Cowardice

This last year I’ve done the things I was never going to do. I’ve abandoned Independence, I’ve abandoned quality, I’ve joined the cold grey mush that passes for online society. I’ve rolled over, four legs in the air and said fine, you win. Have a sniff.

Because when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter a rat’s. It’s not even as if I’ll get abused for it – no one cares that much.

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You can find my last two albums up on YouTube, put there by me. Which is kind of like taking your painting and leaning it against a dumpster. Partly because I kept finding it there anyway, and partly because a lot of people seem to eat out of dumpsters these days. It’s the banquet room of culture for the people who get their McDonalds delivered by Uber Eats.

There’s two ways you could run this thing. You could be completely uncompromising, willing to hang on to the final drop of blood. People like that get remembered long after they’re dead in somebody’s PhD thesis that no-one reads. I was raised on that stuff – the lone artist, the visionary blah blah – truly inspiring to 20th century me, but not that relevant in the 21st century. Horse and buggy heroics.

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And who am I to claim any special virtue? I make some pop music and some cute videos. This is the same disposable media that filled dumpsters since the beginning of sound recording. Am I trying to enthrone my bubble gum?

The other way is to say, OK, you can’t prejudge progress. Progress may be something you don’t expect, can’t anticipate. If you are progressive, then you ride with the changes, no matter where they might wander. Maybe shitty low quality audio on a video server is akin to the shitty low quality audio of a 7″ vinyl record. You go there, bravery rather than cowardice.

I have no idea which one. Which is why Aversion is a limited edition object, while Publicist is a throw-it-at-the-wall download.

I think this conversation is being held by an ever dwindling number of people, who think that the wider audience give a toss. They are under the illusion that e.g. vinyl sales mean a resurgence of interest in albums. I think it means a surge of interest in antique toys. It will give way to hula hoops. Music will not go back in the sleeve, it will wander wherever it finds a listener.

Meanwhile, abyss and staring.

7 thoughts on “Cowardice

  1. On the topic of sound quality, you might be interested in Kara-Lis Coverdale’s essay “Sound, Rhetoric, and the Fallacy of Fidelity”. She had an ep last year of ambient (Grafts) that was hugely popular, and I don’t fully understand the process she’s trying to describe in her notes about it,
    but the part I’m grasping is “don’t trust the sound that you hear and the source that you think it’s from”, and “don’t trust… audio quality?”.

    Here anyway:
    http://www.academia.edu/13425730/Sound_Rhetoric_and_the_Fallacy_of_Fidelity

    You wrote elsewhere about a culture of “instant access” and that’s pretty much what it’s all about these days. The deals might be shitty for artists on Spotify and services like that, but people want that, and if they don’t have it, they create their own shitty version of Spotify through social medias like Youtube.

  2. at least it won’t stay that way for long- the Augmented/Mixed/Virtuality of the 2020s beckons – maybe the next big medium after cds will be 3D printed rasberry pi boxes with the album encoded into automated sequencer/synth/sampler/FX software that plays it all in realtime-

    • I do feel like interactive compositional environments are going to be a thing… somewhere. Probably in crowds like those who like SevCom music. Could do it now just sending a DAW project, but that’s somewhat lame, except for those of us who already allowed DAWs to smash our brains in. A VR presentation would be more fun, especially if “gamified” with action environments that offer opportunities for being in some way relevant to / congruent / juxtaposed with the art. But then it moves beyond the reach of the singer/songwriter recording Nebraska on a 4-track, and I’m not sure that sort of elitism is healthy. Maybe the gaming studios will be the next “studio system” for musicians?

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