I still have a fairly large collection of LPs. Also a turntable that works. God knows how old the stylus is, or where I’d find a replacement, but it still sounds good. After a few years in storage the gears were a little gummy, but after I played a couple of records it smoothed out. It spins just fine now.
So I’m listening to a 1987 album by Cabaret Voltaire called Code. It’s not unlike Kraftwerk, but with a dark and nasty edge. Very clean ’80s electronics — punchy drums, analog string machine, sampled vocal clips. The sonorities are nicely transparent; you can hear everything that’s going on. It’s all muscle and gristle, no flab.
I liked this album when it came out, haven’t listened to it in probably 20 years, but I still like it. This kind of stuff is my roots. Well, this and Patrick O’Hearn and Gentle Giant and Haydn string quartets. There are other albums I love (Jon Hassell’s early LPs come to mind, I know they’re on the shelf somewhere, gotta put the records in alphabetical order so I can find things) that I don’t think influenced me much, even though I was knocked out by them.
Eighties-era synth pop, though, I can see how to do what they’re doing. I’ve got the technology to do it, and my mind likes doing those things.
What you do musically doesn’t have to be new to be good. It just has to be good. You can draw on anything and everything, whatever rings your chimes, be it Couperin or Zappa, Brahms or Ellington, Stravinsky or the Residents. Throw it all in the pot and stir until simmering.
Last night I was listening to a CD of synthesizer music that I recorded 20 years ago. Haven’t really listened to it in years, so I was amazed by how good it sounds. The technology I used was primitive by today’s standards, but certainly adequate. What impressed me most (if I can admit to being Read more