"The alluring, addictive sound of pop does still evolve, but what is sung about remains more or less the same; the poses, controversies and costumes repetitive and derivative. It is machines that are now the new pop stars, the performers and singers like travelling sales workers whose ultimate job is to market phones, tablets, consoles, films, brands and safely maintain the illusion that the world is just as it was when there was vinyl and the constant, frantic turnover of talent, genre and style. There is today a tremendous amount of sentimentality in making it seem as though things are as they once were, a desperate future-fearing rearrangement of components that were hip 40 years ago. But pop and rock belongs at the end of the 20th century, in a structured, ordered world that has now fallen apart.
Morley has been writing about classical music with fiery energy over at Sinfini for a couple of years now... Indeed the Guardian piece seems to be something of a remix of this manifesto-like oration (his keynote speech at the 2014 conference of the Association of British Orchestras) as well parts of this 2013 appreciation of Holst's The Planets. *
It's quite a self-reinvention. One that appears to date back to the extraordinary impact on him of The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross. (See also that learning to be a composer TV program Morley made).
Except it's not really a self-reinvention, in fact it's the same Morley as ever. Read the whole of that Guardian article, look at the Sinfini columns, and you'll notice that he's simply transposed the way he wrote about JoyDivisionSmithsAutechre onto DebussyMozartShostakovich, barely adjusting the style or approach. And showing once again how unabashedly subjective his writing always has been.... how the real music here is the "song of myself" that is his life's work... The writing is really about the places that music takes his mind, the journeys on which it propels his thought, the effect on one individual's consciousness of organised sounds.... and not so much about pointing to intrinsic properties or features that the music might have in and of itself....
That's not a criticism.
That's what we all do to, to some extent. He's just more honest about it.
* The Planets was actually my favorite classical work as a boy, rivalled by Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony maybe. Used to lie on the coverlet of my parents double bed, bathed in the sunlight streaming through the big glass window, and drift off as "Neptune, the Mystic" wafted out of our old-fashioned wood-encased radiogram.