Tuesday, February 04, 2014

All Tomorrow's Parties

The Velvet Underground embodied the flipside of the coin of the mid-1960s Summer of Love era, wallowing in decadence and degeneration, bringing the dark underbelly of the epoch to the surface. Not for the Velvets LSD-tinged visions of euphoric bliss; their songs were shot through and riddled with unflinching references to hard-drug use, brutal sadomasochism, depressing alienation, transvestism, and other seedy aspects of the decadent East Coast musical landscape (particularly the CBGB scene in New York). However, they were also decidedly experimental in their performances, injecting a healthy dose of avant-garde and innovative sensibilities into their music. Amongst other innovations, The Velvets were responsible for extending basic chords into strung-out drones, playing havoc with stereo channels, adding non-traditional rock instruments like the viola (and playing them in an atonal manner), and introducing the highly alien (for the time) concept of guitar feedback to popular music. This sonic experimentation, coupled with their abrasive songwriting, made for an extremely confrontational posture that made them one of the most original rock bands of the 20th century. Check out one of the Velvets' signature numbers, the ominous 'All Tomorrow's Parties', a horrifying, slow-motion descent into hell with its too-descriptive portrayal of the depths of New York's avant-garde scene.


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