Avant Rock: Experimental Music from the Beatles to Bjork

Avant Rock: Experimental Music from the Beatles to Bjork

Avant Rock: Experimental Music from the Beatles to Bjork

Avant Rock: Experimental Music from the Beatles to Bjork


Critiquing avant-garde rock bands from the 1960s to the present, Bill Martin examines how social upheaval gave rise to this new form of musical expression. He covers early experimentation by artists such as James Brown; initiation into the mainstream and the resulting adaptations by the Beatles and the Who; and continues into the present looking at how groups like Stereolab, Sonic Youth, Jim O'Rourke, and others continue to innovate. An annotated discography is included.


The act of music is the music.

Words don't, and can't, convey the experience of standing in the presence of music when music goes on download. So, why spend time and effort attempting lo describe an experience inherently beyond our capacity to articulate?

One answer might be: because we are an Academic Ologist. And how much more might this be so were we also a Lefty Academic Ologist, even one given to reading weighty tomes by Ologists from the Gallic realms?

A second answer might he: because we have been so moved by music, and in awe of the effects music has generated in our lives, that we seek to make sense of a radically life-changing experience. Part of this search for understanding is through interrogating all that we can learn of the activities within the act of music. Perhaps we think our thinking out loud; even engage in discussion with whoever will listen, in the hope that they might confirm for us what we already know—that music is a quality, as if an act of grace.

But if we were an Ologist, particularly a lefty academic ologist of the Gallic persuasion, we would know that the conditions which surround the act of music may he. can be, and nearly always are, prejudicial to music appearing in our fallen world. If I have learnt two things in the forty-four years since I took up a guitar, they arc these:

Music is a benevolent presence, freely, readily and directly available to all.

Music enters our world despite the characters that play it not because of them. And if I have learnt one thing in the thirty-four years of being a professional guitarist and aspirant musician, it is this:

The music industry is not concerned with music.

Fundamentally, Prof. Bill is trying to explain, to himself and his readers, why the music that has touched him holds the value for him that it does. In doing this, he is too generous to those he likes and too dismissive of those he doesn't. Bill Martin's heart . . .

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