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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Musical quality and reviews

Sometimes I get the question: "why do you always give such high evaluations for the albums you review"?

The answer is simple: the objective of this blog is to promote music that would otherwise remain under the radar screen of regular reviews (based on my personal opinion). So I only review those albums about which I think that their existence should be made known to those interested. And 300 positive reviews a year, is a tiny fraction of all the music that is being produced.

Many labels and musicians send me their new material. And I thank them for that.

Unfortunately for them, I do not review everything. I do not see the point in writing reviews about albums that I do not particularly enjoy, unless they're by established musicians, and my review only has value as a kind of alert to those inclined to buy a lot.

One suggestion to the many young musicians that send me material: listen a lot to music. And here are some general comments about these demos and self-released CDs.

1. Focus on the music, not on the mastery of the instruments. Many young musicians want to demonstrate their skills, which is fine, but that's not the objective.

2. Make sure the CD has coherence. The whole CD will mostly be listened to in one go, so mixing Latin, with bop, and then some free pieces, and then some with electronics, may demonstrate the breadth of the skills, but it does not give the impression of a musical vision.

3. Have something to tell. Why would anyone be interested in buying and listening to your music? What does it do that others did not do?

4. Then don't overdo it. Many CDs I receive try to break boundaries, which is good, but they often go into realms of meaningless experimentation. Experiments are good, as an exercise tool to get new ideas, but they are not the goal. They should be integrated into a musical vision.

5. Many, many musicians have tried to experiment in the same fashion. So it's not because the music is full of noise, or violence, or electronics, that it is new or creative. More often than not it's quite tedious.

6. Create your own voice. A comment closely related to the third point, but try to create something distinct, something personal, something unique. And work on it.

7. It's all about the music. About the emotion, about how formal creativity and instrumental mastery can captivate the heart, mind and body of the listener. Think about his or her listening experience.

8. Be yourself. Understand your emotions, find ways to express their complexity and contradictions. Play what you like, not to impress others.

9. Don't listen to old men like me rambling. Shock old men with new visions.

10. And send me your stuff.

11. If it's any good, I will review it.

That's my promise. And objective.


© stef


Anonymous said...

But then again,you gave what I consider a 5-star album,Butcher/Love-CONCENTRIC,a low rating.

Hopefully you've listened again and realized what a misguided review that one was...:)


+ 7k Oaks;3-1/2 stars? Insanity!