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The importance of image in music

The importance of image in music
October 06, 2009, 04:16:05 AM
A separate thread for the discussion that started here on the importance of image in music. Some excerpts:

Image is an integral part of metal. Seeing music and image as two separate things that can stand on their own is what started the decline of metal in the first place. Can you imagine the music of Burzum, Darkthrone or Morbid Angel being as powerful without the image those bands employed?

I understand that image has an importance, but all too often people around here get hung up on JUST the image of a band. I mean there is no set image for a band to have to make profound music.

Image doesn't make a band.

The point is that each release is a whole thing. Music, ideas, imagery and lyrics... all part of the art object.

I would love to get rid of album covers and song titles. It would get rid of posers, the bullshit and allow us to focus on the music. Symphony No. 1, Opus 29, Song 112 - what could be simpler than that? Let the music stand on its own: I say the less imagery given through non-musical media, the better position we are to judge the music and eliminate music with no ideas.

3.cover art
4.actual views and personality of musician
5.press shoots/band image

Whilst you can take all these as one artistic product, it is possible to rank them in order of importance.

I agree with we hope you die and Conservationist. But I believe actual views and personality of musicians belongs on 2, after all if a band sings about stuff or has an image they're not serious about in one way or another then you'll probably lose a great deal of respect for them. I don't agree that it's possible to make great music while being a clueless dick, great minds produce great music, mediocre minds produce the lesser works. I can't think of any great album of which the cover sucks unless it's a re-release.

Some suggest that it is in the benefit of music that we ignore possible lame image/covers/lyrics/etc. but I'll ask of you isn't that how the decline in quality starts? Others say that while they enjoy the music of certain artists they also feel the image or personality are laughable. I'll ask of you why you can't enjoy the whole package and whether or not you may be suffering from some form of consumerism.

I think it's related to recognizing something as great or important contrasting with what has personal appeal, but that's what I think makes this topic so interesting. Music is the product of the personality of the artists and the image and emotions the band wants to project, so how is it even possible to believe the music is great while thinking their image is stupid?

Re: The importance of image in music
October 06, 2009, 06:04:40 AM
The Tranny itself is a great example.

It didn't have an image on "Soulside Journey", nor did any of Darkthrone. No-one cared, the music spoke for itself. When the Norwegian black metal hype emphasized image, Fenriz was even able to handle no less than three "characters" - the raw black metal maniac, the Norse pagan and the cold void Faustian space traveller.

This image and these characters helped bring many things into focus, because when the old death metal band had the odd viking song or the odd satanic exhortation, you could never know if it was a random take on one movie, or something meticulously researched for personal power. As has been pointed out in the black metal vs. death metal discussion, death metal reminded you of the morbid facts of life, but black metal reminded of the possibility to escape so-called normal life altogether - see also Varg's has brilliant text about the integration of concept and image in Burzum.

Especially when we are talking about youth and their cultures, the image is what attracts the people first, and they get into the music later if they want to and are capable to. This is why Lord of the Rings and nu-Swedish-melodic-BM (see this topic) are relevant (assuming they are). This is part of why black metal collapsed: as much a failure to uphold the quality of music, a failure to uphold an image anyone (except jerks) would like to integrate themselves to. Despite commercialization, they failed to even uphold the principles of good marketing. This is part of why we don't agree on post-2000 albums - as I researched here, instead of a dream vision, we have a role playing game where one plays the priest and one the warrior and they get their answers to life's questions from a template.

Re: The importance of image in music
October 06, 2009, 06:23:40 AM
I'll throw in my two cents, since I missed this.
Image is only the means to a given idea, and is not meant to be the idea itself, unless it's a deliberate symbol. This should be taught and emphasized in every art course, but sadly, art is "whatever you want it to be". Just like when you ask that hooker on the street corner her name - it's whatever you want it to be, baby. Five bux.

When artists start using image for itself, not understanding what image is for in relation to the damn artwork, that's when we start to have problems artistically -- when you can understand this, you'll see this pervasive problem everywhere.

But otherwise, an idiot couldn't tell the difference between a shit band and a good one, because they're focused on image. These idiots will take image and mutate it into a grotesque caricature of its original source. Here's a pitiful example of how far-flung this thing can get. This is sort of a good thing, actually. Because only a moron would take such a thing seriously.

Same thing happened with black metal. Varg looked at least like he was in for "serious business" in the picture where he's posing with the mace, but a lot of imitation black metal acts try for the whole goffik TOUGH hot topic sort of thing.

It doesn't mean we shouldn't abandon image completely, we can probably even use image to redirect retards to where they belong (the incinerator), if we don't want to use image to at least convey our ideas and truths more effectively.

It's loosely like some Hindu philosophies, where your deity of choice and their image are entirely optional to the religious experience. It's only to give your mind a certain foothold, if you need it. If you don't need it, but you want it, and you already have it, you can probably use it to take you in further. It's a matter of pragmatism.


As an aside, I also believe it's strange as to how people think you can like death metal or black metal because of how everything "looks". When I began listening to this music, I was largely blind to what all of the music "looked like", I only listened to it and felt it and saw forms manifest on their own in my head.

A lot of the stuff I've shown people looks "boring" to them because they've seen spikier and more illegible band logos or something. They're scratching their heads when they realize that the music itself carries its own weight and makes up for the "lackluster" image. Hell, the image starts to make more sense in the context of the music.

That's it = the music happens to be there with the image to bring it to life. The music doesn't need an AWESOME album cover to not suck, unlike 98% of all other music.