Friday, May 4, 2007

The First Two Velvet Underground Records-part 2: Banana Banana

The Velvet Underground recorded as live as they could in the studio, while favoring influences from the American minimalist and avant-garde movements rather than just ordinary Rock n’ Roll or Blues. This also challenged conventional notions concerning the relationship between entertainment and art in Rock records and performance. Their decision to record live rather than embrace the tendency of contemporaries was a statement about the authenticity of recording values. The Velvet’s aesthetic favored creating sounds on record that were produced by four people in a room together. The most interesting point of this scenario is that the first two Velvet Underground records sound much more freakish and experimental than anything done by the Beatles.

The Velvet Underground and Nico was released in 1966. This record changed the boundaries of Rock n’ Roll records by creating exciting new sounds through live interaction, repetition and the electric viola. The aesthetic that was exemplified by this record was not one of precise replication, but rather just playing the songs the way they came out. Further, they chose not to fix mistakes or discrepancies in the recordings in any way. These notions can be best explained through two tracks, "Heroin" and "European Son."

When playing live directly the motherboard of a recording studio, it is very difficult to distinguish between different sounds. The Velvets consciously set up each instrument to fill a different pitch of music. There is a twangy, “ostrich guitar” (Hamelman, 79), droning or screeching electric viola, bass and drums. The drums are focused on tribal thumps and use very few symbol or crash noises. This dynamic separated the music and recorded every sound in a very specific realm.

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