types of classical music, like “I know there’s something here, but I just don’t know what to listen for…” (Ironically, reading about the song/piece/album is what usually helps in those situations.)
When I saw that EMA had a new album coming out, my first thought was that I couldn’t wait to see what Richardson thought about it. I wanted another chance to hear what he heard. I’m still excited to find out what he thinks, and I have my fingers crossed that he’ll write the Pitchfork review, but for the time being, I’ve been having a great deal of fun hearing what I’m hearing, and in this spirit of placid lake diving, I’ll leave it at that.