Sunday, July 11, 2010


As proponents of alternative medicine (and fans of human gullibility in its more hilariously sad forms) know, homeopathy involves treating illness with extraordinarily diluted solutions—basically, distilled water with incredibly tiny amounts of once-medicinal substances dissolved in them. Indeed, some say the point is to retain only the "memory" of the original substance in the water, and the greater the degree of dilution, the more powerful the effect on the afflicted person.

I think there's potential here. Not in the realm of health—I'm a big believer in taking actual medicine to cure disease. But in the realm of music criticism.

I've experimented with something similar in the past, reviewing improv albums after a single listen (the theory being, "they played it once, I'll listen to it once"). But now I'm gonna take it to the next level, so to speak.

Going forward, I'll be adopting a homeopathic approach to criticism. When I have to review a CD, I'm going to listen to no more than 10 random seconds from somewhere in the middle of the disc, preferably while doing something else that's occupying my full attention. Then I'll go wander around and live my life and do all the other things I've got to do for a week, or ten days, or however long it takes, until I can barely remember what those ten seconds of music sounded like. And then I'll write my review, and it will be much more powerful and incisive than anything I've written before.

[note to all my editors: I'm kidding.]


Tony Renner said...

that sounds like a lot of reviews that Creem published in the '70s...!

Phil Freeman said...

Richard Meltzer was famous for reviewing albums he never even cracked the shrink-wrap on; he'd talk about the cover art, or the press release, or something else entirely. I'm sure it was all very amusing to his fellow critics.