I’m always thrilled to stumble upon a stretch of text wherein someone skillfully notices and explains a deep example of expertise. Here’s one from a recent Pitchfork Review by Gabriel Szatan:
Typically, producer-DJs absconding from the dancefloor will strip out the low end entirely, as if to prove they don’t rely on kick drums as a crutch. The separator on Half Moon Bay is how much Tomu DJ retains. The album’s opening two tracks hover around 130-145 bpm, respectively—very pacy indeed for ostensibly mellow music. Even when tempos decelerate, her downtempo has an uptempo gait. Chatty hi-hats, beat switches, and snare rolls float around like club music’s afterimage, injecting unusual insistency into a field that can sometimes struggle to justify its stasis.
To me, it doesn’t matter that I’m not familiar with the artist about which the critic is writing or the context the critic is providing. What matters is the critic/writer’s precision and the care she takes to wield it in service of presenting an artist in context.
As a teacher and leader, I aspire to be able to articulate to others the precise ways in which they are excelling. That’s one end of good feedback, often neglected, and it’s not easy.
And as a practitioner in a variety of fields and contexts of my own, I appreciate the potent reminder: greatness is uniquely intentional and beautifully effortful.