Mu­sic

How see­ing bands like Su­per­or­gan­ism can ex­tend your life.

New Zealand Listener - - CON­TENTS - by James Belfield

Su­per­or­gan­ism

News just to hand: my live mu­sic habit is help­ing me live longer. Ac­cord­ing to new re­search done for the Bri­tish mu­sic venue owner O2, just 20 min­utes of a con­cert will boost my well-be­ing by a ­whop­ping 21%. This com­pares with just 10% for yoga (the mat can keep gath­er­ing dust be­hind the telly) and 7% for dog-walk­ing (sorry, Cooper).

Pa­trick Fa­gan, an ex­pert in be­havioural sci­ence at Gold­smiths, Univer­sity of Lon­don, has as­signed me an ex­tra nine years of life, then, though it’s not clear whether he’s taken into ac­count the gin and beer that usu­ally go hand-in-hand with gig-go­ing. And it’s de­bat­able whether I should take as gospel re­search com­mis­sioned by a com­pany whose venue “has wel­comed over 60 mil­lion vis­i­tors and sold 20 mil­lion tick­ets since open­ing in 2007”. But there’s no doubt this pop sci­ence goes to the nub of why so many of us are so be­sot­ted with sound­track­ing our lives: it just makes us feel bet­ter.

Plenty of hard re­search finds a link be­tween mu­sic and healthy brain func­tion: a meta-anal­y­sis of 400 stud­ies in 2013 looked at the ef­fects of ev­ery­thing from drum­ming cir­cles and com­mu­nity choirs to the use of mu­sic-based treat­ments to re­duce pre-surgery anx­i­ety and con­cluded that “the ev­i­dence for the ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects of mu­sic on re­ward, mo­ti­va­tion, plea­sure, stress, arousal, im­mu­nity, and so­cial af­fil­i­a­tion is mount­ing”. But you don’t need sci­ence to de­tect the hairs ris­ing on the back of your neck when you hear an old favourite on the ra­dio or come across a new band.

My most re­cent dose of joy-boost­ing dis­cov­ery was watch­ing ­Su­per­or­gan­ism on Later … With Jools Hol­land and re­al­is­ing that although they were billed as “a con­glom­er­a­tion of in­ter­na­tional folk who met on the in­ter­net”,

I was watch­ing a new per­mu­ta­tion of Wellington-born indie pop-rock odd­sters the Ever­sons.

Now de­camped to a shared house in Lon­don, the Ki­wis have made some at­ten­tion-grab­bing ad­di­tions, in­clud­ing 17-year-old for­mer fan Orono Noguchi as front­woman and a grow­ing num­ber of globe-span­ning band­mates, and they’re mak­ing real waves with their pe­cu­liar brand of won­der­fully warped, geek-chic bub­blegum pop.

Their habit of cut­ting and past­ing glee­ful sounds – gig­gling ba­bies, splashing

wa­ter, cash reg­is­ter pings, mar­vel­lously ma­nip­u­lated record­ings of self-help guru Tony Robbins – into play­ground beats and then let­ting Noguchi’s bored-child de­liv­ery glue the whole thing to­gether cre­ate a mu­si­cal equiv­a­lent to a kid’s glit­tery scrap­book.

On their new self-ti­tled al­bum, such songs as It’s All Good, Ev­ery­body Wants to

You don’t need sci­ence to de­tect the hairs ris­ing on the back of your neck when you come across a new band.

be Fa­mous, The Prawn Song and No­body Cares have a car­toon­ish ef­fect: it’s okay to smile at the lines “I know you think I’m a psy­chopath/A Demo­crat lurk­ing in the dark”.

Maybe that’s the se­cret those re­searchers are try­ing to win­kle out of stud­ies into the ef­fects of lis­ten­ing to mu­sic: those smiles are re­ally the spe­cial sauce that’s help­ing us live longer. SU­PER­OR­GAN­ISM, Su­per­or­gan­ism (Domino)

­Above and be­low, Su­per­or­gan­ism:

warped bub­blegum pop.

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