Saturday, 9 April 2011

Modest brooding elevated to monumental scale!

Something extraordinary happened the other evening at Radio City Music Hall, but I need your help in understanding it.

Music critic Jon Pareles of the New York Times reviewed a rock concert which, in his words, "elevated modest brooding to monumental scale." The main attraction was "a 74-minute set, segueing nine compositions with no encore: an unbroken reverie." That's a Mahler-sized portion of modest brooding. Who said modern attention spans are short?

Mr. Pareles makes it clear he's been specially trained as a critic to hear things others may miss. "The pieces began quietly, often with just a lone guitar outlining a basic chord or repeating a single note, as if meditating on the possibilities within consonance." The "garbled voices" and "crashing distortion" which followed this meditation apparently had the effect of deepening the critic's reverie: "Even as it expands, the music recalls the modesty of its opening notes and often returns to them after its peak, as if each crescendo is already contained within them."

I've been brooding, modestly, about Mr. Pareles' review. It's reached such monumental scale that I'm offering a valuable prize to any reader who can penetrate his thoughts. A free Herschel Evans decoder ring goes to any reader who has ever meditated on the possibilities within consonance, and can tell me what they are.


  1. Dear Sir,
    You caught me. I really can write clearly, but my TIMES contract insists on this kind of fog and dreck (I believe that's a Brooklyn word). I wish I could break out of it and write simple declarative sentences. I hanker to write cover stories about why Herschel Evans sounds so good on those sides with Harry James, but my bosses want me to write this sludge. I am so sorry. I wish it were otherwise.

    Jon Pareles

  2. Your humility is touching. I'm glad you've come to your senses. If I've contributed in any way to this new outlook of yours, then my efforts have been worthwhile. I'll be watching the Times for your clear, concise, well-written reviews of music of substance. Good luck in this new phase of your life!