Psychedelic, Man. Like, So Trippy.
The ILLUSION Episodes Part 3
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 2 Episode #26
ALL ABOUT IT
REC - “The Accumulate” (from Symphony for the Weird)
The Drop - “Lovely to See You” (from the motion picture DEALeR)
If you’ve been following along, you might know two things: 1. This is the third episode of my ILLUSION podcast miniseries; and B. I LOVE working in the studio. You might also know where I’m going with this, which is that both of these things are ... DA da da DAAAA ... CONNECTED.
From the beginning of recorded sound, engineers and artists have known that it’s not only possible to capture and preserve sounds of all kinds, it’s also possible and FUN to manipulate those sounds. At first, the manipulation was mostly about volume or clarity. Then it was about splicing multiple takes together to create one great version. Then it was about layering - i.e. multitracking elements after an initial performance had been laid down.
All of which points to one big revelation: ALL recorded music is an ILLUSION. There’s a vital value to capturing sound as close to pure as possible. But even THAT is illusory. It’s a way to trick the listener into feeling like they’re hearing the performer in real time, in ideal conditions, and with no barrier between sound and ears.
But of course we now know the illusion goes way further. A couple of years before the two bands I’m on this week debuted, artists like the Beatles started discovering that the only limit to what you could create in the studio is your own mind. They started crafting sonic worlds that didn’t and often couldn’t exist in the real world. Not just impossible levels of reverb or layering beyond the number of parts that could be performed live, but things lack backward tracking, splicing up sound collages, manipulating vocals or other instruments to sound like something completely different. It’s an extensive list that has mushroomed as fast as technological innovations have allowed it to.
These days we take for granted - often without even knowing it - that what we hear in music has come from massive amounts of manipulation (AutoTune, anyone?). It’s the default way most popular music is produced. Which MEANS that we are all basically living in an illusion. - Okay maybe not LIVING IN one so much as surrounded by the SOUNDS OF ILLUSION. And artists like the Nazz (and especially Todd Rundgren as he pushed boundaries in his solo career) and the Moody Blues should be remembered as part of the pioneering generation of ultimate sound manipulation. Swirly, psychedelic, ethereal, ambient, triply, epic, and somehow all so real. The greatest trick of all.
So back to me, as always. I don’t just love the studio manipulation I’m able to do. I thrive on it. I’m always adding to my palate and skills, always looking for the limits of my mind, of what I hear in my head that I can bring into the world for others to hear and understand. Like these two songs. The first is off my band REC’s new EP, Symphony for the Weird. The second is my cover of a Moody Blues song. Both are great examples of electro psychedelic power pop, and how recordings consisting of only one performer can sound like a whole band:
Do you remember love like hate either of these bands? Or Todd Rundgren - a hometown Philly boy? Are you into obvious full-blown sound illusions like psychedelica or electronica? Or do you prefer the everyday illusion of ALL OTHER KINDS OF RECORDED MUSIC? Will this make you hear music differently now? Discuss dammit!