"Truth that is naked is the most beautiful, and the simpler its expression the deeper is the impression it makes."
- Arthur Schopenhauer
How do we approach HONESTY in an art form that requires artifice? Sounds layered and constructed, extruded through filters, stretched, and unravelled are reassembled into a stream of vibrations that the ear detects and translates into a mental impression. Noises and words appear? What do they mean? What do they come to mean?
And yet. And yet, by means of a short-circuit between impulse and action, sometimes, or painstaking application of mindful attention, at others, music can converge on TRUTH. Honesty becomes the avoidance of unintended misdirection. An effort to capture, as far as possible, evidence of a consciousness in reverberation with the universe.
Without artifice there would be silence.
The Concept Album
Much derided, often falling short, the concept album nevertheless gives the songwriter/band/artist and listener a forum for a big adventure, a wild ride. The concept album is a novel in musical form.
Subject Matter for a Song
What a wonderful discovery for the songwriter to realize that songs can be about anything. There is no limit or constraint to the appropriate subject matter. Love, history, fantasy, philosophy, biography, science. Why not? Songs can inspire and transport, perplex and infuriate. Bad songs say nothing, good songs say something, simple as that.
Imperfect categories that seem to tempt transgression.
Does it matter who I am, what else I do or have done? The music could exist suspended in an anonymous vacuum, like a satellite floating in the void. But people, some people, like me, want to know about the artist they're listening to, refract the listening through the prism of the meta-story. So, here it is:
In the midst of recording his first studio album, 'nylon,' Martin G. Walker began work on a separate and completely different project -- songs exploring philosophical, psychological, historical themes. Incorporating snippets of found sound from around New York, Walker also began exploring how the recording process itself could become part of the art. This project took Walker outside himself. The music, it seemed, was passing through him not emanating from him. A song about the imagined inner life of Arthur Schopenhauer prompted the adoption of the moniker Art Schop.
Born in the UK, Walker studied Physics at the University of Oxford, where he learned that he would not be a physicist -- there were others better suited to that pursuit. Needing to make a living and lacking other ideas, he took up as a computer programmer. In the workplace he learned that he also lacked the interest in the world of business and commerce to find this life fulfilling. He began writing music.
Walker has also written a book of philosophy that connects the universal laws governing the physical world with the foundation of human morality and the meaning of life. And, when not working on music, he has written (mostly unpublished) fiction.
Walker moved to New York, inspired by watching Sonic Youth videos on MTV. He lives in Brooklyn.
The Art Schop albums Death Waits I and Death Waits II were recorded over the course of several years in collaboration with the musical genius Jimi Zhivago. Jimi sadly passed away in November 2018. Jimi was a loyal friend and tireless musical partner. He will be very greatly missed.