Jeremy Blake is the musician behind (or maybe just slightly underneath) the brilliant YouTube channel Red Means Recording. He does really clever tutorials for various synthesizers and other musical instruments, predominantly the Teenage Engineering OP-1, along with their Pocket Operators. I imagine he’s tricked a ton of people into buying an OP-1, because he always makes it look like it’s easy to just sit down and get a fantastic track of out of the device every time.
He’s got a new album out called Hindsight, along with a great music video for the title track that combines footage from the Black Lives Matter protests with stock footage he didn’t pay for. It’s an ingenious trick to use humor to make the horror stand out; the super-heightened vapidity of stock footage contrasted against the surreal footage of police brutality that we’ve been seeing.
In March of last year he made a video called Opulent Polished Zircon, one of two videos demonstrating the capabilities of the Teenage Engineering OP-Z. It’s pretty great. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole 50-minute set, my favorite part is at the 27:50 mark. (It’s also available on Apple Music, where my favorite is the track titled “Oh, Luck”).
It’s unlikely to have the same impact on you as it did on me, but that’s for the best. I listened to it back in early February, at the lowest point of the worst year, when I was having to fly back to California on my own. Listening to this with headphones let me just get completely lost in the music. A wave of calm washed over me. It was a reminder that I could still enjoy something, and I was going to go on discovering new things to enjoy. I could see a glimmer of optimism again.
And then the pandemic started a few weeks later. But for a while there, I was hopeful, and I’ll always appreciate this track for it.