Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Playing Live Pt.2

After reading this thread, which is a discussion stemming from Jesse from MSTRKRFT, it got me thinking about the electro scene even more. Personally, I am indifferent to an extent of the 'integrity' of the show as long as it is what I consider good music. If I start to analyze what the group does and they start losing their mystique, then I start to feel disappointed because I feel that I could then do it at home or something. I don't have or use Ableton, so if an artist incorporates it (or uses it as their entire backbone) then I'm ok with that. Maybe that's how they appear to the majority of non-musicians of the world that just want to hear what they play. Should I care more? I'm perfectly fine with where I stand. If I started to use some of the equipment that Soulwax uses, would their stuff not sound as good to me anymore, or would I appreciate them more?

After seeing Pitchfork this weekend through the lens of trying to appreciate live shows more, maybe I'm finally getting it. I didn't see Cut Copy to compare them to the likes of the Dodos or Ghostface, but seeing these people play more familiar instruments (including a trashcan) makes me appreciate them more. Is it the risk of making a mistake what makes a show more live? If I program a sequencer incorrectly on the fly, does that make it more live? The guitarist from the Dodos, who is very talented by the way, was using a boomerang pedal or sampler to loop his sound and create layers of himself. It was neat, but not really novel. I was digging it; though if I did something like that through an electronic drum set programming a drum machine and not using traditional sounds, would that fly? I've noticed that at these electro/techno/house shows that there are a lot of visuals. Who wants to see guys on MIDI controllers pushing buttons? Kraftwerk stands perfectly still while their background goes nuts, Daft Punk has their pyramid, and VJ's are common at more noteworthy DJ events. I get the feeling that if you are watching these folk, you want to see them doing something really involved with their hands otherwise you're under the suspicion that it's all premade. That may be true, but people (including me) don't understand the technicality of all the tricks of using Ableton. People see an instrument that has strings and get it (guitar, violin, zither). Same goes for the chambers open at one end with skins on the top. I wonder what people's reaction was to seeing Giorgio Moroder live for the first time (not that he played many shows), although back then the concept of programmed sounds was rather foreign I'd think.

I'm trying to defend electronic music in general, but in doing so I'm re-discovering what I already know in that there's a lot of shit out there that basically sounds the same because it's easy to do. Mimicking the Rolling Stones requires a decent amount skill, whereas redoing Chemical Brothers requires finding the correct sounds and saving the sequence... you just won't be original and you will sound like you're just playing their track. Maybe that's it; you can't properly equate a live rock/hip-hop show to a live electronic show; the rules are not the same.

By the way, I just got this Santogold Diplo Dub in the mail. Some of it is pretty good. First two play in order:
1. Aretha Franklin - Save Me
2. Devo - Be Stiff
Santogold - Guns of Brooklyn
Dixie Cups - Iko Iko

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