Ever since music was able to be played for the masses, there has been a counter-cultural aspect to it, often wielded as a social tool by the masses to speak out on issues typically discussed in a hushed tone. From fiercely political music, to the intensely personal variety, to the outright revolutionary, the art form has taken on, and reflected, the mood of the times, and has in turn, influenced the thinking of generations.
The current crop of music has embraced this rebellious, anti-establishment spirit of music across the spectrum. While explicitly political music – in terms of the lyrics – still exists in abundance, there is an increasing tendency to display this irreverence through the music as a whole – to make the listener uncomfortable, to question their notions of what defines ‘good’ music and hence change music itself. There are several proponents of this visceral sort of a listening experience, but two unconventional musicians, having released albums within a short span of each other, exemplify this trend – rapper and musical anarchist Danny Brown, and master of the insular, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Both these musicians have different approaches to their music, each unconventional and left-of-field in their own way, with Danny being the in-your-face troubled rockstar, and Justin being the esoteric recluse. And Atrocity Exhibition and 22, A Million, Danny and Bon Iver’s respective albums, are the peak of their disregard for musical conventions. And their (un)holy results are stunning, in more ways than one.