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Outsider music and strange music

Parent categories: space age pop - outsider - music

Incredibly Strange Music (Re/Search ; 14) (1992) - Vale, Andrea Juno [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Outsider music is music performed either by social outsiders, who have no or few associates in the mainstream music business, or by musicians who choose to live and work in seclusion, often due to compromising behavioral or psychological conditions. Outsider music reflects these conditions in various ways. Lyrics are often bizarre or emotionally stark and songs may show a great ignorance or disregard for structural conventions or popular trends in mainstream music. Also, outsider musicians frequently have no formal training and/or significant music skills in the traditional sense. The end result is music that is much stranger and more abrasive than more popular musical styles. Outsider music is a form of outsider art.

By definition, outsider music has very few outlets and most outsider musicians (save those such as Syd Barrett and Skip Spence who became popular before becoming recluses) come to be known through word of mouth, usually among communities of music collectors. Only a few, including Tiny Tim and Wesley Willis, have achieved much renown outside of a small coterie of devotees. Outsider music is frequently praised by musicians with experimental leanings, such as avant-garde jazz saxophonist John Zorn. Kurt Cobain of Nirvana famously wore a shirt designed by outsider Daniel Johnston, whom Cobain admired.

Some outsider musicians are famously awful and most of their audience considers them to be a surreal comedy act, something many of these performers realize and embrace. Examples include Florence Foster Jenkins, an American soprano who sang ear-splitting renditions of compositions far outside her range and Eilert Pilarm, a Swedish Elvis impersonator known for his utter lack of resemblance to Elvis Presley. A majority of outsider artists, however, are honestly appreciated for their unique and uncompromising styles of music.

The definitive guide to outsider music is Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music (2000) by music journalist and radio personality Irwin Chusid. The book profiles several relatively well known outsider musicians and gives a definition to the term. The book inspired two companion compilation CDs, sold separately.

Important outsider musicans include,

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outsider_music [May 2006]

Incredibly Strange Music (Re/Search ; 14) (1992) - Vale, Andrea Juno

Introduced explicitly as the title of two 1993 volumes by Re/Search, an avant-garde publication based in San Francisco. As covered in these books, this label includes everything from Exotica as described above to sound effects, serious and comic and unintentionally comic spoken word, and stag party records, to Moog synthesizers, to outrageous foreign covers of U.S. pop hits. The two ISM volumes helped spark current interest in exotica, though, with interviews that brought the names of Martin Denny, Korla Pandit, and Yma Sumac to a new generation, and led to release of two CD compilations of music mentioned in the book. --http://www.spaceagepop.com/whatis.htm#ism [Feb 2006]

Songs in the Key of Z : The Curious Universe of Outsider Music (2000) - Irwin Chusid

Songs in the Key of Z : The Curious Universe of Outsider Music (2000) - Irwin Chusid [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Irwin Chusid, based in Hoboken, New Jersey, is a record producer, journalist (Film Comment, Mojo, The New York Times, Mix, New York Press, Pulse), and self-described "landmark preservationist" who once stated, "I find things on the scrapheap of history that I know don't belong there and salvage them." A radio personality for more than three decades, he can be heard in the New York/New Jersey area (and on the web) on the freeform radio station WFMU. Between 1997-2002 he was the co-host (with Michelle Boulé) of the Incorrect Music Hour on WFMU. Since 1975, he has been a DJ on the station, where he continues to host an unpredictable and idiosyncratic program every Wednesday between noon and 3pm. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irwin Chusid [May 2006]

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