I thought I’d focus on texture for a bit. No beats, no bass lines, no chord progressions. Pretty much all of it is me playing long notes on muted trombone, mangled and manipulated in various ways.
Randomness in recording
I recorded each long note at a random sample rate (from very high to very low), and encoded them all straight to MP3 at random bit rates, again from high to low, then slung everything into Logic and did a load of chopping and looping, just to vary the textures a bit more.
The sound of The New Aesthetic?
In that little sketch, you can hear the low-res bits drifting in and out from time to time, the higher frequencies burbling away like little insects. It’s fascinating to explore the timbre of audio compression directly, as a material, as opposed to listening to beardy musos bleating about it as a loss of quality.
Obviously I had to glitch up the artwork a bit too. I messed around here trying to replicate the American Pixels algorithm. Using glitches and compression artifacts as a form of one-off digital printmaking seems to be a more natural fit than printing with analog ink on paper.
Anyway. Loads of pop producers have been experimenting with this stuff for years – with effects like bitcrushing and so on – but, to me, it all feels a little skin-deep, and I’m not sure why.
I’ve been following the talented Mr Bridle’s thoughts on Network Realism in literature over the past couple of years. Is there an equivalent in music? I’ve no idea, really, but I’m not sure there is, yet. Maybe we’ve been so busy breaking the 20th century recording industry’s machinery that we’ve forgotten to invent truly new, 21st-century music.