MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2015
WEEK 50: THE CORE CURRICULUM 2010 - 2014
We all have an emptiness we need to fill, whether it be with work, God, football, gardening or whatever. From a youthful age I chose to fill mine with music so for the better part of four decades settled into the tried and tested method of discovering, acquiring and listening to new music on vinyl, cassette and CD. But as soon as the 21st century arrived, that safe, comforting routine was almost immediately disrupted by the introduction of new, paradigm shifting inventions. By the end of the first decade, my initial excitement at being able to listen to every song ever recorded since time immemorial had given way to a state of bewilderment. For the first time ever I began to question music’s role in my life, or if it even had one.
Thankfully, that momentary yet necessary lapse of faith soon passed but it did serve one useful purpose by reaffirming my seemingly eternal hope in finding something uplifting and glorious amongst the veritable avalanche of new releases. I also realised that while love at first listen was still possible, within the infinite world of downloading and playlists it was unlikely to come from a 70 minute or even 40 minute album. Like most other folks, I chose to ignore what had once been my sole measure of sorting the good from the bad, much preferring to cherry pick the best songs before moving onto the next.
That didn’t mean music lost all of its evangelical power but inevitably, focusing on songs as units of pleasure and surprise did lead to less and less interest in their intent, meaning or resonance. And no matter how hard I tried, I found it impossible to form any deep or meaningful relationship with any new artists. Curiously, I even lost my brand loyalty to the major figures from my distant past. When my old beau Bowie reappeared in 2013 to be showered in praise for his first new album in a decade, I couldn’t have been less interested. Without even knowing it, I had become a shallower, more restless listener, easily amused yet very easily bored.
Naturally, the new generation ‘coming up from behind’ didn’t care about such things, retaining very little of the music snobbery that had so encumbered my own punk generation. To them, music appeared to be just tunes, which I guess is why it stopped playing any kind of ideological part in their lives. In the face of an abundance of deathly leisure options, the currency of music was certainly devalued but they didn’t even think about it? Of course, they still professed to love it and still do, but what they seem to love a whole lot more is the communal experience of festivals, big event heritage shows and posting songs on the social network, not so much for the music per se but for the communication and the exchange.
Technological advances and modern music cultures role in our daily lives and habits continues to be an ongoing, ever evolving process I’ve had to get used to. Choice doesn’t come into it unless I want to be a vinyl Luddite paying through the nose for a scratched up bit of black plastic with admittedly great artwork. Even last year, small sea changes continued to come about at a rapid rate; YouTube’s popularisation of new songs giving way to Vine memes, Smartphones being equipped with 24/7 offline streaming services.
The biggest shock to my system came when Apple quietly killed off the iPod classic, the sole source of my musical pleasure over the past seven years or so. When the dinky hard drive of my little black box suffers that inevitable fatal seizure and everything on it simply vanishes, I guess I’ll finally have to surrender myself to Spotify. Not that it really matters because one thing I have learnt is that whatever happens, whether it’s in society, music culture or technology, music will always find a way to not only survive but to flourish. In fact, the next chapter is already being written. I can’t wait to hear it!
01 SLEIGH BELLS ‘Rill Rill’ (Treats LP February 2010)
02 GONJASUFI ‘Sheep’ (A Sufi And A Killer LP March 2010)
03 LCD SOUNDSYSTEM ‘I Can Change’ (This Is Happening LP May 2010)
04 PJ HARVEY ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ (Let England Shake LP February 2011)
05 JAMES BLAKE ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ (James Blake LP February 2011)
06 CASHIER NO. 9 ‘Make You Feel Better’ (To The Death Of Fun LP June 2011)
07 ZOMBY ‘Things Fall Apart’ (Dedication LP July 2011)
08 AZEALIA BANKS ‘212’ (Download December 2011)
09 THE 2 BEARS ‘Be Strong’ (Be Strong LP January 2012)
10 SCUBA ‘The Hope’ (Personality LP February 2012)
11 THE MAGNETIC NORTH ‘Bay Of Skaill’ (Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North LP May 2012)
12 JOHN GRANT ‘GMF’ (Pale Green Ghosts LP March 2013)
13 BILL RYDER-JONES ‘There’s A World Between Us’ (A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart LP March 2013)
14 SOPHIE ‘Bipp’ (Download June 2013)
15 YOUNG FATHERS ‘I Heard’ (Tape Two LP June 2013)
16 MUM ‘When Girls Collide’ (Smilewound LP September 2013)
17 BROKEN BELLS ‘Holding On For Life’ (After The Disco LP February 2014)
18 SLEAFORD MODS ‘Liveable Shit’ (Divide And Exit LP April 2014)
19 JOAKIM ‘This Is My Life’ (Tropics Of Love LP May 2014
20 JENNY HVAL & SUSANNA ‘I Have Walked This Body’ (Meshes Of Voice LP September 2014)