Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Musings - Grit, 'Old' Music and Accidental Art

Leaving work early today to catch an earlier bus than my usual, I figured I could take advantage of the thawing weather and jog down to the stop in plenty of time. (For those non-Glaswegians out there, it has been hard enough simply walking around lately due to the ice/snow/slush, never mind entertaining such an insane idea as jogging!).

After my first few yards I felt my feet losing grip and threatening to conspire with gravity and send me tumbling to the ground. There was definitely no ice around, so what was the problem?

Then I heard that familiar, awful, crunching sound. Grit.

That's right, for weeks we have suffered through ice and snow and nary a sight of the brown-orange salt that supposedly keeps us safe, yet now, with the ground clearing up, it's everywhere!

This slight set-back caused me to miss my bus, by a mere 10 seconds no less (damn you traffic lights! You're supposed to exist to help pedestrians, not hold us back while our buses flow freely through your green lights of doom!!).

Still, at least I knew I had plenty of time to walk to the next stop. And the one after that. And the one after that. 15 minutes later, my bus came and, feeling slightly fitter but certainly less happy, I plugged in my mp3 player.

Now, back to Sunday where I found myself with a rare spare few minutes of peace. I dug out my old external hard-drive, full to the brim of my vast CD collection which I had plenty of time to rip to mp3 during my care-free teenage years (yes, I was always a geek!). Time to update the new mp3 player with some old familiar songs, I thought. And boy did I need that sense of old fashioned comfort now.

There are a few things I noticed about my playlist as I sat staring out the condensation dripping down the windows. First, dzk is truly a phenomenal rapper. He was never one to seek fame or record deals, preferring instead to keep full creative control over his output, and what a wealth of output he has. His music, to me, is timeless. It may not be the nicest subject matter (mostly falling back on those age-old rap cliches of women, drugs and notoriety) but his execution and flow are flawless. Consider him, simply put, a much better, and faster, Eminem.

The next thing I noticed, as I listened to the entirety of Enter Shikari's "Take To The Skies" album, is that sometimes production is a bad thing. A very bad thing. Compared to dzk's "do it yourself" production, which was smooth but never overpowering, Enter Shikari's more polished work almost drowns out the soul of the songs.

I was a huge fan of Enter Shikari from the moment I saw their video for "Sorry, You're Not A Winner" and loved their down-to-earth style and rabid enthusiasm. As such, I heard songs such as "Mothership" long before they finalised their debut album and, I must admit, I find myself going back time and again to these demos, where the core brilliance of the song screams out at you, rather than the muted, tamed beast of the final album.

Perhaps it is simply my ears refusing to accept change after listening to one version of a song for months, but I personally hate it when a band releases an epic, free-roaming beast of a demo, only to follow it up with a final version that sounds like the same epic beast, only trapped in the middle of the ocean, trying its best not to drown in a sea of production.

See also: yourcodenameis:milo - All That Was Missing, from the album "They Came From The Sun" - life-changing demo, so-so final product.

Coming out of this musical daydream, I noticed that I had been unconsciously staring at a sole window, noticing a pattern someone's sleeve had left in the condensation. Now, it is very rare that a piece of "real" art causes me to pause and consider life in general, however, these random impressions had formed a pattern so profound it acted as a gateway into my subconscious, a personal canvas on which to place all my thoughts and feelings of the day into a spectral formation that allowed for processing.

Has this ever happened to you?

(For reference, the pattern I saw looked kind of like the metallic alien Chozo statues from Super Metroid, mixed with the Firefox logo, holding the head of a Gibson Flying V electric guitar!)

Super Metroid - a game you should all play.

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