November 2014
101 Things To Do With Your Modem 1080p 1969 1990s 20 is the new 40 2012 2013 2013: Appropriating a 2013 2014 3D Animation 3D Cool World 5.4 A Guide to Buying Haunted Items A. G. Cook A.I. Abelton Abner Jay abstract art abstractionists Absurdism acoustic action action figure Ad Hoc Adam Harper Adult Swim Adventure Time advertisement aesthetics Afterschool Specials Alain Delorme Alan Vega album art alcohol Alt Space altered states ambient American Apparel analysis Andre Ulrych angelina jolie Animal Collective animation Ann Steel Anti-art anti-consumerism anti-fashion anti-virus software anti-war anxiety Apophenia Appropration aquarium Aquarium Drunkard architecture Architecture in Helsinki Architecture of Utopia archive Army of Trolls art Art Bears art installation art museum article articles artificial intelligence artist ASMR Astral Weeks Austin Psych Fest 2013 auteur authenticity avant garde Avey Tare and Panda Bear b-movies Baby Blue Baby Cartoon Rhymes Barf-O-Rama baseball cards bass guitar bath salts Battle vs Death Battle bbrainz beautimus Begotten believers Ben Butcher Bernard Dumaine Berndnaut Smilde Bertolt Brecht Bill Doss Bill Murray Billy Childish Bio-dynamic biodegradable urn Black Dice Black Flag Blackest Rainbow Records Blackout Blade Runner blog Blow Job: An Extreme Wind Photoseries Bob Marley Boo Boo books Bradford Cox brain Brand New Wayo Brian Brian Eno Britt Brown Broadened Horizons: The Ultimate Shit List Bruce Goff Bruce Nauman Brushy Brushy Brutalist Architecture Bubblegum Bass Bubbly Bulbasaur Building the Bridge Burger bus stop butterfly Cadillacs and Dinosaurs Can cannabis career motivated Carl Sagan Cartoon Network Casino Night Censorship chandelier Charles Thomson Charlie Brown Cheddar Goblin children children's books Chillwave chris cutler Chris Jordan Chris Maggio Chris Marker Christopher Columbus Christopher Reimer Christopher S. Hyatt Christopher White Chrysta Bell Church of the SubGenius cinema click and point game clothes Clothes of the year 2050 Clothing Clouds Cody Meirick collaboration collage Collateral Damage collectors items comedy albums comedy films comic books communication compilation Comus condition consciousness consumerism conversation cooking cookwear copyright cosmic jazz costumes cover band Cradle of Filth Crass creepy criticism Crock Pots crown shyness cult films cultural movement culture Culture Jamming Cyber Secrets #3 Dada Daevid Allen Dallas Observer Damien Hirst Damo Suzuki Dan Lam Daniel London Daniel Lopatin Danni Filth Danzig dark database Dave Allen David Bowie David Lowery David Lynch David Toro Dean Ween Dean Zeus Colman December Decimus 4 decline Definition of Hunk Dennis Flemion dental calendar Design Destroy All Monsters Detachment and the Spiritual Life dick jokes digital art Digital DIY Labels digital trends Dimensions of Dialogue Dimitri Tsykalov Diplo director directory DIS Magazine disco Discogs Discordianism discussion distaste DIY DJ Dog Dick DJ Evangelion Fan Theory DJ Warlord documentary dolphins Donka Doka Dope Diglett Dopesmoker Doug Ferguson Douglas Hill Dr. John drawing Drinkfy drugs dub Dudeism Duppy Gun Dux Content dysmorphia dystopia eBay echo chamber edible fixtures electronic music electronica elevator Elias Mehringe ELO Emily White Energy Entourage Ephermeral Work Eric Copeland Eric Lumbleau esoterica Essay essays etienne conod Eurock Evan Prosofsky events Excepter exercises experimental experimental cuisine eyesight Family Fan Fiction Fandom Music fashion fast food FDA feature films Felicita film film reviews fire place glass Fishing Floating Floridada Flying Spaghetti Monster Foetus FoFoFadi food foodporn Ford Four American Composers: Robert Ashley France Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons fraud Fred Camper Freddy Got Fingered free free jazz Fun Boy Three Furniture future pop gadgets gallery Gang of Four Generation Y Generation Yawn George Harrison Germany GFOTY Ghost Capital Ghost Modernism Ghostcapital III ghosts Ginny Arnell Giorgio Moroder Glenn Branca golden retriever Gong Goosebumps (TV series Gorilla vs Bear Goth graphic design grooming Groundhog Day Gruff Rhys Guest Mix guide Guillermo del Toro guitar tunings gummy bears Guo Yi-Hun Guru Guru Gustav Holst hacker culture Hackers hacking Haircut Halloween halloween mix hallucinatory hallucinogens therapy handcrafted objects Hannah Diamond Harmony Korine Harvey Milk healing HEALTH health & fitness Health Goth hearing loss Hella Hellraiser Hem Sandwich Henry and Glenn Forever Henry Cow Henry Darger Henry Rollins Hippos in Tanks hipster culture hipsters Holger Czukay Holly Herndon holograms Holotropic Breathwork Holy Warbles Home Alone Homes Homestuck hope horror horror movies How to Have a Zen Attitude How to Keep Healthy httpster humaity humanities humor Hung I-chen Hunk Hunk uniform (loosely) hyper connectivity hyperreal Hyperreality I Have No Idea What I'm Doing ice cream identity Idrissa Diop and Cheikh Tidane Tall Igor Wakhevitch Illuminated Paths Ima Read imagination indie rock industry news Infectious Disease Balls ink inspiration inspirato installation Interior Design internet art internet videos interview interviews intoxicants inverview irony J Henry Fair Jabberwocky Jack Long James Bridle James Ferraro James Wines Jan Svankmajer Japanese Bug Fights Japanoise Jared Davis Jeff Bridges Jessica Chen Jif Peanut Butter Jimmy Buffett John Fell Ryan John Hamblin John Lytle Wilson John Maus John McAfee johnny lee miller Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease Julian Cope Julian Koster Julien Pacaud junk food Junk Food Dinner Kane West Kazumasa Nagai Keippah Kelly Reichardt Kevin Ayers Kevin Champeny Khelifi Ahmed Kickstarter Kids Incorporated Kim Laughton King Frog Kiyohiko Senba and The Haniwa All-Stars Kleenex Knitting clock Krautrock Krautrocksampler Kria Brekkan L.A. La Croix LA Vampires labels Land art Lauren Boyle law of attraction layout Les Claypool Lester Bangs Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone lilangelboi Lindsay Cooper Liner Notes Lipgloss Twins lists literature Little Dolls live review Lol Coxhill London Longest Recorded Echo Love (sculpture) LSA LSD Lucie Thomas Lucky Me Lydia Lunch M. Geddes Gengras M. Sage Macauly Culkin Macintosh Plus magazine Magic and Superstition magic mushrooms maintenance art Majestic Casual Malcolm McLaren Malcolm Rebennack Male Chef Mandy Manicure Records Manifesto For Maintenance Art mannequin Marco Roso marijuana marine life Mark Prindle Mark Schultz masterpiece Matt Furie Matthew Lutz-Kinoy Matthew McConaughey Max Headroom Max Payne 3 Mayan Apocalypse McDonald's MDMA Mean Clown Welcome Meat Clothing media media culture Meditation Men Without Hats Meow Wolf merchandise Mica Hendrix Michael Nesmith MIDI Mike Hughes Mike Kelly Mike Stoklasa Mindfuck mindfulness Minecraft Miracle Legion miscellaneous Mist Mister Mellow Mix mixtape modern music analysis modernism Molecular Gastronomy molly Monkees monkeys monoskop Moon Glyph movement movies movment Mr. Impossible Mr. T Mrs Doubtfire murder music music charts music downloads music journalisim music journalism music software music videos music websites Music with Roots in the Aether: Robert Ashley Mutant Sounds my bloody valentine My Little Pony My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs my sharona Myles Byrne-Dunhill NASA Natural Natural Materials & Structures: Trend Analysis Nature Nautipuss neon lights NEST HQ’S GUIDE TO NIGHTCORE New Mexico New York New York Times news Nickelodeon Nicolas Cage Nightcore Nightcorey Nimbus Njena Reddd Foxxx No Use for a Name No Wave No-Neck Blues Band noise NOP Normcore nostalgia Not Not Fun NOWNESS NPR nudity Nurse With Wound Nurse With Wound List NY NYC HELL 3:00 obituary ocean oddball music Oingo Boingo Old Joy Olivia Newton John Oneohtrix Point Never Online Underground Op Art optical illusion Organ Armani Ornette Coleman Otto Muehl outsider art P.T. Anderson Pacific Rim packaging paint paint flowers painting Painting With paintings Panos Cosmatos paranormal activity paranormal objects parody Party Pills Pat Murano Pat Pollari Pataphysics PC Music peace Penny Rimbaud perception shift Perfect Lives performance art personal growth Pete Swanson Peter Shumann Ph.D. Phil Connors philosophy phonebook Phonocut photography pig-snails Pilgrim Simon pitchfork pitchfork-bashing pizza planetary chocolates plates Plonk art Plop art Plug.DJ plunderphonics podcast Pokecrew Pokemon Polaris politics Polluted Water Popsicles Pollution PON STOP NOP Poolside Radio pop art pop culture popcorn_10 popsicles porn post-internet posters prank predictions Primer products prog rock psilocybin psychedelia psychiatry psychology public art Public Art Fund punk punk cd commercial punk rock puppetry Quasimoto quotes R Plus 7 R.I.O. Radio Broadcasts radio station Randy Gilson Randy Warhol Randyland rastafarianism raw meat Ray Lynch Raymond Pettibon Readful Things Real Love recipes recommended records record label record labels records Red Bull Music Academy Red City Noise reggae reincarnated relaxation Religion Rem Lezar Remodernism Remote Viewer Repo Man retro reviews Richard Beck Rick Moranis Rick Springfield Ricky Allman RIO Rob Tyner Robedoor Robert Anton Wilson Robert Ashley Robert Greenberg Robert Indiana Robert Smithson Robin Arnott Robin Williams robots rock in opposition Roger Ebert Roky Erickson Runzelstirn and Gurgelstock Ryan Hemsworth sales Sally Fields Salvador Dali sampling Santa Fe sausage scams Scans scary Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark sci-fi science science fiction Scotland Scott Shaw sculpture Seatec Astronomy self improvement sensations serious? Sesame Street Seven Figures Severed Heads sex sex tape sexy Shane Caruth Sherman Hemsley sherpa shopping short film sign offline signs Simpsonwave Site-Specific Art skateboarding skeptcis skull slacker Sleep Slime Cake Slyme Records Snoop Dogg Snoop Lion So You'd Like to...Be an Anti-Gen Xer (Part 1) So You'd Like to...Be an Anti-Gen Xer (Part 2) social network Soloman Chase Sonic Wonderland Sonic Youth Sopa Pipa Sophie sound sound archives sound art soundcloud SoundSelf space space plates Space Trips Spencer Longo SPF420 spirituality sports St. Bernard's Sports Star Trek Star Wars Stephen Colbert Stephen Gammell Stereo Mood Steven Stapleton still life stoner metal streaming Stump Subcultures subversive humor Subvertising Suicide summer Sun Araw Sun Ra Sunday is Raining sunshine pop surrealism Swans synesthesia System Focus T.V. Show Taco Bell Taiwan tattoos technology Television Ten Steps on How to Become a Slacker Terrence Malick thc The 13th Floor Elevators The Adventures of Pete & Pete The Apples in Stereo The Art Box The B-52s The Baseball Card Vandals The Beach Bum The Big Lebowski The Birthday Party The Black Madonna The Bread and Puppet Theater The Coen Brothers The Congos The Day My Kid Went Punk The Family International The Frogs The Great Puke-off The Illuminatus! Trilogy The Incredible String Band The Jetsons The Last Trick The Life Stains The Master The Music Tapes The Now Age The Odd Recommendation The Oh of Pleasure The Olivia Tremor Control The Red Shoes The Relative Band The Shape of Jazz to Come The Shining The Simpsons The Sweet Homewreckers The Sylvers The Tubes The Wire therapy Theses on Punk Thibault Zimmerman Things Organized Neatly things that would never have happened until they happen This is how NASA wakes up astronauts Thomas Newman Thurston Moore Tinashe tiny hands tips To the Wonder Tom Green Tony Futura Tony Sly Toro y Moi Tox Modell toys Trans Air Records trash Treasure Hunt trees Trevor Cox Trevor Reveur Trey Parker and Matt Stone Trippy Turtle tromp l'oeil tumblr Tupac Tuxedomoon TV Opera TV shows twitter udi koorman UK underground art underground music unicorn unknown unpublished Upstream Color urban legend Urban Outfitters V/A - West Indies Funk 3 Val Kilmer Van Morrison vaporwave vapourwave vegan Velvet Underground VHS video Video Art video edit video games videos Vince Guaraldi Vine vinyl Vinyl Marketwatch Virtual Reality Wabi-Sabi Want to save your eyes? Change your light bulbs. Health Warp Records Washed Out Waterpark weapons websites WEDIDIT Weird Al wellness Wendy's WFMU What it feels like to be barefoot all summer What Makes A Bad Movie Enjoyable? Whitney Houston WHTEBKGRND wifislilangel Wild Man Fishcher Will Oldham Williams Street Winston Riley Women Woods Yellow Swans youth culture youtube YouTube Poop Zebra Katz zen Zen Filmmaking Zim & Zou Zin-Say Zoom Lens

System Focus: Fandom Music Is As Underground As It Gets

Minecraft players

System Focus: Fandom Music Is As Underground As It Gets

From Minecraft to My Little Pony, an explosion of fan-made music is challenging what it means to be a "real" artist

One of the major drivers of underground music culture is sincerity. The underground seeks musicians for whom making music is an art and a passion, rather than a performance or a get-rich-quick scheme. You might have heard a lot about 'The New Sincerity' or 'post-irony,' ideas dating back to the 1980s which have been applied to music with a notable level of (usually positive) emotion and innocent frankness. But the search for sincerity goes back as far as its perceived opposites in, say, industrial capitalism go—back to the Romantics and beyond. That's not to say that all underground music culture is sincere. Irony and satire are arguably stronger than ever as the underground re-engages with hi-tech modernity, shunning the ubiquitous, twee, and now almost empty sincerities of the indie aesthetic. But to find music today made from pure positive passion alone, try an online DIY music almost completely outside the remit of the hip underground sites: the music of fandom.  Fandom is one of the earliest impulses of underground culture. After radical politics, fandom of science fiction was one of the biggest factions of the underground press in the early-to-mid twentieth century, earning homemade magazines on any topic the label 'fanzine.' Traditionally fandom has been associated with science-fiction and fantasy franchises: Lord of the RingsStar TrekStar WarsDoctor Who, Marvel and DC comics, Harry Potter. Lately, fandom has extended to games, anime and online forms like websites and podcasts. Nowadays, when you're deep in Web 2.0, you can't move without encountering fandom. Famous fandoms keep coming up on Tumblr and Twitter: New WhoThe Hunger GamesStudio Ghibli filmsSherlockFrozen. But then there are recurring fascinations with weirder things you might not have heard of: animes like Attack on TitanFree!, and the classic Evangelion, the game Animal Crossing and the mock-wyrd-gothic podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Some of these highly active subcultures count their members in the millions, but barely crack the surface of pop culture.So what makes a fan besides watching, playing or listening fanatically? Creativity that reflects their fandom, or what's often called 'fan labor.' You've heard of fan fiction. There's a musical equivalent and it's all over Bandcamp, YouTube and Soundcloud. And we're not just talking covers and remixes of the relevant music—there are parodies, tributes, new soundtracks, and whole new compositions.

Music by fans about what they like dates back to the 1950s at least, and one older kind of it related to folk is known as 'filk.' But can fandom music all be grouped together as if it were a genre? Not really, at least not in the conventional sense. The music of each fandom often takes its cues from the object of the fandom first, whatever the genre. And yet there are certain similarities and connections. Firstly, people often participate in more than one fandom, and musicians are no different. Secondly, there is a particular flavor to some the music of certain fandoms, at least as they manifest online today, and it's something that's rather uncommon in the parts of underground music I normally frequent.Fandom music, especially by the most popular musicians, is very well made. It doesn't tend towards the minimalism and primitivism in some areas of the underground, where too much effort and ability—especially on non-vintage equipment—can get a bit uncool. (But even when it isn't well made in the traditional sense, it's interesting for its surprising results.) In the same vein, fandom music tends to be complex—it often uses the best and broadest tools available to contemporary musicians, and likes to draw on many different instruments, harmonies and forms in the course of a song or album, rather than just deploying a few riffs or loops. And if variety itself can be a characteristic, it's definitely a characteristic of fandom music, which manifests in any and all genres, some which don't even seem to be genres. One of the most tangible qualities of fandom music, however, is linked to its sincerity—it explores a level of emotional or sentimental expression that more cynical listeners would consider kitsch.But fandom music is not just purely sonic. One of the most captivating things about it is the artwork, often made with considerable effort using digital painting equipment. This creates a new and distinctive visual signature that I've learned to associate with musical sincerity while browsing Bandcamp. Often the paintings are colorful, romantically intense and highly detailed, and it's common to find each individual track page in Bandcamp assigned its own painting. Then there's the way fan musicians behave online. They aren't anonymous, scrupulously shadowy, they don't send cryptic tweets. On their pages, they typically make friendly introductions to themselves and their music. Sometimes you can even see their faces, or at least an avatar styled according to their fandom of choice. Overall, the creative world of fandom music is a bit of a refreshing break from what's hip, and I don't mean that as an insult to either party. And actually a lot of this music is only a few heartbeats away from re-engineered and often highly sincere pop sounds more often covered in the underground music press.
So where to begin? Perhaps with a fandom that quite a number of my readers might have encountered: Pokémon. The video game is still going strong on contemporary devices, and NYC rapper Le1f can often be heard rapping and talking about them—a Pikachu mask even appears in his video "Wut." 'Pokémon' is quite a common tag on Bandcamp: you'll find a remix / concept album by Grimecraft [above], an artist with strong links to the greater cuteness network we explored a bit in last month's System Focus. Le1f and Grimecraft epitomize a certain kind of contemporary musician with clear fandom elements in what they do, and you'll find Grimecraft referencing a number of different games throughout his online presence (such as his Soundcloud, where there are nods to Animal CrossingFinal Fantasy and Zelda). But we can go further than musicians who are merely mixing the objects of fandom into what they do. Fortissimo Hall is 'the official music page' of a group on amateur-art-upload site DeviantArt that's dedicated to Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time. Three albums on the page—A Troubled PastA Dark Future, and Lethe Wept—feature the work of various artists, and each track has its own almost semi-abstract rendering of a particular Pokémon or related subject. Like a lot of fandom music, these compilations are stylistically close to contemporary video game music (aka VGM, which is more cinematic than its 8-bit ancestor), but their eccentricities are intriguing. In particular, the tracks by Pengosolvent are quite unlike anything else—contemporary orchestral VGM squashed imaginatively into a jovial, frenetic and slightly disturbing blur. Try the crazy "Breaktime Over," the highly cute "Enamored Regard" (below), or the proper creepy ghost-type "Paved With Good Intentions" (belated happy Halloween).A more recent fandom has grown up around the animated TV-show Adventure Time, a light-hearted and absurd fantasy series that seems to have aesthetic roots in the freak folk of last decade, as can be heard in the ukulele of the show's brief opening theme. You can hear that theme in an expanded cover version (on an album of AT covers), in punk tones, and sung by some kid a cappella (do check out the same kid's original song "Carryin Up a Cable"). But intriguingly, Adventure Time is a recurring reference point for some fairly parental-advisory hip-hop—herehere, and here. Then there's Oddpauly, who raps about the attractions of the show on one of his tracks. Pauly also has a YouTube channel featuring a music video of his highlight track "Rain," and a video of him playing Minecraftwhile eating Fruit RollupsOh yeah, Minecraft—now we're really talking fan communities. This video game started out in 2009 and has become a force—it recently featured in an episode of South Park (the kids make their parents answer Minecraft-related questions as a way of locking them out of the murder porn they've taken to watching)—but is otherwise unlikely to have touched the lives of many people over the age of 25. It's not especially a children's game, though. It's a 'sandbox' game, with blocky retro graphics, situating a player in an environment where they can mine various materials and build what they like, all in blocks. There's no other objective to the game, and it leads to the creation of enormous online worlds in which players can interact. There are enough Minecraft players worldwide to fill a decent-sized country, so unsurprisingly, music has gotten involved.There are millions of YouTube videos relating to Minecraft. As well as gameplay videos, something the game provides is a virtual environment for shooting films, or what is called 'machinima'. Machinima (or something like it) is the format of choice for Minecraft music videos uploaded to YouTube, which appear so regularly that some channels run monthly Top Ten compilations (such as this one and this one). The most prominent kind of Minecraft music is the parody—'a Minecraft parody of...'—where a famous song is covered with the lyrics rewritten to relate to the game. Minecraft has its own lingo and set of tropes to use for this, such as 'griefing,' the game's rough equivalent of trolling, or 'creepers,' annoying monsters who approach a player's buildings only to blow themselves up. There are Minecraft parodies for practically any pop hit of recent memory, together with parody videos—there's Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" ("Play Minecraft"), Miley Cyrus's 'Wrecking Ball' ("Wrecking Mob," above) ***and my favorite, PSY's "Gentleman" ("Very Crazy Griefer"— just look at their faces below...)

But then there's the music from the game itself, of course. It's by Daniel 'C418' Rosenfield, it's on Bandcamp, and it's so popular that Rosenfield was able to give up his day job. Like a lot of indie game soundtracks, the music is kind of unusual—in this case a mysterious ambient blend of prone, often reverb-laden toy melodies and pensive harmonies. It appears to have had an influence on a number of other prospective Minecraftcomposers such as MTCT (aka Music to Craft To), Wolfi, and the epic Taylor Grover. And then there's music that's simply made in tribute to the game, such as by MololoSentinus (with an album of '13 songs inspired by Minecraft gameplay'), and in the oddball dance instrumentals of Reshif. There's even an album entirely made from the game's sound effects, which is a bizarre listen. But with a game as rich as Minecraft, there's also music within it too, and this is where things get really interesting. The game has 'note blocks,' which can be directed to play a certain pitch and change timbre depending on what material they're on top of. There's also a form of electrical wiring that can activate the blocks remotely (using a switch) and in sequence, setting off the notes like a pack of dominoes. Thus by placing several note blocks in the right configuration and activating them through the wires, players can create music boxes that can play certain tunes, even polyphonically. Here's a tutorial on how it's done. To really get a polyphonic tune playing for its full length, players have to create vast structures several stories high and almost a kilometer in length, that witnesses can move around inside as the music plays. Then they upload the videos to YouTube. This is music and architecture as the very same thing. A fairly simple one where you can clearly see what's going on is that internet classic, the Requiem for a Dream theme. Then they become gigantic—Pharrel's "Happy" (below) has all the syncopations down, and includes a cart that automatically runs alongside the structure as it plays. The structure for Coldplay's "Clocks" has a glass bridge running over it so that you can look down as you walk with the notes. That one's made by Petraller, a master of the note blocks with a huge repertoire that includes Bon Jovi, Owl City and Scott Joplin. But it doesn't stop at note blocks—one player used an array of other sound-making inventions to recreate (a kind of) dub step.

One of the most visually striking fandoms online is Homestuck, an epic webcomic about some teens who inadvertently bring about the end of the world, and then get involved with these bizarre troll-like beings that are perfect to dress up as. But don't take it from me—there's a fan song to introduce you to it all. I discovered Homestuck early on in my Bandcamp travels because much of its soundtrack had ended up in the 'experimental' tag and the bizarre digitally-painted visuals and difficult-to-place music caught my attention, even if the music was hardly for Wire magazine. The weirdly great-looking official Homestuck Bandcamp page compiles the soundtrack (made by fans) music and more, and it tends to subtly evade genre, skipping through all kinds of sound worlds, seemingly guided more by emotion (and whatever's going on with those trolls) than form. I've been oddly mesmerized by Erik "Jit" Scheele's One Year Older and the cosmically soppy Song of SkaiaAnd of course other fans have gotten involved too, following the ethereally elusive nature of the official music. Robert Blaker's early unofficial album features the best of the fan art in its individual track pages, while Team Paradox and Sam Neiland have written soundtracks for fan-made adventures. Some of the most interesting Homestuck music has been produced by musicians who seem less concerned with the polish of traditional compositional standards, such as SKAIANET and Eric Beer. Equally, there are moments when strangeness and sculptural control meet, as in "Confinis" by Horizon.
One of today's most notorious fandoms is focused on the latest version of the My Little Pony franchise, Friendship is Magic. When fans of the show are older than its target audience—say, 13 and up—they tend to be called 'bronies,' as many of them are men, but there are plenty of older female fans too. Two documentaries have been made about the unexpected phenomenon, Bronies and A Brony Tale, and it's very widespread, having seen several conventions around the world. The older fan community appreciates the positive messages of the show and are brave to openly celebrate it with their considerable creativity, although their reputation online has suffered somewhat due to a certain amount of overlap with less well regarded communities based in 4chan and Reddit, notorious for fedoras and misogyny. In any case, pony music, as it's called, is a fascinating and diverse reflection of the fandom. And it's huge. To give you some idea, there are several radio stationsdedicated to the show and its fandom. The main site for the fandom, Equestria Daily, has a lively music section. Fan music ranges from remixes and covers of songs from the show, songs telling its stories, and parodies (indulging the community's fondness for puns and phrases like 'everypony') to instrumental albums that draw on the show's imagery or tropes only at a tangent. The fandom has a hefty contingent of Bandcamp customers whose pony avatars can be seen lining up on the pages of the most popular albums. But the music only rarely reflects the child-like aesthetic of the show, often bringing out the darker, more romantic connotations of characters and its stories. Alongside sometimes Friedrich-like digital paintings of the relevant ponies, pony musicians regularly put weighty, grand, maximalist and very technically accomplished music.There's punk rockhappy club soundsambient electronicfunky song-writinghardcoresoft rockepic orchestral, and metal. One of the most popular artists is Eurobeat Brony, who has three volumes of hyperactive 'Super Ponybeat.' Another is TAPS, who has an ear for glitchy vocal science deriving from samples of the show: ponies fractured and suspended in enormous spaces.But one of the things that really seems to mark out the My Little Pony fandom is the sheer sentimentality of much of the music, an unusual space probably opened up by the show and admitting a fondness for it, and like it or not, it can be quite something to behold. Often it's found in cinematic synth-orchestral tracks like those of Dashdub or Radiarc. There's even an artist who does hyper-tender pony-inspired piano improvisations. 4everfreebrony is a technically faultless songwriter who has a 'ponified' version of Pharrell's "Happy" and can really whip up a mood on the album Pink Side of the Moon. And I've found myself listening repeatedly to Australian artist Feather's album In My Mind. It has a parody of "Mad World" (all around me are familiar ponies) and several gentle songs of a curiously and persuasively emotional bent about characters and events in the show. She often weaves in electronics and unusual textures, like the weird vocal manipulations of "Jealousy", and "City Slicker" (below) is charismatic and skilled without a lick of pretension.So yes, I'm appreciating fan music, even My Little Pony fan music. And fan music in itself, not necessarily in relation to the object of the fandom, or because I get all the references. Its emotion might seem over the top sometimes, its obsessions might seem ridiculous, but you know what? At the very least it's something quite different. At the most it's a labor of love, it's honest, and it's real—realer than a top indie artist performing while wearing Google Glass so that one of the world's largest companies can get people to adopt a failing product, and everyone reporting on it. And none of this stuff is 'post-internet' about its online status either—it's simply music on the internet, usingit as the best tool. It's the sort of creativity that's been online long before art and music started to address the digital age in scare quotes. In fact, it's the sort of subcultural celebration that was underground before the underground.


Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.
Javascript DisablePlease Enable Javascript To See All Widget