My relationship with Nurture

Hi! It’s been quite a while since I last posted. I was actually trying to add some more pages to my songbook, a section I added during the webjam I hosted, but I realized I had enough to say that this would probably do better as a blog post.

Since it’s been so long, I want to give a little life update. I stopped posting because I was busy looking for a place to move. I’ve successfully moved at this point, but since then, I’ve been pretty busy, and I’m still not sure about whether I’ll get gomeposting back into my regular schedule. I’d like to if possible!

The way I process music is always changing, depending on my life circumstances. A consequence of this is that when I first encounter some music, I don’t give it more than a short try before setting it aside, and then coming back to it months later. What draws me back to an album is often a feeling that an album aligns with what I’m going through right now, that it has something I need, that it can meet me where I’m at.

I heard about Nurture for the first time in late 2022, and I just listened to a couple tracks at that time, mainly do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do, which is actually a fairly minor track overall. Over the winter, I started to appreciate the song Get Your Wish more. It was kind of a tough winter for me, and I felt I could relate to the themes of struggle and renewal.

Album art for Nurture by Porter Robinson

I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me at that time to look at the whole album. I had no idea there were so many other great tracks waiting for me in the same vein as Get Your Wish. Maybe part of it was that I wasn’t sure I would like the overall aesthetic of it. In hindsight, Nurture seems like a case where the ideas and feelings communicated are able to cut through aesthetic preferences, to a degree. I actually ended up liking the aesthetic anyway, so who knows.

Nurture is not the only music I’ve heard that uses a lot of electronic artifice to keenly express a sense of larger-than-life human feeling. But the feeling-world it articulates is a unique mix of energetically uplifting, conflicted but earnestly trying, and nostalgically comforting that I don’t think has an equivalent in either the acoustic or electronic domains.

It threads the very difficult needle of both sounding like it’s trying to make you feel something (like a lot of electronic music) while also genuinely making you want to come along on its journey and feel something. What makes all the difference here is a palpable sense of an actual person, real experiences woven into the lyrics, the melodic storytelling, the flashy production choices.

I’ve tried (badly) to articulate this before, but I think art is at its best when it’s expressing something greater than just the artist, which is why I don’t love to focus on the term “self-expression”. But there’s a great paradox that Nurture demonstrates so well, which is that starting with really honest self-expression is sometimes the best way to reach greater-than-self expression.

The feeling-world I mentioned above, struggle and passion and fear and hope, is something I imagine a lot of people in my stage of life can relate to. And there seems to be an increasing cultural appetite for earnestness. So I doubt I’m the only one who has felt like this album reached them at a special moment in life.

There are many things in this life that can make us lose courage, make us doubt that it’s really possible to live with our whole hearts. But the threat of that despair is itself a reminder of what we really want, which I think is to reach out to other people and keep loving and caring in spite of everything, no matter what life throws at us, even if it’s hard, even if we keep undermining ourselves along the way.

This album gave me hope during dark times. This album reminded me to keep fighting for myself. This album made me cry several times. Maybe I should bump it up to a five on Rate Your Music.

Have you listened to Nurture? Did you relate to it? Do you know other albums that have a similar feeling? Are there other albums that took you a while to get interested in? Let me know your thoughts at my Ctrl-C email: gome ​@ ​