According to Pitchfork, Fiery Furnaces’ new album won’t be an “album” at all, in the way we’re used to thinking about albums. As opposed to releasing a sound recording, they’re releasing
instruction, conventional music notation, graphic music notation, reports and illustrations of previous hypothetical performances, reports and illustrations of hypothetical performances previous to the formation of their hypotheses, guidelines for the fabrication of semi-automatic machine rock, memoranda to the nonexistent Central Committee of the Fiery-Furnaces-in-exile concerning the non-creation of situations, Relevant to Progessive Rock Division, conceptual constellations on a so-to-speak black cloth firmament, and other items that have nothing to do with the price of eggs, or milk, or whatever the proverbial expression ceased to be.
Try reading that all in one breath.
Grandiose and hipsterish as this may be, it’s kind of a cool idea. It’s intended to be avantgardesque (yeah, only “-esque”) but ironically (perhaps that’s the point) is throwing us back about 100-150 years to the heyday of American sheet music publishing–an era when many homes had a piano, guitar, banjo, fiddle or accordion (etc. etc.) and several people who could play and/or sing, and who consumed their pop music by buying broadsheets, or inexpensive simplified sheet music arrangements, then performing for friends and family.
Pitchfork kind of hates on this as a liquid-courage-inspired, lazy-musician’s-way out. That might be true, but I like the fact that it forces audience participation in a way that we haven’t seen explicitly required since the advent of recording technology. I also like the fact that listening to this “album”–just like in the days before everyone could afford a phonograph–requires a group of people to get together. I like the fact that, though visual representations of sound have their own limiting effects, the ambiguity of the “album” (yes, I will persist in using scare quotes) allows for a diversity of representations without worrying about intellectual-property tussles. I really dislike the potential for music snobbery and clique-iness that is inherent in this project, but that’s an occupational hazard of indie/prog rock anyway.
More to come if/when I get my hands on this.