Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Waiting versus Gorging

Excellent article by Simon Reynolds on music media of yore (1960s-1980s) versus now which while romanticising the good ol’ days is very eloquent on the problems of today. Good point which I’d not given much thought too is the decline in quality of writing and criticism of today, not just from the volume of amateur/public opionion spewed forth everywhere but through the jaded, what’s-the-point-in-adding-my-two-cents sense that many professional critics (do they even exist anymore?) must surely feel. I know I can seldom be bothered weighing in on any musical subject these days. How much time will readers spend on reading anything, in between the constant distraction and churn of information?

In romantic love and in music fandom, absences and delays create the space in which desire grows. The remoteness in space or time of the “unattainable” or “yet to come” fills the present with exquisite tension, a forward-directed propulsion. In an “always on,” instant access world, the flooding nowness and nearness of everything unavoidably smothers and stifles these impulses. It kills not just yearning, but eventually appetite too.

Certainly the all-you-can-eat availability of music now has largely killed my appetite. For me, listening to new music now seems less about discovering a new sound/artist/song that might provide a new fresh thrill, than a search to find a link back to how music used to be perceived. Also, and yes this is a very old and tired argument, the cheapness, intangibility and sheer voluminousness of digital music makes its consumption low on pleasure. The limitation of physical formats - through physical space and budget limitations - makes them such a more pleasurable medium.

Another factor that makes listening to digital music a chore is the need to use a computer, particularly if I'm going through the full collection. After working on a computer all day the last place I want to be when not at work is on one. I know there are ways around this, through wireless Ipod apps and such, but again your tied to staring at an illuminated screen. I wonder how much discussion has been given to this aspect of digital music consumption, or are most people happy at the screens? Walking around this world and looking at the numbers of people on phones, tablets, laptops etc., certainly doesn't seem to be a problem for most people.

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