Critics have of late discerned a tendency towards a "chill" aesthetic in popular music. A mellowed edge is detected not only in pop but also recent predilections for ambient, fourth world, and new age reissues or in the current dominance of functional playlists as a frame for music consumption. This is usually put down to music’s easy availability on streaming platforms: a boundless stream of sound is paralleled by perceptual drift tolerated by atmospheric or ambient sonic tropes.
Looking to algorithmic curation of music on streaming platforms, this presentation examines the contemporary tendency for unmooring contemporary popular music from the figure or history, the displacement of narrative by texture, and the emotional blankness all this entails, along with the ways in which this enables the continued production of user data with minimal friction. Where production and consumption tend towards being indiscernible, it seems that music begins to lose its distinct temporal intensity.
Paul Rekret is the author of two books: Down With Childhood: Pop Music and the Crisis of Innocence (Repeater 2017), Derrida and Foucault: Philosophy, Politics & Polemics (Rowman & Littlefied 2018).
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