June 14, 2011

Morning Synth

There is a small iPod dock, sitting under the counter at work. The reception being what it is, we have two options: The local NPR affiliate, or the even more local student radio station. The former has Morning Edition and All Things Considered going for it, but classical music in the interim, which I haven't the education or temperament for.

Student radio is something of a mixed bag; though the bag is mixed slightly differently depending on the DJ at the time. Usually, the mornings alternate between less than mainstream hip hop (the sort with something of a narrative and coherent lyrics, lacking bass heavy dance loops) and less than clubworthy electronic music (also lacking synthy dance loops, as well as some of the trancier elements). 

Neither of these are typical cafe music; at least, that's the impression I've gleaned from my experience and customers. Which is to say, basically, that neither are indy rock or jazz. Neither are as quiet or introspective as those either, which may seem to some to contradict the conventionally thought of cafe ethic. 

Neither are, in short, the sort of thing you might listen to while wearing thick rimmed glasses, an Autumn colored flannel, skinny jeans, and carefully haphazard semi-long hair. They are more reminiscent of very different aesthetics; though not as different as if the music were the kind noted in the above parentheses.

But it works, I think. Coffee bars are, at their best, active places. Though they are often though of as quiet, communal gathering places, or deathly silent study halls, they are more often places of quick comings and goings, a transition from this point in the day to the next. This activity is accented by the grinding and whirring and tapping and hissing, punctuated by the transactions and hand-offs themselves.

They are not quite dance clubs, of course, and though the aesthetic needn't be as thoroughly dredged in hipster as is often assumed, it probably isn't mixers and faux-hawks either.

Though truthfully, it isn't the aesthetic I'm concerned about, so much as the attitude. Whatever music is playing at a cafe isn't so much entertainment as it's a soundtrack. And in so far as that's the case, I prefer a soundtrack which sets an upbeat tempo, one where things happen, and happen quickly, with maybe a little too much gusto.

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