Out of Towner: Techno – No, no!

General — By on June 21, 2010 2:53 pm

Hello again everybody! I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me (I know most of you are happy about that), but since I have not had a second to review any of the new CDs that came out recently, I decided I could at least write about my main pet peeve I have for some of the music being produced nowadays.  I want to apologize in advance to all the experts who are so adept at programming such music, since it is a talent, and I don’t want to take away from that, however, I don’t think it has a place in the same room or studio as real music.

I HATE the techno and synthesized music that’s become popular on many CDs. I know it costs much less, but there’s a reason why! It’s not real!!!!!! I want to hear real trumpets, real drums, not the synthesized stuff that that just doesn’t sound real. I understand and support it by weddings, as it costs much less and it’s not worth it for someone to go into hock for one night (even though the quality of sound is incomparable, the amount full bands are charging today in most cities around the US, it’s something that has to be understood and respected). Truth be told, if someone is truly being mesameach chosson v’kallah, it shouldn’t make any difference what type of band is playing or which song is being played either, but I digress.

As it’s been written about before on JMR, there is a serious investment made by anyone producing a CD, and I feel the extra investment is worth it to use the real thing and sound genuine. I don’t find it to be a “cool” sound, and it grates on my ears. I know that working in a studio affords a lot of editing to be done, so the sound and result is never going to be 100% genuine.  The reason that is done,  is because there’s a big difference between you hearing someone sing at a wedding, and even if you spot the mistake, it’s gone forever, and listening to a CD over and over and picking up the mistake each and every time you listen to it. It is true that the techno music has its popularity in the “real” music world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s enjoyable to listen to or that it’s better than the real thing. It’s a gimmick, and annoying to me. I know I can’t stop it, unless I produce my own CD (if anyone has an extra $30,000 lying around that they don’t know what to do with, I can put it to good use), but when I hear a song with techno music, I forward my iTunes to the next song, because it’s unlistenable.

So what do you think about this?

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12 Comments

  1. JMMaven says:

    Some producers seem to be using only real music, like Yochi Briskman.
    Personally I agree with you, but the producers obviously like it, and if they think that people don’t mind it, or like it better, especially if it costs them less, then they’ll go with it.

  2. Efriam Weinfeld says:

    Alrighty, to be honest I love techno, trance, club music and all that. I do agree it’s a bit wierd to have techno at a chasuna, but regarding your issues with techno music on albums I disagree. An album with techno music is either because it’s a techno album (Tek-noy, DJ Raidz) or due to the general vast array of styles in an album (Lipa, Shloimie Gertner, Benny Friedman). The former is self-explanatory why there would be techno on the album, if you don’t like that stuff, don’t buy. Simple, eh. Regarding the latter though you must realize that the Cds generally will have many other styles (Klezmer, pop, medditeranian, rock, etc.) and it’s only fair to have electronic music also. To JMMaven- Yes, Yochi Briskman does only feature real instruments, but that does also limit the genre of music featured on the album. Every Shwekey and Baruch Levine album have the same style, this is not neccasarily a bad thing, but it is a thing. Anyway, as I mentioned before, I enjoy electronic music so I admit to being biased in my opinion on your article, but just so you know I felt it was written very well and leaves a window for other opinions, THANKS!

    P.S. Hope to see more write-ups from you in the future (shmoozing with you in person just isn’t the same)

  3. JMDerech says:

    To be honest, I’m getting tired of a lot of music. Not just Jewish music. I think I’m going through a classical/instrumental music phase. We need some stuff like Yanni.

  4. Out of Towner says:

    JMM: Yes, Yochi uses only real, and while Efriam is right that a lot of it sounds the same, I like it much better than others who use synthesized trumpets sounds. I don’t like the way it sounds, because to me it sounds cheap. I was raised with real music (my father plays trumpet, my mother is a pianist, and there are others in my family who are professional musicians). I meant more like the techno style that you will find one or 2 songs on a CD and that’s really grinding on my ears, even if it’s the style.

    Efriam: it’s nice to hear from you (and see you too). I see your point of view, and obviously it is popular, since people are doing it. When there is a full CD with the techno music, I won’t buy it. When a regular CD comes out and only has 1 or 2 songs on it, I’ll get the CD, but I can’t listen to those songs that many times. I am sure everyone has songs that they will just hit forward, and that’s just mine. Thanks for the compliments. I was only giving my opinion, and wanted to hear what everyone else had to say too. I will try to write more in the future.

    JMD: There have been people in the Jewish music industry who have tried, but not done such a great job, and not been successful. It might be time for you to pull out some older tapes or Cds and listen back to the ones you used to enjoy. You would be surprised how many you would still enjoy!

  5. Rak Music says:

    To JMD: Try Yaron Gershovsky. The dude is awesome! (no techno involved)

  6. N says:

    Maybe this is a topic for another article, and it’s something I’d like to see discussed, but — why do most of the JM albums that come out these days have to have so many different styles of music on them? You do not find this in the secular music world. Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen release an album and it sounds like Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen — same instrumentation, same genre, same style. And these people manage to make hugely successful careers out of this.

    Look at Dovid Gabay, Benny Friedman, even MBD and Fried (Lipa’s a totally different conversation). From one song to the next there is no connection, no similarity, no consistency. Why does Avraham Fried need to record a Chassidishe niggun sung in a Chassidishe ta’am? Why does YBC or Miami have need to record S’fardi songs?

    One sons has brass, the next song is just rhythm, the next is a symphony, the next song is techno, the next songs is a combination of everything…

    (Shwekey seems to be the main exception — I guess you could put Shalsheles and a few others here too. Shwekey’s albums all have a very similar style to them, and the world seems to eat it up.)

    And every review seems to rave about the variety of styles and arrangements. You just don’t have this anywhere else. One person produces a U2 album and one person (or the band themselves) arranges it. Not 10 different arrangers for 10 different tracks.

    The best JM we’ve ever heard is D’veykus, old-school MBD and Fried, old-school Miami, etc. Pick any of these albums and immediately you know who the singer is because there is an identifiable style and signature to each artist. Now, pick a random track from a random JM album and you’ll get a random style and random genre and random arrangement and random instrumentation.

    I just don’t get it.

  7. Efriam Weinfeld says:

    N: The answer is quite simple, well obviously not simple enough otherwise you wouldn’t have asked the question in the first place. The reason why secular music has the ability to release a single genre album is because they simply have more sheer numbers. There are more goyim than jews, about 6 billion more in fact, this gives them the comfort of putting out an album, knowing plenty of people will buy it. By JM there simply isn’t enough people who like a single style music so they would end up losing money due to the lack of demand in that style. Deveykus was put out in a time where there wasn’t a selection of JM so, in accordance with the rules of supply and demand, it was worth putting it out. Note that Abie Rotenburg hasn’t released an album in about 8 years. Certain singers, such as Aryeh Kunstler, can stick to a single style only because they are aware of a large demand for their styles. Your only option is to listen to secular music if you want a specific taste of music, from the names you were dropping it definitely seems like you have already resorted to just that. I personally do not advise listening to secular music due to the negative affect on your neshoma, but thats your choice.

  8. Sara says:

    Efraim- your logic makes some sense but if a person, say, really likes Sephardi style music he’s not going to buy a Miami or Gabay CD just for that one Sephardi song. He’ll buy a consistent Sephardi CD. Same goes for other genres. You have to like multiple styles of music in order to get into any JM album nowaday because, as was acknowledged, most songs are different styles. Why can’t the singers just stick to what they are best at and sing that style? Especially when it comes to a cultured song (Chassidish, Sephardi, etc.) as opposed to beat and rythm, why don’t the singers stick with one style in that regard. Shwekey is an exception since he seems to appeal mainly for his Ashkenazi stlye music but he can always resort to his Sephardi backgroud, but why are YBC singing a Chassidish accented song or Miami singing a Sephardi accented song? It’s not authentic and I can’t imagine a Chossid who doesn’t already like YBC saying “hey, lets get the CD for Booraich?” Yes, the market is small but I think N’s point holds some water. And Abie might not have put out a CD in 8 years but his music is still considered classics to this day. It’s not like as soon as other music came along it was bumped off the map.

  9. N says:

    Efraim – your argument is one I know well as I have used it myself too many times to count. Yes, the JM industry is small and the audience is small. But that has no impact on my question. Even 6 or 7 years ago, we didn’t see JM albums with such diversity as we see now. What changed? The audience numbers are the same. In fact, the number of singers has actually multiplied several times over which would lead, one would think, to singers wanting to establish unique identities for themselves rather than covering as many different styles as possible in one shot.

    If Aryeh Kunstler (who I think is great, by the way) can do this, as you pointed out, why can’t others?

    If you look at singers in the Israeli, S’fardi, and Chassidishe worlds, who market themselves to populations of vastly smaller numbers than the secular market, their albums are consistent. You can listen to a Chaim Israel album and know it’s a Chaim Israel album. Same for Jo Amar, Shlomo Haviv… Isaac Honig, Moshe Goldman… Even Yosef Karduner, Chaim Dovid…

    This is an issue in the so-called “shiny-shoes” segment of the JM world. The Fried, MBD. Miami, Shwekey, etc. segment. The Neginah and Neshoma Orchestras segment. The “mainstream” segment.

    I guess it’s fair for an artist to want to target as many different people and as many different audiences as possible, and one way to do that is to sing numerous styles on one album. But from a creative and artistic perspective, I’d think that a singer would want to establish a unique identity rather than be completely versatile. I guess maybe it’s simple business rather than art, and this is the strategy that seems to be accepted in the industry now. Doesn’t make sense to me.

    I am no more interested in Benny Friedman (who I also think is great) because his album jumps from one style to the next every track. On the contrary, I would find him more appealing if he had an identity that he could point to as his own. It’s more authentic.

    At the end of the day, good is good. Why mix things up so much? It has been long proven that talent will win the day. Stick to what’s real.

  10. admin says:

    For the record, aside from the israeli artists you mentioned. All American “niche” singers sell maybe 1/10th what Shwekey, fried MBD sell. (I know this as a fact.)

    So yes, if you are Nochi Krohn or 8th day, that might be your style but you aren’t selling even close in a dream world what Shwekey or yeshiva boys choir sells.

    The market that likes Shwekey or Benny Friedman. They are a diverse demographic so you sell to 10 times as many people as say Areyh Kunstler.

  11. Efriam Weinfeld says:

    To noone in specific: The market these days simply would not tolerate another one of the “olden day” albums(e.g. Suki and Ding albums, JJ Fried). The songs are still classics, yes, but they wouldn’t be if they came out today. Notice MBD’s lates album wasn’t exactly another “Neshama Soul”.Things change, you can’t expect another one of the albums to come out anytime soon. Regarding the varieties of style found on the albums,Fact: people are buying them, so why should they stop producing such albums? Also a variety of styles does open new doors, whether or not a hardcore chassid will now love YBC because of Booreich is irrelevant. You have the others that simply enjoy chasiideshe music that want to see that style on their favorite singers albums. I definitely agree with everybody that it would be nice if a single style album would be the norm, but face the facts, it’s not gonna happen till Moshiach comes!(Bemihairah Biyameinu)

  12. mordyK says:

    Unfortunately, the progression of Jewish music through the recent years seems to reflect the non-Jewish trends. The secular music world has just finished a ‘tekufah’ where all of the popular songs were techno styled. a couple of months after that era began, the same style songs began creeping onto the Jewish music shelves.

    Personally i find most of these techno-based songs on the ‘mainstream’ albums catchy, but not particularly great. I am not sad to see that the ‘techno-era’ is apparently dying; i do hope the next ‘in’ genre will be more musically sound (no pun intended).

    On a side note, is there any chance that we’ll soon be hearing more of D’veykus (or even Eitan Katz) styled-songs? It suprises me a little that only a small handful of amazing slow songs are coming out each year…

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