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Listening to unpalatable music grows appreciation for the arts


I love music. I think that it is one of the most important parts of our culture and the most effective way to express emotion to a large audience of people at once. Other than metal, I’ve never gotten very into dark or disturbing music though. 

About a year ago, I discovered the band Throbbing Gristle. They almost exclusively play unnerving music. Their songs usually feature ambient synth noises, distorted vocals or legit screaming. Also, their subject matter is usually just as dark. The first two songs I listened to were about a person disfigured in a car crash and a little girl in a concentration camp.  

I was not ready for the music and listening to them made me emotional. It made me want to throw up and cry. Because of this, I dismissed the band as simply edgy and tried to forget about it.  

It would linger on my mind like a bug bite that you can’t stop scratching. I showed some of my friends because I wanted to talk about it. They were almost as disturbed as I was. We discussed the music and then avoided talking about it. 

It became an inside joke between us. We would threaten each other with playing it during our hangouts or add the songs to playlists to surprise us later. One of my friends started listening to them more, and I think that he started to understand Throbbing Gristle because we started talking about them more. I also started actively listening to them. 

The music was fascinating. It sounded bad, but it made you physically nauseous, sad or fearful when you listened. I have never experienced another piece of art or music have the same effect on me. 

I gained respect for the band and a bit of embarrassment for not knowing about them. I also started appreciating disturbing art and music more. I relistened to “Everywhere at the End of Time” by The Caretaker and started loving the paintings of Otto Dix and Salvador Dali. It felt like a whole new world of art and music had been opened to me since I was now more comfortable being uncomfortable. 

I don’t think that enough people appreciate the darker side of art since it is harder to take time to understand it and its history than it is to write it off. I know that I was definitely in that group. Go out and try to watch, listen to or see something that makes you uncomfortable. Then try to understand it. Hopefully, you eventually end up with a new appreciation for that art. 

Also, context is important. Going into the deep end without any information on the media you are taking in is brutal. Simple research, even if it’s only a little, can vastly change the feel of a piece. 

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Lucas Ratliff
Lucas Ratliff, Reporter
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