It’s odd to think back on the time—not so long ago—when there were distinct stylistic trends, such as “this season’s colour” or “abstract expressionism” or “psychedelic music.” It seems we don’t think like that any more. There are just too many styles around, and they keep mutating too fast to assume that kind of dominance.
As an example, go into a record shop and look at the dividers used to separate music into different categories. There used to be about a dozen: rock, jazz, ethnic, and so on. Now there are almost as many dividers as there are records, and they keep proliferating. The category I had a hand in starting—ambient music—has split into a host of subcategories called things like “black ambient,” “ambient dub,” “ambient industrial,” “organic ambient” and 20 others last time I looked. A similar bifurcation has been happening in every other living musical genre (except for “classical” which remains, so far, simply “classical”), and it’s going on in painting, sculpture, cinema and dance.