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Monthly Archives: January 2010

"Silenced" by Artoland, click for source and more by the artist

Now I’m sure you’ve had times when you’ve felt down or angry,
Wanted to lash out, punch a wall and be manly,
But the question I pose now will offer you a plan B,
And maybe some peace and quiet for your friends and family,
How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood,
And then just be.. in.. a good mood?
That’s all I have to say because it’s a straight up fact,
You control your emotions it’s as simple as that”

– Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Waiting For The Beat To Kick In

Buy Angles by Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pop

What was the point of Oregon Trail again? If the point was to make me really glad I didn’t have to live in that era, then it was a resounding success.

Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill

Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip on Amazon

You are missed.

Ladytron – Beauty*2

Pink Floyd – Unknown Song

Music is getting louder.  It’s not just played louder and written faster, harder, with lower lows and higher highs, but actually processed to sound louder on your stereo regardless of where you set your volume knob.   Louder songs sell.  If Intergalactic is played right before Boom Boom Pow, and Boom Boom Pow sounds louder, listeners will prefer Boom Boom Pow because the louder song is initially more pleasing.   At least that’s what record execs and studio producers believe.

The problem lies in what is lost when the ‘volume’ is cranked up.   When the quiet parts of the song are loud and the loud parts are peaking at  zero (the loudest volume possible on CD’s) the listener misses out on the subtleties in many songs.  String accompaniments are drowned out by bass beats and electric guitar.   Snare drums sound dull.  Otherwise beautiful and dynamic songs lose much of their texture.  Imagine listening to The Dark Side of the Moon with the levels on your equalizer all the way up.  Try it sometime.  It’s disgusting.

NPR’s All Thing’s Considered ran a story on this phenomenon a few weeks ago.  Check it out here.

Because louder music creates a more immediately pleasing effect on the listener, record execs have been ordering the volume knob cranked up for the last three decades. This could be chalked up to harmless capitalism, but the problem is that audio can only get so loud before it begins to lose all the stuff that makes it so good. Once you compress the peaks and valleys of rhythm and sound too far, it becomes the visual equivalent of typing in all caps: All the the loud sounds are loud and so are all the soft ones. The dynamic of sound, or the part of music that makes it funky or groovy or smooth or mellow or punchy or whatever you like, is suddenly being pushed to what is more or less white noise, merely for a chance at that #1 spot.

NPR – A Visual History of Loudness

The Loudness War is a youtube video that provides an excellent audio/visual representation of the loudness problem:

Even if you’re listening to properly mastered music, you still might be falling into a similar trap by listening to low quality .mp3 files (avoid going lower than 256kpbs!) or listening on crappy headphones/speakers.  You might also be cranking up the bass or treble on your equalizer or by using the loud feature on your stereo or mp3 player.   If you try flattening your equalizer and listening on great headphones, you will hear all the subtleties in the music (as the artist intended).

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.

–  Neil Gaiman

Magic Sam – Everything’s gonna be alright

Peter Broderick – And It’s Alright

Stereophonic – I’m Alright

Sigur Rós – All Alright

Jamie Myerson – Everything’s gonna be alright

How can it feel, this wrong
From this moment
How can it feel, this wrong

Portishead – Roads

Portishead ft. Tricky – Hell is Around the Corner