Techno music was a constant in my house growing up. It was ubiquitous in southeast Michigan in the mid-80s, and set aside a place in my musical memory that now relates strongly with what I know and how I know it. (The music one listens to as a teenager has a way of doing that.) So to hear the synthetic timbres of Detroit Techno (evidenced here) superimposed upon a polyrhythmic, restless lyric demanding greater existential awareness is a rare gift.
There are certainly other musical influences that inform the multimodal work of the Los Angeles based duo KNOWER, but the song "Around" places me back in the basement where my big brother's stereo equipment was blasting works from the Belleville 3. It also, however, has another story wrapped up within it: a song that speaks from the forbidden and frustrated arcs that constitute modern awareness of, and adjacency to, the world around us.
And still, this music is so joyful! The fordian setting of the verses, with its factory 3/4 6/4 time, is in marked and sensuous contrast to the music underlying the chorus. As such the chorus, ebullient, places the lyrical machinations of our days around a wondrous sound-world of life that is at once within us, and just beyond us. I claim there is Lacanian jouissance in this placement, a kind of "+" or unconstituted upgrade to the music from the basement in the 80s. Where they go next is anyone's guess.
KNOWER is a great band precisely because "they know not what they do."
William Bolcom has long been a national treasure, in part, because he speaks truth to power. His pointed wit and encyclopedic musical knowledge were part of what made me want to be a composer in the first place. Growing up in Ann Arbor, I thought all composers were like him. If only.
This is what musical citizenship sounds like.
"Wear your mask & practice social distancing. Together, we can defeat Covid 19!"
"Literacy in Music & Arts is one of your vital links to global citizenship!"
"Be sure to support the arts in *your* community!"