When was the last time you heard someone say in earnest that they don’t like music? You’ve probably never heard anyone say it seriously, because music is universal – there will always be some form of music that someone out there will love listening to, no matter how simple, complex, deafening or dainty it is.
It has been argued since time immemorial that the greatest and most powerful music can bring people together. People who know and love each other often have that one song that’s ‘their song’, complete strangers can embrace under the dizzying lights of a festival stage and there’s always a cathartic buzz to be felt when finding out someone else is really into the same artists as you are.
Some genres were clearly meant to be enjoyed by and discussed between fellow enthusiasts (this applies to pretty much everything under the nebulous umbrella of ‘dance music’), but some genres allow listeners to switch off from their humdrum lives and fully indulge their introversions, which is a truly liberating experience.
These are the ‘lonely genres’ – the genres you devote an entire day to, not speaking or sharing thoughts with anyone but yourself. The Granddaddy of all lonely genres is post-rock.
When it comes to a post-rock album, there’s only one way to listen to it – from start to finish, completely absorbed in every movement. Really, there’s no other way to listen to it. An album like F♯ A♯ ∞ by Godspeed You! Black Emperor only has three tracks, coming in at 16:28, 17:58 and 29:02, so there’s not much room to skip to your favourite song or put it on shuffle. It forces you to pay attention to song structure, the timbre and even the silence, which in turn compels you to shut out the world around you. Once you do, you’ll feel the introvert’s emancipation – the freedom of being inside your own mind.
The same enthusiasm and pleasure you might exude from discussing, for example, the latest Kanye album, also finds an outlet when you listen to a post-rock track and think to yourself, “damn, this three minute long delayed double picking is so poignant”, before imagining what kind of post-apocalyptic setting would be most fitting to accompany the piece.
It feels like there’s no need to tell anyone else about it, because only you can fully appreciate the very particular way a certain track or album makes you feel. Each experience is complete with personalised imaginings that sit comfortably within a singular mind. It’s a sort of desolate happiness that is unattainable outside these lonely genres, which makes it feel all the more special.
The immensely engrossing Spaces by Nils Frahm also gives a sense of isolated enjoyment, along with a great deal of other neo-classical records. It’s a challenge to listen to ‘Says’ without shedding a single tear because it’s so beautifully constructed, but when that single tear rolls delicately down your cheek, it’s your tear and your moment, unspoiled and too perfect to be shared with anyone else.
Lonely genres are the best, because they’re allowed to sit outside the realm of petulant arguments about who had the better album in 2013 out of Danny Brown and Earl Sweatshirt. They’re the best because you can paint a picture in your mind of the rebellious open mic attendee who speaks on ‘Blaise Bailey Finnegan III’ in all his beautiful, on-the-edge-of-insane glory. They’re the best because Sigur Rós doesn’t just make you think of a bunch of people making music, it’s luscious green landscapes, dragons and captivating, imaginary language.
Lonely genres offer a form of escapism that requires no effort to indulge in – just sit, relax and let your mind wander in harmonious solitude.