Thursday, February 28, 2008

Speculative Fiction part 1; Black Sabbath broke up in 1973

[i](The Speculative Fiction series is an exercise in narrative merely done to practice my writing skills, the speculative fiction genre has reached history, but not music and it would be fun to imagine; what if Led Zeppelin never recorded Starway to Heaven? What if Grunge never had commercial success? These stories will be presented in faux wiki-like enries)[/i]

[artist]Black Sabbath[/artist] was an influential [tag]heavy metal[/tag]/[tag]doom metal[/tag]/[tag]stoner metal [/tag]/[tag]sludge metal[/tag] band formed in 1968 as a heavy blues band originally called Earth. Its members were Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar), Terence "Geezer" Butler (bass), and Bill Ward (drums).
After a string of successes such as [track artist=Black Sabbath]Paranoid[/track], [u]Walpurgis[/u], [track artist=Black Sabbath]Sweet Leaf[/track], [track artist=Black Sabbath]Behind the wall of Sleep[/track], the band was ripe with internal conflict due to substance abuse problems. While seen simply as a source of inspiration by drummer Bill Ward, the other members felt otherwise. Ward was fired from the band just after work on the band's fourth album; [track artist=Black Sabbath]Snowblind[/track]. Ward would then go on to join [artist]Rinky Dink & The Crystal[/artist]. Black Sabbath recruited Ian Paice, formerly of [artist]Deep Purple[/artist], as a replacement drummer for the [i]Snowblind[/i] world tour.

The band returned to Los Angeles to begin work on a fifth album which Tom Allom was slated to produce.They rented a house in Bel Air to begin working on new songs, but fatigue and substance abuse haunted the band once again, as well as a great disagreement on which direction the band should take. Tommi Iommi wanted to continue with the gloomy heavy metal sound he helped create while Ian Paice, with other sensibilities and Tom Meehan, the band producer, wanted them to go in a whole different direction.

"Ideas weren't coming out the way they were on Snowblind and we really got discontent" Iommi said. "Everybody was sitting there waiting for me to come up with something. I just couldn't think of anything. And if I didn't come up with anything, nobody would do anything."

In that moment Tommy Iommi left the band to return to England. While visiting a dungeon in a castle in Wales Iommi got the inspiration for the riff that would become his first hit with the band he would later found; [album artist=Black Sabbath]Seventh Star[/album], whose first album [track artist=Black Sabbath]Killing Yourself to live[/track] was a critical success.

Despite its relative short life Black Sabbath proved to be a big influence in other bands. The American band The Hands of Doom, who helped mature the sludge-doom sound in the early eighties, took their name from a Black Sabbath Song.

-Black Sabbath (1970)
-Walpurgis (1970)
-Master of Reality (1971)
-Snowblind (1972)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Alternative to Music is Silence

You may have noticed that [tag]Alternative[/tag] is one of the most popular tags at Also, you may have seen the proud display of Alternative Music at your local record store as well as a rich collection of Alternative Artists and labels at the iTunes store or many online music stores.

Alternative, since the early advent of [tag]grunge[/tag] (due to the mainstream success of [artist]Nirvana[/artist], [artist]Alice in Chains[/artist], [artist]Crash Test Dummies[/artist], [artist]Stone Temple Pilots[/artist] and [artist]Soundgarden[/artist]), has meant a rebellious attitude towards and a different path from mainstream [tag]pop[/tag] and [tag]rock pop[/tag], an escape from the apparent emptiness of canned entertainment and a channel of expression for young artists.

And then, after some years in the spotlight, the [tag]post grunge[/tag] sound of [artist]Matchbox Twenty[/artist], [artist]Bush[/artist] and [artist]Marcy's Playground[/artist], as well as the [tag]Britpop[/tag] tunes of [artist]Oasis[/artist] and [artist]The Cardigans[/artist] would change the panorama once again, while [artist]Radiohead[/artist], [artist]Nine Inch Nails[/artist], [artist]Tool[/artist] and others would strive while letting their music feed from [tag]electronic[/tag], [tag]industrial[/tag] and [tag]gothic rock[/tag], the sensibilities of [tag]shock rock[/tag] would return in the persona of [artist]Marilyn Manson[/artist], [artist]David Bowie[/artist] would nurture from the new sounds to create some kind of industrial glam operatic oeuvre with [album artist=David Bowie]1.Outside[/album] and the kids who grew with Nirvana would form their own bands and try to find a new sound, resulting in [tag]nü metal[/tag], [tag]metalcore[/tag], [tag]happy punk[/tag], [tag]emo[/tag] (sorry, [tag]post hardcore[/tag])

Which brings me to the next point, what do all those names I brought up have in common, if they have anything in common at all?

They are all tagged as 'Alternative'

So, in someone's list [artist]Slipknot[/artist], [artist]Placebo[/artist] and [artist]Evanescence[/artist] have the same tag, despite they have nothing in common, no common influences, no common themes, no common musical traits, "Alternative" has simply become a shelf where to dump sounds that do not belong in the other shelves. Introduce me to two people who like alternative and it's almost certain they won't like the same bands, do the experiment, try the two top listeners of the Alternative tag and see their charts, evaluate their compatibility (some applets can do that) and you will see they do not listen to the same sounds.

By contrast; try [tag]Drum and Bass[/tag] or [tag]Surf[/tag], groups under those tags have sounds, attitudes, influences and themes in common.

Tags should help you to find sounds that please you. If a tag encompasses too many different sounds it stops being useful, it becomes hit and miss. If I wanted to try a new sound based on my newfound appreciation of [artist]The Bloodhound Gang[/artist] I would be sadly disappointed if my next recommendation is [tag]Creed[/tag].

Tag your artists properly, search the Wikipedia, try the secondary tags, look a little into the band's history, create your own tags (which sounds do you think would make good [tag]ninja tunes[/tag]? )you will learn a little bit more about the music you like and you will greatly help others.