Friday, October 28, 2011

Amon Tobin / The Glitch Mob

Alas, I don't listen to as much music as I used to. I still love music -- I just don't have the time. I don't have the killer home stereo I used to have when I was in college. Today I mostly listen to music in my car, which has an awesome sound system and I can listen to stuff loud, through speakers -- the way God intended it. Those little "earbud" things are the work of the devil.

My tastes are pretty much all over the road, but of late I've been listening to a lot of music by The Glitch Mob and Amon Tobin. I'm not really sure how to classify their music except to say that it's "electronic". I guess at least some of it could be considered "dubstep" (a genre that I like a lot) but -- and this one of the reasons I like them so much -- Amon Tobin and TGM aren't trying to fit into a genre, they're just doing whatever the hell they want and creating their own as-yet-indescribable genre.

Some years ago Frank Zappa once said "Audio tools are available now that enable the artist to control timbre to the point where a psychoacoustical or emotional 'spin' can be placed on any given note or passge". He was right then (and with today's technology, he's even righter), but the sad fact is that even though the capability exists, the vast majority of musicians don't use it. Amon Tobin and The Glitch Mob, in contrast, tend to use it on every single note. I love it.

Now is the time I stop talking about it and let the music speak for itself:

Amon Tobin - Goto 10

The Apple Tree featuring The Glitch Mob

Amon Tobin - Surge [16Bit Remix]

The Glitch Mob - Crush Mode

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Magic Goes Away?

Steve Jobs is dead. This is but one of probably thousands of "reaction" pieces that will appear in the wake of his passing. Hopefully it's one of the shorter ones, too.

I never knew the man so I don't have any cute stories to relate. And until recently I really wasn't a big fan of Apple products.

Everyone seems to think of him as a Creative Genius, and maybe he was. A fair number of people who knew him also say he was something of a jerk, and maybe he was that, too. What impresses me the most about his career was his ability To Get Things Done. I have some small experience with what it's like to work within a corporation and when I look at some of the things Jobs pulled off, like getting the music companies to cooperate on iTunes, or the iPad -- what makes my jaw drop isn't the technical or creative aspect so much as the fact that he somehow worked his way through what must have been truly unbelievable amounts of politics, red tape, and bullshit and, in the end, hammered out something that a) everyone agreed with that b) was also not a huge steaming pile of compromises. People would joke about his "Reality Distortion Field" but I sometimes wondered if he really did have some kind of mutant Stephen King "push" psychic ability to make people agree with him.

I am saddened by his death for what are, frankly, very selfish reasons: the man was arguably responsible for making the world we live in a lot more fun and interesting. CGI, portable music players, smartphones, the iPad ... we're talking about multiple instances of technology that's had a long-term global impact on human culture. No, he didn't personally invent this stuff, but he was a strong force in making a lot of it happen. Maybe he was done, out of ideas, willing to coast on by on the strength of past glory. Or ... maybe he had a few really good ones left in him. We'll never know what they were, what could have been. And that is what makes me sad.