Thursday, January 7, 2016

Post New Year's Ponderings

I've been pondering "Art" lately, in particular the artistic elements of music. My musings are alternately inspired and confounded by Alva Noe and his book Strange Tools:  Art and Human Nature.

Semi-obsessed as I seem to have become, just about any piece of music, newly heard or long since a part of my cultural DNA, becomes grist for closer scrutiny or reconsideration. 

Apropos of all this is firsthand experience of Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, the new analog recording studio in Madison. Mark Haines, one of the principles there, passed along this link to an article by Renato Repetto called Maximize Tape’s Limitations& Embrace Music’s Humanity. I offer these excerpts for your consideration.

The primary reason I record to tape is that it disarms you of the tools required to wander far from the truth. It captures the artist as they currently are, stripping away the ability to separate their performance from the moment in which it was recorded. The limitations inherent in a linear medium like tape naturally preserve human information – tiny flaws which give you an insight into the character of the artist. These flaws make up a large part of what we perceive.

...The last 30 years of music technology have been about the removing of constraints – the liberation of the artist. Yet some of the most influential pop albums of our time were crafted on four tracks or less. Working within the constraints of a modest track count forces you to make creative decisions early in the recording process. It relieves you of the temptation to plug every hole with sound, a hallmark of over-production.

...Every artist wishes to be free. Free of the chains of limitation that impede the realization of their works. But true freedom lies not in the breaking free of these chains, but in the ability to accept one’s constraints and find peace within them. Analog tape offers a finite set of tools to achieve your vision. And if the enemy of art is the absence of limitations (Orson Welles), then a tape machine would be a very good friend indeed.

And don’t forget! Big Wes Turner’s Trio at the Essen Haus. TONIGHT! (January 7, 2016)

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