“Altered Zones is invariably called Pitchfork’s “sister site,” but the missing word here is “younger”—there’s an age difference large enough to be considered generational, maybe even epochal. Pitchfork thrived through adapting the print-music magazine to the Internet; its mindset still belongs to the era of criticism. But Altered Zones is an expanded version of the MP3 blog, with a sensibility that could be fairly described as post-critical: You’ll almost never read a negative comment (MP3 blogs, by definition, don’t post sound files they don’t rate), and nothing gets graded on a 10.0 scale. Founded by people whose formative musical experiences occurred before the Internet really took off, Pitchfork retains an attachment to notions like “importance” and “significance,” along with such related pre-Web concepts as the geographically located scene, the gig as a privileged site where the community forms around a band, et al. But the Zones generation, artists and listeners alike, have never really known a time when music wasn’t enmeshed with the Web. They have only a tenuous sense that music is something you pay for, and a much-diminished investment in live performance. In the ’80s and ’90s, Amerindie fans typically withheld judgment on a band’s worth until they saw them “deliver” live. But when the Web is your primary new-music portal, live performance fades in importance. In the Zones, buzz bands are rarely bands as such: More often, they’re just a guy in a bedroom.”
- Simon Reynolds http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-01-19/music/leave-chillwave-alone/
The annual Pazz & Jop poll of critics just came out and as always it has some interesting features alongside it. I think this little bit from Simon Reynolds hits many nails on the head but most particularly, the term post-critical, which I haven't seen used before. Really hammers home a lot of what I've been thinking and feeling over the past few years about the need for reviews, in an era where managing the deluge of music and sifting the quality from the crap seems more important. Especially when there are few people being truly critical (including negative review), so we end up getting the brunt of reactions from fanbases and labels, which is fine but it isn't massively great when you're trying to court exclusives or inviting bands to come play gigs (Rob Webb has booked Anna Calvi for a show but that wasn't gonna lead to a positive review, etc).
What I'm wondering, more than ever, is what do you really want from reviews?
In fact, what do you want from editorial, full-stop. Do you want to be recommended stuff or do you still need things to be deconstructed to be intrigued, even tho you can just bash play on the record somewhere online and make up your own mind? Do you sometimes like reviews to help you better understand why you love something or help confirm why you don't? Do you always need in-depth analysis or do you hate all forms of criticism and would much rather read a thread with a swathe of opinions? Is it different for different bands / styles of music that you like? Can you imagine people still reviewing albums 20 years from now?
I realise DiS boarders probably have a different perspective to most music fans but I'd be genuinely curious whether some of my hunches are right. Wendy Roby has some interesting thoughts on the matter, which are quite different to Andrzej's and many of our contributors views, which are a bit different to mine, so it'd be good to know what you all think...