Hip Tips: The Anti-Drug

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Posted December 17, 2009 by Anthony Mariani in Blotch

I’m sick of pure crap being described as “experimental” or “edgy.” Playing pop music out of tune qualifies as neither experimental nor edgy. It’s annoying and stupid. Same goes for your unintelligible prose poem or your ham-fisted, condescending film about some pregnant misfit teen. Not edgy. Cheap and gratuitous. For whatever reason –– actually, there are too many to list –– culture consumers today are suspicious of sincerity. Perhaps genuine artistry has become too synonymous with The Man. “Artists,” for lack of a better term, have been capitalizing on the fact, trotting out characters with whom audiences are hardwired to be sympathetic –– who wouldn’t want a pregnant misfit teen to live happily ever after? –– or neutering criticism by throwing tunefulness to the wind or misusing language. You can’t tell an artist that he sucks when he’s already basically admitted as much. You’d be stating the obvious.

Now here’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout: Japanese jazz opera. Got hip to it via The Stash Dauber (a.k.a. local muso [Hentai Improvising Orchestra, PFFFFT!, Stoogeaphilia] and Weekly contributor Ken Shimamoto). The performance is neither pornographic nor gratuitous but still totally outré and, I would even venture to say, more startling than any graphic sex scene, profile of some junkie in medias drugus, or exposition in referential, stilted verbiage. I just wish I knew what the hell dem ka-razy Japanese kids were singing about.

If you dig what they’re doing –– and wanna see some real artful, sincere experimentation –– check out a little Matthew Barney or Bill Viola. Or listen here.

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