AC Example

57 Post-Digital Music

Kim Cascone (b. 1955) is a composer of ambient music with a resume that includes a variety of audio related jobs. He has worked as a music editor for David Lynch and a sound designer for Thomas Dolby. He also managed his own record label, self-releasing the majority of his voluminous catalogue through online outlets.

Cascone first defines his belief in the "post-digital", which at it's core is the antithesis of McLuhan's famous declaration that the "medium is the message". Digital is now so pervasive that it can no longer be a valid source of meaning within art. I agree with Cascone whole-heartedly. This is the reason that when I correct program notes by students, I get upset at the descriptions of what software they used, what hardware they built, etc. If this is the only meaning to be found in your music, then you have missed the point of making art. These things are only tools, a means to an end. There must be something more behind the technology otherwise it is not worth my time. (sorry to be so blunt)

When Cascone moves beyond this to discuss the allure of failure, I have trouble continuing to agree with him fully. Yes, it is interesting to highlight and magnify imperfections in the digital realm. Yes, these can yield interesting and sometimes beautiful results. But to I am not into the idea that we should seek out failure on stage. True, we should not be daunted by it (the tools will fail from time to time, I accept that) but to see it out is not my thing.

"Our control of technology is an illusion." (393) Well I guess that makes me an illusionist. More seriously, I believe that what Cascone is describing is mis-use and providing the system with unintended input to test the behavior of the output. This I can get behind, but to call it failure is somewhat inflammatory. Maybe that is the best way for Cascone to make his point.


anechoic media - his label's web site
interview - by cycling74 before his release on their label
CDbaby releases - a few things on this popular indie site
Why Computer Music Sucks - one of Cascone's references

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