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Scott Brookman uses sounds of the past to create a thoroughly modern musical career.

Pop Goes the Music

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Scott Brookman's pop sounds fit nicely into a society where the computer is king and where popular culture casually reinvents itself each day. In a world of Internet marketing and recording downloads, the beautiful mesh of melody and technology on Brookman's recent CD, "For Those Who Like Pop" makes for pure modern music that's derived directly from the past.

Recorded at his home primarily with a synthesizer and a digital eight-track board, and marketed mainly via the Internet, the CD is a clever collection of tunes that Brookman terms "postmodern music." It's not techno-pop, he explains, but rather a healthy combination of humanity, technology and melody.

"It doesn't sound too non-human," the 36-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University adjunct writing professor explains, adding that his goal was simply to make "good-feeling, good-sounding pop music."

Brookman expresses frustration that some still equate "pop" with classic rock or the corporate rock business. For Brookman, pop is an outgrowth of '60s and '70s musical influences enhanced by the development of modern recording and communication technologies.

"It's recycling in a good way, a fun way. You still have to know all the music stuff," Brookman says of recordings that rely on remixes, samples and multilayered effects. He gladly asserts that pop is rooted in "old school tradition ... [but] adding a new spring to it. ... Pop is that free; it incorporates almost anything. The melody is really the thing."

The varying styles included in the "pop" category are more widely embraced in Japan and France than in this country, Brookman says, but thanks to the Internet, it's easy to get the music out to everyone. His songs are not hooked into the exploding MP3 technology that allows listeners to download songs from a Web site without the fuss of going to a store and buying the CD. But his music is posted on several audio Web sites and, like most new releases, tunes from "Pop" can be heard on the popular amazon.com site as well as at cdnow.com and cdu2.cduniverse.com.

"Very little has happened that's not somehow a part of the Internet," Brookman says. Although he has had "limited success with this release through a good old-fashioned direct mail campaign," he says "nearly all of the sales ... have some relationship to the Net either through more obvious online retailer sales all the way down to making friends via e-mail."

The disc is fronted by Twee Kitten, a small California label, and Brookman says Vivid Sound, a Japanese label, wants to release it abroad. Red Eye, a Chapel Hill group, also distributes the product.

Lush with obvious Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach and '60s television- and movie-score influences, Brookman and friends Ashley Bell and Jim Johns weave keyboard effects and drums around layers of harmonies to create a melodious yet eccentric musical mix. Each song is a little world unto itself with its own characters and possibilities.

"Pop is supposed to be [simple]," Brookman says. He explains that the keyboard voicings are influenced partly from Carole King and Todd Rundgren; his multilayered harmonies frequently recall the Beach Boys' glory days.

The part-time professor started playing guitar as a teen and only got serious about keyboards "four or five years ago."

Sick of rock music relying on distorted guitars or acoustic sensitivity — "Don't get me started," Brookman warns with a grimace — he began recording his project about a year ago. There's nothing particularly fancy about his gadgets: the effects come mainly from a 9-year-old Ensoniq synthesizer hooked to a computer with a midi cable. The sonic results, however, are considerable.

He and Bell recently purchased new computers and have plans for more music projects; Brookman hopes to go into music full time, recording CD and advertising projects. Live shows, however, aren't on the agenda. "You're showing up with your computer … what would that be?" Brookman asks with a shrug.

Brookman's not really a part of any hip music scene and that's OK by him. He's content to compose his familiar-yet-new melodies and post his music on the Internet.

"I'm kind of an idiot savant type," he says with a smile. "You can take 'savant' off if you want

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