Without limitations, everything’s possible–and that’s the problem: everything’s possible.
Studio World makes it easy to get lost chasing digital perfectibility. Here, creation is decoupled from time and space and–frequently–any sense of perspective. (Which, you suppose, says something about the world, since God had worked under similar conditions.) Most stillborn projects aren’t the result of drugs or writer’s block. Rather, it’s the seduction of 52 tracks and the lure of endless tweaking: a song that can be perpetually fixed-in-the mix instantly becomes addictive, and then every few hours that little musical problem turns out to be Not Quite Dead. Even in the studio most of us do things that just aren’t good for us.
Bryan, after Jimmy, there at the dawn of music’s digital age: trapped for seven self-indulgent years inside 50 desk-direct recordings. Obsessively laying tracks and then endlessly deciding among the infinite “final” mixes. And so, in the end, the big surprise wasn’t that the album never came out–it was that something quick-and-dirty did: a collection of covers recorded in three weeks; a release in all senses of the word.
Jimmy, before Bryan, in someplace inaccessible during the old analog days, with his master tapes actually wearing out; their ferric oxide scrapped off edges-first by endless runs across play heads. Jimmy had been looking for Perfect Mixes, and, in retrospect, he’d been having a breakdown. But the legendary, self-destructing masters was only the most repeated story; the one sane enough in later years to share with dinner guests. The last song completed had been something musique concrete, but approached almost as if it were dub: the vocal was Jimmy, heavily reverbed, speaking a session guitarist through a blistering solo note by fucking note–however, all of the guitar had then been replaced by a digital cello carefully programmed to ignore everything Jimmy had commanded. Thus “No, goddamnit, it’s E beforeG; right there at the 5th fret” tore through the dark chocolate melancholy often and to no avail. Like a tape loop–until it finally sunk in that someone had done this in real time. After which it became disturbing in a way that even edgy performance art isn’t, andeliminated any need to wonder whether Jimmy ever recorded
again . . .