What I listened to while the snow fell...

The passing of time, nothing can stop it, you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride. Music marks that passage of time so well and over the years mountains of your own data connected to the experience of listening to music piles up and informs you of time and place. That piling has a two-fold effect: First, the more you listen, critically, the more knowledge you can amass about the music you like, thus helping yourself decide what's worth your hard-earned money and what isn't. Second, that your brain can also be fooled and lulled into false conclusions about the music you like the more you listen. Essentially, the more you engage in the process, the less chance for new revelations and insight, until it all begins to sound the same. My advanced age, in what is a young dog's game, has placed me in the same box as my contemporaries - there is nothing new in pop music and what does pass for new are simply re-workings of old formulas and forms. Is my brain being tricked or do I have the age and experience to know what is really going on in today's marketplace? Sometimes, I feel like it is a Manichean struggle between these two forces and only on brief occasion does my brain offer a moment of clarity so that as I move through time I base my philosophical convictions on whatever clarity (or illusion) that my inner-self convinces me to move towards.

In hindsight, this is all part of my own ongoing evolution with music. And as I searched my feelings about the death of the media industry and the larger, overall economic decline internationally this past winter I came to the conclusion that it all has less to do with the greed and malfeasance we keep hearing about and everything to do with new generations intent on tearing the old forms of culure to the ground and starting over. My own empirical data tells me that the ways music has been sold since the music union strikes of the Forties, when live music did it's best to kill the fledgling recording industry, has been suitable for the one-size-fits-all culture of the industrial revolution. Everything from education to energy has been managed in such a fashion, but now a new era is being ushered in, one of massive decentralization and what I see as the inevitable exhalting of the individual experience. This makes the current industry model not only obsolete but also irrelevant, so why bother holding on? Well, many young musicians want the same chance to build a fan base, back catalog, and bank account that their predecesors had and that ain't a guarantee (as if it ever was) in this new industry. I feel for them, but also realize that the millions of bits of data comprising the huge reserves of music found on most youngster's iPods doesn't equal the actual manhours spent developing and discovering those moments in time when they actually happened. This leads to stasis, which is where we are at right now. My old boss, Greg Shaw, wrote a brilliant essay shortly before his death in 2004 that didn't really see any way out under the current system of sales and distribution. I see hope and promise and spent my entire winter exploring many ideas and concepts. Most of that time was passed listening to music, a wide swath of it actually, and this is what I came up with in terms of a Top 25 list - if you are looking for any sort of underground music guidebooks.
I'll be back next month with a new list and more thoughts about the true value of music in an information rich society.

WINTER 2009/2010 Top 25 Albums
1. Fela Kuti-Fela: The Best Of the Black President 2xCD/DVD (Knitting Factory)
2. Mavis-S/T (!K7)
3. The Seven Fields Of Aphelion-Periphery (Graveface)
4. Cio D'or-Die Faser (Profile)
5. Bomb The Bass-Back To Light (!K7)
6. Martyn-Fabric 50 (Fabric)
7. Lima├žon-Tarry Not (Thoughtless Music)
8. These New Puritans-Hidden (Domino)
9. Slacker-Start A New Life (Godlike & Electric)
10. Nickodemus-Sun People Remixed (ESL)
11. And.Id-Back To Back Vol. 4 2xCD (Mobilee)
12. Josh Wink-Banana Remixed & Peeled (Ovum)
13. John Digweed-Bedrock 11 3xCD (Bedrock)
14. Buraka Som Sistema-Fabriclive 49 (Fabric)
15. Tom Stephan-Nervous Nitelife (Nervous)
16. Pablo-Turntable Technology Pts. 1 & 2 (Soma)
17. Enola-Alone (Initial Cuts)
18. Indigo Compilation (Blaq)
19. Various-In The Christmas Groove (Strut)
20. Double Dub-Tales From The Dub (989Records)
21. The Penelope[s]-Pricelss Concrete Echoes (Citizen)
22. Dynas-The Apartment (BBE)
23. Okapi-Love Him (Illegal Art)
24.You Say Party! We Say Die!-XXXX (Paper Bag)
25. Dan Black -((un)) (A&M)


passean said...

get the f*ck outta here! Bomb the Bass has a NEW CD!? TIMMY! The man instilled in me a deep seated love for the Shaft in Africa break. I'm gonna have to investigate this list my friend, even though your taste in new music is usually a bit "advanced" for me and my pop sensibilities. =)

Sean-Michael Yoder said...

you should check it out, very depeche mode influenced and very different than the other 3 albums - which are all different from each other. i'm going to send you a copy of the mavis. it's a tribute to mavis staples by ashley beedle and darren morris with some amazing vocal performances. i keep thinking of you every time i listen.

willson said...
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