This is huge. Watch the video. As a musician I’m intimately familiar with the process of having sound choked and severely limited as it travels out of the studio and into a digital format. Pono’s ability to reproduce the capacity of the studio and the artist’s intention will be revolutionary. Leave it to Neil Young. I love that man.
But the larger trend that I hope we’re seeing is the ability of the universe of digital tools to more seamlessly replicate the intentions of our very analog, human expressions. I am hoping that we can look at our place in technological time and say that for two decades we have been in the infancy of digital technology, a dark ages of gear headed, internal reflection, and that now we are moving away from a fixation on the tools themselves and how to use them and back to the creation of content that intimately suits our needs. The trend across devices is toward simple gestures, worn devices and integrated circuitry. Devices increasingly communicate with each other to anticipate human needs. And interfaces become increasingly minimal, reducing the complexity of user manuals and increasing reliance on user intuition. The trend is toward reducing the extent to which our person to person relationships are mitigated by our person to device relationships. It’s difficult but very important to remember that the point of design, and of art and music, is to improve human relationships. When people and design behaviors become too focused on the technology, the tool, the device, then design is failing.
The transition to digital has been clumsy and I have lamented the loss of many small experiences from the age of analog not long ago. Tape hiss. Vinyl noise. Static noise. Knobs and buttons with mechanical connections to solid state functionality. For millennials and many others, the accessibility of Arduino programming is– forgive the expression– a digital analog to these direct old interfaces and user experiences. Ultimately, the experience of creating analog artifacts from analog interfaces is not replicable via digital. But our increasing ability to replicate analog artifacts with digital technology increases the transparency of creative media and the joy of artistic expression.
It’s moving to watch the testimonials of so many revered artists after they step out of Neil Young’s Cadillac having heard Pono for the first time. It’s like getting a little of your life back.
Can’t wait to get mine. Read more about Pono here.
Love. Probably skipped a lot though. via google search for “portable turntable”
I’m super excited to have just launched a new song and a site for it. We Are NPR is a punk anthem for National Public Radio that I’ve been singing to myself for geez, like 10 years now? I’ve been writing it in my head and for the past year or so I’ve been talking to my good friend Timo Ellis (of The Netherlands) about recording it together. My chops are pretty out of shape for a super-charged punk tune without a lot of practice and I knew that with Timo being the ultra badass that he is, we’d be done lickety split. And we were! We tracked it all one day at a really fast tempo and then Timo re-tracked it slower another day and I put the vocals down and Ron Shaffer at Atlantic Studios West mixed it and then I designed a site for it and Isaac Lubow coded it and voila!!! So without further ado, using my old bandname, The American Trampoline Company presents We Are NPR!!
(The project page for it on this site is here.)
Found this on Facebook. Pretty great.
Steven Heller wrote a lovely obituary for the late and great Alex Steinweiss in today’s New York TImes. I had never heard of Steinweiss and I’m sorry because his contribution was huge. As advertising manager for Columbia Records he essentially introduced original artwork to the record sleeve. If you consider a time before records used covers for marketing but consider how cherished is the tactile experience of holding a sleeve and hearing amazing music, you get not only the idea of the contribution he made toward elevating that music purchasing and listening experience, but also what an impression that must have made onto other marketed and decorated product packaging. Records are at the center of cherished products and they are so largely for their unique art. What an amazing contribution to make to industrial design in general. Read the full obit.