Blood Orange – Augustine (2016)
In these highly sensitive times, to judge a work of creation, a piece of art without context can be viewed as being tantamount to blasphemy. Instant emotional reactions are possibly seen as knee jerk, reactionary, ignorance. even with a form as immediate and ephemeral as music, should a writer/commentator/blogger/casual listener what have you not preface their like and dislike of something with at least a paragraph describing or understanding the circumstance in which a song/a poem/a film/painting was summoned from the ether and willed into being, then one risks being dismissed as a naive illogical fool.
Of course, this is to say I am preaching ignorance and to only react to art in a primitive, instinctual manner. not at all, my friend. our capacity for thought and reason is a gift, a powerful tool that can expand our ideas and challenge our souls. But allow me to argue as I risk disappearing up my own sphincter that music operates on an intellectual level, yes. one of considered focus, study and discipline. if one is studying an instrument or learning to compose for example but as a listener, a consumer,an appreciator, a lover of music in all forms when you hear a song outside of its context played on a radio show, podcast, television programme, movie,political rally, family gathering, road trip, in a bar, airport, supermarket, mountain retreat,party, airplane, dentist appointment and it hits you directly like an arrow into your soul context, the back story/origin does not exist. A feeling remains. a pure adrenaline rush feeling that bypasses the head and shoots into the heart.
Now, context or the environment, ones frame of mind and familiarity with a song also informs ones emotions. So a song that you have heard many times before evolves, enhances a moment and takes on a certain meaning, emotionally or psychologically. but prior to this, when the ears are innocent or virginal so to speak and you hear or feel like you are hearing a song or piece of music for the first time. it takes you by surprise, delights you, breaks down your critical defences, a form of cosmic alchemy or magic perhaps that temporarily paralyzes, inducing a state of bliss.
Anyway, this was quite a long-winded way to avoid explaining the personal/cultural background/baggage to this song ‘Augustine’ by Blood Orange and its accompanying album ‘freetown sound’. So I could mention that the record is singer/songwriter/producer/composers Dev Hynes (formerly of Test Icicles and Lightspeed Champion) personal exploration of his cultural, racial and sexual identity, an exhilarating, expansive musical question mark to paint a moving 1980’s styled sonic soul search.
and that’s all he wrote.