Saturday, February 23, 2013

the charm of the earnest

i have a new addiction. musical websites belonging to extraordinarily ordinary people.

I work as an assistant for a pro-audio reseller, and while looking up info one day about Omnichords (you gotta love you some Omnichords) i found a charming, and yes, archaic website belonging to an older fellow who repairs and teaches classes on these weird little machines.

If you aren't familiar with an Omnichord, its sort of a user friendly electronic harpsichord with Casio underpinnings. You know what i mean- its got the built-in synth "waltz" beats, horrible yet wonderful electronic equivalents of things like flutes and trumpets- and its "FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!"
Yes, really. 
The above is just one example of this family-friendly ethos that spawned quite a little library of horribly inappropriate (at least on my own snooty rarified esthetic grounds) songbooks aimed at middle America (and Canada too, probably). Its pretty bizarre considering this is the same instrument that can be heard in songs by people like (the beloved) Broadcast, Antenna, and Stereolab, to name a few... the same instrument that might just now, be accompanying a little old church choir in say, Florida. 
But I digress. 

The websites. 

Its an entirely new world for me. But I find people really the most fascinating thing of all. I have always been interested in true crime and the MOST fascinating thing for me has always been the victims, the little details of their lives, the things that perhaps led them to wind up on that street corner or at that bar on just That Night. In fact, if ordinary people wrote more books about their lives, that is probably all I would ever read. Nothing is too boring for me. I like hearing all the mundane details, where they grew up, their perspective on things like, say, UFOs, or physics, or Divine Judgement. Ordinary people are actually not at all ordinary. I discovered that after years of working at gas stations in the south- every one, but everyone, is interesting, but they just don't know it. 

So, when you have someone who thinks of themselves as ordinary, who writes songs that you and I know (in our infinite and questionable wisdom) will never make the top 40, and then they make a website, what you have is a weird little corner of the Internet Multiverse. Its like the worldwide web equivalent of song poems- those "for a fee" songs that are being collected now by more obviously weird people like myself. Listen to 20 or 30 of those in an evening and regular music will start to sound patently ridiculous and even uninspired. Songs like "Moon Men" or "Jimmy Carter Says Yes" or "Octopus Woman Let Me Go"....songs written by people who work 9-5 for 30 years and raise families and tap out tunes on their Omnichords or Casios and write weird little poems that rhyme in clumsy ways... but somehow the end result is a weird kind of genius, completely and utterly devoid of guile, irony, or conventional talent. 

So I have been spending a good chunk of my free time just wandering around, looking for the right websites to turn that crank. A dead giveaway is really bad, Windows-95-era graphics. You know, the Angelfire-free-website-era graphics. Comic Sans font, some adverts placed at the bottom for cheaper insurance, choppily-scrolling pages, and of course, heaps of grammatical errors. 

It must be said, if it is not obvious, that I am not looking for comedy here. I am not laughing heartily at the stupidity or lack of sophistication of Joe Six Pack. I actually find it alot more interesting than the self-absorbed, esoteric hepster ramblings of someone who is a bit more "tuned in". I WANT to hear the thoughts and see the creativity of people who have, honest to god, probably have never even heard of the Velvet Underground. I already KNOW what people like ME think, pretty much- i have inhabited that landscape my whole life. And I live in Los Angeles, at an artist's collective and underground venue. I get vast boatloads of Hep and Irony on my plate every day. Something in me cries out sometimes for the ordinary, the naive, the guileless, for those that don't know any better. I find it supremely restful. 

A wonderful example of this is ...THIS....
and this...
and this.

The great thing about websites like the above is that they sometimes venture into some off-key territory.  Check this out....see jesus in a rorshach.

There is also the weird subset of websites that are "faith-based". Some of these are even better examples of what I am talking about, drenched in earnest appeals and canned piano gospel, with the occasional political diatribe thrown in for good measure. 

Again, this is not a clever mock, more like a sociological study. Do such people ever peer over the fence at US, the artsy, techy, above-it-all-types who salivate over Suicide boxsets and Can rereleases and blog about it on our Macs? Are they disturbed, or interested, or consider us godless? Have we all gotten too sophisticated, a little too steeped in our genre-fication and false depths? 

Then again, some of it is pretty funny. And we probably are godless, compared to Peggy.