Archive for May, 2012
I had one of those moments of existential despair for the modern age this morning when I read a quick blurb about how a premier screening of the new Avengers movie was postponed today because the projectionist accidentally deleted the film from the digital projector. So you know, I had one of those flashes where I realized that the easier and easier it becomes to access information and material, the seemingly easier it becomes to also lose things just as quickly. Back in the day, that guy would have had to accidentally set the film on fire for the thing to just disappear like that. Now he thinks he’s confirming “boob” on words-with-friends and actually sends a full-feature film into the nether-world. We’ve still gotta turn 2 keys at the same time to launch nukes, right? Let’s fucking hope so. Anyway, nothing like a little Tuesday imposed fear of Kurzweilian fear to make me find a killer link…
So I’m trying to think about folks who are still advancing into the modern age while they embrace the techniques of yesteryear. I think of my friends who are adamant about recording only to 2-inch tape… I think of Stephen Malkmus‘s utter disdain for ProTools… I think of RZA running all of Wu-Tang‘s beats through analog mixers… and I think of Dan Deacon. It’s been 3 years since Deacon released the epic and seminal album Bromst, and while his ‘electronic’ music has always had a very natural, organic, breathing feel to it, it wasn’t until this album that he really began to involve actual instrumentation into his compositions. Over the past few years, the album has only become more of an enigma to me as I’ve contemplated his different routes of composing and what ‘real’ instruments he utilized to get his sounds. The thing is a masterpiece, and the world will be thoroughly blessed if he can make something ever again of equal caliber – the crazy part is I think he can. Anyway, even after I interviewed him about the album when it came out, more questions have only arisen upon further listens. Luckily, those bastards over at Pitchfork have finally decided to put up the video they made of Deacon in the studio in Montana working on this album, and it is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.
Besides using a house with a natural steel reverb plank installed, Deacon does something that I couldn’t find any instance of ever being done before. He composed massively rapid piano lines, that are not only too complex for one human to actually play on piano, but are too fast for a piano’s hammers to be able to recover and make a sequence of notes in the correct order. But to give the illusion of just such impossibilities happening, they digitally wire the key tracks into an actual player piano. I suppose after many rigorous hours, he and another player could have practiced the parts so that they could play the sequential impossibilities, but then there still would need to be layers of those parts put on top of one another so you can have the rapid firing effect succeed. Basically, a piano just won’t let you hit a note as fast as they needed.
Anyway, the video is amazing, and I posted it below but I’ve also posted the link to the pitchfork page with the other short videos assembled from this same recording session. Dan Deacon is an honest-to-goodness musical genius in our modern age, and sometimes just hearing the man ramble on is a blessing.