Art rock brings the world of high art to the realm of rock music. Although these two elements seem incompatible, their combination sounds natural and complete. The rock subgenre was born from the musical minds of the likes of Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, and Frank Zappa.
In the early 1960s, rock music was still heavy and loud. This music was wildly loved by young people and had an amateur charm. Once the nascent genre found its way into the minds and hands of more classically trained musicians, adventurous rockers, and sophisticated performers, art rock began to take shape.
The sound of the genre
No two art rock bands sound the same. That’s the beauty of the genre. In general, the projects are entertaining, if a little brainy. Producing can be dynamic and even rich with live instruments. In many cases, it feels like the music is from a soundtrack because the album moves the listener through a story or theme.
More experimental and ambitious art rock musicians such as Tom Waits and the Talking Heads use non-traditional instruments. In most cases it is eclectic and cultural music.
People love listening to art rock bands because they are challenging. Their goal is not just to please the listener, but to enlighten and impress him. Often the sounds you hear are captured, and sometimes you have to go back and figure out the arrangement.
Ask questions: what instruments do they use, how many people were involved in the creation of this song? What is the literary influence? Like a beautiful Van Gough in a museum, sometimes art rock albums take time to digest. Rock music has always been an art, but art rock emphasizes this point, making high-browed purists recognize what they admire. So listening to art rock can straighten your back and evoke feelings of class and prestige.
Contemporary art rock
As we move deeper and deeper into the 21st century, art rock music grows and finds itself in the work of non-art rock musicians. For example, bands such as The Roots and artists such as Joanna Newsom use art rock themes such as literary references and deep lyricism in their rock music. Their music is not just entertaining, it is intellectually stimulating.
Prominent art-rock artists of this age include St. Vincent and Arcade Fire. Many clips of St. Vincent, especially during the Massedduction era, are reminiscent of the New York art-pop scene of the 1960s. Arcade Fire brings an orchestral quality to its rock music and greatly increases the level of complexity of its arrangements.
As a high art form, art rock has endured its fair share of academic criticism. Academics such as Bruce Bau have criticized art rock for violating the proper standards of rock criticism. Rock and roll, in his opinion, should be considered by the “matter” of music, and not by its “composition”.
In other words, enjoy the music because it makes you feel, not because it’s more complex and sophisticated. The popularity of art rock, Baugh believes, has disrupted critical understanding of rock music and its traditional form. There was nothing wrong with it, and new artists could improve it without plunging into the overly intellectual art-rock band.
More and more musicians are incorporating art rock into their work. For example, some songs from the Foxing album Draw Down The Moon sound amazing in the concert hall thanks to the collaboration of the Manchester Orchestra.
What’s more, Ye’s stadium performances during his historic Donda rally blur the lines between art and music. With better recording technology and greater access to other forms of art via the internet, the potential for art rock musicians is limitless.