Music Recensions

T

he word Recension is not a very common word in either the English or American dictionaries.

Nevertheless, it does exist.

It does… Honest.

Don’t pay any attention to all those red squiggles shown by the automated spell-checker of your favorite word processor or web-making program.

This word does really exist.

Check out you dictionary or the online Merriam-Webster to learn the following:

  • Main Entry: re·cen·sion
  • Pronunciation: ri-‘sen(t)-sh&n
  • Function: noun
  • Etymology: Latin, ‘recensio’, enumeration, from ‘recensEre’ to review, from ‘re- + censEre’ to (re)assess
  • Common use: A critical revision of a text.
    A text established by critical revision.

I don’t have the intention, nor the pretension (reported by the same Merriam-Webster as: “an allegation of doubtful value”), to present here the absolute and universal truth about (Progressive) Rock music or its performers.

…Far from that.

What I exactly want to avoid is being too objective, because there’s nothing objective about listening to music.

On paper – literally – the same notes used by Beethoven for one of his incredibly complex and fascinating symphonies are exactly the same ones that can be used for the most irritating and idiotic commercial jingle (or even worse: one of those dodgy cell-phone ringtones).

It’s just the way the notes are put together that makes Beethoven’s symphony an unforgettable experience, while that advertisement jingle makes you want to smash the telly to pieces, or makes people glance disapprovingly at the (by then) blushing owner of the incriminated cell-phone happily jingling away that idiotic tune.


Technical Interlude #2

You can think of music in objective terms only if you, for example, would say that a series of waves, characterized by a specific vibration at a specific frequency, are carried through the air.

From there, they are intercepted by the bone-chain found in the inner ear.

The vibrating bone-chain transmits these vibrations to receptor cells, through the tympanum membrane and the inner ear fluid.

Once there, the vibrations are in turn encoded into electrical impulses, to be then translated into electrochemical impulses.

These impulses are subsequently transmitted by neuron chains to specific regions of the brain, where the neurochemical impulses are decoded into the signals that we consciously perceive as “sounds”.

 

Well, the above is the objective description, but at this point there is no substantial difference between a perfect D-sharp-diminished chord and a fart (try to fart on purpose in that tone and you’ll be in the Guinness Book of Records).

And it doesn’t end there, with the physical description.

The simple fact that one person can rate a musical score as a masterpiece, while the other says it’s pure rubbish, is exactly because music is all about subjectivity, and there is nothing we can do to change that.

Because after the already mentioned physical process has taken place, other regions of the brain start to receive and send messages all over the place.

And here we are in a complete emotional chaos: music can bring up memories, let your hart rhythm accelerate or slow down, it can even get you depressed, excited, hyperactive, or soothe you into sleep, hypnotize, sharpen your perception or – quite possibly – just bore you to death.

Taking all the above into account, we just cannot say “this or that music is good or bad”. The only thing we should say is: “I like, or don’t like, this or that piece of music”, which implies a subjective appreciation.

But of course, we are only human and we feel the urge to analyze, quantify, describe, explore and, worst of all, to judge in terms of absolute good and bad.

That’s why talking about music is per definition a non-objective discussion.

So, what you’ll find in the Recension pages is just a collection of thoughts, personal opinions and facts (and not even those can be always and absolutely objective) about bands, albums or (quite rarely) even single tracks from my private music collection.

Those pages are not in strict alphabetical, or chronological, or importance order.

I have ordered them mostly by the first letter, whether it was a name, article or something else.

So “The Beatles” is not likely to be under the “B” of “Beatles, The”, but probably under the “T” or maybe the “B” all the same.

Just don’t try to find a strict alphabetical sequence, use your intuition to find a name in the list and please, never mail me to make me change or amend this. Just forget it and go on reading, or leave it and go doing something more productive without wasting your time (and mine).

As far as the writing/creation process is concerned, I might have been writing some notes while listening to a track, when I suddenly heard something that made me think of a completely different album and so on; see it as a kind of free musical-associative exercise if you want, which made me start writing something else, sometimes going back to the first one, sometimes not.

Anyway, you might enjoy reading it and it might even happen that you’ll find some facts and figures you were not aware of or did not know at all, or to come across some thoughts or opinions we may have in common.

Reading is all about discovery, so sit back and relax.

And even if we do not share these opinions, no hard feelings… we’re only human, after all.

Jump to the Recensions List

Don't let your thoughts pile up too high.