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Tagged with “music” (4)
Goethe said, “Architecture is frozen music.” I like that.
Of course that was before audio recording, so now, for the most part, music is frozen music.
It’s only very recently in the history of music that we’ve been able to freeze music into an object. In my life, the form of this object mattered a lot. I once bought vinyl albums and cassette tapes, where there were two first songs per album, Side A and Side B. The energy of a first song makes it stand apart, at least in my head it does. Then the CD came along and eliminated Side B and there was only first song, and the actual number of a track (that you see prominently on the UI) became my index for sorting songs. Then MP3s jumbled my sense of track order, and albums began to feel more like a loose grouping of individual pieces rather than a conceptual whole. I could name hundreds more examples like these, and I welcome you to chime in, but my point is: the form of the thing matters.
But no effect has been as world changing as that original innovation: freezing music in time onto a recording, where a single version of a song, a single performance of a song, became the song. An inherently mutable method of communication was fundamentally changed.
I heard a radio broadcast several years ago that really affected the way I thought about all this. Jim Derogatis and Greg Kot are the hosts of a radio program I’m a huge fan of called Sound Opinions (subscribe now). The songwriter, composer, and producer, Jon Brion came to WBEZ in Chicago to talk to Sound Opinions in 2006. At the time, Brion has just co-produced Kanye West’s album Late Registration and he was also already a renowned film composer. In this interview, Brion talks about the difference between what he calls “performance pieces” and “songs” and how recorded music has changed the way we appreciate the different art forms.
Special thanks to Sound Opinions for allowing me to rebroadcast this segment. Extra special thanks to SoOps producers, Robin Linn and Jason Saldanha, for being two of my favorite people in public radio.
While we’re on the subject of broadcasts that have changed my life, you should go to PRX and listen to a radio series called The Wire, from the CBC. This eight-part series examines the impact of electricity on music. It’s stunning. It won a Peabody and a Prix Italia and a Third Coast International Audio Festival Award and is probably my favorite radio series of all time.
Beauty Pill is band I really like from Washington DC. They have released two EPs (The Cigarette Girl From the Future and You Are Right to be Afraid) and their last album, The Unsustainable Lifestyle, came out in 2004.
In the interim, the singer/guitarist/producer for Beauty Pill, Chad Clark, got very sick and nearly died. That can be enough to make anyone stop making music, but in Clark’s case, he continued to make music, but he just never felt the need to release a record or play live. His music was just for him and his friends, and that was OK.
But a strange confluence of opportunity, desire and architecture knocked Beauty Pill out of their unforced exile. The curators at a new multimedia art center called Artisphere invited Chad Clark to come in and do something musical in the space. While they were showing him around, he saw the angled, 2nd floor window overlooking the Black Box Theater and it reminded him of the window in Abbey Road Studio 2, made famous by The Beatles. Months later, the Black Box Theater was transformed into a very public recording studio, capturing the sounds and energy of the band, onlookers and guests over the course of a couple weeks.
They called the project Immersive Ideal.
(Above: The fully immersed Beauty Pill. Photo credit: Nestor Diaz)
WORLD WIDE WEB PREMIERE! Beauty Pill was gracious enough to let us post one of the finished songs from the Immersive Ideal session. The first sound you hear in “Afrikaner Barista” is a metal dogbowl, spinning on Chad’s kitchen floor. This is a recurring texture in the new music. The dogbowl appears in many different forms, often digitally treated to be unrecognizable. “I’m kind of proud of this,” says Chad.
Beauty Pill finished their experiment in hyper-public music making last summer. Now, they’re putting their entire process—and final product—on display in the very same space where they made their new album. Through Sunday, Jan 22, the Artisphere’s Black Box Theatre is full of images, sounds, and other multimedia wonders in a user-controlled environment. It might very well be the most thoroughly documented presentation of a band’s creative process, ever.
As a former DC resident, I know that Washingtonians can be loathe to hang out outside the city proper—especially if it’s to go somewhere in Northern Virginia. But think of it this way: Metro’ing down to Rosslyn takes less time than trying to find parking in Adams Morgan. And this is worth it.
(Above: The control room “window” brought in by Devin Ocampo. Photo credit: Nestor Diaz)
“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” You guys know this quote, right? There’s some debate in house. (I contend the joy garnered by those who recognize offsets the mild confusion experienced by those who don’t.)
Beauty Pill member Devin Ocampo (also of the awesome Medications and Faraquet (R.I.P.)) provided one of the more talked about aspects of the Artisphere “studio” design. He constructed a wood frame “window” in the lower theater space to separate the musicians from the engineer, referencing the control room glass window that would normally be there.
I almost named my first radio program “Smart Went Crazy,” which was the name of Chad Clark’s band before Beauty Pill.
(Above: Chad with guitar. Photo credit: Jon Pack)
This week, Jim is joined by Back to Work’s Merlin Mann to talk about hands-on experiences with Apple’s new iPhone 5s and 5c and iOS 7.
Including a deep dive on Touch ID; how easier security measures could boost iTunes sales; Jim’s new-found photo skills with the 5s camera; what Jim looks for in the wiring under his wood; and more.
Special guest Merlin Mann.