Getting my Socks Wet in the Digital, Musical Rubicon
It’s not exactly an epiphany, and I can’t yet claim to have crossed the Rubicon, but maybe I enjoyed the sensation of getting my socks wet, dabbling my toes in that surging torrent of musical bits and bytes (can you hear the muffled screams of tortured metaphor, yet? Maybe you haven’t downloaded it yet.)
Some months ago, my subscription copy of Guitarist magazine came with a special offer, courtesy of emusic.com. On Tuesday, I finally got round to exploring it. The offer entitled the user to 40 free music downloads. Now, call me a luddite, but I’ve never been a downloader of music. It’s not a fear of the digital unknown, rather a visceral love of the media. I love the slightly musty smell of old record sleeves (yes, the 12 inch, card variety) and the pleasing weight of a well-pressed, shiny black disc. I enjoy the thrill of an unexpectedly printed inner sleeve and I devour the artwork and sleeve-notes. Why did CBS always produce such poor sleeves?
Of course, I enjoyed somewhat less, the inevitable, inexorable, deterioration of sound quality, the chore of cleaning vinyl and changing styli. I became a keeper of CDs, forsaking those lavish 12 inch canvas events for a five-inch plastic box and booklet, abandoning the richer, warmer, more natural sound of vinyl (yes, really) for the consistent, convenience of slightly clipped and artificial digital disc. (The problem is not with digital reproduction per se, but rather with the choice of an over-low sampling rate of 44.1kHz as standard, on which subject Roy Harper is more entertaining in his blog entry of 4th November 2007, http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=88444070).
And, although diminished, I still enjoy the totality of playing the music and reading the sleeve; understanding more of the context in which the music was conceived, written, performed and recorded. But, I mostly access my music either directly on my PC or via my Sonos system (every home should have one, ask Andrew Cherry, who will sell you one, or Marc Holitscher, who bought one after reading my last post about it), so…
Anyway, back to the somewhat neglected point. I logged on and I am now the proud owner of three of Thomas Blug’s studio albums (Electric Gallery, The Beauty of Simplicity and 21st Century Guitar). I love his playing. As Guitar Techniques magazine, he could equally well be classed as Rock, Fusion or Blues. Just a great player.
Also, in trawling through the archives, I found some odd tracks by the very talented, late Warren Zevon (a live version of Renegade from a festival compilation and a couple of Christmas songs featuring Zevon’s distinctive vocals: The Christmas Song and Ave Maria, which I will rediscover in ten months).
What can I say? It’s a different approach, it’s a different method of searching and acquiring; more track- than album-driven. And I have successfully delayed the inevitable trip to Ikea for more CD racks by 30mm of shelf space.
I could yet be persuaded.