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Culture Notes: Dead Man's Bones
by The Kindly One

To paraphrase, Ryan Gosling once said in an interview that he isn't sure what art is, but he's pretty sure it's not making films. I can understand that: under most directors, filmmaking is too hurry-up-and-stop to truly be a dynamic experience. Still, it took me quite a while to truly get a sense of what he meant. The only understanding I've come upon has been that art is an experience, whether in the conception, actualization, or final appreciation of the event. It's meant to be engaged with, so that a static painting on a museum wall transforms from something stale and static to a vibrant exchange. So with music. Now that everything can be digitally filtered and tweaked, there is less room to leave a song alone and let it simply resonate and speak for that moment in time when it was recorded, much less for the moment you're in. The imperfections are gone, but so is the passion. (Gosling says as much here.)

Enter Dead Man's Bones, the two-man collaboration between Gosling and friend Zach Shields. More interested in experience than perfection, the two collaborated with a children's choir from Silverlake Conservatory of Music's to create their upcoming album. Rather than go on about their highly independent approach to recording, which the linked article nicely outlines, I'd rather just share that their songs I've heard have brought back everything I miss about records - the warmth, the imperfections, and the ability to share an experience with each track. With each listen, I can become more engaged with each warp and distinction until the imperfections themselves take on a resonance beyond the music. Besides that, the tracks sound live, as though they really are experiences in time that have been captured, allowing me to engage in a real event rather than just passively accepting more manufactured beats. I can't say I can get with the visuals, but listen to the song and check out more of Dead Man's Bones. This is great music, and I think it's art.

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5/21/2009 [2]

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