The Diminishing Importance of Physical Aesthetics in the Digital Music Era

Posted: August 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Articles About Music | Tags: , , | Comments Off on The Diminishing Importance of Physical Aesthetics in the Digital Music Era

On the dawn of an increasingly digital horizon, once important physical aesthetics are slowly disappearing from popular music culture.

Anyone who had a music collection before the year 2000 had a truly physical connection to their music. Maybe it was a vinyl record, a cassette tape, an eight-track or even a compact disc. Regardless of the format, when you purchased music it came in physical form. In the iTunes and Spotify era, liner notes and album art still exist, but are undoubtedly diminished by a digital existence.

I’d compare it to looking at paintings on the Internet instead of in a gallery. Sure the image will still be the same, but the emotion and the feeling of viewing something the way it was designed to be viewed should still mean something. The ability to approach the art and view it at the right angle should still mean something.

In many ways, I’m reminded of my purchase of Arcade Fire’s album Funeral on vinyl. Inside the record sleeve was the kind of small brochure you’d receive upon attending a funeral. These types of liner notes experiences are being lost with Amazon MP3 sales and file-sharing.

A few weeks ago, IHYEB received a copy of Sarah Fimm’s Barn Sessions EP. A name like “Barn Sessions” really evokes a certain visual aesthetic that Fimm really delivers on. The EP was released exclusively on a wooden USB flash drive containing:

  • A video introduction to the album
  • The album cover in PDF and JPEG form
  • Lyrics and artist information
  • MP3s of the songs performed
  • HD videos of performances
  • Photos from the recording sessions

I can’t really say that I want to start a collection of USB drives with my favorite albums on them, but what Fimm has released is an elegant throwback to what’s been missing from digital music sales for a growing number of years.

In additional to being a musician, Fimm is also an artist who works with physical media. I think it’s a safe bet to say that musicians have an ideal aesthetic in mind when they make their work in the same way that physical artists do. On her website, Fimm has photos from an installation called “Mirrors of Near Infinite Possibility.” While the installation made for some interesting photos, I’m of the belief that a true experience meant seeing it in person. Now, as music lovers we can’t always make the pilgrimage to see our favorite acts live and even when we can it’s not always going to performed the way it was on the album. That’s okay since a live act and an album are different experiences meant to be experienced differently but what can’t be denied is the importance of the ideal experience.

I believe that the best question for any interviewer to ask a musician is, “How should I listen to your music?” The answer hopefully won’t be “on your iPod” or “with your ears” but more to the effect of “listen to this while driving” or “laying on your couch at night” or better yet “with a glass of wine.” Music can be experienced alone in a cold, dark room while lying in the fetal position… but should you?

Music is not an activity for just your ears. If anything, the more senses you can combine the better.

So hats off to Sarah Fimm. Hopefully more artists will follow her model, or at the very least continue to release more great albums on vinyl where quality aesthetics are just one of the necessities of the process.

For more information on Sarah Fimm is available on her website. To order your own copy of the barn sessions EP, visit Sarah’s store on her website.

I hope your ears can appreciate the importance of physical aesthetics. Ω

Some Great Fan-Made Videos

Posted: March 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Articles About Music, Music Video of the Week | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Some Great Fan-Made Videos

On Friday Paste Magazine posted 12 Fantastic Fan-Made Videos and I thought I would share with you all some of my favorites from that bunch.

Snow Patrol – “Make This Go On Forever”

The Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”

Sleigh Bells – “Treats”

Frightened Rabbit – “I Feel Better”

Arcade Fire Surprised Everyone with Grammy Win

Posted: February 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Articles About Music, Remix of the Week | Tags: | 4 Comments »

Indie superstars Arcade Fire were the big winners last night at the Grammy’s, which understandably shocked everyone watching.  I’m really curious to know how and why they won. Not that they weren’t the most deserving of those nominated, I’m still confused as to how they were nominated to begin with.  A band like Arcade Fire usually doesn’t get recognized by the Grammy’s.

I was already shocked by the inclusion of artists like Mumford and Son’s and Ray Lamontagne.  And I found the performance by the Avett Brothers delightful, but also uncharacteristic.  It just makes me wonder if this was an intentional ploy to garner more interest from the hardcore music fans.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Suburbs.  It will definitely be in my Top Ten List for 2010 (if I ever get around to posting it), but it’s probably not in my top 5 and in fact I haven’t seen it at the top of anyone’s list.  So this album isn’t the best by the hardcore list-making obsessive indie music fans, and those watching the Grammy’s have never even heard of it.  I’d like to say this is the first step in a positive trend by voters to start recognizing music that actually has some depth to it.  Something with more than just a catchy hook that will stick with us longer than last night’s dinner. But it just seems to me to be a publicity stunt to gain some attention and turn the indie hipsters into viewers in 2012.

Intentional or not this has definitely gotten people’s attention.  Less than 24 hours now from the announcement and a new Tumblr page titled Who Is Arcade Fire which is racking up the hits by posting a collection of hilarious Twitter reactions to Arcade Fire’s victory.  It has provided a great deal of entertainment to me today.  Here are a few of my favorites.

“Congratulations to all 10 people in the world who have ever heard of arcade fire before…”

“How can this group get album of the year when they didn’t even have as many top 10 as Gaga? Did this group even have a number 1 hit?”

“The grammy people lost their mind…who are the Suburbs and how in heck did they win album of the year…smh”

“Who the he’ll is that Fire who ?”

Arcade Fire – Rococo (removed 7/21/12)

For those who have put off purchasing The Suburbs and are suddenly motivated to hear what all the fuss is about, right now you can a premium quality digital download for just $3.50.  on their web-site.

Here’s a fun little remix might have gone unnoticed without it’s title.

The Hood Internet – Arcade Fire vs. Blondie mashup (removed 7/21/12)

Arcade Fire presents Scenes from the Suburbs

Posted: February 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Articles About Music, Film & Television Stuff | Tags: , | Comments Off on Arcade Fire presents Scenes from the Suburbs

The Arcade Fire and Spike Jonze have teamed up to create a short film that was inspired by the band’s latest album, The Suburbs.   The film was written by Jonze and band members Win and Will Butler. It is a 30 minute short film based on the album and will premiere this weekend at the Berlin Film Festival.  According to Consequence of Sound the film is slated to be released on DVD in May along with an expanded reissue of The Suburbs.  Below is the trailer for the film that also serves as a music video for the title track.