These things I hold to be self-evident: that it’s the rare film that deserves (or needs) to be more than 100 minutes long, and it’s the rare record that deserves (or needs) to clock in at much over 45 minutes. Those are optimal points for visual and aural entertainment: long enough to keep a listener/watcher engaged and to pass the time, but not so long that they out-stay their welcomes.
In general, and with very few exceptions, I won’t even deign to attempt to watch a three hour movie. I’m looking at you, King Kong and Titanic. Or even my beloved and most-favored film-maker David Lynch: Inland Empire clocking in at 197 minutes of hand-held wobble? David. Please. You can do it better when you do it tighter. Re-visit Eraserhead. 97 to 108 perfect minutes, depending on which cut of the film you get. Brilliant.
On the musical front, in general, and with very few exceptions, CD’s that fill their 80-minute capacity are going to bore me before they’re done, which means I won’t be likely to listen to them again. Ever. In the early days of CDs, it seemed that artists of the vinyl era felt compelled to fill their discs, resulting in a lot of really over-long albums that would have been masterpieces had they had to contend with the time constraints that vinyl imposed: 40-something minutes at decent fidelity, or 50-something minutes if the record had “made loud to be played loud” stamped on it, indicating lower than optimal recording quality.
I’m glad to report that it seems many of today’s younger musical artists are relearning the value of brevity. I have downloaded four new albums from eMusic in the past week of interesting up-and-comers, and all of them clock in within the time limits that I generally prefer. They choose quality over quantity, and I applaud them for it. I recommend all of the following records accordingly. Click on the links below to hear some samples.
Via Audio, Say Something Say Something Say Something (41 minutes)
Montag, Going Places (42 minutes, and the best of the four records)
Minus the Bear, Planet of Ice (47 minutes . . . a smidge long, but worthy)
Caribou, Andorra (43 minutes)
I should note that I find eMusic to be a great music shopping site for me for no other reason than because they have a fairly limited selection, which forces me to use my monthly allotment of downloads to find interesting new stuff, rather than just buying computer versions of old stuff I like, which is generally all I ever do with iTunes. Necessity is the mother of something or other, and limitations lead to exploration for me . . . especially when I find nice, short albums like these.