But, I mean, there’s nothing in the RULE BOOK that says you’ve GOT to have a bass on there. (Keith Richards)
Yeah, Mr Keef is right. He’s talking about a tune on their (underrated) “Dirty Work” collection. The song was “Had It With You” and, you name it: there’s no bass guitar on it. No bass synthesizer either. No bass at all. Not an acoustic song, it’s a rock song. With drums, electric guitars, raunchy voice. And, did I tell you? No bass.
Art is all about breaking rules. Then the new thing becomes the rule, you need someone else (or yourself) to break it again. Pretty funny.
Musicians are good at breaking rules, yet sadly better at following them. Musicians have codes too, that make them often as obedient as the society they dream to escape from.
But hey it’s just a human characteristic, for sure. We need codes. But we may need to break them. Sometimes.
The new trend amongst musicians is somehow questionable. Just look: go to a show, hire a keyboardist, check a concert on TV, whatever that features a keyboard player. What do you see? Yeah, that red thing. It blooms as quickly as weed in a Greek ruin. Make a keyboardist proud as a egotistic rooster by complimenting him on his Nord synth. Nord Lead, Clavia or whatever, it has to be red and clean-looking. They’re in the big community of ahem… ‘real’ musicians, those who have the Nord. Young lads, they use their pocket money to get their first Nord keys. More meaningful than their first cigarette. Old farts, they switched their Hammond, OB-X or Mellotron with the red box.
Mass phenomenons have a huge power: to make me cringe. Then I use what mother Nature gave me one cold evening: a brain. So what’s so exciting with the Nord Lead Clavia etcaetera? There must be something. Something that makes some lad actually dream of getting one. So it’s not the price.
OK, the point may be easy to get: lighter than a Hammond, more reliable than a Mellotron, more stable than a CS-80, and plus it has great piano sounds!
Yes pal I got your idea, but still: why the Nord? Cause you know, great organ sounds, Mellotron samples and CS80 patches are mostly on every machine. Some are as light to carry and affordable. So why the hell that red box???
A voice (in the wilderness?) shouts at me: “Why not? What’s the problem with that? You didn’t complain when I was the DX-7! The OB-X! The ‘Tron! The Farfisa! The Emulator! The Fairlight! The Synclavier! (…) “ (I cut the shouting here, you’re not supposed to be scolded).
Yes, after all, I didn’t cringe when it was the DX-7 (and the rest on that list). So why should I be suspicious about the Nord?
Easy: the DX-7 brought something really new. So did the aforementioned keys. Not only could you do anything creative with them, but also you actually did. You can hear something happening when the DX-7 came out. All those new keyboards brought freshness (boredom later maybe, but that’s the lot of any novelty’s life). A record from 1979 would sound differently from one from 1975. Then 1984 is not 1978. In most of cases, you can ‘blame’ it on those machines.
But now… besides the convenient use and reliability, what does the Nord thing bring? New sounds? Never heard any. Either you don’t hear the keys (hello Bon Jovi), either they just shamelessly photocopy the past keys (hello Keene).
Seems that the Nord is perfectly fitting the 2000’s, that sad era where the stars are cover bands and worse: tribute bands. So the Nord makes musicians feel safe. They have the sounds like Led Zeppelin had, they just have to worry to have Robert Plant’s haircut. And safe because they’re in the big club of Nord owners.
The Nord is 2000’s musicians dream because it doesn’t bring anything that would make them feel creative. Just the safe –probably high quality, I admit- sounds that will offer them the gig in I don’t know what lousy copy of Queen. Rock is dying and Nord will be its red tombstone.