If a music fan from 20 years ago could have a glimpse into the modern streaming culture, would they be envious of our unlimited access to music for virtually no cost, or the freedom to hear whatever song we want, whenever we want to?
We have access to a seemingly infinite catalog of music, so it is important to not let your musical discovery become commoditized by algorithms that force-feed individual tracks you may like.
You wouldn’t watch one episode in the middle of a series or read one chapter of a book and expect to understand the context surrounding the body of work.
This same ideology should be applied to the way you listen to music. An artist has a concept, theme, or message in mind when creating the work, and that can only be fulfilled through a carefully crafted selection of songs, each acting as a chapter would in a novel.
A song is only a piece of the story, a word in a sentence, a piece of the puzzle. The start-to- finish approach allows us to hear the chronological context the way the artist intended us to hear it.
Analyzing albums as a full body of work allows us to understand “Sgt. Pepper’s” importance to the future of pop, or Weezer’s “Pinkerton” a desperate attempt to nd refuge in fame. Nine Inch Nails’ “Downward Spiral” becomes all the more terrifying when you find out it was written and recorded in the home where Sharon Tate was brutally murdered by the Manson Family.
Devote yourself to the experience. Actively listen, shut out the world around you, turn off your phone, put on a good pair of headphones, close your eyes and surrender yourself to the music. As you peel back the layers surrounding each album we look at, you will develop deeper connections with music, the artist and yourself.
The purpose of this column is to review, analyze, and dissect albums. This year in Tonality, we will focus on noteworthy releases from the past and present across multiple genres.