did not win a fan when they released Hungry Ghost
and I was forced to review it
, oh no. I found the album hollow, full of cheap imitation and paltry gestures the band had intended to be grand. The whole album felt like an attempt by a cheap, sleazy 50-something to pick up some sweet young thing at a bar by singing her his best imitation of music he figured she liked. It seemed like the band had spent more time on the conceptually impressive but emotionally vacuous music videos than on the actual tunes. OK Go seemed to have turned into a performance art group and abandoned their music.
Damian Kulash's most recent project, an attempt to turn the songs of Hungry Ghost into DNA, only goes to demonstrate this. As an article in this week's issue of "The New Yorker
" explains it, Kulash was inspired to convert all of the data that makes up the recording of Hungry Ghost
into DNA after meeting biologist Sri Kosuri of U.C.L.A at a conference and learning that Kosuri had already converted books into DNA. As soon as I heard that they could do this with a book," said Kualsh, "I went, 'This is how were putting out our next album. Though the band hopes to release this DNA version of the music by the end of the year (there are legal hurdles that might make it a tad difficult to put out in this medium), they do admit that it's merely "an artistic gesture not the most efficient way to actually buy our album."
The problem is that this means nothing, not really. It's interesting from a conceptual level, I suppose, but owning music in the form of DNA is about the same as owning a smell in the form of a painting. Music that cannot be listened to, which cannot be experienced as music, is nonsense; it is quite literally useless. Not that this should concern Kulash, since he makes music without much purpose anyway, but what rings so ugly is how smug and knowingly hip he is throughout the article. Everything about him -- how he rides into the meeting on a scooter that doubles as a backpack, the way he brags about what a head-turner this ride is, the self-conscious bit where he slaps on gloves before handling rats and sneers "never handle music without the proper precautions" -- screams image over substance.
Just like the video below hey-oh!