Monday, May 07, 2007

beta gets feisty

Simply put, aside from my own music-making, I have never had a greater bias towards an album than I do with Feist's The Reminder. The connection is not of import here, but rest assured, it is close to my heart. Coming wholly from the aesthetic side of music appreciation as a critic and reared in a world of music-making (in small town punk-rock club culture) where the idea of monetary success meant free beer on a Saturday night, it has been illuminating to finally glean the gears (and greasing) of the music industry, to see the to-and-fro of both frontlash and back, to know just what commercials will pay for a slice of pop music, to learn how $25 million ad campaigns and big-budget motion pictures get edited in rhythm so as to woo a certain song's placement amidst their visuals.

It was a curious vantage point to watch that critdom race to proclaim Feist first, to see articles jockey for position in the NYC market, to realize how an 8-hour fashion shoot only translates into an inch of space in a glossy, to know that the name "Busby Berkeley" appeared in a video proposal, and to understand why certain authors appear strangely stymied regarding their subject. Similarly, I have never experienced the true "behind the music" workings of a major label album and how it gets sold in these days of diminishing returns until now. How music gets sold alongside frappucinos, how labels haggle over that obsolescent creature of the music industry (barring 8-tracks): the music video, how songs wind up on prime time, it was all revealed to me. It is not glamor, but the direct result of hard work. And I now pray that Leslie Feist does don the mantle of "the hipster Norah Jones" and sell 20 million copies.

It's gotten to the point that I dreamed the other night of gushing to an old high school friend about the room sound on The Reminder, relishing the texture of the field recordings, the suspended air surrounding the piano chords and woodwind breaths, the grain of Leslie Feist's throat, explained with zeal the 3:1 ballad ratio. I dream of certain remixers for songs like "Sealion," revel in how that fritzing electric organ bleat on "My Moon My Man" recreates exactly the interference of a certain somebody's overworked Blackberry when near my stereo. Every time I hear that single sonic element now, it conjures their presence instantly.

In waking life, I bully a professional acquaintance for positing a theory about "sophistication" with regards to Feist's thirtysomething audience while having never heard a single note. I laugh at the notion that on a corporate countertop lies the widest dissemination of my words. And when my mother calls to say that the album reminded her of Carole King's Tapestry, I beam. Okay, The Reminder isn't that great, but such a testimony is nevertheless music to my ears.