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More is More

Excess, when applied in an artful manner, can dramatically enhance the power and expressiveness of music. Two dazzling examples jump to mind: Birds of Fire and Go Plastic.

John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, which had its heyday in the early 70s, was the most ecstatically loud and musically dense band of its era, perhaps any era. (When I heard them live I became physically sick from the assault, but it was a good sickness, an exquisite pain.) Who can listen to the sonic vortex that is Birds of Fire without feeling transported, wrenched upward?

Squarepusher’s Go Plastic is my favorite avant-d’n’b(ish) album. Some tracks are quite pedestrian, others so astonishingly dense and out-there that listening to them feels like eavesdropping in on the internal stream of consciousness of a brain in the throes of a ecstatically virtuosic musical convulsion. To wit: Check out Go! Spastic and My Fucking Sound (especially from about 4:00 onward).

Excess can also work brilliantly in the equipment arena. If you are a composer who thrives on multiplicity, then by all means embrace the surfeit of DSP programs and plugins out there. Money is no obstacle, since many of these programs are cheap or free.

Embrace the temptation to overstate, bombard, densify! Assault your listeners (lovingly) and trust them to come back, hungry for more.

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm by rachmiel · Permalink