|I’ve been writing the still point since 1982; its earlier incarnation lasted for 77 roughly bimonthly issues (the last one appearing early in 1994), written for ALPS, an apa (amateur press association: kind of a paper version of an Internet mailing list) comprised of science fiction fans who were also music fans. In the last two years, I have been going to a lot of rock shows in small New York clubs, and was thus drawn out of a long fallow period where I hadn’t paid much attention to current popular music. I got excellent response to the still point from musicians, labels, and local music fans, and the inevitable next step seemed to be to take the still point to the next level.|
|I intend to cover live music in New York rock’n’roll clubs, a few selected shows in other cities, as well as associated recorded music. In a quarter century of listening to, thinking about, and writing about current popular music, I have found it to be true (and never truer than right now) that there is always more good music out there than one can possibly absorb, if one knows where to find it; and I hope to spread the word about what I have found.|
|What does the title mean? I hear the Voice from the Audience say. The phrase comes from T.S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece Four Quartets, where it designates that peak human experience (“the moment in and out of time”) when—however briefly—we feel divorced from our bodies, our consciousness of self suspended, in a state of ecstasy, either mental (meditation) or physical (cf. whirling dervishes). That’s the reason for the phrase “sex and drugs and rock’n’roll”: all of those activities can produce that experience. As Eliot says, “Except for the point, the still point, / There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.” Even more to the point: “you are the music / While the music lasts.” That’s the still point.|
|A word on my angle of gaze: I focus on musical texture and architecture,
and while I won’t deny that there is a narrowness to that angle, I apply
it to a relatively wide spectrum of music, from current guitar pop to folk
to avant-garde jazz to quite forbidding contemporary classical compositions.
Some may find my approach relentlessly technical; and it is. But believe me, I’m not quite as technically informed as a casual glance might suppose, and I make an effort to keep technical language to a minimum. But still, it’s the actual nuts and bolts of the music that most engage my attention.
I plead guilty to slighting lyrics to the point, often, of ignoring them; but as I feel that the preponderance of rock criticism—ever—overemphasizes lyrics, I feel no need to apologize for my compensating bias.
You’ll find little or none of the overarching cultural critique that seems so de rigueur in most pop music writing: I’m not interested, for example, in discussing Sleater-Kinney from a gender perspective (as “women in rock”), nor from a political perspective (as “riot grrls”) nor from a narrowly genre perspective (as “punk”); I prefer to consider them simply as rapidly-developing musicians already of extraordinary interest, as creators of memorable musical experiences.