Crawling Chaos – Neil Young – Sound Quality

I had a message from Doomage recently which allowed me to update some biographical information on the Crawling Chaos website here, http://crawlingchaos.co.uk/myths/people, but also he expressed his disappointment about the online sound quality.

Needles to say, I agree with the sentiment but am forced into this mode by the technical limitations of the medium.

But at least we are in sound company.  Neil Young, the godfather of grunge has piped up with a similar statement at a recent tech conference where he stated:

The iPod is a “Fisher Price toy” – reported in Computer Buyer Magazine

He also doesn’t like CDs which gets my vote as well but for different reasons, I think.  Whatever, it’s all a reaction to the throwaway garbage mentality to much modern music.  Everywhere you go there’s the same crap pumped out so that no-one actually notices it any more and thus, it’s disposable.

I went into Halfords yesterday to get some wipers and screenwash – there it was; booga-booga-chik, booga-booga-chik

A car drove past; booga-booga-chik, booga-booga-chik

In a lift in Croydon recently; booga-booga-chik, booga-booga-chik

And because the music is disposable it’s treated by people as if it’s free.  It doesn’t help that most stuff is produced in tiny separate sound boxes of the audio spectrum which allows huge amounts of compression at both production and dissemination to be used.  As soon as an artist tries to use overlapping sound and making the most of the spectrum, massive audio artifacts start to rear their head – and this is what Neil and Doomage are spotting.

I even noticed it in a simple news TV broadcast on digital yesterday on 5.  The audio artefacts are becoming more obvious – presumably because the technicians in charge are so inured to the crap sound in their iPods that they don’t hear the artefacts anymore! Much like two people trying to converse in an airport – after a while they don’t notice the jet noise!

It’s a kind of metallic bubbling noise.

Checking up Vince Clarke yesterday, I see that he spotted a similar thing some time ago in the way he did his synth pop stuff.  He found that his old analogue synths which took ages to wire up still had a better sound than the mechanical MIDI which followed.  I think his ears had an early appreciation of what would later become compression artefacts.

This is all part of the interconnectedness of all things.  Each notionally separate cause is having profoundly bigger and interactive effects far from the original intent.  We see how engineering solutions to data transmission affect society’s appreciation of music and how one man’s music “noise” (Neil Young, Crawling Chaos), is actually degraded by compression effects.  We see how people adapt to the new sounds designed to fit into the compressed format and we see how artists create and perform within these constraints.

Hopefully, the next step is that we can all agree that MySpace is the New Hell and is for washed up wannabees to wank into the wind.

But that’s for another day.

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