It was the 90s. The Spice Girls were huge. Cher’s “Believe” spent seven weeks at No.1. And yet, a rogue visionary was creating art you’d never heard before. "Wordless sound poems," that pushed the boundaries of music, epitomising postmodernity and challenging our conception of what it was to be music.
His name was Ross Geller.
Untethered by melody or rhythm, the works evoked a kind of minimalist experimentalism pushed by artists like John Cage and Steve Reich in the former decade, lacking in an obvious direction or goal whilst playing with the concept of time. They are non-teleological, non-linear, and despite being created by the douchiest palaeontologist you’ve ever known - they are art.
“It’s so different from the stuff you usually hear,” Phoebe remarked in "The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line," after the pioneering first performance, and here she encompasses one of the key artistic pillars of Geller’s post-modern sample collages. It was new. It was strange. Sure - artists like Kanye were heavily influential in the usage of samples within 90s hip-hop, but here was a different type of sample use, one that didn’t rely on melody, or words, or creativity.
Truly, Geller’s creations mark a turn in the 90s, merging the electronica of the 1970s and 80s, with the sample-focused 90s American rap. The moo sample! The drilling! It’s abrasive, it’s weird, it’s GREAT.
Even in its stupidity, it somehow completely deconstructs the notion of music “meaning” something or aspiring for a higher quality. A comment on the identikit pop music industry? A message about the true definition of music? Just a joke that was written into the character’s storyline that has somehow unintentionally pushed the boundaries of pop cultural referential music?
We may never have an answer. In the end, all we have is the music.