Postmodern Digital Musical Oddness

I find myself fascinated by the following videos:

For me this is a perfect musical distillation of modern digital culture. Often what creates the musical zeitgeist is the advent of some new recording technology. As pointed out by Simon Reynolds in his book Retromania (2012) in the 20th century pop music had a distinct sense of “era” and  simply due developments and fashions in sound recording, for example nothing says 80s to me quite like horrendous over use of gating and compression on the snare drum. However most developments in music technology in the 21st century have been based around distribution, interfaces and lower costs of production rather than actual sound design. This has certainly has led to changes of how we consume music but perhaps explains why you no longer hear pop music where you think “wow this could only have been made now”.

I would argue that the videos above do manage to fulfil the “sound of now” function. They could only be made and understood in an era with a platform like youtube and easily available recording technology. They are very postmodern and have the sense of “serious playfulness” that typifies the works of Haraway (2007), check out the expression on Iggy Jackson-Cohen’s face as he plays. Very serious. On top of that it takes a serious level of musicianship to transcribe, memorize and then perform music that is atonal and rubato as human speech. In an interesting contrast the musician in the video below set the speech to a key which makes it more conventional and pleasant to listen to, making the juxtaposition with Hitler’s demagoguery all the more unsettling:

 

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