When most people throw on a record…
Shit, sorry, I’ll start over.
At my local record store…
Fuck, there I go again.
Look, it’s pretty obvious at this point that if you’re not downloading individual supercompressed music files from iTunes and playing them through Bluetooth
headsets while running your morning 5-mile jog or doing your hot yoga class, you’re doing it wrong, right? There’s no reason to insist on quality, as long as you’ve got your favourite pop tune to be the backing track to your Gargantuan exploits. Just load up your flash-based memory full of aliased bullshit and run out the door, because music only exists to make you feel better about the fact that everything you’re about to do is boring as shit, so you might as well do it to something fun.
I don’t subscribe to this distorted, myopic and narcissistic method of music consumption. I’m one of those rare breeds who still believes that, if you’re looking forward to an album coming out, you wait until you can snag an official single release, and you buy the wax in your local shop to play on your extensive hi-fi setup at home so you can digest every goddamn note of it until you feel like you’ve soaked up every little bit of intent from an aural experience you’ve been savouring the lead-up to for who knows how long.
Along with this completely outdated mindset, there’s something else that’s a bit different about how I view music these days. I couldn’t care less about lyrics, and most of the time vocals. In fact, I’m not sure when using a voice became a prerequisite for avoiding getting your music labelled as pompous or arrogant. Was the symphony considered too snooty for opera goers? You want a message? Read a book. It’s been way too long since I expected music to rouse any kind of socio-political sentiment in me. Sure, I have nostalgia for the Dead Kennedys of the world, but I see them the same way born-again hippies look at old protest songs. It was fun for a while, but singing Kumbaya only gets you so far in life.
My greatest pleasure now is listening to music I have to really take apart to understand. Don’t confuse this for some kind of knowledge of musical theory on my part. Fuck that, I’m a drummer. Still, for music to challenge me, I need it to rip away pop structures, and make words like “verse” and “chorus” obsolete. In fact, I even prefer vocals that aren’t intended to carry a melody; rather, they exist as just another instrument in the mix: no more, and quite often less.
I could start rattling off bands, getting you to Google your little butts off in the hopes of sharing my favourite instrumental jams, but this isn’t about sharing. In fact, back when I started buying records, some bands still cultivated mystery; and the more mysterious the band, the more fun it was discovering them on your own. I’ll say this though: get out to a record store, dig up some wax you think has a gnarly cover, and buy it without listening to it or looking it up beforehand. It doesn’t even matter if you like it or not, just try breaking the mold every once in a while. – JP