Friday, September 30, 2005

Comfortably numbed down.

Jace sums up one of the main reasons for my antipathy towards the term 'world music' quite nicely:
"World music festivals love “fusion” groups whose members draw on diverse backgrounds to produce an anodyne sound seemingly intended to reassure the predominantly Western, middle-class festival audience: world music as foreign music with its distinctive features rubbed off, now suitable for mass consumption anywhere on the globe; difference with a jazzy backbeat you can groove to; the exotic but never the extreme."
(The full article can be read here.)

Also, the term itself is annoying. Why do we classify anything that's not Western as "world music"?

(Sorry, Putumayo, I'm sure you guys do great work in bringing not-so-well-known sounds from all over the world to our attention (kinda like Diplo and his "On Blast"-series but without the street cred.), but what's with the happy-colour coffeehouse-aesthetics album covers? To me, that speaks of the same kind of non-extreme exotism that exists in world music 'fusion' groups; an idealized version of faraway places, comfortably numbed down to paint us a picture of one happy planet. ["Look kids, this is Sri Lanka. They eat a lot of mangos there. And it's always sunny."] )

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