The volume war

Alan Wilder of Recoil (and formerly of Depeche Mode) has some thoughts on the state of music these days.

So who shall we blame for the whole mess? Do we stick two fingers up at the record companies who have sat around twiddling their thumbs, peddling overpriced re-issues for years while their A&R men bombard us with shallow, faceless pop idol, X factor boy bands? Is it fair to say “… well, you had it coming”…? Or do we accuse the casual ‘non-listener’ with the attention span of a three year old living in a disposable, homogenized, Paris Hilton-obsessed society, over stimulated with too much life choice? A society that places value in triviality and accepts mediocrity without much question? Or perhaps the devaluation has evolved from the cult of the DJ, where anyone can regurgitate the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll by lifting an entire 70’s funk classic, adding some rap drivel over the top and calling it their own work? Is modern music regarded as an art form at all anymore? Or is it just another business now?

Read the rest here.

Thanks to our friend Mike Smith of Fiction 8 for passing this one along.

3 replies »

  1. I was really happy to see him write about how absurdly artists compress their music these days. That’s been a sore point for me as well. I’ve been wanting to put out more dynamic recordings, but have been afraid to because it hurts club play and people seem to think it’s less interesting just because it’s not as loud. The prospect of releasing multiple versions is an interesting one. It may be worth the experiment.

    Here in the 21st century, we’re deprived of our natural dynamics. If people are up and down, they’re no longer moody. They’re bi-polar. We have pharmaceuticals to act as compressors; keeping us even rather than allowing us to respond to situations appropriately. Reality’s Soma is a lot less interesting than Huxley’s version. Somewhere in the minutiae of these squashed dynamics, quality of life has escaped.

  2. The music industry has been under attack from within for over a decade now, by a certain group of individuals, and recording studios, who care little about the popularity of their music, while caring exclusively about promoting their orthodox, evangelical religious agenda through their lyircs.

    The same thing is happening among the new generation of DeeJays on the radio. Certain radio stations (like those owned by Clear Channel and the Mays brothers) have a Battle Cry evnagelical Christian agenda. “New” Old Testament songs get playtime, as well as extensive playtime for songs from the Conservative Top 50 Rock-N-Roll list. Plus, these “stealth rock” DeeJays sift through the lyrics of old, classic Rock-N-Roll songs, looking specifically for lyrics with an evangelical Christian bent.

    So, what happens when I tune into Rock on the radio now? If a song starts whose beat I don’t recognize, that might be a new song generated by one of these Battle Cry evangelival Christian Rock groups, I immediately turn to another station. Why? Because I refuse to be evangelicalized, proselytized through the lyrics of some evangelical Christian “stealth” Rock-N-Roll band.

    For instance, when Clear Channel changed their format in late 2004, I initially listened to their new playlist touted as representing “old school and contemporary” rock, only to discover that the contemporary songs weren’t the most popular ones, but were the ones containing religious lyrics. Subsequently, I also discovered that most of the “old school” songs Clkear Channel played contained religious lyrics (or even single words).

    Someone with an evil religious agenda, therefore, has perverted the music industry. Rock-N-Roll has been infected and affected. So has C & W. Recording studios are being hit, too, with evangelical Christian-focused studios popping up all over the place, funded heavily by arch-Conservative money men and women. This has had a very adverse impact on traditional, non-religious-agenda recording studios, and artists, which is understandable, especially when more traditional non-religious rock-n-rollers can’t get any playtime on these evangelical Christian-controlled music outlets.

    At least this is my analysis of what has been happening to the music industry….with very few people even being aware of it from what I can tell.

  3. I have to disagree with you slightly. I agree that are dynamics are being taken away in modern music, but I can’t see this as an evangelical issue. That’s like calling someone who uses black hair coloring an Adolph Hitler, because Hitler had black hair. Ease up, man. Easy… easy… okay, breathe.
    Number one, you have poorly stereotyped all Christians into the same box, in much the same way as rascists fit African Americans or Middle Easterners into stereotypes. Wow. I, myself am a Christian, and I am not on the Clear Channel bandwagon. I hate to tell you this, Mr. Conspirator, but Clear Channel answers to one god, and his name is MONEY. My Christian beliefs remind me that you “can’t serve God and money” and “no man can serve two masters. He will love one and hate the other.” These big industry heads are after one thing… ‘gimme that fat dollar’. I hate what has happened to music, and until recently, I didn’t exactly know what it was that was wrong with it, I just knew there was something wrong with it. After becoming exposed to the truths, I know my CD project will be more old school. I say, give the people a choice – to turn the knob up or down. I won’t force that on them, and I won’t sacrifice my unique tones and dynamics just to turn a profit. Bands are following the Joneses. And it’s sad.
    As far as lyrics, I see nothing wrong with CHOICE – an American and Christian value. (You can move if you don’t like it. There are other countries. Try a communist one.) I can’t see the harm in giving someone a message of hope, even if YOU don’t believe it. And only as a choice. I agree the American people are quite brainwashed, but can I ask you, sir… have you studied up on other ‘if-y’ areas, such as the dangers of vaccinations (and the dangerous ingredients relating to all these new illnesses and ‘epidemics’)? I bet you, sir, buy into Darwinian evolution (which doesn’t stand under the truest scientific absolute – do the research for your self) because your state approved science book says it’s true? There are a lot of wacked areas in our country, but b*tching about it is not the same as fixing it. Me, on the other hand… I will use my free choice to not give into the industry standard. They can only force artists into standards that the artist will allow. (Maybe they dangle money around, and maybe the artist will throw substance to the wind for that nice green dollar bill. It amounts to greed over character.) Who knows? If my stuff is good enough, maybe I’ll start a new old school trend. But it is a choice I make (to choose quality over money – would you do the same?)… and choice is a Christian trait.