I’ve added some new content to the Sound Pages; straight from the archive. I’ve always believed that to know where you are going, you have to know where you came from. You can click on ‘Tracks’ and ‘Sound & Vision’ to navigate to the samples. On the Sound & Vision page is the first piece of film I scored. On the Track pages are 4 songs from the first ‘album’ I fully assembled called ‘Insides Out’ (full piece will be downloadable in the archive soon). Both were made using 100% soft-synth and soft-recording tools. Circa 2002, this material documents a paradigm shift in the way I make music. 9 years ago some of us found ourselves scratching our heads at a plethora of new technology that not only was affordable, but sounded as good as the ‘real’ thing. Scrapping together a bunch of 2nd-hand lay-about electronics and saving a small fortune just to purchase one Reagan-era analog synth so you could be the next Fat-Boy Slim, was now all a thing of the past. You could have as many square waves and 24db low-pass filters your computer could handle. Soft synths were here to stay. But how long did it take before we were all overwhelmed with such easy access to all the amazing synthesis techniques that were suddenly affordable? The manufacturers certainly didn’t wait around for us to catch up. They kept pushing the limits of digital synthesis to new wonderful territories, in many cases surpassing their hardware competitors in raw innovation.
No one could keep up with all this. Look at Aphex Twin’s Drukqs album, this came out in 2001 and remains the North Star of what someone can produce with a laptop. Honestly, sit through that album and then try to think of a piece of computer music that can ace that. If it came out this year, it would be just as incredible. A few mile markers down the road, we see softs-syths have earned their place in most professional studios. Meanwhile, hardware synths have stepped up their game and met the software crowd in the no-man’s land of usability. And this is why it’s such an exciting time to get into synthesis right now. I feel now more than ever, it’s less about the tools you use and more about the hands that use them.
Maybe it’s just me, but now that the giant music industry dragons are looking for caves to sleep in, I feel like that the most gratifying music to hear is the kind that doesn’t come from the radio or some marketed musical ‘movement’. What shines through is not another track made with the latest and greatest technology (I hear the boyscouts are offering an autotune badge now), it’s the Idea. The Idea sounds through. Even if something’s not mixed down by Deadmaus, chances are it’ll sound good enough to enjoy at least for a moment. It’s those moments that really count, not just their part in some name-your-New-Something movement. But wasn’t that what it was always all about?