Pocket-sized Music with a Big Punch
By Megan Morgan
Once upon a time in a land where rock and roll was new, the vinyl record reigned supreme. Large though they were, the vinyl record remained popular with its subjects throughout the sixties and seventies. Later, it was dethroned by the much smaller cassette tape, which was then overthrown by the now-familiar compact disc. But technology progressed, and mp3 players challenged the compact disc’s dominion. Supporting this challenger is The Noise Revival Orchestra Experience, a band that has recently released their new music not on a CD, but on a USB drive.
“It’s a bit of an ode to the DIY punk movement in the 1970s,” Nathan Felix, frontman of the 13-member group, said. “Just think of it as a progression of digital DIY.”
Progression, indeed. The USB drive is lightweight, rectangular, and fits easily in pockets. Percussionist Aaron Calhoun said the idea came randomly during a band brainstorm, but he wasn’t sure if the endeavor was economically feasible. When a friend of the band donated hundreds of USBs, the suggestion became possible, and Calhoun said the release idea seemed a very convenient one.
“When you go downtown for a show, you sometimes want to get a CD, but you don’t necessarily want to have to carry it around the rest of the night, so some people just think they’ll get it later. They may forget by the next day. Anyone will take a USB drive though. It’s easy to carry around and it’s useful,” Calhoun said.
The Noise Revival is not worried about the potential sharing of the USB that could go on; they just want to be heard.
“We’re at a phase where we just want people to hear our music, so we want to make it as easy as possible for them to do that,” Calhoun said. “Most people just rip their CDs straight to the computer when they get home so they can put it on their mp3 player. This just takes one step out of that equation.”
Calhoun also believes that releasing The Noise Revival Orchestra Experience’s first EP on USB will bring in more listeners and fans.
“People can put the songs on their computer and give the drive to their friend without really losing much of anything,” he said. “We hope that’s what happens to some degree.”
The band manufactures all of the USB drives, which include album artwork and lyrics, themselves. 130 drives were made for the release party, but Felix said that they will probably make about 100-200 more. The EP is available on the band’s website for $5.
But what have responses to the unusual release? Felix said that reactions to the release method have been “completely positive” so far.
“It definitely grabs people’s attention,” he said.
But The Noise Revival Orchestra Experience is not just revolutionary in their music release methods. The band’s music itself is ambitious and inventive.
The self-recorded and produced debut EP is a work of classical compositions with splashes of indie influences. The tracks feel like movements instead of individual songs, yet each is very different from the rest.
Songwriter and composer Felix stopped listening to music altogether because he felt it was creatively inhibiting. But later, he was much inspired by John Corigliano’s symphony called “Circus Maximus” when penning music for The Noise Revival.
“Basically I try not to intervene with the natural creative forces in me,” Felix said. “I look as my self as the vessel and I try not to question whether or not something is ‘right’ or if it ‘fits’ or if it’s ‘good’ or if it ‘flows.’ I just go with it and trust that in the end it will have meaning.”
This somewhat unorthodox approach has led to a truly remarkable release from The Noise Revival Orchestra Experience, both in output means and actual content. Coming out in the summer is the group’s first full album, but this will be on CD and vinyl format, in order to do something different, as Felix explained. But now the question remains of how music releases will develop in the future … perhaps downloadable straight into our brains?