What is this?
It’s a pretty common question one can ask when experiencing any kind of art. Often times, the most obvious answer to that question is just the beginning, the McGuffin to introduce the discussion the artist is trying to incite. And, if one stops at just what sits on the surface, they usually miss the whole intention of the work.
If that sounds pretentious, especially in regards to anything released by Neon Indian, it probably is. After spinning the newest collection, Errata Anex, when I asked myself, “What is this?” It was not in regards to the very simple, superficial, surface details; is this even music, and can it even be considered a Neon Indian record?
There is no easy, set and defined answer to the question ‘what is music?’ Scholars have held countless seminars, hearings and meetings, and authored excessively detailed, dense theses (perhaps best used as sleep aids) for thousands of years and it still cannot be agreed upon; it’s an answer as subjective as the topic itself. Yet any basic, freshman level music appreciation class will posit that there are at least a few criteria that should be present; usually harmony, melody, rhythm, timbre and texture. (Obviously this is an oversimplification; a jackhammer has rhythm, but generally is not considered music.)
The 5 songs/remixes on this EP have scant more melody than a jackhammer at a downtown construction site; forget about any kind of harmony. As such, I would argue that there is no texture, in a musical sense. In a slightly more traditional approach, and one I subscribe to, timbre goes out the window the minute you introduce digital sounds(especially digital recreations of naturally inharmonic tones), which are nearly the only sounds to be found here. There is no tone color when all tones are created by algorithms, rather than physical motion and impact.
Therefore, I do not consider this music at all. This is noise. (That is not to say noise is not an artistic medium, but it is separate from music. Painting and dance are both visual, but they are not conflatable.)
Likewise, I cannot and do not attribute this collection to Neon Indian, as all songs are remixed, by other artists. Yes, these songs all began life as creations of Alan Palomo (released in 2011 on Era Extrana), but especially after this kind of deconstruction and recreation, he is no longer responsible for the existence of the new product. If I were to tear up 15 prints of the Mona Lisa, and rearrange their pieces in new ways, I could not claim (nor market) the new image as being authored by di Vinci, which is exactly what this collection has done.
It is of no matter that Palomo elected each artist to remix his work, the end result is still a new product with a new author. This is a noise tribute to half of a two year old techno/electronica dance album.