When someone tells me that they prefer Machine Gun by The Peter Brötzmann Octet to any kind of regular music, it’s like saying you prefer the sound of a lawnmower to Rebecca Black. While Rebecca Black is not on the level of normal music, “free jazz” of this particular variety is simply annoying background noise. It’s ridiculous to say you’d prefer it to better music (or to call it good music at all).
This actually happened: I was having an argument on the internet about good and bad music, and some guy came in and basically said free jazz was true art, and that “all rock music sucks.” He may or may not have been kidding, but I’ve met people like this in real life, and I’m taking a stand. When you get rid of melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo, or song structure on the whole, what are you doing? You’re just making noise. That isn’t “good music,” that’s a distraction.
People who listen to this kind of thing are suffering from “Emperor’s New Clothes” syndrome. They don’t want to admit that there is really nothing good about the song because they’re afraid of looking foolish in front of the musical elite, but in reality they’re forcing themselves to endure an atrocity while the rest of listen to real music. I don’t mean to criticize Brötzmann’s skill with the saxophone, but this brand of music is simply tricking wanna-be music snobs into thinking they’ve found the holy grail.
I suppose the theory is that Machine Gun is a complex piece of work that you have to listen to dozens of times before beginning to understand it, and the fact that it has no sense of cohesion engages your mind – or it’s just a fraudulent piece of art that hipsters listen to when they’re trying to seem intelligent.