Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on defunct, Central Indiana arts website Sky Blue Window on May 7, 2015. Some formatting, content and style changes may differ from the original.
One of the things we strive for at Sky Blue Window is to make larger cultural conversations around the arts accessible and meaningful on a local level. We try to take bigger issues and decompress them. As part of that mission, we want to spark conversation and engagement around the arts.
A recent conversation between WNYC columnist Eric Ducker and renowned arts critic Dave Hickey in which they discuss contemporary music’s place within museums, struck a chord. The conversation arrives on the heels of a recent Björk exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibit was met with widespread ridicule and condemnation at the hands of art critics nationwide.
Though Hickey and Drucker’s discussion centers on the Björk exhibit, the conversation has broader implications. How does contemporary music fit within the framework of art museums? What would a successful incorporation of the music into a museum show look like? And does the institutional nature of museums demand a pace too slow to include the more fluid, amorphous contemporary music climate?
For his part, Hickey has definitive and surly opinions on the subject. “Going to Björk is like going to see a rerun. How many times do you want to go see a rerun?” he asks. “In Björk’s case, it’s almost like a celebrity roast: ‘You thought you were so famous, we can make you look like s—.’”
In Indy we appear capable of showcasing visual arts and music on the same platform with surprising regularity. Gallery exhibits on First Friday often include local or touring musicians as visual artists. Indianapolis Museum of Art invited musicians and amateurs alike to join in its E is for Equinox celebration last fall.
With this in mind, we wanted to turn the discussion over to our readers. What local arts events have successfully shared musical collaborations? Does contemporary music fit within the landscape of our local museums? How can our arts organizations do better? Let us know in the comments and on social media.
Written by Rob Peoni
First Fridays have blossomed into some of Indianapolis’ most exciting summer evenings for local art lovers. Originally established to bolster the city’s under-appreciated visual arts scene, First Fridays have grown to encompass a variety musical events as well. Two intriguing offerings will take place at Fountain Square’s Murphy Building this evening.
The new Do317 Lounge will play host to local singer and multi-instrumentalist KO Noel. Formerly of Slothpop, KO has quickly established herself as one of my favorite new Indy artists of 2012. It has been fun to watch her confidence as a solo performer quickly grow since her Record Store Day debut at LUNA Records. Listen to “i will run while it’s dark” for a taste of the sensational vocal loops that will be on display in the intimate new space. The show is free, and Upland Brewery will be on hand serving frothy beverages, and work by local artist Mandy Steinbeck will be on display. Find more info at Do317.
Just down the hall, local label Joyful Noise Recordings will double as a performance space for singer-songwriters Richard Edwards, of Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos, and Adam Kuhn. Edwards always puts on a terrific show. The show will also feature artwork from Kat Johnson. Check out Edwards’ acoustic take on Margot track “New York City Hotel” from 2010 below. Both shows kick off at 8 and space is limited. Visit Do317 for more info on the show.
Written by Rob Peoni
I have been talking about Beach House’s fourth full length release Bloom for well over a month now. The conversations have not been centered around waiting for this release, but more focused on my continual consumption of the music itself. I have made phone calls about this record. I have tweeted that this could be the best album that I hear this year. I have bought tickets to see them on two separate occasions this summer. I have subconsciously become one of many chief marketers for Beach House. All of this praise has been spread to my musical network without even the official release occurring. This has got me wildly thinking about the current state of music in this digital age.
The album leak has become the norm in our current digital age. While I do not seek to download music before it is officially released, it becomes nearly impossible to avoid dragging and dropping mp3’s in my iTunes library when they are offered to me by other music junkies in the cloud. While record sales have plummeted over the years, labels have been looking for methods to counter act the digital flight of their music. From my observation, I believe the early leak of Bloom might be some the best work yet.
Smart record labels are beginning to adjust to the digital age and capitalize on true life-cycle marketing surrounding their top releases. It seems like it was only weeks after the March 7 release of their first single “Myth” that the entire album had leaked and was readily available to anyone who wanted it online. The leak of ‘Bloom’ quickly went viral and music connoisseurs began discussing it. Blogs were offering their early reviews and channels like Sirius were promoting the album.
On March 21 Stereogum wrote a “Premature Evaluation” saying,
“Beach House’s Bloom ascribes to the tradition of Teen Dream, asserting itself as an expansive, pristine-sounding release from the first notes of first single and album opener “Myth.” If I didn’t fear that I was selling Bloom short — and I fear that I might be, at least so far — is that it’s Teen Dream 2, a record high on hi-fi ambitions while still maintaining a semblance of the hazy sorcery from its earlier recordings.”
Teen Dream was beloved by many and an early comparison help add to momentum of the release. By late April the Bloom buzz continued as Beach House released a 7” of second single, “Lazuli” on Record Store day. I bought a copy and I am assuming many others did along with me as the release quickly sold out at my local establishment. For me, the early adoption was immediate verification that Beach House was still a band that I adored and also provided me an untimely reason to sing their praises to all of my musical friends. What more could the band and label Sub Pop ask for?
Consider the leak the water that has fostered the growth of the Beach House buzz. On May 15 the release becomes official and Bloom will wind up in record stores across the country. I have grown so attached with this record that I honestly feel that it is my obligation to buy it and I hope others follow my lead. While non-vinyl collectors might not see a need to support this album, it is my best guess that they will buy tickets and merchandise when Beach House comes to town. The leak proves impossible to plug. It is my hope that more labels begin to use life-cycle marketing techniques to go with the digital flow. Once considered pirates, now early adopters have become the brand advocates for bands on a daily basis. My hope is that more labels embrace these methods and allow trendsetters to let their influence bloom.
Written by Brett McGrath