Song Of The Day# 27.

Kraftwerk – Computer Love

This, along with another song, has been floating round my head for a few days now, somewhat stubbornly, so for today’s song, have some minimalist, early-80s (1981 to be exact) krautrock. If, indeed, it can be categorised as any of those. People are so picky about their genres nowadays. Anyway, possibly not one of their best known (though I do challenge the average person on the street to name 5 songs by this hugely influential band from Düsseldorf)), this single came from the album ‘Computer World’. I think that says it all. Only in Germany. It’s bizarre but awesome. As usual, listen and be educated, this time by pioneers Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider:

Ps. Although this is a genius song, this blog was also an excuse to use some outstanding words that we don’t get in England.

Mezzo Forte Monday, Pt 2.

The Meaning Of Music

Did you know the playing time of ‘The Holy Bible’ (original 1994 release) is a mere 56 minutes and 17 seconds? ‘Ok Computer’ being 53:27, and ‘Rumours’ only 39:03. Looking further back, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ ends at just past 30 minutes and ‘Elvis Presley’ only 28:03. Not that this is a comparison between the length of songs/albums in different decades, but it is amusing to contextualise sometimes.

Anyway, the point was that while the playing time, out of context of the fact it is an album, seems quite small, the meaning can be huge. Huge! And if it’s a good album, it frequently is. Songs hang around for days in my head, usually cropping up at the most unlikely of times, and if it’s a song that “grabs” me immediately (Kraftwerk’s ‘The Man Machine’ and Delays ‘Tonite’ being recent examples), I will listen to it repeatedly until I can’t anymore. Idiotic I know, as I potentially ruin some amazing songs. At least there are others out there.

Being in physical form, music will also be visible for years, and giving you the ability to handle it. Artwork adds a lot to each album, which is why it’s quite a shame no one buys hard copies anymore, unless it’s a really special occasion (like a new Sea Power album). I feel this sort of diminishes the value of music – as a package I mean – as sometimes you get the lyrics, sometimes pictures, sometimes just some detail that is intrinsic to the album itself, so as a majority the fact that most music comes (or is available) digitally is a negative thing, but the silver lining could be that it means you scrap away the outer layers and get to have an uninfluenced version of the music, unbiased from the artwork surrounding the album. And it really is about the music then, and nothing much else. It certainly is more convenient coming in digital form, seeing as technology is all geared towards that nowadays, but it is much more pleasant having a slice of vinyl to play rather than an MP3 file or similar. A shame but that’s how things seem to rock at the present moment.

Obviously the digital format leads to the illegal downloading argument, which is a huge other topic to cover – not now – but while the artist should be concerned with “what they are owed”, should they not also be concerned that music is an art form, and therefore the money is just a secondary bonus and not something to make music for? It is a very good thing that people wish to listen at all, the fact some want to pay you money for it is even better. And if they really like you, I’m sure they will. Which is why you end up with Lily Allen stating how bad file sharing is (clearly no one wishes to pay for her god awful excuse for music…), and then people like Ed O’Brien saying the opposite, and urging people to “Move quicker” to get over such an issue. And yes I am aware of Radiohead being a huge band and therefore it is unlikely they will ever be struggling like  small band at the moment.

One of my favourite things about music is when you inadvertently are listening to it a-plenty at some significant moment, or on holiday or with a particular friend or something – and whenever you play it after, it reminds you of the feeling you had at the time. I don’t think anything else does that in quite the same way music does, which makes it even more special.

I suppose it really depends how much music means to you – whether you don’t care at all, whether it’s something just to have on in the background to break the silence at an awkward supper, or whether it near enough consumes your life and it’s always there. Even so, in twenty years time, if you play ”, the likelihood is that everyone will remember, and it will be sticking around for a lot longer than the 3 or 4 minutes it took you to play it. Music has longevity, so perhaps we should not be so illegal with it.

Music Non-Stop, Techno-Pop. Part One.

Listen to ‘The Man Machine’ by Kraftwerk whilst reading. And for your ease and education, here it is!

This track makes you feels super-human, and seems to be so versatile – it could be used for the beginning of a Mafia movie, the soundtrack to a film about post-war Germany, for a minimalistic underground electro-club at 2am, or maybe even for interprative dance. Who knows. The point is, it would work for nearly anything. But —

I have struggled for a while to come to terms with the fact that electronic music is in the same line as music played on real instruments. Is it really music? Or something completely different? One has to backtrack and define music to state whether or not electronic “music” is really so. One could say that music is sounds, placed into an agreeable order so it is paletable to the ear. But if that is true, Stravinsky is ruled out.  On the other hand, you could say that “music is an art form whose medium is sound” (thanks Wikipedia. Thikipedia!). And if that were true, then surely anything that is audible is music? Anything that is audible is art? No, because the quote states “art form”. And no because that would mean whatever, for example, Janet Street Preacher says is art. Like fuck it is.  So what the hell is art?! I feel this may be an argument that proves a little pointless, as it is so subjective. Art is so damn vague. But music I feel may be less so, even though it is still an art form so technically that does not work. However!

As much as I wish it not to be deemed music, I feel electronic music may be – you can dance and sing to it, have it on in the background, attend a gig of that nature, use it for general ambience. You can use it like normal music. But for some reason I feel it is slightly secondary to music where people have played every note and sung every word. Not that electronic music is less enjoyable – au contrare – but it seems to me to be on a different level than conventional music. Possibly because the process of creating such sounds is slightly less organic? It certainly is a different experience seeing someone play music, and see someone press some buttons and wire a few odd-looking machines up.

Can sound that employs that much music technology be deemed music? Given how much music has advanced, and the fact that nearly all types of music, even those played on real instruments, will invariably use music technology at some point, then one needs a somewhat updated definition of music. Technically, creators of electronic music are playing music, but not instruments. Does one need to be playing an instrument to create music?

To give an example that nearly everyone can get on-board with, you could say that contemporary dance is not really dance, because it looks awful and ridiculous and confuses you more than it entertains you. But one could say that art is about “pushing boundaries” trying to make you question society and the issues the art form has raised for you. So anything that has a meaning is art. Being so subjective, with any art form you can find topics and points of relevance in pieces that the original artist has never even realised they are stating. That is the beauty of art.