Monday, October 14, 2013

Ylvis: What Does the Fox Say? (((and it's not what you think)))

Every generation re-writes the past. We see this in fiction, in film, and in music. The changes that occur are more-often-than-not hidden and difficult to unravel.

The changes that are happening in the landscape of music are in many ways invisible. We've moved past the conversation about the merits and pitfalls of releasing digitally - legal or not - into a conversation about MEANING.

A song is, after all, a message. For a while now, the focus has been on the visuals (eg, Miley's 'Wrecking Ball'), and perhaps the dominance of YouTube as a conversation starter has lead musicians down a path of the visual as opposed to verbal. But, as in nature, the strongest forces are the invisible ones, the ones that can't be measured or monetized. Words are the one things we can all hold on to and make our own (ENTER Lorde).

Sometimes, rarely, a song comes along that both invites and defies understanding. Ylvis' 'What Does the Fox Say' is one of those songs whose message is so wrapped in irony and The Absurd, that it leaves all in its wake, befuddingly knackered.

I've always believed that resonance only takes place when the many layers are hidden and hard to decipher. 'What Does the Fox Say' is not (only) a song about the sounds various animals make. It is a re-invention, a new imagining of a post-modern fairy tale. It is a re-telling, a re-tooling, a neoteric fictive landscape which is at once freakish, fantasic and frightening.

It is a song that recruits manifold layers of sonic textures and tonalities to help tell its tale, reminding us that sound — in-and-of-itself — is a conveyor of 'MESSAGE' (eg, M-O--O-O-R-S-E code) as much as words. And let's not forget how important a role Dance & physical gestures play in the making of that message, how in synch each movement is with each moment of music, how impeccably & perfectly it conveys intention. (for more on this, visit my blog/lecture 'Dance as Analysis: Degrees of Freedom' at SVA)

Questions that are addressed are: Where is the mystery in a world where everything is known? How much can we understand when useless prattle and blather holds sway? How do we eschew Political divisions and blaze our own future/s? How do we express that ancient fear that is embedded in the human condition? How can we escape the confines of our own expectations?

'What Does the Fox Say' is not (only) about all of the things it seems to be on its surface. In many ways, it is that ever-deceptive Sheep wrapped in a Wolf's - or in this case, a Fox's - clothing. The song - words & music - go to our collective abstraction from the wild ( a must-read, Jack Turner's 'The Abstract Wild'), and speaks to a primal, pagan-like connectivity - an admixture of magic, mystery, and the sublime - that we still feel with nature: an enduring continuity that we carry in our voices, bodies and minds.