I couldn’t really tell if the early nineties were a particularly bleaker time than, say, the early eighties or the late noughties, but all I know about this era is how intensely depression-based a large part of US and UK indie rock music happened to be then. Sometimes it just focused on pure, unadultered depression, despair, impotence, or sometimes it blended those opaque medium gray zones with hues of soft pink, like little waves of antidepressants being activated. But the most astonishing thing about this depressive rock scene – call it shoegaze, slowcore, lo-fi in the Silver Jews/Sebadoh style, pre-post-rock, or even dream pop if you think of a band we already talked here, AR Kane – is that it paradoxically was also an extremely vibrant scene, full of little labels and bands and side projects, not all of them great, of course, but very active and prolific, still. Question is, how something as strongly anomie-related than depression can be used as such a rich, almost unlimited fabric for music makers? How can the inability to move, think and feel be transformed into a source of creation and bliss? Well, the answer might be that the musical expression of depression is probably not the same thing as depression’s everyday experience, and that music might have the power to, well, sublime darkness and emotional paralysis. Anyway, Hegel wrote about this much better than me in the music chapter of his infamous lessons of aesthetics, so go and check it if you feel like to. Meanwhile, please do enjoy those gems from what could be called the golden age of depression in music.
4 October 2011