The good news is that we're still a creative, innovative nation.
The bad news is it's increasingly in the service of the banal. The dumb. The pointless.
And the profane.
Enter the Flaming Lips' new YouTube project, something the group is calling a "cell phone symphony." It really is quite clever and innovative -- 12 separate videos that correspond to a single track of the band's new free single. (Profanity alert, etc., and so on . . . click at your own risk.)
The idea is for you and 12 of your closest mates to each download a track, go "one, two, ready, play" . . . and you're the Flaming Lips. Or your iPhones are the Flaming Lips . . . whatever.
AND WHAT is this new development in popular music? It's a little avant-garde number called "Two Blobs F***ing."
Paste magazine was all over the story. I hope it was practicing safe keyboarding:
The Flaming Lips have been known to experiment with ideas such as this in the past. The 1997 album Zaireeka is made up of four discs intended to played all at once. Around the same time, the band produced “The Parking Lot Experiments” and “The Boombox Experiments” inviting fans to simultaneously play cassette tapes issued by the band with varying pieces of music through their car stereos and ghetto blasters to create a psychedelic symphony conducted by the band.OF ALL the things that could have been done as the first multitrack, interactive, do-it-yourself smart-phone single, we get vulgar nonsense like "Two Blobs F***ing." What could have been genius -- and kind of is genius from a technical standpoint -- ends up being birthed as the idiot offspring of cleverness and a dirty mind.
Now, the next logical step has come to fruition with “Two Blobs F***ing,” which was specifically designed to be utilized with the mobile devices that dominate our increasingly digital culture. “Imagine the lo-fi symphonic joy that you, along with family, friends, pets, and others, will create at the touch of a button,” reads a press release. “The more devices, the more harmonic possibilities can be constructed. You and your device, at one with the music, become the orchestra, just as the Gods of Technology naturally intended it to be.”
It's rather like a Philip Glass composition consisting of variations on the theme "There was a girl from Nantucket. . . ."
Call it the debasement of art. Listen for yourself, though. (I assembled all the audio tracks in a multitrack digital audio workstation so you wouldn't have to . . . or have to try to round up 11 friends with smart phones -- and a high threshold of pain.)
I'M NOT SURE what this is more of, prurient or pointless. Actually, what it's more of is 8th grade -- which is where, unfortunately, too much of our culture's "artistic" sensibility lies.
As it is, "Two Blobs" just leaves me with . . . nothing. I'm not shocked. Neither am I outraged.
The single didn't have much of a beat, and you couldn't really dance to it. I might give it a 42, Dick.
It didn't leave me smiling, and it troubled me not with deep thoughts. Really, it's nothing. And art -- music -- should not be nothing.
But we're addicted to pushing envelopes for the pushing's sake, even when we have nothing to say. Unfortunately, increasingly, we're a culture that has nothing to say.
It's almost as if we were 300 million blobs mentally masturbating. Call it a mortal sin of the mind.