Songs For Silverman and Six Channels of Sound

My sister bought me Ben Folds’ new CD for my birthday. She got me the Dualdisc version, and except for some size issues (the disc didn’t want to come out of my Powerbook all the way) it worked out well. No CD artwork, but I guess that’s ok because LP records never had artwork.

Rather than listen to the stereo mix first I went downstairs and put it into the ol’ DVD player and got started listening to the 5.1 mix. It really does sound more open than the stereo mix (I switched between the two during my first listen). I couldn’t really hear much going on in the back, but once in a while a string part or backing vocals would come in and swarm around. For the most part the rear channels seem to be used for things like reverberations and high frequency sounds. I wish that they would’ve done more with it. Imagine what could be done with something like Smile. It would be overwhelming, and magnificent. I would like to mix in a way that actually forgoes the whole Front and Rear concept. I’d try treating the sides as their own stereo pairs. Like, the FL would interact with the RL, vice-versa with the right side. You could really get some complex stuff going on. I haven’t heard anything like it yet. On the 5.1 mix of Three Tales there were some pretty exciting things. They had reverb tails stem out from the center and go into the other satellites. That’s the most daring thing I’ve heard so far, but I suppose that they’re allowed to try stuff like that on records they don’t think will sell a whole lot.

So, I use the term CD because Songs for Silverman is really just a collection of tracks. I didn’t feel like the CD was a full, cohesive unit. There were some good songs though (Jesusland, Landed, Give Judy My Notice, and Time are my favorites after the first listen). There was also a song about Elliot Smith on there, which was kind of generic (kind of like Folds’ relationship with him anyway). But, I guess most people who’ve written songs about Elliot Smith since 2003 have been like that anyway; basically states “I liked your songs, they got me through some heavy emotional times…it’s too bad you killed yourself.” Maybe it would’ve helped if he listened to his own music, but I don’t know. Jen Abounader will correct me if I’m wrong.

Sometimes when I listen to a CD for the first time I follow along in the liner notes, looking at the lyrics as they are sung. If what I’m listening to is incredible I usually stay on track and don’t skip ahead, or just put the notes down and close my eyes. If I don’t like it that much I’ll usually skip ahead and read the rest of the notes, and try to figure out how much longer I have to listen to the CD. I did that with Songs For Silverman. Around track 6 I was looking at the back of the booklet.

Not my favorite Ben Folds…probably my least favorite actually.