Friday, March 01, 2013

Less human than human. Let's push things forward.

A warning:
Based on what I'm about to write don't assume I don't like music made with technology. My music collection has 155 Aphex Twin songs, 284 Nine Inch Nails songs and several days worth of music that would qualify as Jungle/drum 'n bass.

With that said, a group of music videos showing goats yelling as a replacement for dubstepish synths and singers over singing has opened my eyes to a fundamental issue with the state of pop music.

The singing in many of the songs featured in these goat versions are so detached from the way people sound (when they actually sing) that the goat can sound more like a human. In a pop song why do breathing and moaning have to be at equal level with the words? Why do I need to hear the soft singing at the same volume as the loudest belting? I think it's all about giving the impression of something that's not really present. It's the audio equivalent of the diva hand waving and MC shoulder dipping. It's an affectation that the music machine and it's chosen performers think will bring things that are fake into the realm of reality. To me these are examples of people becoming pigeons in a skinner box. They perform the ritual, they get the food pellet, and they have no idea why.

In addition to the audio self delusion, many of these videos also share a secondary bizarre feature, they show a "band" performing the songs. These are songs that feature no (or at most little) guitar, bass guitar, live drums or keyboard parts that could be played yet they have a group of musical instrument holders rocking as if they played something. It's like the directors all said music videos have people holding instruments and rocking out so we need that to. Again this feels like some bizarre conditioning that can't be explained. If no instruments are being played and no voice appears unaltered then what's the point of miming like it was? Why not just have an entire horn section and orchestra hold their instruments? (Add a troupe of drummers as well!)

I'm sure it's just because I'm old and cranky but what are they trying to achieve? To show how well you can increment/decrement a value? We should be in a much more interesting musical age not one that has had so much of the life sucked out of it. This is the era when we should have hybrids of Mozart and Public Enemy and Tom Waits and Marvin Gaye and Kraftwerk not people who can't play or sing becoming the emperors new clothes.

Here's some music made with machines that pushes things forward: