As per title, lately I've been stumbling upon a lot of one-man run instrumental metal/rock bands on Soundcloud & the likes, their body of work usually consisting in a slew of unconnected single tracks, released here and there, apparently whenever they feel like. Also apparently, without true reasons or, and therefore, real meaning; if not, maybe, momentary self-amusement.
I certainly am grateful to the times we're living for they provide an easy outlet for those "music enthusiasts", like myself, who often don't have the financial means, the skills, the patience, the time or maybe, let's face it, the talent to make it on more traditional grounds.
Nowadays all it takes to be able to make music and share it with others is a computer, an Internet connection, maybe a musical instrument or two and little else.
However, as a music and art consumer, I feel like I am still able to trace a pretty thick line between those who are in for the real deal and those who are not. Judging strictly based on artistic terms: I'm not talking about how good a project is marketed or connected. It's merely a matter of attitude, commitment and sometimes sheer courage. I believe that, even today, in a time when really anybody can have not their "15 minutes", but more likely their "15 milliseconds of fame", those qualities can make a big difference in determining if somebody's contribution to the spirit of art still matters or not.
More specifically, even in a moment in which the average attention span has dropped to a minimum and consumption of cultural products must be instantaneously fast, the most committed music consumers still believe in, care for and respect proper releases and expect the same from musicians. I myself could sympathize if some of them was instantly put off by the fact that even, maybe, talented people too often share their creations without the same attitude of respect towards them, and more generally towards art and music.
On an even more pedestrian level, I'm personally a little put off by the fact that many wouldn't dare putting words above their music and singing them, or having them sung. I personally am a fan of instrumental music of various kind, but checking out some of these project I've had a distinct feeling that, for the same reasons of lack of commitment, care and respect towards even one's own creation, singing is often being neglected an important role that it deserves. It's such a shame, when a primordial, possibly even instinctive aspect of human expression in art is treated like something to be eschewed for fear of exiting a comfort zone. I firmly believe art IS getting out of a comfort zone, to be able to observe outer or inner universes that would be otherwise difficult to.
Therefore, I hope this trend doesn't last and people realize it just takes something more of a guitar and a laptop.
On the other hand, I'd like to spend a couple of words about one of the most interesting instrumental projects I've recently discovered: Dimaension X: what in my country would be called the "exception that confirms the rule".
Admittedly, I've come to check them out while looking for Godflesh clones to fulfill my need for industrial, noisy, nihilistic aggressiveness. I have, in part, found that in Dimaension X's Industrialisimo, a work largely and admittedly inspired by Godflesh and industrial music, but with the distinctive quirky streak that David Lanciani, the man behind all aspects of the project, puts in his creations. Starting with the title, that contributes to the overall quirky feel and almost led me to believe this was some kind of spoof. And, in fact, sometimes Dimaension X mannerism and obsession with conceptual releases almost crosses the borderline with parody: quite explicitly on the more recent Plagues Of Egyptus, with its totally profane treatment of biblical matter and the obvious nods to classics of extreme heavy metal.
Having started with the aforementioned works, it took me a moment to realize that Dimaension X wasn't a proper hard rock/extreme metal outfit, if quirky and unconventional in its almost tongue-in-cheek approach to it. The project has deep roots in a broad spectrum of influences that one can appreciate only throughout the entire, longest back catalogue of mainly digital and free to download releases.
The latest album Brain Tree Split confirms this, taking a decisive drift from the more recent, although some key elements like the massive electronic textures, the thick rhythm guitar that perfectly locks in with the lively beats that drive everything on and the atonal soloing are still there. It could be said that, if the tools are pretty much the same, the outcome is very different. This time the quirky vibe expresses itself thoroughly in an album were the big metal guitars take the back seat to let the synths lead on, nodding now to the space rock sound of past and present protagonists of the genre like Hawkwind and Porcupine Tree, often to the point of open homage. Only, here everything happens above a very terrestrial, quasi-dance rhythm beneath it all, bordering with funk. There is also a much more pronounced influence from jazz and fusion, mostly apparent in the atonal lead work but also in the simple intention of letting it develop freely over the constant beat and often degrading the guitars themselves to a supporting role, only occasionally letting them shine over everything else.
David Lanciani takes care of all aspects of his creations, down to their graphic vest. In the project's website he often writes in detail about the concepts and the influences behind his music and this really adds a lot to the enjoyment of it, although Dimaension X can be appreciated in its apparent simplicity and cheerful approach to art rock if someone doesn't care for brainy stuff.
I have the utmost respect for his attitude and commitment to his art and, still, generosity to offer it for anyone to enjoy for free.
Dimaension X has a very long catalogue of previous releases that are worth checking out by almost anyone no matter their preferences, given the infinite amount of concepts treated, themes touched and styles it adopted and managed to fuse in a unique, consistent spirit.