||: salty chocolate :||

A gob of years ago, I was on a school bus on my way to another day of 3rd grade. I was thinking about some song or another that I really liked–“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul and Linda McCartney possibly–and I wondered what kind of music I would be reacting to in the same way that people of my parents’ generation reacted so negatively against but that I loved so much. I took it for granted that in spite of my best efforts to stay “with it,” the generation gap would slowly slide so that I became the old fogey, complained that all this new music sounds the same, and would you please turn it down.

That day didn’t happen for many, many years.

That was then.

I like a lot of David Bowie’s repertoire, but I don’t think he is/was a musical genius. In spite of this, there is at least one spot in Nicholas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth” where someones genius was showing. The spot I have in mind starts with Thomas Newton (Bowie’s character) nuzzled up against a spheroid device listening to some really inane music. We are lead to think that he’s listening to the very linear, scalar, repetitive, oscillator-driven stuff because it reminds him of home–at least until he removes the sphere from the device (stopping the music) and says something like, “I hate this shit that Farnsworth sends me.” It’s genius because of the way it plays on a number of the viewer’s expectations–both about Newton’s character and about what we are “supposed to” think space music/music-of-the-future sounds like.

It’s also genius because that very linear, scalar, repetitive, oscillator-driven, inane shit is what I am now hearing in a lot of places. Case in point: the music in the supermarket I was in yesterday. God, I wanted to run screaming from the place by the time I was done with my shopping. The same moronic thing, over and over and over and over again for 10 or more minutes. In this case it was a disquieting hybrid of a Latin beat and some Germanic melody. It was like salty chocolate, rammed into your mouth over and over again for ten agonizing minutes. Not want.

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2 thoughts on “||: salty chocolate :||

  1. I’ve noticed this gap as well. Now I embrace my fogy-ness as a stamp of true analog street-cred.

    Case in point: recently, due to a midlife crisis (actually, just a good deal of free time on my hands), I’ve been making attempts to “get back into music” – this meant listening to “what the kids are listening to”, getting new equipment, and investing a lot of time exploring music production software.

    I found that 1) I hated most of what is called “retro” or “electro” today, 2) software is generated primarily for cutting and pasting musical “elements” rather than song-crafting (it will date me to say that I really only use MIDI to replicate CV-GATE control) and 3) new equipment is way too expensive, so I better drop the whole idea.

    What really bothered me was the first discovery. It seemed that so much of the “retro” bands now miss something in the translation across the ages. Or maybe the transmission from early synth music was filtered to today’s youth in a way I don’t yet understand.

    In any case, I just brought home an old Juno-6 and a Roland DR-110 I had in storage back in the old country. Somewhere along the way I lost the manual, so I started frequenting vintage synth forums, and noticed to my surprise that the general judgement today is that the Juno was “phat” and had “killer acid bass”, and that the DR-110 had “sub-sonic booms”. That blew me away – I always thought the Juno was reedy and thin – great for strings and some leads, but very weak on the low end. The DR-110, well, you know.

    The whole thing mystifies me really, this cult of the analog. Now when I hear salty-chocolate I can tell my kids it’s bad for their teeth. Try some bubblegum, like that awesome “Hanson” record instead – dmw

  2. You bring up an issue that’s really interesting and not just limited to electonic music equipment. The “if it’s vintage it’s gotta be better than new stuff” vibe is rampant in the guitar world, in the saxophone world, and I suspect in a lot of other musical instrument worlds. It’s also rampant in audio.

    I guess the tendency is for things to establish themselves on the first really successful products in an area. Then everyone gets brainwashed that those versions of “good” are “the” versions of good. And then those versions of “good” are assigned attributes that are completely made up.

    The one field that’s free of vintage-blindness is computing. I think that’s because it’s so obvious that new computers are better than vintage ones. Just try playing Halo on an Apple II.

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