Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Series of Tubings

Were Grammy awards distributed this year?


Lots of inspiring writings from friends on the intertubes in the week past, starting with our own Angel of Rock. Her mention of concert etiquette made me think of the movies. Not of moviegoers talking through films (although one wonders why they paid money to attend a presentation they were intending to yak through; that ten bucks would provide the foundation for a dandy buzz at the local watering hole and no one would want to shush them).

No, the thought was of cinematic dissonance: contradictory imagery presented simultaneously. For instance: two people speeding along in a top-down convertible, yet their hair remains perfectly in place (while blowing wildly in the distant wide-angle shots).

My favorite example is the club scene, where two show-goers are able to have a normal conversation in spite of the din issuing forth from the stage. One instance that comes to mind: in 'Some Kind of Wonderful,' The March Violets are wailing away while down front Keith and Watts are conversing practically sotto voce.

OK, I'll admit it: that was just my excuse for mentioning Mary Stuart Masterson and the screen character on whom I had my biggest crush ever.


A Facebook friend posted a link to this article about the comeback of vinyl, and commented:

'I love to keep hearing this kind of report. It speaks of the often hidden masses who still want to sit down and LISTEN to music rather than just use it as wallpaper. Digital is convenient and versatile, yes--but for the active listener there's nothing like vinyl.'

My response was a respectful demurral. It is nice to see any format do well if it means more people buy and listen to more music. But as much as I love widescreen cover art and the tactile sensation of handling a record and its sleeve, I have never bought into the whole 'vinyl is better' argument.

Perhaps my ear isn't sophisticated enough to detect added warmth or depth. I never seem to get that far, as other issues distract. After the first play, you have a used record. And with that, over time, come the inevitable surface noise and stylus tracking distortion. And oh, if that spindle hole isn't cut perfectly dead center, drug me before I am subjected to turntable wow.

The belief in the superiority of vinyl sound quality can bring one perilously close to the cliff of audiophilia. It's so easy to get caught up in the search for that elusive piece of sound reproduction hardware offering incremental (and often psychological) clarity and authenticity.

Not that I was always immune. In the late 70s I owned a digital delay ambience synthesizer, a component designed to process and transmit audio signals to rear speakers with a delay time that varied in milliseconds according to the time it would take for live music to reach from a stage to the walls of, say, a concert hall.

The thing about that gizmo was I often found myself so interested in what it was doing to fool me that I would lose sight of the music. And that's been the point for me ever since: the song's the thing. It doesn't matter if it's coming through the AM radio speakers in a 1971 Dodge Dart or through a Vibratone 9000.

If you are open to aural immersion, it's the music, not the medium.


This morning another Facebook friend posted a link to this blog piece on Blender's website. The subject was 'The 5 Most Awesomely Ridiculous Mashups Ever.'

For me, the gold standard is still Party Ben's 'Boulevard of Broken Songs.' But many of these five come close. My favorite is the Beatles/Nine Inch Nails mash, but the R-Rated lyrics have me thinking I'll post this one instead, and you can decide whether you want to delve deeper. Cheers!


goodgame77 said...

我從來不認為不同意我的看法就是冒犯 ..................................................

momo said...

Great way to start my day, thanks!

casanguinet said...

MSM - biiiiiigggggg smile!

Mama E Dub said...

There are some truly inspring (frightening?) 80's era mushups in Girltalk's "Feed the Animals." As in, did you really need to hear Dexy's Midnight Runners and Big Country with a beat...

I meant mush ups, not mash ups.