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September 05, 2019 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily

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The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Thursday, September 5, 2019 — 5

Somewhere on a dingy, pale-
blue sofa in a poorly lit room,
cheesy smiles are supplanted by
somber, subdued semi-dancemoves
and emotionally raw lyricism. This
is their latest album GINGER at
its overarching emotional core,
“Dearly Departed.”
An obvious sly at former vocalist

Ameer Vann’s departure from the
band in May 2018, the video depicts
fourth wall as though speaking to
a particular person. Kevin Abstract
kicks off this intervention deadpan,
staring into the eyes of the viewer
as he spits his verse about betrayal
and backstabbing, only to leave
the scene immediately after he’s
finished. From that point on, the
music video centers on every
member in the scene as they bare
their heartbreak and pain from a
different point of view. It pans out
as Joba belts out the high notes in
the chorus and collapses. It zooms

in on Matt as he reads his verse
from notecards only to tear them
apart and abandon the track that’s
still playing — Merlyn is in this
cut but says absolutely nothing,
sobered. And Dom gets up close and
personal, punching the camera as
he describes a situation in which a
“friend” of his set up another friend
to get robbed. Conducted in a single
take, the nuances of the video stand
out, from the panning in and out of
the camera to the eye contact of the
members to the actions they take as
they sing their verses.
The art of this video pins itself
in symbolism, every action directed
towards the camera as though it’s an
actual person. This emphasizes that
any beef in the room is not among
the bandmates but between the
group and someone else in the room.
They’re together in the emotional
battle between BROCKHAMPTON
and this other person. Ameer
Vann is never explicitly brought
up, but given the lyrical content,
the unity of the members and the
BROCKHAMPTON makes it clear
that Vann is no longer welcome and
has left deep, vulnerable scars in
their lives.

‘Dearly Departed’: A sobering
group message to Ameer Van

Post Malone released the fourth single,
“Circles,” from his upcoming album
Hollywood Bleeding on Aug. 30, following
in the footsteps of the wildly successful
“Sunflower” and the regularly successful
“Wow.” and “Goodbyes.”
In many respects, “Circles” is the
same old Post. His vocals are lovelorn,
shot through with powerful vibrato. The
chorus is an instant earworm, the type
upon which Post built and maintained
his fame. The structure is about as
straightforward as it gets, and there’s not
much in the way of experimentation or
risk in any respect.
However, Post makes some interesting
departures from his traditional sound.
The use of a bright round-string bass
line (a great one, at that) as opposed to
his typical electronic 808s is perhaps
the most notable. The sonic palette as a

whole seems to be heavily influenced by
psychedelic pop (e.g. Currents), a sound
that suits Post surprisingly well.
tastefully upbeat and well-arranged.
The bridge is on the weak side, a little
too harmonically dependent upon the
preceding section. Other than that, it’s
hard to find any real problem with this
song other than the fact that it plays it
safe. I continue to be astounded by Post’s
ability to churn out hit after hit — his
sense of catchiness in melody is nonpareil
in pop music today. Hopefully Hollywood
Bleeding finds him continuing his hot

Malone’s ‘Circles’ is
trippy, but plays it safe

Daily Arts Writer

One of the first exercises I did in my 16th-century
counterpoint class this semester was an identification game.
Our professor took a famous theme from a Mozart piano piece
and set it in six different styles. After playing each variation, he
asked us to name the style we thought he was trying to imitate
or the specific composer.
Going into the exercise, I thought I’d have a lot of trouble
hearing an imitation of a famous composer from a short eight-
bar variation. I thought we might be able to guess the style
or period of the music, maybe even the specific sub-period or
nationality of the music, but never the specific composer.
Yet for five of the six styles, my three-person class was able to
guess not only the style, but the specific composer our professor
had sought to emulate. In eight bars of music based on a theme
by an already famous composer, our professor was able to adapt
the stylistic nuances and notational idiosyncrasies that define
specific famous composers. And he was able to so decisively.
This got me thinking about artistic voice and artistic style. Is
it possible to distinguish an artist’s “voice” from their “style”?
Given that everyone probably defines these two concepts
differently, I should clarify that I take “voice” to be an artist’s
small technical habits that define their artistic output within
the larger “style” of cultural context, genre and subgenre of art
that these artists are usually defined with.
The best artists, I believe, are those whose artistic voices are
immediately recognizable. The composers that we were talking
about in class, for example, are some of the most prolific
and ground-breaking composers within the classical music

tradition that have ever lived. They’ve succeeded in cultivating
voices that are distinctly their own even as they pushed the
boundaries of their style.
One artist that I think best embodies this concept of a well-
defined voice is Kurt Vonnegut. I am a huge fan of Vonnegut,
having first been introduced to him through his relatively

comedic and light novel “The Sirens of Titan.” When we talk
about Vonnegut’s style, we think of his background and the
larger cultural context surrounding his work. The modern

and postmodern periods, for example, and the World War II
But when we talk about Vonnegut’s voice we have very few
words or larger concepts to compare him to. Though I can’t
articulate how I know this, I can almost always tell if I am
reading a play, novel or short story by him. I might use some
fancy-sounding descriptors to identify specific aspects of this
voice — nonlinearity in time and plot, randomization surfaces
with hidden patterns beneath them, dark humour as a means of
expressing larger concepts — but none of these descriptors in
sum or part capture everything that makes up his voice. Even
within his chapters and titles, for example, one can get a clear
sense of his artistic voice.
Vonnegut’s extremely well-defined artistic voice had a
positive effect on his career and the perpetual success of his
estate. A performance of “Happy Birthday, Wanda June”in
New York City this past year, for example, garnered many more
positive reviews than one would expect from a rarely performed
work. Audience members and critics couldn’t help but compare
the play to other Vonnegut works. For many, myself included,
it was the transference of this artistic voice onto the stage, and
not the contents of the play itself, that made the performance
such an interesting experience.
On the other hand, as was made quite obvious in many of
the artistic reviews this past month, a strongly-defined artistic

voice can quickly become a liability for successful artists. Take
for example Taylor Swift and her recent album, “Lover.”
I should start with a disclaimer that I am far from being

well-versed in Swift’s music. But in reading some of the reviews
of her most recent album, however, I couldn’t help but notice
the complaint that many critics have. Her new album, while
effectively mimicking her voice, has nothing new to offer. It
exhibits no new ideas, no new iterations on this voice.
I can think of many other artists that have become weighed
down by their voices. Many successful artists become
constrained by their voice, their pathway to success.
It’s not just a unique voice, I’ve come to realize, that marks
a successful artist. It’s also an ability to bend style to match
this artistic voice. It’s the ability to not only be informed by the
cultural context in which the artist creates, it’s the ability to
bring this context and artistic voice together and allow them to
influence each other.
The best artists are those whose artistic voices are influential
enough to bend the stylistic realm that they occupy. And that,
I realized, is how my class was able to so easily identify the
composers my professor was imitating. In a world where
Beethoven’s name is virtually synonymous with early German
Romanticism, a piece that is distinctly early German Romantic
is assumedly by Beethoven. And thus, in a paradoxical way,
artistic voices are perhaps best defined when they lose all
sense of definition, when they become so embedded in their
larger cultural context that they can no longer be pointed to as
a specific artist’s voice at all.

Sammy Sussman: An exploration of the strange
concurrence between an artist’s voice and style


It’s not just a unique voice, I’ve come to realize, that
marks a successful artist. It’s also an ability to bend
style to match this artistic voice. It’s the ability to
bring this context and artistic voice together and
allow them to influence each other.

This got me thinking about

artistic voice and artistic style.

Is it possible to distinguish

an artist’s “voice” from their




Post Malone

Republic Records

From that point on, the music video
centers on every member in the
scene as they bare their heartbreak
and pain from a different point of

Daily Community Culture Columnist



Daily Arts Writer

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