Living in the Material World with Arthur Nasson
With a pair of great new releases, the acclaimed singer-songwriter is making classic psych pop for a digital audience
Arthur Nasson is a superb singer/songwriter whose penchant for pop has been borne out by the continuing series of albums and EPs he’s recorded and released over the course of the past dozen-plus years.
Throughout his career, he’s reaped serious acclaim while also winning comparisons to such Brit rock allstars as the Beatles, ELO and the Alan Parsons Project in the process.
Both inventive and intuitive, Nasson is also an accomplished producer and multi-instrumentalist, qualities reflected in his astute arrangements, dedication to detail and his ability to mine hooks in his melodies that are clearly intended to stand the test of time.
With two current offerings — a full length album titled Whack Mythology and an EP, Basement Glitter, listeners have been given a lot to choose from as far as his auspicious output is concerned. The music on these two recordings is a joy to encounter as always, whether it’s assertive rockers like “Superman,” the snappy set-up of “Ice Queen,” brilliant ballads such as “Out to Sea” or the sonic sweep provided by a song like “Time.” Given Nasson’s superior skills, the lush ambiance and crisp production come as little surprise, but the fact he pulls it all off with such aplomb makes one appreciate his efforts all the more.
Nasson’s current crop of new music is only available digitally, which may be a disappointment for those that still profess a love for physical product. The fact that he’s opted to take this route adds fodder to the ongoing debate between those that harbor a desire to have CDs or LPs, and those artists, publicists and industry execs who insist that physical music is no longer viable, and, they often insist, no longer even wanted.
“Most indies go with digital only releases for reasons that have to do with lack of demand and cost,” Nasson insists. “Right now 87% of music consumption is online streaming. For indies, it’s probably more. Even the merch table at shows is cold.”
One might question that assertion, but some say any effort to revive CD sales is a losing battle, and that in the not too distant future, album art, liner notes, lyrics and all the other essential components that made the album an art form will go the same way as the 8 track and Victrolas. The fact that publicists are mostly peddling streams and downloads, and that automobile makers are no longer putting CD players in their newer models suggests a forced obsolescence that leaves the consumer little choice when it comes to shopping for new music.
“Indies are resigned to self-fund,” Nasson maintains.”Even if they make up discs, few people buy the discs and mostly just stream music. Then we artists are left to pick up the tab for everything — recording, mixing, mastering, publicity, radio, art work, and on and on. It’s just not economically feasible to manufacture and ship plastic all over the planet.”
Fortunately for Nasson, his music has been well received, and critics both here and abroard . have consistently sung his praises. And rightly so. Nasson is a pop practitioner of the highest order. Still, relegating such outstanding music to cyberspace or the inner sanctum of a computer or cellphone doesn’t really given Nasson or his music the visibility and prominence it so rightly deserves. Albums are a calling card, a musical monument of sorts that deserve to be front and center both visibly and viably as well. That fact that some in the industry have simply deemed it unworthy of physical prominence demeans it in a way that’s unfair to the artist and audience alike.
Kudos to Nasson for his good work and fruitful career. One can only hope that we never reach a point where it’s stillborn in cyberspace. Clearly, he deserves better.
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