This week, I saw John The Savage and Bela Emerson at Komedia.

John The Savage is an experimental post-something-or-other band featuring my friend Richard Brincklow on piano. Don’t be put off by my arty-sounding and vague description. They have tunes and they can play. They groove and they rawk. But they’re also very unusual indeed. Go see them (and their support) when they next hold a Club Savage event at Komedia: 25Sep08.

Bela Emerson is a cellist and one of those solo artists who uses lots of digital loops and pedals to create her own accompaniment, but she does so in a genuinely inventive and musical way. You can watch her in action here, though the piece chosen and the somewhat murky sound don’t do justice to the dynamic and frequency range of the sounds she somehow elicits from the strings, frame, and hardware of her cello. I liked the show so much that I bought both of her CDs.

This reminds me of a blog post I read recently by a musician complaining that no one bought his band’s recordings, at gigs or anywhere else. He claimed that they weren’t crap because they had supported [name band] on tour—which shows a certain naivety about the way support slots to big bands are booked—but foolishly included a link to one of his own band’s recordings.

There’s a reason why they call his kind of talentless, tuneless, hackneyed noisemaking “landfill indie”. It’s the same reason why no one buys his band’s stuff or, indeed, why no one buys empty plastic cartons containing sour milk dregs: people value rarity and quality. Originality, and compositional and performing skill are rare; MP3s and CDs of feeble songs sung badly by middle-class white boys over harshly-processed guitars in bands with “ironic” names are not.

It’s the difference between a warm, witty handwritten letter and another piece of email spam promising to “enlarge your male tool to please all women”. Some musicians are so good at what they do and have so much worth saying that, when they start quietly in a crowded room, people shut up and listen; some musicians are so bad that they have to turn every volume and tone knob to 11 before anyone will pay them a moment’s notice.