On the Pleasures of Doom Jazz

At some point in the last 15 years, I stopped paying attention to popular music trends. Call it the consequence of aging: after a while, you simply lose the ability to be surprised, and you start either sitting comfortably in what you know you like, or you start exploring newer, more off-beat sounds. Either is reasonable, because as adults, music, especially popular music, no longer occupies the emotional place that it once did. You’ve got a slice of the world to manage; who cares what the kids are listening to?

But I still enjoy the exploration, in finding new things to listen to. As I stopped paying attention to What’s Popular, I became more interested in What’s Good. What I discovered is, almost anything can be. Remembering the Reality Principle (“Whatever exists, fills a need”), I decided that every genre of music has merit, has created tunes worth hearing. I might not be a giant fan of Hip Hop, but I have some in my collection. I like some of it. This is true of anything: country, metal, disco. No matter how much you don’t find it to your tastes, it found an audience. It made its mark. This isn’t to say critical preferences and larger aesthetic distinctions can’t be made, and obviously, there’s no law that says you have to like anything (recall Aesthetic Approach Theory). But it doesn’t hurt to find new things.

Thus, Doom Jazz.

I don’t recall how I became introduced to it, but I’ve found myself listening to Bohren & Der Club of Gore on Spotify. They’re the progenitors of the term “doom jazz”, and they seem to have evolved to the concept by way of adding jazz elements to a drone rock vibe. A bit of Fusion-era Miles, minus the funk.

Obviously, not the thing to listen to when you’re looking for that sugar burst to get your day started. It’s not fun-time. But in the dark heart of a snowy winter, it awakens embers of the heart, recognizes the truths your eyes observe.