Bands have been freed by technology and the level of sonic creativity is now evolving at a bewildering pace. This much is clear. Witness the myriad genre-splinters that emerge almost weekly – their presence is driven by idle laptop tinkering just as much as a deliberate determination to define a new sound.
Even the most trad-rock We Do What We Do And If Anyone Else Likes It That’s A Bonus band are tempted to fiddle with their demos a bit if it’s been recorded in Fruity Loops.
Val-d’Isere are not the first band to take all of this touchpad-dithering to its logical conclusion, but are one of the most charming. Their songs do away with live instrumental recording. It turns out that all you need now is a laptop and access to Youtube.
Now, sampling sounds and cut-and-paste songs are as old as samplers themselves, but the idea that you need little more than one small laptop, an internet connection and the careful prising of drum loops found on Youtube is still an eye-opener.
Pinpoint is a jitterbug song frozen in ice, a pop song transcribed onto a foreign musical stave, a half-remembered melody that you eventually trace back to a dream and no further.
The drums, snaffled from online videos, skitter and jump, hesitate, and then roll on – if anything, this choppy, simple approach has its closest kinship with DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, an album that remains, remarkably, light years ahead of its time.
Val-d’Isere‘s approach is a reminder that the playing field is leveled – it’s only intelligence and imagination, not money, that stands between you and beauty. A heartening thought. Lovely.