Monday, 29 August 2011

Internet Voids

When I used to work in classical music retail (2003-7) it wasn't always easy to find references to specific recordings on the interweb, particularly if it was old vinyl. Then, such absences were frustrating, and such was my faith in the web's omniscience that it had me doubting the existence of the real object (cue dismissive attitude to eager customer). Now if such a thing occurs it's so rare as to be exciting, discovering a fissure in the system, and seems somehow subversive, illegitimate, spectral... There's a covert pleasure to holding something in your hand which does not (yet) exist in webworld: music not downloadable, books not for sale, events unmentioned, photographs not jpegged... The 'Universal Library/Celestial Jukebox/Datacloud' is constantly expanding, almost faster than history is moving, and one shudders at the thought of it somehow someday eclipsing its real shadow, but for now these gaps remain.

Simon Reynolds speaks on this in Retromania:
...'Everything that has ever happened is available, all at once, all around us'... a vast cultural database containing every book and magazine article ever written, in all languages, and eventually every movie/TV programme/cultural artifact EVER.
But these cracks are being covered over, the Wikipedia/Googlemaps/Ebay/Discogs/Amazon steamroller streamrolling unstoppably onwards, ensnaring all of cultural history within its web. Strange too that the ensnaring is done largely and willingly by us, driven by a stupid self-willed urge to catalogue.

A recent record shopping expedition turned up a few unmentioned relics: some mail order classical releases with surprisingly high-calibre personnel involved; a French-issued Satie LP, reissued on CD but this pressing a mystery; John Field on an unknown and unrepresented Irish label. Struck by their online absence, I instinctively went for a camera to photograph and document, to 'put right'. Why? What forces us to add to the completion of the online archive? I have them right before my eyes! I can listen to the grooves! There is absolutely no need for mp3 versions or jpegs of album covers!

We should clutch at these occurrences as they won't last. We are experiencing this void. It will be filled.

Needless to say the voids I discovered will remain voids (and I urge others to keep discoveries of similar voids to themselves), but here's what I found that was legitimate:

One of Karajan's numerous adagio collections

Boulez doing Ravel vocal

Looks like a fifties country singer of the Chet Atkins/Eddy Arnold type

Tired Chopin hits

Steal - early modern masters for $2

Nice - pastoral English music with more bite than I'd expected

Pretty-but-spineless flute bonbons

Like Greensleeves, yet part of an old record club incompletely detailed online. Note the eighties wine bar font

The Argo logo here resembles Kompakt's Auftrieb. I like that this advertising photograph by professional online record dealer is so obliterated by easily avoided glare

Snappily-dressed Hungarians play Schubert (very well). They're in casual attire on the back, but as it's not online you'll have to track down the record to see it

I covered the title track with pal Benedict Moleta, downloadable here. Also produced a very shaky 'Spatial Dub', here.

Double LP for $1 of guitar music from around the world by Aussie virtuoso Williams, featuring an excellent transcription of a Japanese piece. The cover I have is much better, featuring a mock cross-stitch image of a guitar head, but no one has posted it online (ha!)

Can stop listening to a shitty mp3 version now of 'Can You Feel It'. On vinyl it revealed instruments and passages never-before-heard on grainy digital.

Marc Romboy predating the current Jack revival, and Steve Bug's titular remake, by 6 years.

And I almost bought the CD

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