One of the highest accolades a piece of music can receive is that of being ahead of its time.
When one is called prophetic, say a social commentator like Aldous Huxley, it is because his ideas ring true for what is happening. A Brave New World is a book displaying what the world will turn to if it continues to head towards the path it is.
To be ahead of one’s time, then, is to be rooted in one’s time. So firmly rooted in fact that one takes the ideas of one’s time to an extreme logical conclusion.
When one takes Captain Beefheart’s Troutmask Replica, it’s crazy to think that something like it came out in ’69: the guitar parts especially harken to the complexity of the math-rock to come twenty years later.
Yet Beefheart was rooted in blues and the experimental of the time, whether that be in avante garde poetry, free jazz, Stravinsky, and late Coltrante. To take all of these things swirling during the late sixties and stick them in a pot at the highest heat is what Beefheart’s record is. It was rooted in its time in a way that nobody at that time heard before.
Gyorgy Ligeti once said that “even things seemingly unrelated and devoid of tradition have their secret connections to the past”. I’d add connections to their present as well.