Monday, 9 June 2008

Low-Tech music

I've always had a problem with electronic music that sounds like it is trying to demonstrate how fancy the technology is. My own - so far minimal - efforts in writing pieces using some kind of electronic element haven't ventured far from the analog synthesizer, with a little pro-tools thrown in. Here are a few different things, all more or less pop music, that make me want to take this a lot further (or backwards, from a technological standpoint). Firstly, the Yellow Magic Orchestra, a kind of Japanese Kraftwerk, astonishingly from 1978:

I like the mix of 'musical' and 'non-musical' sounds here, the random lapses into kitsch piano concertos, the kind of surreal joy of it all.

Next, two 'technological' cover versions. 386DX is the 'band' of a Russian digital artist called Alexi Shulgin, who recreates rock classics using a 1st generation PC, with just a soundcard and speech program:

A bunch more of his stuff is available here.

Finally, a really really amazing version of Radiohead's Nude:

Big Ideas (don't get any) from James Houston on Vimeo.

In both these cases, the original song doesn't interest me much at all, but something about the collision with the technology - especially in the Radiohead song - fascinates me, not just on a conceptual level, but in the music that results from it. I think the complete depersonalization of both songs, taking any sense of emotion or performance out of the song, and robbing it of its normal cultural codes, actually makes them more accesible to me as musical objects.