Friday, August 30, 2013

Falling (falling) falling falling. Falling.

Oh hi there. Who's this?


Listen to this on your stereo and you'll miss how hard it is to have this much texture in a song without digital or post-processing hacks, or even digital drum tracks and an army of synths. Watch 'em play. Their layered 80s new wave sound is accounted for in this video, and I count four people in the studio?

Well done, HAIM.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

How distortion was invented

Ever wonder how guitar fuzz was introduced to the music scene? Turns out it was a recording accident in 1960.
“I’m pretty sure what happened was the primary transformer opened up,” says Glen Snoddy, the 91-year-old retired audio engineer who worked on producer Owen Bradley’s three-channel recording console in the summer of ’60, when the console malfunctioned and caused session great Grady Martin’s guitar sound to go from clean to bludgeoning during the recording of Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry.”
The fact that it was a recording accident shouldn't be much of a surprise. The surprise is that Owen Bradley had the courage to leave it in—and for Glen Snoddy to like it enough to figure out what broke and then build the first distortion box.


And that sound you hear around a minute and 40 in is the bawling sound of rock and roll being born.

Related to this is the story of how musicians in 1910 started plumbing telephone receivers in their violins, leading to what would eventually become the first electric guitar. We'll get to that later.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Death: The Unheard Band That Discovered Punk First



Death is a proto-punk Detroit band that's making the rounds right now. They started out in 1971 as an R&B and then switched to heavy metal after a Alice Cooper concert. Punk is how we'd describe their sound today, but it didn't really exist then. They released a 7", but were probably considered just too far out there.

I think there would be many out there that would say that this band might have invented this sound, but in truth, they escaped detection until they released everything they recorded in 2009. Who knows what kind of influence they would have had if the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, or Buzzcocks, et. al. had heard them first. Hell, for breaking boundaries, this might even take the steam out of Bad Brains a bit.

The fact that these similar inventions happen in tandem around the world in the space of a decade (without the communication technology we have today) makes you think we're much more interconnected than we'd like to think.


Saturday, April 06, 2013

Friday, August 24, 2012

Revisiting Dark Side of the Moon


Several times over the last week, I've been pointed to Ireland's student-run Trinity Orchestra playing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It's marvelous. In passing, I couldn't help but come across Roger Waters' interview with Billboard, where he passes on one of the first reactions to hearing the album in full.
"When the record was finished I took a reel-to-reel copy home with me and I remember playing it for my wife then, and I remember her bursting into tears when it was finished. And I thought, 'This has obviously struck a chord somewhere,' and I was kinda pleased by that."
I think back to when I heard it for the first time during high school. Maybe in combination with Trinity's version and this quote. I can relate.