Album: Cortar Todo
Critic: Sonia de Jager
Publication: The Quietus, 2015
Writing Disorders: Jargon Palsy, Ambiguity Sickness, Detachment Syndrome
Sonia, this is probably the silliest review I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot, so naturally I have a few questions. First and foremost: Who writes about music like this, and why do they do it? Well, assuming I’ve got the right Sonia de Jager, you speak five languages — a humbling feat — but if English isn’t your native tongue, then The Quietus might have at least posted a disclaimer saying, “All the nutty stuff you’re about to read is translated from the Dutch.”
And before anyone accuses me of language imperialism or something, read some of Sonia’s review first. Then convince me it’s all just a linguistic snafu and not the result of someone so Borg-assimilated into academia that this is really how she writes. The word “transmundane” doesn’t wind up in a music review if someone’s feeding phrases into Google Translate.
Regardless of all that, Sonia, I kept expecting to read: “It’s been eight hours since I washed down the mushrooms with a fifth of green fairy.” At least that could have explained some of the more grandiloquent nonsense in your review. And believe me, there was a LOT of grandiloquent nonsense. Seriously, what is half this stuff?
“there lurks a promise of bifurcation of timelines between ultimate freedom from incertitude or eternal damnation…”
“The experience, as if an exploration into phenomenology, is challenging if one is unwilling to let go of expectancy”
Speaking of challenging, are you describing music or your time on the Event Horizon? We ARE talking about an album here, right? An album of music? Those bits I quoted aren’t even isolated — your whole review drifts between bookish jargon and the kind of stuff adults might read in their high school journals and then burn in embarrassment:
“The truth is, as any other reality we might be willing to consume; in this new album we can be found in being lost.”
“Listening to this record feels like attempting to escape from a beast inevitable, which is in turn trying to hide itself away from us.”
Really? Is that REALLY what listening to a collection of songs feels like? Hell, even if it did, what does it MEAN? By the end of your review I couldn’t make heads or tails of what this band sounds like, and I don’t chalk that up to my limited intellect. Frankly I don’t even want to find out because I’m afraid if I listen to the album you’ll come crawling out of my speakers and murder me.
Sonia, another reason I think you’re bookish beyond any human good is your detachment. It’s the most telltale sign of misplaced academic writing, and you took it to new heights in your review. Of course there’s the expected use of “one” and “us” instead of “I” and “me,” but you went a step further:
“Let the ear be the judge.”
“remind the ear of previous encounters”
That’s weird enough, but something really nutty happens when you pair detachment with bizarre specifics, a “strange combination,” you might say:
“Sonic traditions which remind one of processional marches, 19th century factory machinery, fists in the face, but also of unceasing waterfalls, defibrillators, and the inner workings of warm-blooded animals.”
Sonia, this is why I get annoyed when people don’t use the first person in reviews. Sonic traditions which remind “ONE” of all that stuff in tandem? If there was ever an appropriate time to use the word “me” in a music review, that was it.
And it’s not like any of it — the detachment, the jargon, the weird metaphors — clarify your insight about the music. Most of the time you just seem hell-bent on confusing the reader, in this case “me”:
“Leaving the proverbial (and irrelevant) trail of breadcrumbs is perhaps to be advised — or discouraged.”
I’m sorry…what? Are we supposed to leave the breadcrumbs or not? What’s the point if they’re irrelevant? And since you wrote “discouraged” after the dash, does that mean you’re slyly suggesting we shouldn’t leave the breadcrumbs? Besides, won’t the beast inevitable find the bread, follow the trail and find us…or is it still trying to hide away from us, so it’s safe to leave the breadcrumbs? Sonia, JUST TELL ME WHAT THE F**K I SHOULD DO WITH THIS BREAD!
Eek. Sonia, teachable moment here. I get the impression you’re a really interesting person IN person, someone who’s traveled the world, followed her fascinations and taken plenty of notes along the way. And that’s great. But if this review is any indication, you’re not very good at putting thoughts to paper without sounding like the Duchess of Dull. Some things may demand such a stone-heavy hand on the pen, but not music. Not music.