Nearly one year ago I was, along with hundreds of others, sitting on the internet while Steve Jobs revealed the iPad to a sniggering and goose-pimpled public. Chatting with my boss, I explained how underwhelming this giant iPod was to me, a sentiment so painfully shortsighted it's awkward to talk about now. Apple's tablet has come to dominate a lot of peoples' time over the course of 2010, people like Richard Branson, Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Weinstein, and a prolific guy named Damon Albarn.
During our chat my boss pointed out the nearly endless possibilities for music creation the iPad offered, which Mr. Albarn, through Gorillaz, has recently taken full advantage of with The Fall, released on Christmas Day. My boss was right. How'd Damon do it? And how's it sound?
It worth noting that this is Damon Albarn, one of the most consistently excellent and prolific musicians of the last 20 years. This is no bedroom tinkerer -- bus tinkerer is more apt, The Fall was created while Gorillaz were on tour, it's 15 songs being written in about 30 days -- his iPad album will sound better than yours because duh (getting it mastered at Abbey Road doesn't hurt, either).
That said, the record has an ad-hoc sound that could be due to the iPad's technological limitations or just writing songs in such rapid succession or both or neither...but this is no grand exploration, like Plastic Beach or Gorillaz. If not thin then planar, and jagged, blissed, meandering, and indubitably rad. Maybe we won't be making as much fun of the iPad DJ anymore? Um, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Here's the record's lead song.
Albarn outlined all twenty of the apps he used to craft the record, ranging in price from free to $20. The list is as follows (links take you to the iTunes store):
Is this the beginning of a new era? Sort of. No one in their right mind is going to start ditching their million-dollar rigs and their Pro Tools because that makes no sense whatsoever. But if talented artists are able to craft works of quality on a device that costs in the tenths of a percent of a high-falutin' studio set up, with apps that cost a fraction of their physical counterparts, it's not an overstatement to say the playing field has been leveled once more.