Sunday, December 13, 2015

Shamir "In For The Kill"

I don't talk enough about new music on this blog, mostly because I write about how music meshes with life, and that means discussing music that's been a part of my life for a long time.  This is a shame, since I have been a bit overwhelmed at the amount of good music coming out these days.  Music in the download age is a paradox where what's popular has become extremely narrow.  Hence the ability of Adele to sell a crap ton of "units" at a time when physical media is supposedly dying.  Beneath the pop music behemoths are many, many great artists doing great stuff.  It has been a huge challenge trying to keep track of it all, since there are few places to hear new music, which means I need others to tell me where to find it on Spotify.

Courtesy of a music podcast I recently discovered Shamir, whose album Ratchet I've taken to immediately.  It's great stuff, but it also makes me feel old, since elements of his sound are very reminiscent of 1980s electro-funk music.  The music of my youth is now so old it is being mined by the youth of today as a kind of curiosity.  This has been a good thing -especially in Shamir's case- because so many young artists are taking elements that have been lost for decades, but are also stripping away some of the accompanying dross.  For example, because of the wave of bad, overproduced, synthesized pop music in the 80s, for years I soured on pretty much anything synthesizer heavy.  Synths were a sign of artificiality, falseness, frivolity.

Such a puritanical stance is, of course, deeply stupid.  That fact struck me when I met a self-professed "punk" in grad school who wouldn't listen to Joy Division because they used a synthesizer, and realized this was somebody who was mistaking ideology for thought.  (This is a common problem in academia.) Shamir uses synths with sounds that remind me of the 80s, but they're mixed with a plethora of other sounds that are breath-taking in their diversity.  "In For The Kill" is one of my favorite tracks of his, and an example of how people who complain that the music of today is inferior to that of the past need to listen a little harder and dig a little further.

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