Let me begin by acknowledging that I fully realize this is muzak to most people.
It was even musak to the band itself, when they started writing songs, chiefly to serve as background music during movie trailers.* Only when people started wanting to know why the song on the trailer wasn’t in the official soundtrack did the two men who became Audiomachine realize they were producing music individuals might actually want to listen to on its own.
I definitely count among those slavering hordes.
(An aside, as brief as I can make it: that Wikipedia link will quickly clue you in to the fact that among their great many other contributions are the soundtracks to the Call of Duty series, to which you might respond “oh way to go, providing a cinematic sound narrative to enable people to pretend war is a movie they can take a heroic role in, instead of something currently killing actual innocent people out there.” I’m not in the business of defending such games, nor am I in much of a place to critique them, since though I actively detest games with a real-world setting that touts violence, claiming that any dramatization of violence set in a fictional world is somehow “less bad” is weak. If I had a 14 year-old kid and he was blowing up people the game labelled terrorists and congratulating himself and his buddies on carpet bombing another town in Afghanistan or something, yes, I’d be upset. I’d…I’d like to think I wouldn’t be one of these shit parents making one-to-one correlations, blaming this one tiny facet of society for a much larger worldview problem, but yeah, seeing that happen to someone of whom I’d thought better (and you hope you think better of your kids) would be difficult. And I grant you that music akin to that which accompanies movies like Gladiator and King Arthur and basically anything big and epic today is aiding in that harmful superimposition of guiltless, faultless heroism onto a world that is anything but. Just like you can’t blame all games for sadistic fuckwit kids though, you can’t blame all epic music for aiding in creation of an idea of “glory” which no longer applies — and which never did. There, I’ve said it, now let’s move on.)
I discovered Audiomachine through Pandora, specifically via a station I crafted in 2009 to basically deliver up music like this. Audiomachine provides a lot of material for people to project onto. That’s why I listen to such music, and why I think lots of other people do, too. It isn’t so much escapism as augmentation. You’re running down your boring-ass sidewalk like you always do, but then the strings come in, followed by the drums and the brass, and suddenly it’s an epic goddamn run. By and large, it makes you more present in the moment, not less.
That’s one way to listen, anyway. You can also make up stories — visual fragments of stories, anyway — on this great backdrop of sound. I used to do that as a little kid before I grew too heavy to run back and forth on the floors (I needed motion for the stories to work, apparently) without annoying my dad down in the basement with all my thumping. Again, we’re not talking soul-searching lyrics or intricate works of experimental instrumentation ala Hauschka here…we’re talking highly-produced stuff that sounds like it could be the background for a car commercial:
But you know what else it sounds like it could be the background for? Your by-and-large mediocre life, on those rare occasions the decisions you make carry weight, and where people are proud of you. Who wouldn’t want to conjure even the ghost of that feeling if one could? Maybe that old man mowing his lawn thinks you’re just another thing that’s wrong with the world, with your too-tight pants and your earphones. But between those two earphones, you are the warrior queen of the goddamn block, unsullied by the judgment of glowering lawnmowermen or catcalling teenagers, pounding your way beyond a no doubt dark and tortured past toward some sort of much-heralded and somehow beneficial-to-others catharsis.
Soldier on, ladies. Soldier on.
*Do you remember when ads for The Two Towers played with the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack playing? Or ads for Troy with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme? Wasn’t that confusing? Yeah, that’s why these people exist, I think. To avoid that.