By Rob J Madin
Technology: Yay or Neigh?
As part of my University Degree in Music Journalism (Hon-est) I was asked to write an essay on 'The Impact of Technology on Music in the Twenty-First Century'. To sum it up in a paragraph would be like describing the work of Magritte in one sentence; so let's just say it was mind-blowing. However, one salient point covered was the increasing ease that a Musician today has whilst writing, arranging and recording new experiments in sound. Home-computing + Cubase = Everybody's making music!
But here's something to noodle on: is this a good thing?
Exhibit A: 'We Will Eat Ourselves...' by Rob J Madin.
All parts played by Mr Madin, 'We Will Eat Ourselves...' is a concept album covering the idea that we are now residing in a 'Zombie Nation'; relying on alcohol and false idols to resuscitate our dimming brains.
Immediately I like the idea of this, as there's nothing quite like an angry Northerner lambasting the Status Quo to wake you up on a banal Tuesday morning. Song-titles such as 'Decade of the Living Dead' mix this idea with a bit of the old 'Cult-Cinema', and apparently the album can be synched-up to match the original 'Night of the Living Dead'. Unfortunately I'm not nerdy enough to indulge in this novelty (really), so I'll take it as Red.
In Soundology terms the album lacks the punch of the lyrical content, and is almost of Rock-Opera domain. This is all well and good if you're into your prolonged guitar-solos and atmospheric shenanigans, but just how many Meatloaf fans are still alive today? He was alright in Fight Club I suppose; but his music was about as memorable as an amnesiac's Emerson, Lake and Palmer Box-Set.
So does 'We Will Eat Ourselves...' add weight to the argument that Technology has had a positive impact on Music?
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, what we have here is a classic case of 21st Century Blues. Rob J Madin is a good musician, and tackles most instruments admirably. But ultimately I would ascertain that Mr Madin is primarily a Guitarist waiting to form a band of real substance.
Concept albums are tolerable when backed by a group as good as Radiohead, but this is down to a collective applying an idea to a backdrop of experimental sounds and memorable hooks. Unfortunately 'We Will Eat Ourselves...' possesses neither, and I would point the finger at the technology available bending Madin's arm to construct music through necessity rather than waiting until the time is right.
I guess it all boils down to the question of whether we would prefer less music of better and more original quality, or what we find in the current climate of tens of thousands of bands and artists creating average music with slithers of originality.