To reflect on the summer of 2020 would be an undertaking worth an entire section of any book, but I’ll summarize a few of my thoughts here. At the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote of the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic had rapidly exposed rampant inequity in the socio-political policy of the United States; in June and July, the rug that covered any remaining semblances of hope for a future within our current societal structure was ripped away. I’ve always leaned towards the cynical when thinking about our current moment, with the goal of reimagining structure to be founded on both financial and social equity and inclusivity. These last months have reminded me that the equitable future I may have spent my time dreaming of is an urgent reality.
The veneer of change that colors rhetoric must be transformed into concrete policy. We talk a lot about how this moment is a great moment of change, a moment made of that urgency that I’ve mentioned above. And perhaps this moment has “radicalized” you, perhaps it has shown you the ways in which governance by fear tactics is antithesis to democracy. Perhaps this moment has reminded you why you believe in what you do. I would say that these are the lessons we will take away from living in quarantine, or at least the ones we should.
With tumultuous uncertainty comes disillusionment, and I’m working to convert those feelings of despair into something more fruitful. I’ve looked towards hope as a guiding force: I acknowledge and disavow the evils around us, but I refuse to believe we can do nothing to make them change. We can adapt, we can keep trying. If we’re in this together, it’s possible — democracy is, after all, made to propagate to the voice of the people. I do realize my words may seem like empty platitudes, but I mean them as more of an attempt to be optimistic in a time where optimism lacks in abundance. My small platform should be used for empowerment, and I will stick to my naive sense of hope for as many days as I have left on this Earth, for I know that life is more than fear. It has to be.
Music, of course, cannot be dissociated from the current state of affairs. The disruption of live performance continues (though, we’ve had some socially distant concerts, notably Bang on a Can’s two live events at MASS MoCA last weekend). One platform that has come through as a beacon of light for the industry is Bandcamp — their Bandcamp Fridays initiative, which has directly paid $20 million dollars to artists/labels, is one example of a company doing their best to step in during a time where the world of music is struggling. As we continue on the path of pandemic restoration, I’m curious to watch music evolve, and I hold on to that hope for the best there, too.
And while the concert stage may be a little more silent than usual, you can still enjoy music from the safety of your home. Here’s a list of albums I’ve loved from the last two months, with context. It’s Bandcamp Friday today, which means that your money, if you choose to purchase any music on their platform today, will go to the artist/label in full. Happy listening!
Ashlee Booth, Adam Lion, & Matt Nelson, Live (self-released)
Nomi Epstein, Sounds (New Focus Recordings)
David Lang & Lorelei Ensemble, love fail (Cantaloupe Music)
Moor Mother & Olof Melander, ANTHOLOGIA 01 (Don Giovanni Records)
Alexander Sigman, VURT Cycle (New Focus Recordings)
Bing & Ruth, Species (4AD)
Jacob Cooper, Terrain (New Amsterdam Records)
Deerhoof/Wadada Leo Smith, To Be Surrounded By Beautiful, Curious, Breathing, Laughing Flesh Is Enough (Joyful Noise Recordings)
Evicshen, Hair Birth (American Dreams Records)
Glass Salt, Greetings (Whatever’s Clever)
Qasim Naqvi, Beta (Erased Tapes)