Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Don't Let What Defines You Cripple You

Certain artists are known for certain things. Chuck Palahniuk is known for his transgressive fiction, pushing the boundaries of what people expect and often shocking or disgusting his readers. Cannibal Corpse are known for fast paced, heavy music and gory, disgusting lyrics and imagery. Green Day were known for simple pop punk and then more elaborate concept albums. These are just a few examples to give you the gist of what I'm saying.
Sometimes artists seem happy with what they are known for, they seem to gain satisfaction from what they create and are happy to carry on much in the same vein. You can see this reflected in the work of bands like Cannibal Corpse and AC/DC, who release very similar sounding albums but, when you listen to them and watch them perform, you can hear that this satisfies them creatively because you can really hear the emotion and the integrity in what they play.
Other bands, like Green Day, are not satisfied by what they are known for and so they try different things; you can hear this in Warning, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. If you looked at them and listened to them during this period you can see and hear their enjoyment, their emotion, their satisfaction. A chunk of their fans however - I've honestly never been able to figure out if its the majority or a vocal minority - were not happy and pressured them to return to their simplistic pop punk roots. This resulted in Uno, Dos and Tre. You can hear the apathy in each of these albums, bar the odd exception like Kill the DJ. Put simply a group of artistic people who wanted to branch out artistically put themselves in an artistic vacuum and you can hear it. The songs are delivered without conviction, without meaning, without integrity.
For a while I suspected the same was true of Chuck Palahniuk, his earlier works: Fight Club, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, were all delivered with such genuine passion, brimming with nihilism, humour, anger. His heart was in them. Some of his other work, for example Snuff and the latter half of Haunted, seems to be bereft of this emotion. You have to wonder if he had started to feel trapped writing in the style he was known for. He seems to have recovered though, with Damned, Doomed and Beautiful You representing a remarkable return to form.
Artistic people are undoubtedly at their best when they are allowed to express themselves with freedom. Art must be art first and a commodity second. When people lose sight of that you get things like Green Day’s Uno, Dos and Tre or Dream Theater’s Falling Into Infinity or things like One Direction, Rihanna and so on. Art that is a commodity first and art second isn't actually art, in most cases it is entertainment but, in most cases, it would be better if it was art.

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