Thursday, November 8, 2007

Anti Synthesizer Rant (no Compassion for electronic music)

Before you read this, read the post just prior to this for the lyrics...

As I said, I awoke with Todd Rundgren's "Compassion" in my head. I love that song and hate it in equal measures. The lyrics, of course, I love. The music, though, makes my skin crawl. This rant is specifically directed at Todd Rundgren and Joni Mitchell who are two incredible songwriters but who's choice of production and instrumentation about makes me give up on them. Why must they use tinny, thin, synthetic, grating electronic "instruments"? Both of them write lyrics that have depth, experience, and (sometimes) wisdom and melodies which flow and support the lyrics but then take those songs and make them sound like the K-Mart toy isle during the Christmas shopping season. Why? I really don't understand. Obviously, they're both proficient musicians. Obviously, they both have access to basically any musician they wanted to play with. Why do they choose to sound synthetic?

A lot of musicians went through an electronic music phase in the '80s. I understand the excitement of a new medium through which to showcase one's talents. But most musicians discovered, quickly enough, that their music sounds not just better but, really, really BETTER when played with a real instrument rather than with a synthesizer. Why didn't Joni and Todd figure this obvious thing out?

Some musicians, like Thomas Dolby, I can understand. I really like some of his music (the song "Hyperactive" totally describes my middle son), even though the synthetic nature of his music is a big part of his shtick.

Todd Rundgren. His "A Capella" disc is one of my favorites. He uses the human voice (and nothing else) to beautiful results. And Joni's early music (prior to the '80s) is incredible for it's perfect simplicity which showcases her lyrical phrasing. What drove them off track? I think Todd is an innovator; the kind of guy who can't leave well enough alone. And Joni is an artist who needs to feel she is moving forward. (I'm projecting here). Whatever the reasoning is, I wish they'd put out double disc sets of any new music projects: One with the production they prefer and one with a simpler, more "natural" production that doesn't hurt my ears.

If only the world would listen to me.

No comments: