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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Sasha Frere-Jones, music critic


1. You’re in a time machine that’s powered by musical zeitgeist: it can traverse the time-space continuum, but its landing coordinates can only be programmed for, say, Manchester, late 70s, or Seattle, circa 1991, etc. Which music scene would you visit, and why?


I’m afraid I wouldn’t get into the machine. I like confronting the present moment. I am here and have been here for a while. This means I have a good shot at keeping track of the many factors that frame and squeeze music into social and aesthetic places. Another time and place might appeal to me, but I’d simply project my fantasies onto the artifacts of that time. I am also fairly committed to checking nostalgia, inasmuch as it is a necessary function of life and needs to be reserved for that purpose. In criticism, nostalgia is deadly acid death juice. 99% of the time, it is simply an excuse to avoid the present, wax lovey dovey about youth (which was pretty great, I admit) and abandon critique. I think people should absolutely do that and have a beer and celebrate the moments of their lives. I do it all the time. At home. But critics need to check that shit. If forced, I would go back to the early 80s in New York to do some fact-checking.

Sasha Frere-Jones is a music critic for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. He keeps a Web log at S/FJ.