Mood music: Be proud of your coffee table tunes – Mixmag
People can get very uppity about music that feels domesticated. From the Boomkat online store using âpalatableâ as an insult for Jamie xx to a magazine reviewer calling a Moby record âso innocuously dull that the nationâs coffee tables will soon be dyeing their hair and piercing their noses in protestâ, thereâs always someone willing to make out that pleasant, home-listening music is inauthentic. The phrase âcoffee table musicâ is even in the Collins English Dictionary, defined as âunadventurousâ.
Itâs easy to see how these descriptions become instruments of snobbery, especially for people in the Mixmag world, whose relationship to music is tied up with excitement, adventure and identity. We all want to feel our tastes are superior to our mumsâ and dadsâ and vanilla schoolfriendsâ, who married their childhood sweethearts and sit at home with their Coldplay and Adele and whimsical ukulele cover versions from cringey adverts. Yes, there is something special about tearing jungle tunes, or grime bangers, or 15-minute Ricardo Villalobos epics, or experimental ambient head-melts; something thatâll never be fully apparent over coffee and biscuits at 3pm. And itâs true that plenty of horrible, twee musical crimes have been committed in the name of comfort and cosiness â or âhyggeâ as the lifestyle columns would have us call it now.
But start thinking like that too much â get stuck in the âyou need to get out moreâ mindset â and you miss out on something very important about simple, gentle, home listening music. Because far from just being a bland background catalyst, some of the most intense emotional experiences people have with music happens in domestic surroundings. Whether itâs teenagers holed up in a bedroom, playing each other tunes, a family get-together with music that all generations accept, friends setting the world to rights over a drink or a smoke or a pot of tea, whatever: the soundtrack to your intimate conversations, to the time that you spend away from the public routines and rituals that make you who you supposedly, âofficiallyâ areâ¦ it matters.