Friday 5 June 2015

a historical artefact [TLDR]

Among my group of friends in the pre-internet age, much of our cultural and social capital was tied up in how much we knew about music, obscure or otherwise (preferably obscure). Yes, we could be more than a little bit intimidatingly smart-arse-y about it, but I have many fond memories of sitting in pubs, drinking, (and even smoking) while shooting the shit about music.

Back in the day we would make compilation tapes and CDs for each other and I'd been visiting Music blogs like Spoilt Victorian Child, Bubblegum Machine, You Ain't No Picasso for a while. So eventually, our own brand of musical one-upmanship led to the creation of Domino Rally, enabling the members of our band Johnny Domino to talk about the music we were into.

To me, this was a more altruistic time of music enthusiasts writing about artists they loved, sharing one or two tracks, linking to the artist and encouraging people to actually buy music. I'm not going to pretend I haven't benefited from bulk-downloading of pirated music but to us it was more a kind of recommendation service we were providing. Plus I still like actually buying stuff.

In the back of my mind, I kind-of thought that, if we talked about it enough, we'd strike up a conversation with an audience who might be interested in the music we were making ourselves.

Did it work? Well, we did receive a lot of comments on the blog and struck up a number of transient faceless online friendships. But did this translate into sales of CDs?

Ask yourself this question: how many Johnny Domino CDs are in your house? 'Cos we've got f**king loads of them!

Anyway, about a year and a half after starting the blog, Johnny Domino played their last gig - it became more and more difficult for us to get together. (Maybe we also felt slightly ridiculous being men of a certain age trying to make it playing music. Who knows.)

At one point, I received a (fake?) Cease and Desist notice from Google, panicked and removed all the posts. So for no good reason whatsoever over the last couple of years I've been slowly reuploading all the articles, replacing the MP3 files with Spotify / YouTube embeds where available.

Here's a playlist! Only the first 200 songs available by this embed but here's the link to 337 songs and nearly 22 hours of music.

This really was as wild as our Wild Young Days got, but I've loved re-reading the posts - some of the writing is actually pretty good and I still love a lot of the music (with a handful of exceptions). The comments we received haven't been reuploaded yet - another time, maybe.

It seems to me that these days music is everywhere, more portable than ever, and more accessible. But somehow it seems to mean a bit less. Not to me, I must add, and maybe not to you.

I still buy a lot of music in a variety of formats, and I still get a thrill from hearing something new and different - I'm going to be 42 in a week or so, so I genuinely love hearing something which confuses me, and which is a reminder that I'm not really the target market - it's good to know that this can still happen!

As an illustration, a recent WTF moment was when I heard the following song (which I really like now, despite - or because - it sounds like it was recorded on someone's phone).