B-Sides: How Many Paths to Alternative Music Can You Follow? (Infographic)
An impressive infographic reveals the tracks rock music has covered in the wake of its alternative.
Those with an enthusiasm for the series Stranger Things are very likely to appreciate at least two details of the story. First, the musical references, taken from multiple subgenres of the rock music of the 1980s, each of which decisively contributed to the success of the series by appealing to nostalgia in its audience. Next is the idea of the “inverse” of the real world in the series, an “upside down” like Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass, or the concept of parallel universes in modern astrophysics or even of Borges’ Garden of Forking Paths. All of these suggest the possibility that the world we live in has an identical, albeit inverse reflection, which is, at least in theory, possible to access.
The metaphor is undoubtedly very attractive. Within the framework of the series it could draw an unexpected connection with a practice that’s fallen into disuse but which was very common only a few decades ago: listening to the B-sides of 45 RPM records. The brief rituals of flipping over the vinyl once the A-side track has ended, and like Alice or the characters in Stranger Things, discover that other side.
Not for nothing, the image of the “B-side” was for a time rather expressive in that it symbolized that something else, an alternative that was usually relegated to the background. Music producers would bet everything on the A-side, the main song, without knowing that perhaps the other side held some unexpected surprises.
In that spirit of exploration and openness to discovery, below you’ll find what is undoubtedly an admirable infographic attempting to explore the alternative rock scenes of the 1980s. Starting with the four big poles – The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Joy Division and The Smiths – designer James Quail elaborated a broad roadmap to a genre that, without anyone having foreseen it, followed and charted an intricate, surprising and, in many cases, deep creativity.
The infographic, moreover, is presented as a diagram of a radio transistor, that medium without which the history of rock music would not have existed. In this sense, it invites us to ask ourselves what will happen to music in the digital age, the age of dematerialization we live in now.
Maps often encourage distraction and fantasy. This infographic is no exception. Perhaps many of us might like to dust off our tapes and cassette players and, with no intention beyond sheer enjoyment, we might follow the influences this image maps of the random paths of alternative music.
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