Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sound Art vs Music and Why I Don't Upload the Albums I Review

If you're looking at this blog right now, there's a good chance you only found it because you're trying to download some free music, and are disappointed because you don't see any links to rapidshare or mediafire. Well, for one thing, I only review music/nes games/etc., that I have physical copies of (except in very rare cases), so I can give a thorough and fair review of the complete package, and so I can make me opinion of whether or not it's worth the precious cash. Second, there's a million other blogs where you can download from. If you are totally new to this, I've found the best ways are to type into google: "artist" "album" followed by the words" blogspot" and if that doesn't work try adding" rapidshare" and/or "mediafire" to the search query, and another good way is to use www.filestube.com, a site that searches blogs for rapishare, mediafire, and most other hosted files. Also, I encourage people to purchase albums/games/whatever whenever possible, and there are a few reasons for this. Obviously, supporting the people who made it, blah blah blah, but on a more personal level it adds to the excitement, its more fun to get a sought-after tape in the mail, to be able to touch it know the artist touched it, than it is to download a sterile file. Compressed mp3 files are also significantly shittier sounding than the original tape/record, and is not presenting the sound in the way the artist intended. Another really really important factor is that owning a physical copy adds to the longevity of the album. Mp3's get deleted, get lost among countless folders of porn, harddrives crash, computers just fuck up. Records and tapes are pretty tough and have good lifespans, better than cds which I always scratch the fuck up. NES games, safe in their grey shells, have rediculously long lifespans and can take absurd amounts of abuse (still always need some twiddling to get to work, but any skilled nerd knows they can always get em going). Check out this video of a chick with an super hot voice trying to destroy a copy of smb/duck hunt, and the cart takes so much damn abuse and still plays fine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube_gdata_player&v=uCLOxK6FpfA . So if you have a real copy of a tape/record/game, you know you're still gonna have it thirty years from now, assuming you want to keep it. I know for a fact that most if not all of the Mp3's I have will be gone 10 years from now, either by means of upgrading to a new computer, or if my computer gets all fucked which is more likely the case. In many ways I wish Mp3's were never invented, but I will say they are good for previewing something before deciding to buy, but to me and many many others, Mp3's dilute the thrill of finding exciting new music. When it takes you forever to track down an album you really want, its a rush to finally nab it, like Elsa from "The Last Crusade" finally getting her kraut hands on the holy grail. It also is a sign of commitment, if you love music/games/whatever, you should be spending your money on it instead of pot. On the other hand, sometimes I do download Mp3's. Sometimes there are albums that I like, but don't believe they deserve the price tag attached. This is often the case when a record has been made expensive for reasons more closely related to the band being "hip" because it's "hip," not because its good. When this is the case, even if I do have interest in the album, will be the one reason for me to doanload and not purchase. It's always a balancing act, you have to question if the music itself is worth the pricetag first, and then take into account the rest. Unless of course you are more interested in owning a little piece of art rather than owning something to run through your stereo, if the tape is of great interest for non-musical purposes, which is fine and appropriate in some cases. I'm not a huge art person by any means, I mean I like to draw and do layouts and paint warhammers, and I appreciate good album artwork that complements the music, but for me if the music is good it becomes art within itself, so I never put much weight on extramusical qualities of an album (concept, who made it, when it was made, etc), but that's just me, and I fully support those who will buy a tape filled with shitty music but incredible" art" qualities, because to me its just like buying any other piece of artwork, like a scuplture or a painting, except the format is a tape/record. Because, like I said, I'm not a big art collector by any means, I have little I interest in purchasing these types of albums, so for me I judge an album 90% by what comes through the speakers, 10% by extramusical qualities. Obviously this presents some problems, particularly within the noise/experimental music I listen to, a genre saturated by non-musicians making sound art. Its a genre that requires no musical skill to make something great (although I am NOT saying it requires no skill, but I think we all know that even the best noise makers often have little or no knowledge of music theory, and would fail outside the unpitched genres unless they can REALLY apply themselves in non-musical artistic way (consider Bone Awl, and also consider Bone Awl if they made the same music they do but without any of the aesthetic/conceptual elements they apply to their whole package, like if they didn't call themselves a bm band, it's all a very fine line). Sometimes even these non-musicians make great recordings, not even accounting the artistic intentions, because the process of noise music making is a very level playing field. It requires no knowledge outside of knowing how to operate gear, and even someone who has a mastery of music theory quickly learns that is possible to create great noise music without applying any music theory while making it. Of course, that also may depend on whether you wish to create a noise "song" or wish to create something more akin to an aural painting, and in the case of a" song," an understanding of form and phrasing could potentially be helpful, but is still not required. I know I've gone off on a wild tangent, I'm writing this from the car on my way to a doctor in upstate NY so it's a long ride with nothing to do, but anyway I was talking about paying for music rather than downloading. Oh I guess the point I was trying to make with all this noise-art talk is that in terms of these tapes/records that are art first, music second, that downloading instead of purchasing can ruin a huge part of what makes the album worth having. In summation, if you are the type of person who only downloads and never pays for music, for one thing you should be supporting the artists, especially within underground music, but I can understand not wanting to have to pay huge amounts for not-so-mind-blowing music. If an album is currently impossible to track down, or is way out of your price range, that's when the inevitable question of "should I download it" comes up and the question is most important. If an album is crap and you don't really care too much about it, and you wouldn't pay for it anyway, just download it who cares. But if it's something you really really want, you know that you'd rather have the real thing than some shit download, but I guess what I'm getting at is it so good you'd be willing to obtain it by any means necessary, if price is out of your range, do you just go ahead and download it or do you allow it to remain a personal holy grail, something that may take months, years even to ration the funds for, knowing it will make it all the more special when you finally get it in the mail? It's the toughest choice, because once you download it and listen to it in that form, you can never un-download it, never un-listen to it, and so you're initial listening experience, often but not always the most magical moment, will forever be marred by not hearing the album in its original, intended form. At the same time, I can understand how most people just dont want to pay for music, that music belongs to no one and should be freely available for all and not just the "elite" few who can either afford to pay out the ass or are savvy enough to nab up records before they become unobtainable. Sometimes it can be absurd. Last week when SS sent out their newsletter with the new Volahn live LP, I got a notification on my phone about the email and immediately went to the SS site to order the record, but my internet went down for half the day and I couldn't order it. When my connection was back up, of course the fucking thing was sold out. I really really wanted that record, don't want to have to wait for the repress, and was generally pissed off. I know this record is gonna pop right up to $75 on discogs, and I know I'm not gonna be willing to pay that much for it. What do I do? I also know I would massively prefer to hear it in original format vs download, but at the same time I want to hear it NOW and might just download it. We'll see. Anyway, while I have really nothing against folks who exclusivley download music, I'm not gonna promote it here, because I think that while it does a lot of good, it does a lot of damage too.
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