Saturday, February 07, 2004

Saw Pabst's 1931 Threepenny Opera tonight, but it'll keep.

Sasha Frere-Jones truly excellent piece on Timbaland and The Neptunes from the NYT Style section is already offline for nonsubscribers, but you can always buy the paper tomorrow. The prose is restrained, as you'd expect from the venue, but not Grey-Lady-grey, thanks to wily use of the subjects' voices. 3 points are really significant:

1) The focus on "Virginia Beach as the birthplace of a certain sound, something like Detroit's claim to 60's pop-soul or Seattle's to 90's grunge." Maybe this claim is already better-accepted in the pop discourse than I am equipped to understand, but putting it down in the paper of record is gonna help it get written into history books, I'll bet.

2) The piece makes the case for the music, rather than assuming it. A fair bit of dense/inside criticism is being written from within these assumptions, but this piece would be accessible even to someone who knows even less about this music than I do.

3) There's a subtheme throughout on the difficulty of saying just what a 'songwriter,' a 'musician,' or a 'producer' amounts to at this point. I think these changes in division of labor are the most interesting thing about what pop now is -- more interesting, in the long run, than the changes in technology that (as SFJ documents) drive them. (I suspect they're more radical changes than the oversold collapse of writer and performer that's supposed to demarcate pre-rock pop from rock -- or at least they're its culmination.)

Now I really want the book.

In other sample-centric news: I'm what, 2 weeks behind the curve on Strictly Kev's 40-minute mix-of-mixes Raiding the 20th Century? (Link is to homepage, mp3 available from there.) You need to hear this. Anyone who writes saying, "Yeah, that's ok, but it's no [x]" can just...tell me what [x] is.

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