Review: Jim Bullington – Sound theories

USA – In Sound System: The Political Power of Music, musician David Randall brilliantly interweaves history, theory and his own personal experiences to explore how music, musicians and social movements have been a part of the contested cultural space that has either acquiesced, challenged or even changed the world around them.

Randall begins his examination of three major modes of cultural analysis, starting with the German thinker Theodor Adorno’s critique of mass culture and the culture industry.

Adorno, writes Randall, saw the U.S. not as “the land of the free,” where originality and creativity were in abundance, but as a society more akin to Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia, with the drab confines of approved state culture dominant and ruling the day.

In his writings, Adorno seethed with disdain for the simplicity and dumbed-down profitable cultural mass commodification that he viewed as prevalent in American society.

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