A Little Too Perfect?
My wife and I took a break from computers yesterday in search of a source of vitamin D besides the glow of LCD monitors and drove to the Oregon coast for the day. When we go on road trips of any length, we tune our XM radio to Fred (XM44), which is the one station we can both (mostly) agree on. If you're not an XM user, Fred is a station that plays "the history of alternative music." While you are pretty much guaranteed a heavy dose of shitty 80s synth pop, they also play a lot of shit we really like, including a generous slice of deep cuts which you'll not normally hear anywhere. (When was the last time you heard the Eno version of "Third Uncle," followed by Thomas Dolby's cover of the Dan Hicks classic "I Scare Myself" on the radio? I'm gonna guess "never" is the answer to that.)
Anyways, during the course of one power play of late 70s post-punk, we got to talking about why we like some of this music now (e.g. Joy Division) when we didn't particularly care for it when we were younger and it was new. After some discussion, we agreed that we like the fact that it is so raw. The timing drifts, and the recording methods are a long, long ways from state of the art, even for the time, never mind today.
So, my question is thus: is today's music too perfect to be pleasant? Is the relentless use of audio quantization and AutoTune not only removing the need for playing skill, but actually making music unlistenable? I never liked the Who; I generally avoid classic rock like the plague that it is, having toured far too much to like any rock from the 70s any more. But now, when I hear something like "Who Are You" it's such a fucking relief, especially when placed against the ProTooled Perfection of what passes for rock in today's market.