Art can stimulate our senses, our emotions, and our feelings in numerous ways. Art can bring us comfort. My Dad was a fantastic guitar picker and singer who came out of the classic country and western era. He played Hank Williams and that ilk effortlessly. Well, not quite effortlessly. He lost the index finger on his left hand, and he learned to play guitar with only three fingers and three chords, D, G and A7. His memorial service was three hours long, as a steady stream of musicians paid tribute to him. Music provided inspiration and comfort that day.
Art can trigger a multitude of emotional responses. People cry at scenes in a movie, even when they know it is a work of fiction. People laugh at slapstick comedy routines and giggle at fart jokes. Music can lull a baby to sleep, as well as a few adults, myself included.
Art can be offensive as well as uplifting. That’s why we have death metal and contemporary Christian music. Both provide an emotional response and are usually polar opposites that can shift poles depending on the listener.
Art can also be jarring; for example, avant-garde paintings can be brutal in their beauty. Not everyone appreciates Jackson Pollock‘s paintings the same way. Some are willing to pay large amounts of money to enjoy his paintings in their homes. Others view his painting as nothing more than childish dribbling of random paint colours and scorn his work.
Music can provoke varied emotional responses as well, which brings us to where I am today. I have been listening to the new album K69996ROMA:EP from a chap named Nick Hudson. Nick Hudson is a prolific fellow in the art world who works in music, painting, film, and writing, recently completing a novel. I should also mention his involvement with the art-rock band The Academy Of Sun, who released their dystopian epic ‘The Quiet Earth’ in 2020.
I have played through K69996ROMA:EP a half dozen times, with an everchanging response. I found it fresh and exciting on the first listen; I would have given it a 10 out of 10.
The second time through, I am catching some nuances that I missed the first time around, but that is normal for any recording, so no red flags; it is still a 10/10.
On the third to fifth listens, I am Googling and searching for lyric sheets. I should have asked Shauna; she is good at getting those to me. Instead, I am becoming more frantic, searching for clues in Wikipedia and elsewhere.
What is there between the walls of this album’s slipcover that jars me? Why has my response to this recording changed so significantly? What altered my perspective between the first listen and whatever the hell number I am listening to now?
The answer: I don’t know! I have no idea why I perceive this album with so many nuances.
I am not a prude who the topic of homosexuality or murder would easily jar. Yet, jarred I am. The video contains no gratuitous violence and is no more jarring than the songs and the lyrics themselves. It did not increase my general feeling of malaise.
K69996ROMA:EP is a good listen just for the music quality. It has some excellent sampling and synth work that moves from gentle strings to more abrasive effects as the songs call upon them. I found the music to be engaging and worthy of the added time I spent perusing it.
The lyrics are what I first considered as a culprit, colouring my perception of this recording. I quickly crossed that off the list because the more I read about the characters in this musical tale, the more I wanted to know. I went down some nice rabbit holes on Wikipedia that informed and entertained me for hours on end.
So what jarred me? I have no better answer than when I started this blog. I have listened to this repeatedly while typing, some songs taking two or three spins on the dance floor as I danced my fingers over the keys. I have high esteem for recordings like this because it is not full of mass consumerism throw-away elevator music. Although I recently heard The Talking Heads in an elevator ride, I hold them in very high esteem.
I suggest that we keep listening to this album, K69996ROMA:EP, and if we get any profound insights, we let each other know. Deal? Let’s fist bump to show our solidarity and start listening all over again to a recording that jarred and inspired me, which is what good art should be doing.
EP order https://nickhudsonindustries.bandcamp.com
‘Font of Human Fractures’ LP https://nickhudsonindustries.bandcamp.com/album/font-of-human-fractures