I saw Gary Numan on TV the other day. You remember Gary - dyed his hair blonde, played around with wires and for a brief period in the late seventies threatened the fabric of society. Well, it seems our Gazza still likes to keep his hand in at the ol' music game and when he hasn't been flying vintage aircraft or helping Mrs Thatcher to a third term in office, enjoys nothing more than strapping on his guitar and playing a little straight ahead rock 'n' roll. Sadly, as the clips from his latest video revealed, this new development in his career has taken him back, stylistically, to point somewhere before he entered the public eye - which doesn't exactly sound like development to me, personal or otherwise. But that didn't stop him taking time out to condemn recent sampled-based music because of its 'repetitive' nature.
Of course, the example of Gary Numan could be supported by a dozen others. This really is not the time for anyone to admit to a liking of technology for technology's sake. As we know, the technology is still there and it's influence on all musicians continues to grow (who, I wonder, will be the first artist to record an entire album on ADAT?) - just don't make it too visible on stage and remember to tell everyone you prefer working with real musicians.
It's perhaps ironic that the greatest antipathy towards technology is often shown by musicians whose association with it has been their means of entry into rock's great er... pantheon. It's equally ironic that optimism and genuine insight into the use of keyboard-based technology should come from a musician who's name has traditionally been associated with the guitar - check out Phil Ward's excellent interview with Pat Metheny in this issue.
Finding someone to blame for the downgrading of technology in the public eye isn't difficult (...and it's certainly good fun). Personally, I'd cite the musicians who's overzealous use of machines first turned their audiences away - not to mention the fickleness of the audiences themselves. We could also take a poke at the manufacturers who's impressive speed at introducing new products has been matched only by their sloth in providing musicians with technology they could relate to. And then there's MT.
Yes, we are partly to blame, too. Our enthusiasm and willingness to defend our corner of the music business has not been all it might have been of late, and we've certainly fallen into the trap of assuming everyone is fully conversant with the level of technology as it currently stands. Clearly, this is not the case and in order to address the imbalance that has arisen, we are launching a couple of new regular features - MIDI By Example and Technically Speaking - designed to provide a little solid, practical advice for those struggling with MIDI and associated technology.