The act of reviewing music in 2014 feels like an exercise in pastiche. A twee cultural artifact whose existence defies its lack of necessity. Like vintage typewriter fetishists and pork pie hats.
I’ve done some music reviews in the past but have basically stopped in the past couple of years as I ask myself,“What’s the point, honestly?” In the past, reviewing music was a practical tool for describing music to a reader that probably could not access the music being reviewed. These days, with the glut of streaming, do we even need the middlemen music journalists to tell us what a piece of music sounds like? Music reviewing has evolved from describing what the thing is to instructing us how we should feel about it. Or, readers often just focus on the score, a wildly inflammatory clickbait tool that for some reason just won’t die. Why do we rate music numerically? It feels uncivilized. Even worse, a review can be something people read in lieu of actually listening to the music, which smacks of classic poseurism, rendering the music review nothing more than a disposable cheatsheet for opinion and cachet.
I was thinking of writing about this newly released DJ Harvey project Wildest Dreams, but I feel like I’ve seen the same review of this record 5 times already. You might find that Harvey seems to repeat himself in interviews, but I think that’s more of a byproduct of mimetic journalism. He’s often asked the same harmless-but-superficial questions when he goes on a press run. The echo chamber is set to wet; the delay is at 11. If you’re reading this and don’t know who Harvey is, you can google to find various publications calling him the Keith Richards of disco or the line about playing the blues and group sex on ecstasy or the time he brought Larry Levan to the UK, yadda yadda yadda. He’s the Zelig of music that rotates on tables, and his personality is the product on sale. His over-documented reverence and backlash have only helped cement his mystique, and his international visibility seems to be at an all time high.
With Randy California cast as spirit animal, the Wildest Dream LP was recorded several years ago with three members of Orgone. I would assume the delay in release was either not to compete with the Locussolus rollout or that there was a problem with the label. Or both. It’s psychy-rock or rocky-psych and a bit less jokey than Map of Africa. Ultimately, a very listenable release, suited for balearic barbecues and California convertibles. It feels loose, raw, and intentionally unpolished. Blah Blah Blah.
As usual, the rumors and specter of Harvey’s persona supersede the music itself, and I’m left with more questions than anything:
1-Why did it take so long for the record to come out?
2-Where are the recordings from the other rumored Map of Africa sessions?
3-What ever happened to Whatever We Want Records?
4-Why don’t other DJs take a tip from Harvey and stay off the social media?
5-Don’t they know that mystique is in short supply?
6-Why haven’t Quentin Tarantino and DJ Harvey ever collaborated?
7-How do I know they haven’t tried, and it just didn’t work out?
8-Could it be that thing when you get too similar personalities together and they repel?
9-Are Harvey’s feet just too ugly even for Tarantino?
10-When is the next beer bust?
11-When is Andrew Weatherall going to play in California again and can it be an 8 hour back-to-back with Harvey?
13-Who’s going to give Harvey his own Jonesy’s Jukebox or John Peel style radio show to muck about and be generally charming for the rest of his career?
14-Can Harvey go dormant for a while so that the heat can cool down and we can have a proper Sarcastic in the near future?
15-Or should he decamp back to England and then return to in 2024?
16-Who the fuck reads record reviews anyway?
Wildest Dreams is out now on Smalltown Supersound. You can buy or stream this record wherever albums are bought and streamed.
Ø out of Ø stars.