Saturday, May 7, 2011

REAL Objectivist Music: Galt Aureus

This is it. The rock band that's worthy to carry the banner of Objectivism: Galt Aureus.
Saher & Susan of Galt Aureus

"Mark me, a sign of the end comes,
there will be no threnody,
no four horsemen riding out,
just an unfurling of my black flag."
-Galt Aureus: Conquerors

An entirely independent, Romantic-era influenced rock band, Galt Aureus is what Objectivism-inspired music should be.

Get the Galt Aureus album "Citadels" here:

Other places to find Galt Aureus...


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Exaltron: Objectivist Hip-hop.

Unexpected.  Exaltron claims to be Objectivist hip-hop music; trumpet player, guitarist, vocalist and beat-looping remix artist he is.  Objectivist?  Let's see.

In "20,000 Volts of Stone Cold Reason" he starts:

"Underhanded bandits got their hands in my pocket
fingers in the socket trying to drain my flow
but they can't tap the source cuz they know not whence
and now they're comin up against an electric fence.

It's like Zach de la Rocha, only Capitalist and a lot less angry.  Kind of awesome.

"Junkies can't put down the pipe of faith and force
they start by takin eighths and now they want forths."

Epistemology in a rap?  Why not:

"Distort the source of justice which is reality
tell you that you can't ever trust what you see
but take their emotions as a means to know...
...and you say it's all open to interpretation
what a clever way to cover your prevarication
present a pathetic justification
for your complete moral abnegation.

OK, it's hard not to like this.  Though, I'm presented with a serious consideration when the following lines are repeated ad infinitum:

"I gladly cop to the so-called sin of pride
I put it all on number one and I let it ride
cuz I know that my philosophy is bona fide
And I never give an inch to the opposite side."

In conjunction with the bizarre arrangements and harmonically meandering passages, the heavy-handed lyrics almost give this a feeling of parody.  And if it really is, it's the most in-depth, slow-payoff, dead-pan performance of a lifetime parody that's ever been.  But it does beg the question whether this style is the right medium for an Objectivist message.  Or maybe the delivery just needs more intensity.  Whatever the case may be, it's still great fun as a listen.

The songs aren't the most polished productions; you can hear audible pops and clicks from loops that haven't been crossfaded properly; so if you're AAA release or bust, this isn't for you.   If you're too musically insular for an excursion into territory you've definitely never been before, this also isn't for you.  Everyone else?

Check out Exaltron here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Objectivist Music Review: Rush - 2112

If you've ever asked the question of whether Objectivist bands or artists exist, you've likely received Rush as a response a time or two. Mainly, this is a reference to a particular work by Rush: their album 2112 -- specifically, the 7 part suite by the same name contained therein.  

The suite tells the story of a galaxy ruled by the "Priests of the Temples of Syrinx," who control every facet of life, and the ensuing struggle of an individual against this totalitarian rule.

In relation to the plot, Neil Peart, author of the lyrics, credits "the genius of Ayn Rand" for the broad parallels between her novel Anthem and the suite.  Well, not broad; take Anthem, substitute a guitar for electricity, substitute the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx for the World Council of Scholars, then remove all of Anthem's elements of depth, suspense and intrigue in favor of an accelerated, cursory, single-act idea, and replace the hero with a kind of childish, easily-disappointed pushover, and voila!  You've 2112.

So it's bad, then?  No!  It's actually pretty entertaining.  Be forewarned, 2112 is definitely an album of its era (1976).  There's guitars swimming in spring reverb, an anything-but-subservient rhythm section that would rather be on equal footing with the lead, and the wailing vocalist characteristic of every progressive rock group of the day.  And Geddy Lee's stratospherically high voice will either represent the whining leaf-blower to your migraine or the pinnacle of rock vocal prowess, depending on your, shall we say, sense of life. 

There are definitely some fun moments, like when the protagonist discovers the guitar and we experience the first bumbling jangles on the open strings evolve into a chord progression.  It's hard for anyone who remembers picking up a guitar for the first time, invariably having done the very same thing, not to smile there.  And the final phrase of the album is irrefutably iconic.

But it's just such a shame that a lot of this work is so thin.  For a plot driven suite, there's proportionally, quite a lot of non-thematic, plot-less, jam-oriented moments.  The extremely cursory plot has a resolution that's so abbreviated that it feels almost silly.  And musically -- save for the first 50 seconds and the final track -- there's little relevant connection to the plot; should a lofty concept suite sound a lot like most other rock albums of the mid 70s?  I don't think so.  Lastly, the lyrics are lucid, sure, but the perfect rhyme scheme and simplistic language put them closer to the oft-neglected genre of galactic nursery song.

And then there's the fact that the ideas here aren't wholly Objectivist; the plot's anti-totalitarian, but so are scores of other non-Objectivist works.  Problematically, a few moments in the album put it distinctly outside the realm of legitimate Objectivist works; that revelation comes in the form of an oracle in a dream seems actively contrary to Objectivist ideas.  And if you think that qualm's nitpicking, ignore this if you don't want the plot spoiled, that the hero lays down and dies without a fight after having been rejected once is shamefully and incontrovertibly non-Objectivist.

On the whole, it's worth a listen, even if it's not the epic, Objectivist anthem to Anthem you were hoping it'd be.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We the Living: Objectivist Music?

If you're going to rip a novel title in entirety and commit a level of intellectual property rights infringement, you couldn't pick a more ironic source than a novel by the greatest champion of property rights

In an act of unconscionable unoriginality, We the Living (the band) lifted their name directly from Ayn Rand's novel.  The band claims to be influenced by Ayn Rand; apparently borderline plagiarism is their homage?  Unfortunate.  Unless the reference is to the novel's setting in post-revolutionary Russia and, like the Red Army, the band thieves and appropriates without consent.  In which case, spot on guys! 

Seriously, despite the blatant bite, the band name could legitimately have been a well-meaning (but poorly expressed) act of deference.  The real question now: is there any pay-off from the band in the form of Objectivism-inspired material?

These guys?
You'll find lyrics identical or strikingly similar in content to this throughout the lot of the band's works:

"This is the sound of you falling in love,
Can you feel it?

Basically, the kind of vague sentimentality that would make even the most inane pop artists roll their eyes.

Then there's the self-pitying whimpering idiomatic to the indie genre where the band seems to have found their fan-base:

"I wanna tell you about me,
Let you know who I am.
But you don't care.

A song about falling in love with a person who doesn't care about you at all?  That might actually be the opposite of Objectivist lyrics.

And musically, what're these guys like?  No need to describe them.  You've already heard this band.  Even if you've never listened to a single We the Living song, you've heard every song they've written a hundred times over.  So if you're curious about this band just on the name alone, save yourself the time and the disappointment: We the Living (the band) is an uninspired mess of recycled ideas. 

If you just can't help yourself, here's a sample:

As luck would have it, the band broke up in 2010 citing a lack of passion to produce music.  Burning out after only 3 years of producing generic songs with repetitive concepts, one has to wonder: did they have any passion to begin with? 

The bad news is that these guys don't create Objectivism-inspired music in any capacity.  The good news is that at least they won't be associating wretched nonsense with one of the finest works of literature any longer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Objectivist Music, does it exist?

Some pedantic Objectivists foam and chomp at the bit for any chance to blurt out, "Ayn Rand said there was no such thing as Objectivist music!" And they want to leave it at that, even though it's a mangled representation of a half-truth.  

If you've read the Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand's treatise on art, you'll find that she has exacting views regarding what constitutes good art.  You'll also note that she has little to say about music.  She readily admits that she does not have an extensive understanding of music, largely leaving the field up to others to explore; regardless, she makes two important realizations: 1) Music has a profound ability to alter man's emotion. 2) Music alone cannot define concrete things.

The first point we've all experienced; Music has emotional power that is effective apart from any conscious consideration of meaning.  It can make you feel something -- even if you don't really know what the music is about.  Cue the second realization: music can't really be about anything.  And this is the assertion that's responsible for Objectivists all over the world spouting off that music is little more significant than any other sensory experience; if it cannot define concrete things, how can music have meaning?

To a degree, that's a fair point; an oboe can imitate the sound of a duck, but no matter how many notes the oboe plays, it can't tell you what color the duck is or even really what the duck is doing.  A melody may be disjointed, and the composer may even title the piece in which it occurs, "The Psychotic Break," but you'd have a hard time making the case as to why the melody must conjure psychosis and not instead the jagged topography of a South American mountain range.  Fine, instrumental music cannot convey concretes.

Because of this, and because of its emotional effectiveness, music becomes relegated to a form of medication -- use music to feel inspired to achieve a goal.  In a functional sense, it is said there may be music appropriate for listening by an Objectivist, but there can't be such a thing as Objectivist Music because a medium which cannot convey concretes cannot carry with it any philosophic attachments -- right?

Wrong.  This entire line of argument ignores a massive category of pieces that have existed from the dawn of music itself: songsA song is a piece of music that has, as its central focus, a vocal performance of a text.  And let's get this clear: the entire work is the song.  One has no more right claiming the music and text are disparate elements than one has saying that a film is simply a photography project played synchronously with a story.  As a man is both his mind and body, a song is the totality of its elements: music and text.   

Music and text.

You've realized it, too?  Music -- in the form of a song -- can describe something.  Actually, a song can describe anything.  Even abstractions.  One could write, dare I say, a song about a hero with Objectivist ideals.  And this freedom of discourse is coupled with the ineffable power to influence emotion.  Hearts and minds may be won simultaneously.

So yes, a song (and thereby music) can be Objectivist.  Not only that, but it is probably the most powerful medium left unexplored by Objectivists looking to spread their ideas.  Objectivism is exceedingly convincing in a rational debate; when cold, hard logic is asserted, Objectivism prevails.  But how often have you heard Objectivism called precisely that: cold?

Music can break down that final barrier standing in the way of many who would otherwise embrace Objectivism's unassailable truths, but who are unsettled by the perception of how Objectivism 'feels.'  That's where you let the music do the convincing.  Objectivist Music.

And so this blog will serve to bring Objectivist Music into the spotlight; exploring, elevating and promoting a genre that rightly deserves the focus.