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Music… with or without technology

music Updated: May 10, 2011 14:00 IST
Hindustan Times
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I find it amazing to see how music artistes are using both extremes to make music. By both extremes, I mean on one side you have the 100 per cent analogue model, where everyone goes into the studio and records music using equipment that’s amplified in the natural manner. That is, from the microphone to the amplifier, which leads straight to the mixer.

And then there’s the digital model, where everything is generated off a computer — samples, effects and the whole shebang. And in between lies the realm where most take the easy way out. Here, they record via analogue, but process digitally. And any discrepancies that may arise as a result of the analogue recording, such as pitching or timing, are corrected using various software.
The two extremes I mentioned are the recent albums by Foo Fighters and Gorillaz, both of which are reviewed below. The first has been entirely recorded in a garage, not even in a studio, on completely analogue equipment — from mixers and pedals to drums. And the band recorded it together, not individually, with members recording their own parts to a click track.

Gorillaz, on the other hand, namely one Damon Albarn, recorded the entire album on an iPad — the first mainstream music outfit to have done so. In fact, the album information lists every application that was used to create it.

So, what one learns from this is that neither technology nor the lack of it is needed (or not) to make good music. Rather, competent musical sensibilities and the age-old ability to write good songs are what is really needed… if I may say so.

Here’s what you want on your iPod, recommends Luke Kenny

Build A Rocket Boys!

Rating: ***

The kings of melancholy are back with their fifth album. It takes great courage and nerves of steel to go out into the world repeatedly with music that is not exactly happy. Neither does it conform to any commercial trappings that might be expected from such indie-ness. But then again, this is artistic musing at its introspective best. From the opening eight-minute epic, ‘The birds’ to the closing, Floydian ‘Dear friends’, this is one for those winding down evenings after a long day. But you might not be able to listen to it for too long.

Moody science in motion

Wasting Light
Foo Fighters
Sony Music

Rating: ***

Dave Grohl has led his band well, ever in the shadow of Cobain’s Nirvana, and yet is a formidable artiste in his own right. And this has been evident in the successful discography that the FF has managed to rack up. The seventh time around is no different. It’s strong, powerful and most of all, heavy. And with legendary producer Butch Vig on the controls, this entirely analogue album (in Dave Grohl’s garage, mind you) is testament to the good old-fashioned way of making a great rock record.

Scorching sound!

What Did You Expect From The Vaccines
Sony Music

Rating: ***

This is a fun discovery — the debut album from these British indie rockers is a joy to behold. There is a distinctive difference between the American, European and the British indie bands, in the sense that the British always allude to the past in terms of sound and thoughts. So here, shades of ‘Gene loves Jezebel’, ‘Jesus’ and ‘Mary chain’ emanate as one journey through these 11 short-ish songs about the human condition. And in the greenness of London, what else does one
ponder on anyway?

Unexpected expectations

The Fall

Rating: ****

Recorded entirely on the iPad (yes!) during their ‘Plastic Beach’ tour, this “sudden” album by mastermind Damon Albarn sees Gorillaz dedicate itself to another work of staggering excellence. This is a music galaxy in motion here, from the blip-bop of ‘Phoner to Arizona’ to the trip-skip of ‘Seattle yodel’ to the lost thoughts of ‘Bobby in Phoenix’, which features Bobby Womack, this is a sublime stepping stone for Gorillaz as the band heads into the next blue wild yonder of sonic distillation.

Pick it up now!