Saturday, 12 December 2009

Is it too early for a list?

Recent weeks have seen my e-mail filled with lists of the greatest albums of 2009. Although I have a genuine love for lists of the "best" or "worst" books or albums or even individual artists, I have been largely disappointed by these lists.

I will confess that I have had far more to think about musically than music of the last decade, especially as Piero Scaruffi, and by now my own listening experience, tell me that most supposedly innovative music takes clear and obvious cues from such artists as Can and the ISB. This is however ignored by people who, like I admit I was for a long time, merely contented with enjoyment of music rather than understanding it in a broader manner that allows one to see how music developed and even how it interacted with other art forms.

The recent lists, however, simply do not take this into account. For the most part, all one sees are lists that do not relate albums of the 2000s to their influences or the history of music. The recent list by Rolling Stone is an example, and even though the information upon which it was based is taken from is over half a decade old and I have never heard the music, I can agree with such omissions as Mastodon and Tool. Other lists by lower-profile publications are very similar in character.

The bone of the issue is that we cannot see clearly what recordings will last well beyond the ending decade. We will have to know what music has been genuinely trend-setting and/or has remained completely unique before we can think of a genuinely accurate list. This in fact takes much more than merely an immediate examination - in fact it is more likely to take decades.

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