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DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Transparency

We are living in a time of unprecedented transparency. At least theoretically. It’s overwhelming with all information we have access to. The internet is the great demystifier. This transparency movement is led by controversial figures like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange who believe a more informed population is a precursor to a better society. However, a more informed population requires two things: access to quality information and desire to consume it. We can see in, but only if we choose to look. Many actively choose to ignore it.

I wonder how much clarity we gain when we try and look in. With so much information it’s difficult to decipher the signal from the noise, and the deluge of stuff often seems to overwhelm and obfuscate more than illuminate. Besides, transparency doesn’t mean letting everything through unaltered, many times what comes through is modified. It can be dimmed, distorted, faded, or filtered. So transparency doesn’t always reveal everything, sometimes it manipulates, for better or for worse.

With art, I think of transparency as openness and exposure. It’s like peeking through a window to see the process of creation. I am a bit obsessed with process. To me, it’s a view into the artist’s mind. So much information is gained by seeing how something is made. I often find the process way more interesting than the finished product. I like to examine all the tools and techniques, and I love hearing artists nerd-out over the details of making their art. It inspires me. That’s also why I enjoy seeing live music. I love watching each musician in the ensemble contribute to the sound coming off the stage. I can focus in on each contributor and each distinct sound coming out of the instruments. It’s like peeling back the translucent layers of the song and seeing what’s underneath. As I listen, I watch and examine the musicians, the instruments, the effects and pedals, the amps, all the gear. I focus in to see what adjustments they make to create a particular sound. Artists are exposed in a live environment, and we can see everything as it’s being created, warts and all. Complete transparency. It’s pretty exciting, even in the back of a dingy little club.

From Blonde’s classic, Heart of Glass to Autre Ne Veut’s, Age of Transparency, this months playlist is filled with songs of openness, translucence and clarity. The Cincinnati chapter choose theme this month. I wanted to make sure their musical contributions were recognized. I included 90’s alt rockers The Afgan Whigs and the Isley Brothers to represent Cinci. How about that? I had no idea the Isley’s were from Ohio.

Thanks for listening, I hope you enjoy the playlist this month. If you do like these playlists, I would love it if you shared them and please give me a holler on Twitter @jiquin. See you next month.

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