Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Off The Beaten Path

I wanted to take a break from my usual direction of album/music writing and comment on something a little off topic. Defiance, OH is an amazingly cool band. They play a brand of acoustic punk that pretty much wipes the floor with other bands in there genre and most bands in general. They have four new songs released for something called this Icarus Project, which is the subject of interest for this entry.

The project is dedicated to creating space for greater understanding of those who have been diagnosed as mentally insane. The idea being challenged here is that too often societies create a narrow room for behavior and self-understading. Instead of classifying those who live outside of the norm as suffering from chronic illness, they should be understood as people seeing the world through a neglected lens. It's a contention that human suffering and plight are to often are placed on individual responsibility rather than society as a whole. You can find more information at the host site.

I wanted to dive into the notion of society being a the source of suffering and it correlation with the ideological undercurrent of Punk music as a whole. Anarchism and Punk are inextricably linked, and every adolescent romantic who hates "the system" knows it. Behold, the radical revolution!

What makes this project provocative to me is that it challenges the passive nature of participation within a musical context. Most genres do not require the same kind of historical/social responsibility that Punk does. This isn't to dismiss all the other crowds who would object to such an assertion, it's just that there isn't a lot of experimental space in the genre, so it's only natural that fans end up disseminating into accompanying watering holes, which brings us to the genius of the Icarus project. When madness can finds itself in human form, rather than an ideology/political argument that dies with a record deal, it's harder to walk away from or dismiss. This is Anarchism in the flesh, a human being located outside the lines, asking not for only social recognition, but self-affirmation by challenging collective awareness and responsibility. Music, no matter what form, should aspire to the same kind of moral high ground.

The vanity of Rock and Roll doesn't seem to be leaving anytime soon, but the loudest voices define themselves by those they drown out. Big props to Defiance, OH for supporting this project, and much love to the Icarus people for the courage to bring together all those who deserve a voice. Priceless.

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