The first thing that people who dismiss certain art as “something they could do better” or who say “that isn’t really art” don’t realize while criticizing the art in question is that making art in the truest sense of the word, such as when one says they are making a cake and therein an actual cake is produced and not for instance say a cheeseburger, is that it is actually very hard and requires more than just smearing shit onto a canvas, or beating instruments together, or stringing together some words onto a page. However sometimes these dismissive types are absolutely right and they and other people like them are what keeps the art world alive and biased, and creates the debate needed to keep focus on finding the very best and letting the rest fall by the wayside.
Why the above diatribe on art? Well it’s precisely because of the new album Big Phoney by the Vancouver-based collective known as The Works. The birth of Big Phoney began as producer jjj’s solo album. For many years jjj had been using iOS devices for his earlier productions, but soon he began to meet other artists and musicians who shared his vision and so the collaborative collective of The Works was born and consists of producers and musicians as well as visual artists from Vancouver.
Big Phoney is a massive album coming in at fourteen tracks. Though very grounded in electronica, it is most certainly not two records spinning and a DJ pushing buttons. Take for instance a whimsical “DT Bros,” which features a clubby and dance-y rhythm though it also contains wah-wah guitar, a duet of well matched male and female falsetto vocals, the song garners comparisons to artists like French duo Daft Punk. Then there are tracks like “Keys” and the ultra-ambient “Phil’s Guitar” and the quiet and beautiful piano on “Beebe’s Piano,” which draw similarities to British artist Bonobo.
Just as interesting as the songs on Big Phoney is the way the album was recorded and produced. Big Phoney was recorded, mixed and mastered using an iPad and an Apogee Duet, which was shuffled back and forth between the different musicians.
Perhaps the sheerest slice of genius on Big Phoney is not just the music itself but the bits of telephone noise and conversations in between tracks. The reason being that after the recording was over jjj felt it lacked a cohesive theory. After thinking about it for a while, he came up with the telephone theme, because he recollected that all the songs were essentially recorded on a large telephone, which both baffled and excited him. Many bands these days could learn a lot about production from following in the footsteps of producer jjj using this simple new technology to record home albums that sound like studio quality.
Big Phoney is definitely an album for people who appreciate all the facets that electronic music covers as well as anyone who appreciate experimental art in any way shape or form. If jjj and The Collective he has formed are the future of music, then the future is going to sound pretty awesome.
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