Friday, May 29, 2009

Sound Quality is great, but what about the quality of the music?

So I was in the car today, flitting about, destroying the environment one gallon at a time.  It was the time of day that radio, especially left wing talk radio, was at it’s most unlistenable.   I only have so much space in my head at a given moment, so that tuner needed to move over rover,  for what ever CD was in the glove-box. In this case there was a compilation I bought a number of years ago put out by Dakar Sounds.  It was their 1st sampler, and when I first bought it, it stayed in the changer for quite a while.  I am particularly found of music from Senegal, Mali, and that not quite North African Saharan region  (a broad swath of cultures, but much of it grabs me).

 The CD leads off with Niety Noon by Etoile 2000 . A roclikin tune with a crazy guitar rhythm and a cutting sax.  The perfect lead in to this Senegalese dance party.  So I am bouncing in my cushy leather seat as I head down the road, when it dawns on me.  the actual sound quality of this CD, while not absolutely crap, is not so pristine.  Those Dutch cats at Dakar Sound  are reissue experts. And I owe them a certain debt for turning me on to some of the great bands they are rereleasing.  I am sure they worked hard on the old tapes and other possible source material, and in the real world, this is the best sound they could replicate.  Because

51VXE5ED22L__SS400_for them, it is all about the GREAT MUSIC, in the whatever form they can put it out. 

Now I know that our Dutch friends are out to make a buck.  But the road less traveled is never an easy road.  So I am assuming for them it is 90% about the music.  They can listen to a scratchy old record, recognize the greatness, say to themselves, lets  put some effort into this, and get this music out there.  And really, the results are mostly stellar.

So why, in our perfect digital wonderland of take 407 vocals, and take 629 guitar solos, in a music industry that takes 2 to 3 years to put out a bands next release, when every tiny detail can be perfectly controlled, why I ask you is the majority of new music release today such absolute dreck.

Dakar Sounds dutch grave robbers putting out brilliance from an earlier age and thousands of miles away.  Record companies in Los Angeles, New York, and wherever unable to unearth the great bands that are pounding on their office doors. Radio, even local college radio, is the same story.  Why would you demand a level of technical brilliance, but not a level of musical brilliance.

 It boggles the mind what people are settling for, and what they turn away from. The trappings of professionalism are just another sham to perpetrate sameness.  We have become lazy listeners suckled on the comfort pap of recognizable melodies and beats.  Sounds that do not make us work for our pleasure.

Meanwhile, out on the long tail, things are getting interesting.  Off in the land of hundred sellers stuff is bubbling to the surface. If you waiting for the usual suspects, the standard bearers of reduced standards to drop it on your plate, don’t hold your breath.

Thats all for now.





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