‘Dessert for the Mind’ by The Reverend

Let’s continue.

So hopefully I grabbed your attention with my last article, and you’re beginning to question how well you absorb the culture around you; whether you’re doing as good as you can. I’m not letting you off the hook yet! How many times have we listened to our parents drone on about how music these days sucks, that vinyl was better, blah blah blah….

These old fogies have a point, though many of them (if they’re not averse to accepting the world around them) have adopted this “iCulture”.

Let’s say you buy music (hurrah!!) directly from a certain iMerchant for your sonic device. Maybe you buy the whole album, maybe just the single(s). It’s already great that you’re employing this fine service to acquire music legally from their vast database of musical history. *high five*

Now, once you have this music downloaded, how are you interacting with it? More often than not, we buy into this so-called shuffle culture. We throw it on shuffle to exercise, drive, shop, clean. Is this really giving credit to the artist, is this really interaction?

Let’s come back to our parents. Why was music better for them? Why was vinyl better?

Interaction.

Which, of these two examples, seems to be more of a “Listening experience”?

  • Throwing on those sweet $300 Beats plugged into our iPhone to shuffle through some pirated mp3s of dubious quality (at least try and do better than 192k, people) as background noise to keep us from having to talk to the people around us.
  • Popping out a vinyl, placing the stylus, being forced to listen to one side after another, without skipping tracks (possible to do, but annoying). Absorbing the weeks of writing, recording and mastering work, done to provide the most honest capture of mood, dynamics and songwriting.

Now sure, I applied some much more intimate imagery to the vinyl experience. It might seem biased, but that’s literally what it’s like. Can you really employ the same descriptive language to listening to music on an ipod?

This is why our parents seem to be so marked by the music of their youth. Why do we, amidst all these technical advances, affordable technology, not have this experience? Why is it so easy for us to forget a single as soon as the next hit is released?

To me, it seems to be because we aren’t interacting with our music anymore.

All in all, what I’m trying to get at here is that sometimes; in this fast paced world of instant information, instant culture, right here, right now mentality; it’s nice to slow down sometimes and really take something in. Without having to climb a mountain, you can see a sunset over breathtaking landscape. Without training, you can travel to space. It’s all there for you, just take that step.

Go to a garage sale. Pick up a working turntable for 20 bucks. Flip through their album collection and pick up ones you know or have heard up. It’s gonna be cheap. And don’t worry about looking like a hipster. They’re gonna move on to cassette tapes soon enough.

Then go home, set it up. Grab a beer, pop a disc on. Look at that fantastic, super-sized artwork. Read those lyrics. Hunt for easter eggs. Slow your life down and LISTEN.

You’ll feel a lot better afterwards.

Here’s a fantastic short about the culture:

And a fantastic song from a fantastic (both musically and technically) album:

That delicious pop, hiss and crackle just add to the experience.

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‘A Little Food for Thought’ by The Reverend

Would you rather eat a McDonald’s Value Meal, or enjoy a 5 Star meal in a renowned restaurant?
I think for most of you the answer is pretty simple. I’ll just have to rephrase my question!

Why are you absorbing your music in such an impersonal and industrial fashion?

Musical culture is an integral part of our lives. Our memories are triggered by it. Our mood is
affected by it. We move to that basic instinct that is rhythm. A catchy melody is hard to get out of
our heads. I always chuckle when people say they don’t enjoy music. Not true. They haven’t found
the music that they enjoy yet.

Think about it. Your morning commute would be much more frustrating/boring if all we had was
talk radio. Would Pulp Fiction’s opening scene pack as much a punch without Dick Dale’s
“Misirlou”?

Yet we have cheapened the experience over the years, shifting our focus from rewarding hard
work with an attentive ear to the race for the ultimate single (more on that in a later article).
Vinyl is making resurgence, and it’s not without reason. In a world where a song, a movie, a book
is just a click away, where a hit is calculated by its image and length rather than its quality and
production, it’s reassuring that people want to take the time to enjoy their music again (also an
article for a later date).

I’ll admit I’m guilty of being part of the piracy culture. We live in a world where anything we want
out of our vast history of culture can be accessible in a matter of minutes, and that’s great. But I
have the sneaking suspicion that people aren’t using it to its full potential.
If I listen to a song I enjoy, I will seek out that album. If I enjoy that album, I will seek out that
artist’s back catalogue. If I enjoy that, I’ll seek out their influences. But not everyone does that.

Why?

Think back to the last time you were passively listening to music (in a movie, on the radio, TV etc.)
and a song caught your ear. There’s a certain euphoria associated to discovering something that
grabs you that way. You’re happy (“this is awesome!”). Ask yourself now why you wouldn’t want
to extend that feeling by discovering the rest of that artist’s universe.

So go see a band. Rent an old movie without knowing what it is. Download someone’s album. If
you enjoy it, buy it. It’s like voting. If you aren’t heard, other people decide. Talk to other people
about tunes, movies, whatever. Go out and discover.

Or just buy the soundtrack to a Tarantino film, or a “Now! Music” compilation. Sure, Tarantino’s
got taste, I’ll give him that. But buying one or the other is just letting someone ELSE decide for
YOU what’s worth listening to.

Here’s a few albums I think are great. Give em a listen, let me know what you think. Or don’t. It’s
up to you. Leave a comment with something you like.

I’m up for discovering anything.

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