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Re: Why I'm starting to loath news paper music critics
I should probably not jump into this because I will probably have many critics for what I have to say, but I am sick in bed today and have some free time... I have been buried in the studio for the last week and just now had a chance to really dig into this thread.
As a guy that has made almost his entire living for the last 15 years working in mostly non mainstream music, I looked at that review and saw it as a small success for Krispen Hartung & Vinnie Miresse.
For an non arts-centric media outlet to take the initiative and write a review about a CD of live looping music by non super star musicians is a great thing. Further more the review was fairly interesting and provided a bit of framework about the music as well as subjective commentary about the work. Everything a review should do, and had I read that in my local paper it would certainly inspire me to check out these artists live or on CD. There is not a single word in the review that is derogatory, only a reviewers opinion that did not meld with the artists personal understanding of the work.
I read Krispen's response twice and then re-read the review twice, and while I respect Krispen's right to respond and state his opinion, my over all feel was of bewilderment. The review was a positive one that I believe would peak the interests of any reader with an interest in looping and avant music. My guess is that the net result of the reply which basically suggests that the reviewer is lazy, ignorant and not a real journalists, will hinder the possibility of press exposure for Krispen's musical ventures in the future with this media outlet and may likely hinder coverage of other avant artists. Perhaps I am just a softy, but if it was my CD, I would have sent a reply that said something along the line of "Thanks for the review. Not sure I agree with all of it, but thanks for taking a risk and covering some not mainstream music. I have some projects in the works I would really love for you to check out including an on line international collaboration and maybe we can dig into those more deeply. I would love to be able to explain the work in greater detail"
The idea that a guy reviewing a CD has some how failed because he did not call the interviewer is off the mark. This was not an article about the artists (if it was an interview would be appropriate), but a review of a piece of work that if the finished product is what the artist intended (and not negatively altered by a label or producer etc) than the work should stand on its own. Some people will connect, others won't. Some people may not connect this year but after getting a deeper understanding of the genre 10 years from now may be deeply touched. If a certain set of facts or history are integral to experiencing the work, that information should be included in the liner notes.
As fun as it is to bash critics (and a few do deserve it) they are our allies and they often have tough jobs. Every day the guy comes into an office and he has an editor breathing down his neck to get X number of words written to fill in the space between the home depot and Applebee's ads. If the artist or label feels that there is background information that is integral to the understanding of the work then they should provide it. Even at a more basic level if there is a particular slant or thing about the artists or the work that the artist would like noted then they should provide that as well. That is the purpose of a "one sheet". Since Krispen had a fixed idea of what kind of things a listener should understand about this work, it would make sense that it be spelled out for the press. There is no media outlet of any stature that has the time to do in depth research about a local indie release (of any genre). When they do, it is a a great opportunity for the artists and far more value than a paid ad in the paper. PT Barnum said "There is no such thing as bad press as long as they spell my name right". Its great thing for creative artists to get exposure of any kind because a paper will sell a lot more copies with a sexy photo of Hillary Duff and a review of her MTV "performance" than a review of a local looping CD.
The music myself and many on this list is by its very nature foreign to a lot of the listening world. Over the next year my company is actually about to launch a few projects with the purpose of trying to bridge the gap between a lot of looping music and people that might be touched by it. I think the trick will be the right combo of education to help people understand more about where some of this music is coming from, but also trying to present in a way that respects where the rest of the world is coming from. Should be fun.
BTW. I really like Krispen's music.
Ronan Chris Murphy
www.venetowest.com (Production & mixing: King Crimson, Chucho Valdes, Steve Morse, Terry Bozzio, CGT...)
www.homerecordingbootcamp.com (Workshops around the world teaching the art and craft of recording )
www.livesofthesaints.net (The hottest ambient noise duo since Sonny & Cher)