Once Thought Extinct, Genre Resurfaces

My son’s other band (besides Liturgy), Guardian Alien, is beginning to take off; just coming off a Midwest tour, they’ve got a new album out on Thrill Jockey, See the World Given to a One Love Entity, with an accompanying video. The album is one forty-minute track, high-energy and improvised but well structured, and fun to listen to. In fact, Bernard told me he took to heart some of the criticisms I had made of free improv in my early Village Voice writings, and took care to avoid the worst clichés. The genre, he says, is psychedelic rock. I asked, “Isn’t that kind of old-fashioned? I mean, did they still have psychedelic rock in the eighties?” “Well, the eighties were probably a low point for it, but it’s always been around, and that’s what they still call it.” So there you go. I do admire about pop musicians that they are not so squeamish about describing their music in terms of categories. They’d rather make a connection to the audience than be so frickin’ ascetically pure-minded.



  1. says

    Exactly! Categories are always limited and limiting, but they’re just the first comment in a conversation in search of what is unique about the piece in question. Can you imagine walking into a record store (back when there were such things) and finding that the proprietor had made no effort to subject his/her wares to any sort of categorization? Impossible! Though I do recall in the *real* old days certain hole in the wall store owners who seemed to have memorized every title on the premises. That was love.

    Thanks for the tip on the new psychedelic rock album. I still listen to my old albums.

  2. says

    Much psychedelic music was/is exceptional. I still sometimes refer to classic tracks when I write chamber music and often use the whole concept as a starting point.
    However I think now the political culture is antagonistic to the psychedelic ethos. Firstly it was largely spiritual, desired to leave earthly humdrum experiences behind, and was basically non-party political (I was at school at the time in the U.K. and the ruling socialist government was as disliked as much any other political colour). Now spirituality is not at the forefront and currently people are obsessed with the humdrum politics of everyday life. It was also driven by the fear there would be a final nuclear war, my friends and I did not believe we would ever reach the age of 21.