I think it’s pretty funny that people sometimes slam, as “gear videos,” synthesizer videos in which the instruments are prominently displayed. Most of the time that term of disparagement is not a meaningful articulation of what’s going on. What’s going on is you have the opportunity to witness a connection between the sounds you’re hearing and some of the means by which they’re produced. In the best of cases, such as when a single synthesizer is involved, they can even serve as contemporary études. There’s plenty of “gear” video out there (tutorials, reviews, “reviews,” tips, walk throughs, and various forms of often not remotely self-aware consumer fetishization — and then there’s perhaps the vilest of streaming infirmities, the “unboxing”). But just because you can see the gear doesn’t make it a (pejorative) gear video.
When I mentioned this online, I was asked if it weren’t the case that those complaints align with when the gear is expensive, and that either way, you have to admit that there are a lot of videos that put visuals (“even the cables”) first.
I’d say that sometimes the expense isn’t inherent in the critique (a couple used Pocket Operators can trigger the haters), but when it is expensive, the critique is more likely, for sure — though often the gear is still way cheaper than the guitars and pedalboards you see in other videos.
I definitely agree that’s the case about many overly designed videos, though I’d also argue that a lot of critiques, which verge on inside-baseball chatter, about evolving music norms don’t take into consideration similar circumstances outside of music. If you’ve dipped into bicycling, photography, or any number of other gear-oriented pastimes, you’ll find similar modes of activity. I think that’s just part of the post-hipster, over-designed, Instagram’d world we’ve woken up in.
So, yeah, some are prettier than they need to be, and some are pretty for pretty’s sake. And then some of the not pretty ones are probably not pretty to make a point — which is to say, they’re reactive while trying to appear not so.
One thought on “To “Gear” or Not to Gear”
I find it funny there’s a relationship between the time spent making the video and the number of limbs that appear within it.
So I look to see if they have more than disembodied hands before I press play.