Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dumbfoundead - Jam Session 2.0

How cool is this? This is the results of a jam session put together made up of 8 people with 5 instruments from 4 continents speaking 3 languages all for 1 song.

There's one word I can think of for that, and that is 'Rad!'

Tangent alert:

I recently read in the book Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell, about how examples of people who are extremely successful emerge from very specific sets of circumstances that in large part weren't determined by them. We in America are in love with the self-made-man, bootstrapping, rags-to-riches stories of amazing people who succeed against all odds.

I personally really like the idea and generally believe we are the masters of our own destiny. I have a high internal locus of control. I do believe that whether or not I am correct in thinking that we can achieve whatever we really put our minds to, I think it is beneficial to believe that as it seems to be a trait of successful people.

So what led me down this train of thought is the fact that we are living in such an insane age of technological progress that every day huge opportunities are being opened for us that just couldn't have happened even 5 years ago.

Case and point: The song that you are listing to, Jam Session 2.0

When I see these genius collaborative applications for existing technologies in conjunction with the internet I get really excited. This is the embodiment of the vision for the internet. This is the future. Cliché as that sounds, I really mean it.

We currently exist at a very specific nexus in space and time where the vision for what technology could one day do for us is crossing paths with what we actually have access to. Now don't get me wrong, there have been accelerated periods in the evolution of human thought and technology in the past, but I really believe we exist during one of the most spectacular enlightenment or renaissance-type periods that the world has seen.

So what I take away from seeing a truly collaborative work of art like this (and a good one at that) is the fact that this is art that could not have been possible even 5-10 years ago. I dig other new technologies for their neatness factor, but ultimately technology is a means, not an ends.

In a nutshell, this is the intersection of theory and reality. Ultimately, this is the rubber-meets-the-road land in which I want my life, career, and art to occupy.

I am literally giddy at the idea of musicians from anywhere in the world being able to record a studio-quality track in real time from several different continents with nothing more than their instruments, some basic recording equipment, and a home internet connection.

[Aside: Did you hear that, recording industry?! Your 80 year old business model needs to f-ing evolve or else your ass is obsolete! Don't try to blame illegal downloading. The recording industry is just finally coming around to the fact that we don't consume music (or any media) in the same way as we did 20 years ago. But... that is a separate subject for a separate argument so I'll put my animosity toward the recording industry away for the moment.]

I really feel like I would be missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime if I didn't take advantage of this technology as it evolves and I figure out what to do with my life. You can start/test businesses for a couple of hundred dollars. You can create new ways for people to interface with each other in meaningful ways that non-tech-heads can understand and use. You can connect musicians to play live with each other from across the world. You can distribute media without needing to own any physical infrastructure. The barriers to entry to just about any intellectual or artistic pursuit are lower than they have ever been.

Your world really is what you make it.

So this is a music blog not a tech blog right? I suppose I should get back to that...

The one thing I wonder with this is how they planned for / collaborated this jam session. When you are playing with other musicians, you often rely on visual cues from each other to know who is taking the lead and when.

I do like good hip-hop, and Dumbfoundead seems to be pretty solid as far as that goes. I do recommend you check out some of his other stuff, but I feel like this particular song is bigger than him.

Of course I did like the finger-style guitar, but all the instrumentalists were pretty darn good. They did a good job of laying back and letting others take the lead when needed. When I first read about this concept, I thought, 'Oh great, there will be no less than 3 musicians at a time noodling out their solos making the song incomprehensible,' but that really wasn't the case here.

I loved Esna's singing voice! Great sense of timing and expression. She rocks. I had never heard of her before, but after a bit more research I found a collaboration with Esna and Sam Hart! (You may remember Sam Hart from such awesome internet sensations as "Mario Kart Love Song". On a personal note, I love this song and have covered it multiple times. I love when I connect the dots between my favorite artists!)

Alrighty, it's almost 4:00am here so I'll wrap this up. I want to leave you with a couple recordings that I fell in love with while doing the research for this post.


Esna Yoon - Deepest Scar:

This video really does a good job of showcasing Esna's voice. Watch it in HD if your internet connection has the cojones. (Mine doesn't; stupid AT&T!)

Sam Hart & Esna Yoon - As You:

This is the collaboration I mentioned between Sam Hart & Esna Yoon.

Sam Hart - Mario Kart Love Song:

If you haven't heard this song, it's one of the most beautiful love songs based on a Nintendo game that I have ever heard. It is also the closest thing anyone will get to a Valentine from me.

P.S. You really should check out Dumbfoundead at He has some good stuff, and his current album is available for download for FREE. I won't get back into the recording industry rant, but distributing music for at cost or free really does benefit the up-and-coming artist and I would be happy to debate that point with anyone.

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