It's the year 2003, and although many of us thought we'd be riding around on hovercrafts by now, it's pretty incredible how far technology has come. Machines are more sophisticated; computers make our lives more efficient; and, in recent years, music production has gained a ton from technological advancements. Computers now have 1GHz processors, which means you can actually make records without the exasperating hours of waiting for samples to be time-stretched and tracks to be bounced down. Although it may not seem that exciting, it's a relief that the latest computers will allow us to push creativity to new levels simply by handling more tracks and running more effects plug-ins.
But then again, limitations are often blessings in disguise, as our cover story on Primal Scream reveals. The group's studio guru, Andrew Innes, had to deal with a lot of frustration while producing with his Mac 9600. Ironically, the constant computer crashes were often responsible for integral song ideas. Nevertheless, the lure of fewer computer headaches eventually won over Innes, and after recording the group's latest album, Evil Heat, he upgraded to a G4. So, next time Primal Scream records, Innes' blood pressure won't be quite so high. But the future does scare him a little. “The kind of plug-ins you can get are incredible; anything can sound like anything else,” he says. “But there are too many choices now.”
Frankie Bones, also in this issue, agrees. In fact, he won't even touch a computer — not for the Internet and not to record music. Still, technology has him wrapped around its proverbial finger in the form of samplers and drum machines. Unless we hide in caves with our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears, technology is unavoidable.
And one person who had DJ'd and produced his way through many technological advances was Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay, who, for example, supported the arrival of digital turntablism. Sadly, he was killed this past October in his recording studio. With the help of his samplers and turntables, Jay pushed the boundaries of music with the first sounds of rap-rock, and that legacy endures. Gearheads, DJs and artists, alike, have much to say in the Remix tribute to Jay's musical contribution.
As the music industry moves forward, so does the inevitable evolution of technology. With the ability to make music that can dart around a room like tiny sonic spaceships (7.1 surround sound), it's almost frightening to imagine what's next. When will someone invent “the good button” for the next high-tech mixing board? On the other hand, do we want technology to advance so much that our music is completely made by slave robots? Good art does come from struggles and setbacks, so if technology were to plateau for a minute, that would be okay — as long as we get our own space transporter sometime during the next 50 years.