What’s Real?

Somewhere along the lines of this life I’d gotten it in my head that “real” music is made by human beings and instruments to the exclusion of synthesizers, processors, and digital doodads. I had the notion that the contact between the creator and his/her instrument was a communication, a meditation, an unspoken magical bond. Flesh and wood and wire and brass and bone fusing in the name of textures and tones. I suspect this prejudice was born of an early introduction to Philip Glass via Koyaanisqatsi (I dig the premise and the film and everything but I’m an antsy adult you can imagine how I felt as a kid!) I developed exceptions to these notions mainly because the melodies on Another Green World, an album by Brian Eno, were so excellent, the arrangements so rich and memorable that it didn’t matter what they were created on. I credit my older brother with introducing some really excellent stuff to the house, Eno, Velvet Underground, Iggy, Bowie, Hendrix….well I guess that’s what older brothers do. A couple of discoveries of my own, also exceptions to the invisible ban on processed sound, were The Art if Noises ‘Close (To the Edit)’ and Kraftwerks ‘Trans-Europe Express’ (the whole album). These albums were instrumental (pardon the pun) in a budding break-dancers’ oeuvre. What the kids are doing these days is off the hook (by the way).

Oh wow and also, Moments in Love (Art of Noise) I still dig that track. Simple. Melodic. Okay, the whole album (Who’s Afraid Of) The Art of Noise. The video of Close (To the Edit) undoubtedly a play on the prog-rock band Yes’, ‘Close to the Edge’, exemplified the fear of electronic music deftly, disturbingly, and yet humorously. Their anticipation of backlash from those who staunchly adhere to instruments-only was quite heh artful.

Anyways, of late there are a ton of electronically produced songs, soundscapes, dance tunes etc. None of which have especially grabbed me as emotive…many are dance-able and/or novel but not emotive in the songwriter vein (with the exception of Radiohead). Along comes James Blake with his self-titled album and electronic music is once again on my radar, alive and well. Very electronic-sounding, not trying to duplicate or improve upon an already established instrument. Processed voice etc. But for some reason I feel these tunes. At the end of the day that’s all that matters…that someone feels ’em.

Have good listens and a great week! I leave you with this (unrelated note) HOORAY RODRIGUEZ!!

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