For everyone, music is something unique. Sometimes it’s about the lyrics, the human factor, the stories conveyed directly and from the heart; other times, it’s about the sound, the language of music, the simple but deep enjoyment of something pleasant-sounding. Some people enjoy down-to-earth, relatable songs; while conversely, others prefer something rather not of this earth, something surreal to transport them to places they’ve never been before. One’s listening habits can be casual, or pursued quite passionately, and the type of music you pursue can say something about who you are. Music listeners come in every shade of grey in the spectrum – there’s as many preferences as there are listeners.
But one significant common denominator amongst most of these people, and possibly the most beautiful part of the hobby, is that they, in one way or another, can feel what the artist feels through their music – lyrical or instrumental, subtle or overt. Listeners do draw their own interpretations – something else that’s different for everybody – but there’s something in the way that a person can compose a piece of art and have someone else derive pleasure from it that feels like an indirect connection of sorts between the two people. Artists might not have the intentions that listeners think they do, but they don’t have to.
What I want to share in particular right now is for listeners who listen to music a little less-than-casually: for people who find themselves frequently daydreaming to the music replaying in their mind, the listeners that like to really “get lost” in the music they’re indulging in. Let me tell you about a personal experience. I was at a huge flea market out of town with some friends. We were going our merry ways browsing the many rows of stores that went on for what seemed like forever, and at one point, I found myself alone. I had Chuck Person’s Eccojams playing on my ipod at the time, and as I was half-mindedly scanning the people and shops around me, I soon forgot I even came with anyone in the first place. Eccojams was an album that celebrated the broken, reassembled fragments of forgotten songs of decades gone, with grotesque collages of Michael Jackson, Africa, Gerry Rafferty and Jojo droning in my ears as mere caricatures of their original forms. This motif mimicked my surroundings as well: boxes of disenchanted paraphernalia of old, kitschy, yellowing knick-knacks, disheveled piles of Atari 2600 cartridges, army men, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, decorative weapons galore, and the occasional worthless antique, appealing purely because of its obvious age – there were decades of beaten, haphazard items passing by me every step I took, just like the sound passing through my ears. It made sense. I got lost in it, gradually; I eventually noticed I stopped actually looking for anything in particular; I was simply letting things pass through my senses. This soon became daydreaming, and then something that felt closer to a trance-like state: my body was on auto-pilot, I wasn’t actively paying attention to trying to avoid bumping into people – it was very crowded – it just happened on its own. I didn’t look for my dispersed party either. I was completely immersed in my surroundings. The music synced up with the time, the place, the person listening, and it became more of an experience than a modest day in the sun. It was a personal experience, but it was something quite powerful, as well. At the risk of sounding insane it almost felt spiritual, as if I was meditating. My mind was empty, but my senses were supercharged. It wasn’t even about the music, but the product of my mind creating something with what was going on around it. Though of course, the music was the catalyst of this surreal mindset. On a side note, Daniel Lopatin’s projects (including Chuck Person) have created more stories like this than any other single artist before in my experience, just throwing that out there that he’s like, a pro at creating vividly evocative soundscapes.
Music is perhaps the subtlest of all art forms, but because of this it also has the potential to be the most evocative. Music can make you feel a lot of different things, some things bizarrely deep. One can wake up with a song playing in their mind and it can affect their mood for the whole day. If you’re like me and prone to be more sensitive to your surroundings, music can take you to pretty intense places as well –sober or not! It is dependent on what you do with it, as well as how you feel about it that makes music such an ambiguous form. Intense experiences like my story above are personal and aren’t always the same – only you can identify a moment to be an “experience”, and they don’t happen by choice, they happen when conditions are just right. Certainly this will sound silly to anyone who thinks getting engaged with music on a level such as this is ridiculous or even pointless, but like I said, everyone listens to music in their own unique, freakish ways, and it certainly has the potential to hit anyone this hard, just in differently-recognized ways. Music isn’t always listened to; sometimes it is felt – which honestly is the much more potent, powerful verb of the two.