(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Commentary - Strange collaborations

Recently, I heard Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne talk about recording (and almost tripping) with Ke$ha and I started thinking about strange collaborations.

Visual Mashups Group Comment
Photo credit: QThomas Bower

This tickles the same neurons for me as odd covers (like Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme covering Black Hole Sun) or funky mashups. Taking two extremes and tying them together can lead to interesting new ideas. Whether an artist stretches into new territory or drags something back into their home base, the novelty can spark creativity.

Artistic collaborations add egos to the balance. Which artist will dominate? Or will they find a new common ground? When David Byrne and Brian Eno partnered for My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Eno's experimentalism meshed with Byrne's rhythmic focus. Robert Plant and Alison Krause's Raising Sand pushed each performer to expand their styles.

On the other hand, Metallica's work with Lou Reed, Lulu, proved less successful. Collaboration doesn't always create good art, but it's still interesting.

This just whets my appetite. There are plenty of undiscovered collaborative opportunities. Imagine producer and musician Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) working with a guitarist like Richard Thompson. Thompson is an exceptional folk and jazz guitarist, but he has chaotic darkness that occasionally slips out (e.g. Easy There, Steady Now or Psycho Street). His work with experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser suggests that his voice could find a place in a post rock soundscape. Harness Thompson's playing to Steven Wilson's sense of tone and psychological texture and it could be incredible.

Reaching further out, ex-Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus could pair up with the Glitch Mob for an electronically infused indie rock. In my wildest dreams, I can imagine Animal Collective working with Kanye West. With a guest appearance by Roky Erickson.

I think I'm getting overheated. I'll throw it out for your comments - what musical partnership has the potential to be amazing?

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